Worth County (5-5) at Peach County (9-1)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Worth County (Region 1-AAA, No. 4 seed) at Peach County (Region 2-AAA, No. 1 seed).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Fort Valley.
X-FACTOR: Worth County's offensive line. The Rams' front five can move people and Rams coach Scotty Ward thinks they're better than the West Laurens O-line that ran right at Peach County and handed the Trojans their only loss of the year. If Worth can open holes for Anderson and not turn the ball over, an upset could be in the cards.
ANALYSIS: Peach County is, well, Peach County. The Trojans (9-1), ranked in the Class AAA Top 10 all season are the 2009 state champions and the 2010 state runner-up. They've made the playoffs each of the past 21 seasons. Peach boasts junior wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, nephew of former Bears' receiver Marcus Robinson. The younger Robinson lines up all over the field and is lethal in space. Worth, meanwhile, hasn't advanced past the quarterfinals since the days of Milt Miller. Never mind that the Rams (5-5) are on a modest two-game win streak running behind tailback Ellis Anderson and are playing their best ball of the season.
THEY SAID IT: "We're going to have to do what we normally do, which is run the football. It might not be what people want to see, but it's what we do." - Worth head coach Scotty Ward.
IF WIN: Will face winner of Ridgeland (Region 7-AAA, No. 2) vs. Monroe Area (Region 8-AAA, No. 3) on Nov. 18
Clinch County (7-3) at Mitchell County (7-3)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Clinch County (GHSA Region 2-A, No. 3) at Mitchell County (GHSA Region 1-A, No. 2).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Camilla.
X-FACTOR: Mitchell QB Tevin Watkins. He has emerged as a force for the Eagles since he took over the starting role three weeks ago. He has completed 56-of-93 passes (60 percent) for 602 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has also run for 261 yards on 40 carries (6.53 yards per carry) and two TDs this season.
ANALYSIS: Last year Mitchell had to open against state-power Savannah Christian, which went on to play for the state title. This year the Eagles open against Clinch County, the team that beat Savannah Christian for the title. Clinch has won five state titles, and is a surprise as a No. 3 seed, but the Panthers played in a region that featured No. 3-ranked Wilcox and No. 6-ranked Charlton County. They lost those two games by a total of 20 points, and fell to Irwin County, 32-31. Clinch -- just like Mitchell -- is loaded with speed. One of the keys to this game will be Mitchell's fast and talented DBs and LBs containing Clinch on the outside.
THEY SAID IT: "I told our kids we're playing the defending state champs. It will boil down to who wants it the most. It's the playoffs. I don't know what else a coach has to say. It's win or go home.'' -- Mitchell County coach Dondrial Pinkins.
IF WIN: Will face winner of Lincoln County (Region 8-A, No. 1) vs. Commerce (Region 7-A, No. 4) on Nov.18 or Nov. 19.
Bacon County (7-3) Seminole County (9-1)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Bacon County (Region 2-A, No. 4) at Seminole County (Region 1-A, No. 1)
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Donaldsonville.
X-FACTOR: Seminole RB Chris Brown. Nobody has slowed him this season and Bacon County's 3-5 defense gave up nearly 250 yards to Charlton County's Tre Hamilton earlier this season. The Indians spread it around too much for that to happen, but Brown will get his.
ANALYSIS: Hand it off to 1,300-yard rusher Chris Brown and let quarterback Antwan Buggs work his magic. The game plan for Seminole County won't be too complex in the first round. The Indians have never advanced past the second round, but this could be the year. Nobody's come within 20 points of the Indians since a season-opening loss to Wesleyan and Bacon County will need a near-perfect game to do so. The Red Raiders lost to the other three 2-A powers (Wilcox, Charlton, Clinch), but came close to going 9-1 after hanging around in losses to Charlton and Clinch en route to their first playoff appearance since 2005.
THEY SAID IT: "Most of the sports writers in Atlanta don't know a dang thing about Seminole County." - Indians head coach Alan Ingram on being overlooked in the state polls all season.
IF WIN: Will face winner of George Walton (Region 8-A, No. 2) vs. Wilkinson County (Region 7-A, No. 3) on Nov. 18.
Bainbridge (8-2) at Ware County (8-2)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Bainbridge (GHSA Region 1-AAAA, No. 3 seed) at Ware County (GHSA Region 2-AAAA, No. 2).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Waycross.
X-FACTOR: Quincy Fortson. The Bearcats QB has shined as the season has progressed, and he has added so much to Bainbridge's veer offense, which features two strong running backs in Terry Lewis and Damian Bouie. Fortson won The Herald's Player of the Week after he rushed for 131 yards and a TD, and threw for 90 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in OT against Thomas County Central.
ANALYSIS: Ware County has been in and out of the state's Top 10 all season, and has lost only to Class AAAAA Lowndes and No. 3-ranked Statesboro. The Gators will be tough to beat at home. But Bainbridge's only losses have come to two state ranked teams -- No. 2 Northside, Warner Robins, and No. 10 Warner Robins, which barely beat the Bearcats, 14-10. The key is Bainbridge's defense facing Ware County QB Josh Bennett, who rushed for 95 yards and threw for 113 yards last week against Statesboro.
THEY SAID IT: "We've been the underdogs all year, but we've gotten better offensively and defensively, and we're ready for the playoffs. We're happy to be in the playoffs, but we know we have a lot more to accomplish in the playoffs.'' -- Bainbridge QB Quincy Fortson.
IF WIN: Face winner of Heritage Conyers (Region 3-AAAA, No. 1) vs. Rome (Region 7, No. 4) Nov. 18 or 19.
Miller County (4-6) at Charlton County (9-1)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Miller County (Region 1-A, No. 3) at Charlton County (Region 2-A, No. 2).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. in Folkston.
X-FACTORS: Charlton's Tre Hamilton and Miller's T.T. Barber. Hamilton will probably break the school rushing record, but if Barber, who is a ball-carrier magnet from his linebacker spot, and the Pirates can keep him corralled they could slow the Charlton offense, which has been pass-happy in previous years but only threw a handful of times per game this year.
ANALYSIS: Miller County pulled a heck of a first-round matchup out of the hat, having to drive across the state to The Swamp to play. But the Pirates, after an 0-4 start to the season, will gladly enjoy the ride. Miller County will ride star tailback/linebacker T.T. Barber as far as he will take them, but the Pirates' biggest challenge tonight will be stopping Indians' scatback Tre Hamilton. Hamilton has run for more than 5,000 yards in his career and needs just 23 yards to break the school's all-time rushing record, besting the likes of the Bailey brothers (Ronald, Champ and Boss).
THEY SAID IT: "We think we're a better football team than our record shows." - Miller County head coach Frank Killingsworth on possibly surprising perennial power Charlton County.
IF WIN: Will face winner of Prince Avenue Christian (Region 8-A, No. 1) vs. Washington-Wilkes (Region 7-A, No. 4) on Nov. 18.
Calhoun County (4-6) at Wilcox County (10-0)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Calhoun County (GHSA Region 1-A, No. 4) at Wilcox County (GHSA Region 2-A, No. 1).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Rochelle.
X-FACTOR: The Patriots' passing attack. Calhoun's defense is dynamite against the run, but as evident in a loss to Mitchell County three weeks ago -- when the Eagles ran up 42 points by halftime, mostly through the air -- the Cougars struggle against the pass. That's bad news for Calhoun fans because all Wilcox does is throw. If the Cougars can find a way to slow down the passing attack and keep Wilcox -- the No. 3 team in the Georgia AP Poll -- under its 39.7 points-per-game average, they have a chance.
ANALYSIS: Calhoun needs to ground and pound with Willie Brown, who has emerged as the Cougars' top runner, rushing for 178 yards and 3 scores last week against Pelham -- and if they're successful on long drives that end with points on the board, it will keep the powerful Wilcox County offense off the field.
THEY SAID IT: "I told my guys that if we have to play anybody, we might as well play the best team in the state (right off the bat). The fact is, there's 32 teams left -- and we're one of them." -- Calhoun County head coach John Williams.
IF WIN: Will face winner of Region 7-A, No. 1 Aquinas vs. Region 8-A, No. 3 Athens Academy on Nov. 18 or 19.
Mary Persons (8-2) at Americus-Sumter (6-4)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Mary Persons (GHSA Region 2-AAA, No. 3 seed) at (GHSA Region 1, No. 2 seed) Americus-Sumter.
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Americus.
X-FACTOR: Americus-Sumter offense. The Panthers have had games with big scoring outputs -- they hung 36 on Worth County and 41 on Dougherty in wins -- but they've also been wildly inconsistent at times, scoring zero last week in a loss to Cairo, 7 in losses to Cook and Crisp, 10 in a loss to Troup and just 6 in a win against Monroe. First-year starting QB Bryce Benton must get going early -- Americus averages 233 yards on offense, with only 73 of that coming on the ground -- and find star WR Xavier Willis for some big gains.
ANALYSIS: The Panthers need to find ways to score early on a stingy Mary Persons defense that has put up some astonishing numbers in 2011: 13 points a game allowed, 20 forced turnovers -- including 13 interceptions -- with 41 sacks on the year. But by the same token, the Americus-Sumter defense, which is giving up just 14.2 points a game on average, is no slouch itself. It will need to shut down the Bulldogs' dynamic duo of running backs, Ricardo Lyons and Nick Davis, who have rushed for more than 600 yards and are leading a Mary Persons offense that is averaging almost 24 points a game.
THEY SAID IT: "It's all about advancing and surviving to get to the next round." -- Americus-Sumter coach Michael Pollock.
IF WIN: Will play winner of Allatoona (Region 7, No. 1) vs. Franklin County (Region 3, No. 4) on Nov. 18 or 19.
Briarwood (6-4) at Terrell Academy (5-5)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Briarwood (GISA Region 1-A, No. 3) at Terrell Academy (GISA Region 3-A No. 2).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. today in Dawson.
X-FACTOR: Terrell Academy running back Josh Wardrip. As Wardrip goes this season, so does the Eagles' offense. He's had two four-touchdown games this year, and both times TAE won, but when he struggles to get going or gets shut down by opposing defenses, the offense has to turn to the air, which has worked at times this year, while other times it's failed them.
ANALYSIS: If you look at the common opponents of these two teams -- of which there is only one (Thomas Jefferson) -- then TAE should roll in this game. The Eagles barely lost to TJ, 43-42, at the last second, while TJ crushed Briarwood just last month by 29 points (43-14).
THEY SAID IT: The Herald was unable to reach Eagles head coach Bill Murdock.
IF WIN: Will face the winner of Memorial Day (Region 1, No. 1 seed) vs. Windsor Academy (Region 2, No. 4 seed) on Nov. 18.
Covenant (7-4) at Westwood (10-0)
WHO/REGION/SEED: Covenant (GISA Region 1-A, No. 4 seed) at Westwood (GISA Region 2-A, No. 1 seed).
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Camilla.
X-FACTORS: Mason Worsham. He's not only the coach's son, but he's a four-year starter at quarterback who led his team to the state title a year ago. Worsham, who completes more than 75 percent of his passes, is coming off a 54-7 win against region runner-up Terrell Academy during which he ran for 78- and 82-yard touchdowns, proving he is just as lethal running the ball as he is throwing it. His leadership qualities will be invaluable during yet another playoff run for Westwood.
ANALYSIS: Westwood has won 23 games in a row with the goal to repeat as an undefeated state champ. No one has been able to slow down the Wildcats' offense, and Covenant has been burned against good teams, losing to last year's state runner-up Memorial Day, 54-7, and falling to Windsor this year, 40-27. Westwood beat Windsor, 34-6. Comparative scores aren't always perfect gauges, but it's pretty clear that Westwood, which is averaging more than 50 points a game, will be able to put up a lot of points on Covenant, which runs a no-huddle offense. That strategy of not slowing the game down could prove to be a disaster for Covenant because of Westwood's big-play, quick-scoring ability.
THEY SAID IT: "We've got some people saying, 'You're going to win it all, and no one is going to touch you.' But we have a mature bunch, and we try to protect them against that kind of stuff. They know it's not going to be given to us.'' -- Westwood coach Ross Worsham.
IF WIN: Will face winner of Thomas Jefferson (Region 1-A, No. 2) vs. Dawson Street Christian (Region 2-A, No. 3) Nov. 18 or Nov. 19 depending on whether Mitchell County, which shares the stadium with Westwood in Camilla, wins or loses.
-- All capsules compiled by Herald sports editor Danny Aller, staff writers Mike Phillips and Matt Stewart, and Americus Times-Recorder sports editor Chris Whitaker