Some are already calling it the unofficial state title game -- and who can blame them? It's Deerfield-Windsor against Mount de Sales in a classic matchup in the GISA Class AAA state semifinals on Friday night at Webb Memorial Stadium.
"It's a high-powered offense against a fierce defense,'' said DWS' Quentin Heard, who plays both ways for the Knights. "It's a game a lot of people (in GISA) have been waiting for.''
There are six local area teams in the playoffs, but the Deerfield-Mount de Sales game is the highlight of this week's playoff round.
The games are just as big in Camilla, where Westwood's unbeaten Wildcats (11-0) meet Briarwood in the GISA Class A state semifinals, and in Damascus, where the Warriors of Southwest Georgia Academy face Edmund Burke (8-3) in the GISA Class AA state semifinals.
Westwood destroyed Curtis Baptist, 52-13, and it could have been worse. There was a running clock in the second half.
Freshman running back J.T. Edore rushed for 213 yards on only nine
carries and scored twice, and quarterback Mason Worsham threw three TD passes (two to John Vereen) and ran for two more. Westwood's defense made nine plays for no gain or losses, including eight in the first half when the first unit was on the field.
Briarwood escaped with a 30-28, last-second win against Randolph Southern, which finished third in the region race behind Westwood and Terrell Academy.
Two-time defending GISA Class A state champ Terrell Academy (6-4-1) is looking for its third consecutive berth in the state championship game, but has to go on the road to face the defending GISA Class AA state champ Memorial Day in Savannah.
The Eagles are always dangerous but they have their work in front of them. Memorial Day beat Thomas Jefferson, 48-20, and beat Briarwood, 42-0, this year. Terrell Academy just beat Thomas Jefferson, 30-25, last week to advance to the semifinals.
SGA (9-1) has won nine in a row and the kids from Damascus believe this is their year. It looked like it last week when the Warriors shut out Robert Toombs, 21-0, in the first round. Junior quarterback Dillon Driver had a big night, completing 14 passes for 141 yards and rushing for 97 yards, and Troupe Tabb ran for two touchdowns. The SGA defense held Toombs to negative 17 yards in the second half.
Edmund Burke (8-3 and the No. 2 seed from GISA Region 1-A) beat Arlington Christian, 35-16, to advance. SGA beat Arlington, 26-18, earlier this season, and based on those scores this one could be a toss up.
The biggest game of the week, however, is at Deerfield, because the two powers seem so evenly matched and because both have anticipated the showdown.
"That's a great team,'' DWS coach Allen Lowe said. "They're loaded with talent. Our kids know what's coming in here on Friday night.''
Deerfield is trying to become the first Knights team in history to get to 12-0, and a win puts DWS in the state title game for the third consecutive year.
Mount de Sales (10-1), meanwhile, is loaded on offense and features a pair of talented running backs in Chris Swain (1,359 yards, 20 TDs and a 15.6 yards-per-carry average) and Myles Swain (664 yards on 12 TDs, and a 13.59 average). Mount de Sales quarterback Bradley Smith has rushed for 364 yards and four TDs, and he has completed 63-of-96 passes for 1,262 yards and 16 TDs, while being intercepted only four times all year.
The Knights picked off three passes in last week's convincing, 38-14, win against Griffin Christian Academy. Banks Kinslow had two of those, and ran one back 50 yards to the Griffin 8-yard-line. Davis Moore picked off the other one and ran it back 12 yards for a TD.
Kinslow also threw a TD pass, and Moore (131 yards on 15 carries) and Heard (109 yards on 19 carries) carried the ball and the load in that victory.
But DWS has lived on its defense all season, and that's what makes this showdown so intriguing, because Mount de Sales is averaging more than 45 points a game, and Deerfield is allowing fewer than seven a game.
Those are the four matchups in GISA. Two Southwest Georgia GHSA teams are still alive in the second round of the five-round public school playoffs.
Americus-Sumter (7-4) is coming off an upset against Washington County, but now must face defending Class AAA state champ Sandy Creek (11-0) on the road in the Class AAA state playoffs, while Miller County (8-3), which pulled off a huge upset last week against Calvary Day, is on the road in the Class A state playoffs against Clinch County (11-0), the No. 1-ranked team in the GSWA state poll.
Americus-Sumter may have a bigger obstacle than Miller County because Sandy Creek has won 25 games in a row and 36 of its last 38. It hasn't lost a game since Aug. 28, 2009.
The Panthers have made the most of dropping from Class AAAA to Class AAA this season and went 5-1 in the Region 1-AAA race, losing only to Cairo. But they have found themselves in a tough bracket, first facing Washington County and now Sandy Creek, which hammered Perry, 44-3, in the first round of the playoffs.
Americus-Sumter comes in with some momentum after beating WACO, 28-16, thanks to QB Malik Thomas' big night. Thomas threw for 256 yards and three TDs in the win.
Miller finished third in the tough Region 1-A race but is the lone team standing in Class A in Southwest Georgia. The Pirates (8-3) lost to Mitchell County and Seminole County in the region race, but both of those teams were eliminated last week. Mitchell, the No. 1 seed, fell to Savannah Christian, 17-7, at home but Miller beat Calvary Day -- the only team to beat Savannah Christian all year -- on the road. Seminole's season ended against Savannah.
Region 2-A champ Clinch County is loaded on both sides of the ball and has held opponents to just nine points a game this season while averaging 45 points a game. Miller's stars Juwan Jones and T.T. Barber will have to have big nights to pull off an upset.
But don't count Miller County out. The Pirates were trailing Calvary Day, 21-0, last week when they stormed back to win, 34-21.