Valdosta Daily Times

November 23, 2012

Column: Friday night fever

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — When I looked over the playoff bracket two weeks ago, I didn’t think I’d be writing my second playoff column with just two local area teams remaining in contention for the state championship. But that’s the way the cards were dealt.

I don’t think there are many people in the state that had the Lowndes Vikings and the Valdosta Wildcats losing in the first round of the playoffs. I surely know Christian Malone and I didn’t have that happening.

As for tonight, there are plenty of quality matchups around the state. But, before I reveal our picks, here is a recap of last week.

Christian and I were both 12-4 with our predictions for the first round. Unfortunately for the both of us, we had Valdosta playing in the state semifinals, while I had Lowndes playing for the state championship. Those bold predictions will surely hurt our brackets moving forward.

Fortunately, Christian and I have picked all eight games for this week and those upsets in week one won’t affect our picks this week.

Christian and I both have the following teams winning: Camden County over East Coweta, Norcross over South Gwinnett, Colquitt County over Newnan, Parkview over West Forsyth, Grayson over North Gwinnett, North Cobb over Langston-Hughes and Mill Creek over Brookwood.

The only game Christian and I have differently is Lovejoy against Marietta. Christian has Marietta beating Lovejoy, while I don’t think the Blue Devils will win two straight playoff games against favored teams.

Good luck to Valwood and Brooks County tonight as they continue to compete for state championships. For Brooks County updates, follow @VDTsports on Twitter. You can follow me on Twitter at @Ed_Hooper on Twitter for Valwood.

Impressions for the first round

— Lowndes’ first round loss to Marietta was the first time the Vikings were eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs at home under head coach Randy McPherson. It was also the second straight home playoff loss for the Vikings, dating back to the 2010 quarterfinal loss to Collins Hill.

— North Cobb is an impressive football team. While covering Lowndes last week, I managed to pull up the Valdosta-North Cobb webcast (along with the Alpharetta-Mill Creek game) on my laptop. Watching the Warriors dismantle the Wildcats was shocking. Christian and I both had Valdosta playing in the semifinals and both of us thought the Wildcats were playing some of their best football heading into the playoffs. As my dad told me the next morning on the phone, “I guess that’s why they play the game.”

— Weak region or not, Lamar County is good. The Trojans hammered the Cook Hornets 51-13 in the first round of the Class AA playoffs. I thought the Hornets could get more of that four-seed magic going and upset the one-seeded Trojans, but I was wrong. What the Trojans were able to do to the Hornets shows they are a good football team. After all, the Hornets were the fourth-seed from the toughest region in the state and were not a team that gets blown out that badly. Lamar County could be a dark-horse, behind Brooks County and Calhoun, to win the state championship this season.

— Brooks County’s success this season has been built around quarterback Malkom Parrish. Although the Trojans were able to win their first round game against Macon County last week, they suffered an injury to Parrish. The junior QB and Class AA Player of the Year candidate hurt his ankle but fought through his injury to finish the game. Although Parrish fought through injury, head coach Maurice Freeman kept him limited. If Brooks County is going to make a title run as we all planned, Parrish’s health and ability to run the Trojan offense will be the key.

— Valwood has a tough test tonight in John Milledge Academy. It seems like these are the best two teams in GISA Class AA and the winner will be the heavy favorite to win the state championship next week. I said earlier this year, and again a few weeks ago, that I thought the Valiants would win every game this season and by a convincing margin. I still think they’ll win every game, I just want to take back the convincing margin prediction. I think tonight’s game will be closer than some believe.

— I received a lot of heat for my column in Monday’s paper about fans leaving behind high school football and supporting the local university in the Division II playoffs. If you were one of the people that got offended, you were the exact person my column was directed towards. Get out there and support the Blazers Saturday at noon as they welcome the West Alabama Tigers in the second round of the Division II playoffs.

Follow Ed on Twitter at @Ed_Hooper.