Thursday October 19th, 2017 6:43AM

Playoff previews, round 2: Survivors start dreaming big

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
  Contact Editor
If there were any "gimmees" last week, you can forget it now. The second round of the state playoffs brings with it some serious match-ups and showdowns between plenty of serious programs.

That is certainly the case for the area's six representatives playing in the second round this week -- as well as Commerce, which will begin play in the first round of the Class A public playoffs on Friday.

The Class AAAAAA Sweet 16 will feature a top five showdown between No. 5 North Gwinnett and No. 3 Grayson as well as a rematch between Mill Creek and Brookwood.

In Class AAAAA, Gainesville travels to face a very similar foe in Kell, while in Class AAA, North Hall plays host to Morgan County and Buford travels to take on North Oconee.

And in Class AA, Jefferson will look to knock off Westminster at home.

To learn more about each contest, simply scroll down...


-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson
-- NORTH GWINNETT (10-1, No. 2 seed Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Johns Creek 49-19 in the first round. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAAA.
-- GRAYSON (10-1, No. 1 seed Region 8-AAAAAA): Defeated Wheeler 49-9 in the first round. The Rams are ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAAA.
-- HISTORY: Grayson won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 23-19 in the second round of the 2010 Class AAAAA playoffs.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Lovejoy vs. Marietta winner in the quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: One of the bigger showdowns of the playoffs, let alone the year, as North Gwinnett looks to knock off the defending champion. ... The Bulldogs have been doing things with offense for much of the season, scoring 37.5 points per game (ppg) but will battle a Rams team that has shut down many foes this season, allowing just 8.4 ppg while posting five shutouts. Grayson features all-world defensive end Robert Nkemdiche. ... North Gwinnett's offense, led by quarterback Michael Haynes, has been held below three touchdowns just once this season. ... The Bulldogs defense is allowing 17.9 ppg and faces a Rams attack that is plenty powerful, scoing 41.4 ppg. Grayson includes running back Wayne Gallman, who scored three touchdowns in last week's first round win. ... North Gwinnett is trying to get back to the state quarterfinals after two straight seasons of falling in the second round. ... Grayson has reached the third round of the postseason in five straight campaigns -- only three programs have ever achieved that feat six times in a row.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Mill Creek Community Stadium, Hoschton
-- BROOKWOOD (7-4, No. 4 seed Region 8-AAAAAA): Defeated Lassiter 24-21 in overtime in the first round.
-- MILL CREEK (8-3, No. 3 seed Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Alpharetta 41-39 in the first round.
-- HISTORY: Brookwood won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 31-21 on Sept. 7 of this season.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Hughes vs. North Cobb winner in the quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: When these two teams met almost two-and-a-half months ago it proved a battle to the finish, with Mill Creek staying in the contest until late. ... The Hawks enter this showdown with an offense that is hitting on all cylinders, racking up 562 yards in last week's victory, including 360 yards rushing for running back Jacorey Lewis (breaking his own school record). Mill Creek is scoring 37.4 ppg and will face a Brookwood defense that is yielding 26.3 ppg. ... The Hawks defense is allowing 19.7 ppg and will take on a Broncos offense scoring 29.2 ppg. Brookwood features quarterback Zach Moon and receiver Kyrin Priester -- the two hooked up for a five-yard touchdown pass with :08 remaining in last week's win that sent the contest into overtime. ... Both teams won with clutch field goals last week, Mill Creek's Bryson King booting a 25-yarder to seal a victory just before the end of regulation. Brookwood's Brandon Morrow kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime. ... The Hawks are in the midst of their third-ever playoff run. In that time Mill Creek has won just three postseason games. Brookwood has two state titles in its history.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: C.J. Kell Stadium, Marietta
-- RADIO: 1240 AM
-- GAINESVILLE (8-3, No. 2 seed Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Rome 41-14 in the first round. The Longhorns are ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA.
-- KELL (10-1, No. 1 seed Region 7-AAAAA): Defeated Southwest DeKalb 19-14 in the first round.
-- HISTORY: This is the two teams' first meeting.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Harris County vs. Warner Robins winner in the quarterfinal round
-- NOTABLE: Read/watch our preview of the game by clicking here

Class AAA
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: The Brickyard, Gainesville
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM
-- MORGAN COUNTY (9-2, No. 2 seed Region 8-AAA): Defeated Gordon Central 24-21 in the first round.
-- NORTH HALL (9-2, No. 1 seed Region 7-AAA): Defeated Woodward Academy 38-7 in the first round.
-- HISTORY: This is the two teams' first meeting.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Pierce County vs. Peach County winner in quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: This will be a game played out in the trenches, as each team likes to run the ball and stop the run. North Hall's wishbone attack is averaging 349.5 yards per game on the ground, while Morgan County's wing-T attack has helped the Bulldogs average 33.9 points per game. The Trojans employed the wing-T for their offense 2001-2011. Will that help the Trojans defense in this contest? North Hall coach Bob Christmas isn't necessarily sure, as the Bulldogs line up differently than the Trojan offenses of the past. Yet the principals of the attack are certainly similar. ... The Bulldogs feature fullback Marquis Benton, while fellow running backs Melvin Davis, Michael Gray and Andrew Couch, as well as quarterback Trent Hawk, are all dangerous ball carriers. ... North Hall's wishbone attack features a similarly multi-headed backfield and is led by Kevin Christmas (844 yards, 6 TDs), TJ Tate (779 yards, 11 TDs), quarterback Brad Brown (690 yards, 14 TDs), Zac Little (512 yards, 7 TDs) and quarterback Andrew Smith (501 yards, 8 TDs). ... The Trojans are yielding 14.1 points and 102.8 yards rushing per game. ... The Bulldogs are giving up 17.7 ppg. ... North Hall is trying to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. ... Morgan County has not reached the state quarterfinals since 1990. ... North Hall is 10-2 at home in the playoffs under Bob Christmas, the last loss coming in the 2004 state quarterfinals.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Titan Stadium, Bogart
-- BUFORD (8-3, No. 2 seed Region 7-AAA): Defeated Cedar Grove 41-27 in the first round. The Wolves are ranked No. 3 in Class AAA.
-- NORTH OCONEE (10-1, No. 1 seed Region 8-AAA): Defeated Ringgold 37-14 in the first round. The Titans are ranked No. 8 in Class AAA.
-- HISTORY: Buford won the only previous meeting between the two teams, 44-7 in the second round of the 2008 Class AA playoffs.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Carver-Columbus vs. Rockmart winner in the quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: North Oconee is looking for its first ever state quarterfinal berth. The Titans are 0-3 in second round games so far, including the loss to Buford in 2008. ... Buford is gunning for its 13th straight appearance in the quarterfinals. This game marks the first time the Wolves have trekked away from Tom Riden Stadium for a second round game since winning at Adairsville since 2000. ... Both teams feature powerful rushing attacks, the Titans leaning on Kawon Bryant, who rushed for 169 yards and 3 TDs last week to put him at 1,058 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Bryant also picked up the slack when starting quarterback Nick Colvin went down with a shoulder injury. The Wolves are preparing for Colvin to play this Friday for an offense that is averaging 39.1 ppg. ... Buford's offense has shown that it can make up for the loss of starting running back Dontravious Wilson, with Zavior Hoxie and Joshua Thomas picking up the slack. Quarterbacks Taylor Mitchell and Montgomery VanGorder have also added an explosive dimension to a Wolves offense that is averaging 42.2 ppg. Buford has passed for 197 and 187 yards in the past two games, respectively. ... The Titans will counter with a defense allowing 13.7 points per game and more than 14 points just three times so far in 2012. ... Buford's defense is one of the stingiest in the state, yielding just 8 ppg. The Wolves are coming off a contest in which they allowed their highest scoring total of the campaign.

Class AA
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- RADIO: 550 AM
-- WESTMINSTER (5-6, No. 3 seed Region 6-AA): Defeated Pepperell 34-0 in the first round.
-- JEFFERSON (10-1, No. 1 seed Region 8-AA): Defeated Kendrick 42-8 in the first round. The Dragons are ranked No. 7 in Class AA.
-- HISTORY: This is the two teams' first meeting.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Vidalia vs. Fitzgerald winner in the quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: The Dragons are looking to progress to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1977 -- when Jefferson lost in the Class B title game. ... Westminster has not reached the third round of state since 2003. ... The Wildcats may be 5-6, but all six losses came to eventual state playoff teams, including four from Class AAA. Five of the teams that defeated Westminster will be playing tonight in the second round. ... Jefferson is one win shy of tying the school record for wins in a row (11). ... Jefferson faces a Westminster team that will throw a number of looks at opponents, both on offense and defense. The Wildcats will run out of the "I" as well as the spread. Dragons coach T McFerrin says that Westminster quarterback Jake Forte will be the best passer his team has faced all season. The Wildcats balance the run and pass but will lean on the pass slightly more. ... Westminster's defense will give the Dragons looks at a 3-3 stack, 3-4 and 4-3 bases. The Wildcats are allowing 17 ppg and picked off two passes and returned them for scores in last week's first round win. Westminster also made 12 tackles for loss in round one. ... Jefferson is allowing just 10.3 ppg and has not given up more than 10 points since a 62-26 win over Greene County on Sept. 28. ... The Dragons enter scoring 38 ppg.

Class A Public (First Round)
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Seminole Stadium, Donalsonville
-- COMMERCE (5-5, Received at-large big due to power index): Lost 31-21 to Pinecrest Academy on Nov. 9.
-- SEMINOLE COUNTY (8-2, Region 1-A champion): Defeated Mitchell County 34-12 on Nov. 9.
-- HISTORY: This is the two teams' first meeting.
-- WINNER PLAYS: Dooly County vs. Turner County winner in the quarterfinal round.
-- NOTABLE: Commerce will mark its 16th straight state playoff appearance tonight, but the Tigers are looking for their first postseason win since 2009. To get it, Commerce must find a way past a Indians team that reached the quarterfinal round last season. ... The Tigers must be road warriors tonight, having traveled almost 300 miles to play in the contest -- Seminole County is in the southwest corner of the state. ... The Tigers will hope to show that playing against one of the top schedules in Class A can pay off. Of Commerce's five losses, four came to Class A playoff teams (all four are in the private school postseason). The Tigers also pulled off two wins over Class AA playoff teams Jefferson and Rabun County -- a big reason why Commerce advanced to the playoffs, as the GHSA now uses a power ratings index to decide half of the 16 teams that advance to state. ... Seminole County features a defense that is allowing 14.2 ppg. Offensively, the Indians rely on quarterback Jakhari Martin, who is a big threat as a rusher. ... Commerce enters the contest averaging 17.6 ppg on offense. The Tigers have not put up big numbers save a 42-11 defeat of Hebron Christian on Oct. 26.
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