Valdosta Daily Times

November 16, 2012

Column: Friday night fever

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — What a team did in the regular season doesn’t matter now. This is the postseason. Everyone is 0-0 and everyone is five wins away from claiming their respective state championships. Let the madness begin tonight.

Looking back at the regular season, there weren’t too many surprises. I am a little shocked the Cook Hornets slid to No. 4 in Region 1-AA, and that Clinch County didn’t make the playoffs. But overall, there weren’t too many things that took me by surprise.

When I glanced at the playoff brackets late last Friday night, or early Saturday morning, judging how you look at 2 a.m. in the office, I realized that we might have some local teams making some deep runs this postseason. But hey, if that means we get a longer football season, then I am all for it.

Instead of giving picks (Christian and I both have filled out complete brackets and our picks are available online), here are various notes on the playoffs and the brackets.

• Valwood obviously has the best chance of winning a state championship this season. The Valiants are just three wins away from claiming their first GISA state championship since 1999.

• The Lowndes Vikings cannot get away from the Grayson Rams. After losing to the Rams in the 2008 quarterfinals, the Vikings lost the eventual state champion Rams in the second round of the playoffs last year. Again, the Vikings and Rams could meet in the Class 6A quarterfinals in Grayson. But first, the Vikings will have to get through Marietta and an undefeated Lovejoy.

• Valdosta is positioned nicely to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. The Wildcats play North Cobb tonight, which ranks 51st in schedule difficulty this season. After that, the Wildcats should cruise to the quarterfinals where they will face either Lassiter or Mill Creek.

• Brooks County should have no problem getting to the quarterfinals this season. Once there, the Trojans will face reigning  Class AA state champion Calhoun, which is winning games by an average of 32.7 points per game this season. Honestly, these two teams should be on opposite sides of the bracket and should play for the state championship. The winner of that game will be the heavy favorite to win the state title.

• Region 1-6A is aligned to meet the two powerful Gwinnett County regions (Region 7 and Region 8) in the state quarterfinals. All four Region 1 teams could face Gwinnett County teams in that round. The matchups could look like this: Lowndes at Grayson or vs. North Gwinnett, Valdosta vs. Mill Creek, Camden County vs. Norcross/South Gwinnett, Colquitt County at Parkview.

• Besides Roswell tying for the 2006 state championship with Peachtree Ridge in 2006, all the Class 5A state champions since 1999 have been either won by Lowndes, Camden County or a Gwinnett County school.

• A four-seed, the Cook Hornets are in a position to make an appearance in the state quarterfinals. The Hornets face Lamar County tonight, who won a much-weaker region this season, tonight. If Cook can get past tonight, it will likely face Lovett in the quarterfinals in two weeks.

• Lowndes and Valdosta can’t meet in the state championship game this season because they’re both on the left side of the bracket. But, if the Vikings can get through Lovejoy and Grayson in the second and third rounds, they could possibly be hosting the Valdosta Wildcats in the state semifinals, pending Valdosta can get through its easier side portion of the bracket.

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For the playoffs, Christian and I both filled out a complete Class 6A brackets. At the end of the five weeks, we will combine our playoff wins and losses with our regular season records (Christian finished 51-12, while I was 50-13) to determine a champion.

Ed: Lowndes over Marietta, Valdosta over North Cobb, Camden County over Hillgrove, Colquitt County over McEachern. Lovejoy over Tri-Cities, Grayson over Wheeler, North Gwinnett over Johns Creek, Hughes over Rockdale County, Lassiter over Brookwood, Mill Creek over Alpharetta. East Coweta over Newton, Norcross over Chattahoochee, South Gwinnett over Milton, Newnan over Alcovy, Collins Hill over West Forsyth, Parkview over Walton.

Christian: Lowndes over Marietta, Valdosta over North Cobb, Camden County over Hillgrove, Colquitt County over McEachern, Lovejoy over Tri-Cities, Grayson over Wheeler, North Gwinnett over Johns Creek. Hughes over Rockdale County, Lassiter over Brookwood, Mill Creek over Alpharetta, East Coweta over Newton, Norcross over Chattahoochee, South Gwinnett over Milton, Newnan over Alcovy, Collins Hill over West Forsyth, Parkview over Walton.

*Christian and I both have Valwood advancing and winning the GISA Class AA state championship on Dec. 7. Therefore, our picks for Valwood will not count the remainder of the season.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter for scores from tonight’s action at @VDTsports and @Ed_Hooper.