With everybody nervous over the fate of their favorite high school teams tonight, I won't keep you waiting for predictions. I will only offer a few random thoughts.
Kudos to Worth County for making me look good last week. Typically, most coaches don't want to see me predict them to pull an upset victory because nothing motivates a team more than the lack of respect card. The Rams proved it doesn't matter what I say. (Coincidentally, my critics have been saying that for years.)
To steal from Stephen Colbert, a wag of the finger to the GHSA for the bracket mixup this week. They didn't realize a mistake with the setup where a few pods were placed in the wrong spots. When do these come out? July? And nobody saw this before Stuart Glenn, an avid prep football follower in Pelham, pointed it out? Yet, confusion in the GHSA is hardly breaking news.
Finally, in the advertising world, monkeys equal ratings. Always. It's a fact. (I told you it was random).
On to the predictions:
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN DAY AT DEERFIELD-WINDSOR: It's easy to point to the first game between these two and place FPD into the favorite category. It's more appropriate to forget about it. Neither of these two teams are anywhere near the same team they were then.
When looking at some common opponents of late, all signs point to DWS. The Knights have decisive wins against Southland and Westfield where FPD lost to Westfield and had some trouble with Southland in a win. If you are a high school football fan and all your public school teams are on the road, I recommend heading over the Deerfield to see Tony Zenon play if you haven't before. He's special in GISA and will be special on the next level.
PREDICTION: Deerfield-Windsor 24, FPD 6
EDMUND BURKE AT SHERWOOD: The Eagles took a big step forward in the win against SGA. For an inexperienced team to figure out how to win a big game was an important step in their development into a championship team. They will need all the lessons they learned tonight. Burke provides a great test, but when you can give the ball to Dontavious Brown and watch him run it tends to solve a lot of problems.
PREDICTION: Sherwood 30, Edmund Burke 24
BROOKSTONE AT MILLER CO.: Nobody likes cliches, but you will hear one on repeat in Colquitt tonight: Defense wins championships. That's what they hope will be true against a Brookstone offense that can score with anyone and lines up 6-7, 248 pound Alabama commit Brian Vogler at tight end. The Pirates will combat with Juwan Jones and a team of aggressive linebackers that have shut down almost everyone in their path this year. The question is, was last week's 25-point problem against Clinch County an aberration? The answer is yes.
PREDICTION: Miller Co. 13, Brookstone 10
MONROE AT JACKSON: It's funny, if your teams goal is win a championship, last weeks loss to Worth County could be considered a blessing for the Tornadoes. Sure, traveling to play undefeated Jackson is a tough first round matchup. However, Jackson has the easiest schedule of any team entering the Class AAA playoffs according to the Maxwell ratings. In order make it to the third round - Monroe has never done so in its history - the Tornadoes will have to beat a No. 1 seed. If they were the No. 3 seed, it would almost certainly have been Carver (Columbus) which appears to be a serious contender to win its second state title in three years. Instead, a win against Jackson then taking on the winner of LaGrange-Liberty would be considered an easier path to that goal. That said, Monroe must play better offensively than it has the last two weeks to win this game. With this defense, they don't need much. But they need more than two offensive touchdowns a game they got against Perry and Worth County.
PREDICTION: Jackson 16, Monroe 13
WORTH Co. AT WOODWARD ACADEMY: Worth County has no secrets. Scotty Ward probably didn't need to exchange tapes with Woodward, he could have just sent their staff the playbook of his offense. The Rams are going to run off tackle and behind Justin Tukes. They are going to do it all game. Worth will need to outphysical Woodward to win this game. For what it is worth, Region 1-AAA appears to be among the most physical in the state and going up against the top defenses the Rams have all year has to be an advantage here. I think the power of the Rams front line is enough to overcome the speed of running back Juwan Thompson.
PREDICTION: Worth Co. 21, Woodward Academy 17
SEMINOLE CO. AT CHATTAHOOCHEE CO.: The bottom line from this seat is that Region 1-A is weak this year. Not to downplay anything the Indians did this year in raking up more than 40 points a game with a team of underclassmen, but many of the blowout games came at the hands of some struggling programs. In the biggest game of the season, Seminole struggled to score against Miller. That game taught a lot to this team, but with so many young players this team is a year away. Next season, I put them in the preseason top five. This season, Chattahoochee is too much.
PREDICTION: Chattahoochee 31, Seminole Co. 26
PELHAM AT GREENVILLE: Hornets coach Jim Morrell has done a remarkable job along with this Pelham team in earning some redemption and a playoff spot this season. He even earned himself a chance to coach against friend Jeremy Williams at Greenville. Morrell said earlier this week he was rooting for Williams to win the state championship this year. That's because Greenville has a legit shot of doing so. They are the better team and I have to believe that is enough here.
PREDICTION: Greenville 35, Pelham 16
BAINBRIDGE AT NORTH CLAYTON: The strength of Region 1-AAAA makes you hopeful that Bainbridge can make a run like the one it did two years ago with current Georgia linebacker Nick Williams to the state quarterfinals. But a troubling loss to Upson-Lee, a struggle with Americus-Sumter and defeat to TCC make me think this team is not playing its best football right now. Against North Clayton and Florida commit Neiron Ball, they will need to be.
PREDICTION: North Clayton 24, Bainbridge 10
SGA AT BULLOCH ACAD.: SGA has looked like a state title contender all season and only the stumble against SCA keeps them from being the overwhelming favorite. Bulloch is no slouch and having to travel across the state is a chore. Still, the Warriors' ability to run the ball should be the difference in this one. This is the time where Nile Knapp needs take over games with those grinding 5 to 7 yard runs and occasionally break the big one.
PREDCITION: SGA 28, Bulloch Academy 21
RANDOLPH SOUTHERN AT BRIARWOOD: The Patriots have been the fighting Houdinis this year in their incredible ability to escape almost certain losses with wins. When the pressure is on, they are at their best. Well, the pressure will be on for all four quarters tonight. That would seem to favor the Patriots. However, Briarwood is a quality football team and the Patriots are coming off of tough losses to Fullington and Terrell. I think Briarwood rides a big first half to the win.
PREDICTION: Briarwood 32, Randolph Southern 20
WESTWOOD AT THOMAS JEFFERSON: TJ has been one of the premier programs in Class A for a while. Expecting anyone to go into their place and come away with a win would be a lot to ask. Westwood has been close in so many big games this year and showed they can play with the best in the region, it would appear they could do it. If TJ is overlooking the Wildcats at all Westwood will win. I have a hunch TJ will view Westwood as a pushover. The Wildcats take advantage for the GISA shocker of the weekend.
PREDICTION: Westwood 28, Thomas Jefferson 27
BETHESDA DAY AT TERRELL ACADEMY: No disrespect to Bethesda, but Terrell Academy is clearly the better team in this game. Terrell should be resting its starters for much of the night.
PREDCITION: Terrell Academy 41, Bethesda Day 0