The Thursday Blitz Countdown is done for the year, but the Sports Department still wants to make our official picks for the next batch of playoff games. We’re into the good stuff for Georgia (the second round) now that all the unnecessary first 16 teams are out of the picture and only great teams remain. Let’s get to the Honda Top Five for this weekend…
#5: Benedictine at Cedar Grove
Well, BC certainly drew the short straw here. After an underwhelming performance against Jenkins in the region championship game, everybody knew that one of the best teams in the state awaited them in the second round: #1 ranked Cedar Grove. The Saints went 9-2 in the regular season and cruised to 6-0 in region play, winners of seven straight. They’re also stocked with future DI players, 5 by my count, most notably Colorado commit Alvin Williams. A year or two from now, these young Cadets would compete, but I think this is the end of the line for them in 2019.
Pick: Cedar Grove
#4: May River at Strom Thurmond
I picked the Sharks to upset Aynor on the road last week and they didn’t disappoint. That region title game loss to Wade Hampton fired up Rodney Summers’ squad, and what happened in 2018 happened again in 2019: when they lose a game they think they should have won, they go on a killing spree. Strom Thurmond is the favorite here, but May River is still on a feeding frenzy, and more importantly, they’ve convinced themselves they’re the underdog in the playoffs again this year. Count me in on a Sharks upset again this Friday.
Pick: May River
#3: Wayne County at Clarke Central
This isn’t the sexiest game we’ll see on Friday, but its an interesting case study. Wayne County came back down to earth in 2019 when Ken Cribb had to rebuild from the ground up, but they were outplayed by a much more talented Ware County team in the region title game. But we say it week after week on the Thursday Blitz Countdown: Ken Cribb is a schemer on offense. He’ll pull out every wacky trick in the playbook to get his team back within a touchdown, and that just might work in the playoffs with a young team that still wants to believe in itself. These teams both won 8 games, so it’s not like the Yellowjackets are running into Buford, here. Give me the kids from Jesup.
Pick: Wayne County
#2: Swainsboro at #3 Hapeville
I picked Swainsboro in an upset last week, and it was the lock of the century. The Tigers came out of that loaded AA region as the #3 seed, comically under-seeded, because make no mistake: they might be the BEST team in that group when they’re firing on all cylinders. But here’s the problem: Hapeville is ranked #3 in AA and they’ve scored 40+ points nine different times this year. It’s not the Tigers fault, but they’re hitting a buzzsaw in the second round.
#1: Savannah Christian at Savannah Country Day
Hey GHSA, what the heck?! You seed in-city rivals Savannah Christian and Calvary against each other in the first round, followed by the winner playing…in-city rival Country Day in the second? Are you TRYING to make sure only one Savannah team gets to the Final Four? Either way, this has forced the “Heart Attack Hornets” into a brutal spot: beat every team in your region to win that title, then play a region opponent (who knows you really well) again. That said…I love the 11-0 Hornets here. Christian has done a commendable job bouncing back from their slow start, injuries, and graduations, but in Single-A football, it’s about your star players, and Christian doesn’t have any answer for Andre Miller or the rest of that tight offensive group. Give me the Heart Attack Hornets again.
Pick: Savannah Country Day
Lanier at Richmond Hill: Lanier
Dawson County at Jenkins: Jenkins
Union County at Metter: Union County
Toombs at Raburn County: Raburn County