Seven area teams -- Buford, Commerce, Dawson County, Jefferson, North Hall, Rabun County and Union County -- all advanced to the second round of the Georgia High School Association playoffs with wins last week.
Buford, Commerce, Jefferson, Rabun and Dawson steamrolled their first-round opponents, while North Hall and Union County made it a bit more interesting with nail-biting wins. But, overall, not too many surprises.
This second-round schedule has some miles on it with four of the seven area teams taking long road trips of three hours or more. Buford has the longest interstate stroll as they travel to Waycross to take on Ware County. Dawson County and Union County will bus close to five hours -- Savannah and Metter, and North Hall will charter just over three hours to Crisp County.
Jefferson and Rabun will play in the luxury of their own homes tonight. Jefferson hosts Appling County and Rabun welcomes Toombs County.
In the midst of preparing for this week's opponents, the seven area coaches talk keys to the game.
Buford coach Bryant Appling on Ware County:
Offensively, first and foremost running the ball, dictating the pace of the game with the ball on the ground, and taking advantage of the opportunities that they give us in the air. Also, controlling the clock and keeping the ball out of harm's way. Defensively, we have to be gap sound in their run game and take care of their very athletic quarterback. They are young at receiver but they are still one of the most athletic and physical receiver groups that we have seen this year. A turnover or two would help a bunch. The bottom line is we are in control of our own destiny because we get the opportunity to play, and if we go out there and play fast and physical like we did last week, we will have a chance. That’s all you can ask for this time of year.
Commerce coach Michael Brown on playing Lincoln in the second round:
“Both teams like to run the ball and I don’t think we’re going to be at the stadium for very long. This game, like most others, will come down to blocking, tackling, running your offense, and not making mistakes. Every possession, because you may only get the ball two or three times each half, will matter. You can't waste them.
Dawson County coach Sid Maxwell on the Jenkins:
"This time of year we've got to take care of the ball. We need to be effective in moving the chains on offense and eliminating the big play on defense."
Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart says finding a way to move the ball against Appling County's line of scrimmage:
Having to deal with the largest lines of scrimmage we will have faced all year and figure out a way to move the football against a team that is ranked as one of the top defenses in any classification in the state. With running backs and a quarterback who can hit their head on the goalpost at any time and a passing game, although they don't throw it much, that averages over 22 yards a completion, we have to limit their big-play capability in both pass and run. And we have to contain one of the leading kick off returners in Georgia (averages over 30 yards a return) and averages over 15 yards a punt return.
North Hall coach Dave Bishop says controlling the clock is key against Crisp County:
"The keys are pretty simple, control the clock by putting together first downs. We have done that for the past two weeks by having 20 and 26 first downs in each game. We must make tackles on defense, rally to the ball and get their athletes off the field when they are on offense."
Union County coach Brian Allison on Metter:
“I think one, we're going to have to be able to pass protect and then be able to throw in space. If we’re able to throw the football and loosen their defense up a little bit, then we’ll be able to get Jonah the football. Hopefully, he’ll be able to run it for us. Defensively, we have got to stay sound in are gaps and really attack the running back. And we've got to make sure that we're taking care of our responsibilities."