And just like that, the playoffs are here.
Of course, it's nothing new for the high school football season. The hours of time spent in the summertime are crammed into a 12-week schedule that culminates in mid-November with the beginning of the Georgia High School Association playoffs.
In the northeast Georgia area, only nine area teams punched the ticket to Week 13 or the first round of the state playoffs.
Any surprises, not really. Buford, Commerce, Dawson County, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Jefferson, North Hall, Rabun County and Union County will continue the march toward Georgia State Stadium in December.
As those teams continue the game-day routine today, the nine area coaches talk keys to the game.
Buford's Bryant Appling on the keys to beat Decatur:
"We must start fast and efficient against Decatur. Also, stay in front of the ball on defense, and the sticks on offense."
Commerce's Michael Brown on Trion:
"We need to play with consistency in the way we execute on both offense and defense."
Dawson County Sid Maxwell on traveling to Westminster"
"We've got to move the chains and, most importantly, take care of the ball against a team like Westminster."
Flowery Branch's Ben Hall on Cartersville:
"We just have to play loose," Hall said. "There's freedom in a game like this. You can't play not to lose the game and you can't think of it as, well if you don't win, it's the last game. We just need to go out there and lay it on the line and play our brand of football ... be physical on the line of scrimmage -- that will never change -- protect the football and we have to avoid giving up the big play. If we do that, it’ll be a four-quarter game, and we’ve got a shot."
Gainesville's Heath Webb says getting off the field on third down will be key against Allatoona:
"They're going to gain four or five yards and you've got to bow up on 3rd-and-short and get off the field. We have to make our possessions count, because they're going to grind the clock out. The teams are getting 40-45 plays against them -- we ran over 100 plays against Lanier last week -- so we're used to running a lot plays. We have to make them count. It might be 30 minutes before we get the ball back again, so we've got to make those possessions count."
Jefferson's Gene Cathcart says the Dragons have to avoid "playoff-itis" gainst Sonoraville:
"We have to make sure we match the ratcheted up intensity that is playoff high school football in Georgia, especially when competing against schools we don’t know much about or have intense rivalries with. Sonoraville is a good football team but also being season 2.0 gets a restart. We also need to continue to play outstanding defense against a team that’s thrown for close to 2000 yards and do a great job giving multiple looks and tendency breakers and mix in some gadget plays very well. On offense, we've got to do what we do -- establish the run game and give Colby (Clark) opportunities in the play-action game and continue to excel in the turnover margin in what may be a cold and wet night."
North Hall's Dave Bishop on playing Lovett at home:
“Obviously a storied program year in and year out. They’re coached well and they play well together. They have a great system on both sides of the ball, but I feel real good about where we're at right now. We're playing at home and our kids play a little bit better at home. Our style football is not something everybody sees every day, and we've done a lot of things over the last few weeks to tweak what we do to make it just a little bit better. So, I'm looking for a fun Friday night.”
Jaybo Shaw says playing their brand of football on defense will be key against BEST Academy:
"Which is physical and multiple guys around the football, playing with relentless effort on special teams, and starting fast on offense. Turnover battle will always be a key for us no matter who we play. We must execute our offense and stay on schedule.