By Gabriel Stovall
Southern Crescent football teams went 6-for-10 in first round playoff games this past Friday. And while the 60 percent clip is good, the way some of those teams got there made it even better.
There were some close calls, come-from-behinds and offensive explosions as well as defensive implosions. And at least half of the remaining schools are poised to make some history.
Here’s how they fared:
Stockbridge 48, Columbus 7: Class AAAAA’s top-ranked team flexed its top-ranked muscles in its first round blowout win over Columbus. The Tigers will move on to host Gainesville (8-3) Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Red Elephants — winners of four straight — knocked of Alexander 25-14 in their round one game. The Stockbridge-Gainesville winner will get whoever comes out on top in Friday’s Glynn Academy-Dalton matchup.
Starr’s Mill 49, Northside-Columbus 0: After the 21-7 hiccup at Northgate back on October 30, the Panthers have won their last two games by a combined score of 94-7. Those two wins come against Dutchtown, which historically has always played Starr’s Mill close, and a Northside, Columbus squad that came into last Friday winners of five of its last six. In that game Sophomore Rico Frye’s three rushing scores set a new school record for rushing touchdowns in a season Starr’s Mill will travel to Allatoona (10-1) Friday, whose only blemish was a season opening 17-10 loss to East Paulding.
Drew 70, Carver-Columbus 34: We thought it was a misprint when we looked at the scores, but it’s true. The Titans won their first playoff game in school history in style by putting up the most points of any GHSA team in a first round playoff game since St. Pius X hung 72 on Dawson County back in 2012. It helped push Drew (8-3)’s season points per game average to a ridiculous 45 points per game. The Titans will travel to South Paulding (9-2) Friday.
Spalding 28, Cairo 10: Quarterback Naricuss Dryver and running back A.J. Moses each had a pair of touchdowns in Spalding’s first playoff win since 2003. They did it by knocking of the Syrupmakers who are coached by former Griffin head man Steve Devoursney. Coach Nick Davis’ squad face a gargantuan challenge Friday at Class AAAA No. 1 Woodward Academy (11-0).
Worth County 35, Locust Grove 0: Clint Satterfield and anyone else on his coaching staff will tell you that 2016 was really the year to point to as to a true breakout season for Locust Grove, complete with a deep playoff run. But the Wildcats were the head turners of the year while racing out to a 9-0 record. And while it was a pleasant surprise to some, it couldn’t have been easy to watch the season end on a thud with losses to Jonesboro in the Region 4-AAAA championship game and then a shutout to Worth County. It was surprising, given that Worth County’s defense hadn’t been exactly dominant. With just nine seniors departing, Locust Grove has a tremendous nucleus returning for 2016.
Buford 35, Fayette County 0: This outcome is no surprise. But shout out to Fayette County and coach Mike Davis for turning a tough season into an extended one. Young talent is returning for the Tigers. Buford looks setup for a classic semifinal matchup with Woodward Academy.
Sandy Creek 49, North Hall 0: An unbeaten Bainbridge team will play host to the Patriots Friday. This will serve as Sandy Creek’s (9-2) latest opportunity to notch a win against one of Class AAAA’s upper echelon teams. Their other two chances against top 10 teams (Jonesboro and Woodward Academy) have not ended well.
Bainbridge 35, Griffin 7: Coach Jarrett Laws’ second season at Griffin came to an end with the Bainbridge loss, but the Bears feel good about some of the chemistry and team bonding that has happened this season — something they hope can bode well for next season.
Jonesboro 17, Thomas County Central 14: There must be something in the water Jonesboro’s drinking this year that keeps them resilient in the face of adversity. The Cardinals showed a never-say-die mentality, pulling out a come-from-behind win for the ages after being down 14-0 late in the game for the second week in a row. This latest victory gave the Cardinals their first playoff win since 2008.