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THE BLITZ: Fresh blood in quarterfinals for Gwinnett teams

As I look at the Class AAAAAA playoff bracket, there are some Gwinnett County football teams I'm not used to seeing in the quarterfinals.

North Gwinnett, Mill Creek, Norcross and Parkview will play this Friday in the state playoffs.

You'll notice Grayson and Brookwood, the last two state champions, are not among the group.

That means Gwinnett could have a new school hoisting the championship trophy at the Georgia Dome in three weeks.

Of the four teams left, North has the most recent experience with deep playoff runs. The Bulldogs lost in the second round the last two years, but before that went to the quarterfinals four straight years.

A third-round playoff appearance used to be normal for Parkview. The Panthers reached the quarterfinals 11 straight years from 1995-2005. Parkview was 0-for-4 in the playoffs since then, but a pair of overtime wins has the Panthers back in the quarterfinals.

Norcross is in the quarterfinals for the third time in the program's long history. The Blue Devils last reached the third round in 2006.

Mill Creek is in the playoffs for the third time in school's nine-year history. The Hawks are in the quarterfinals for the second time in three years.

In the smaller classifications, Buford is no stranger to the quarterfinals. The Wolves are in the third round for the 13th straight year.

It's a different story for Greater Atlanta Christian, which is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.

There's some fresh blood in the quarterfinals for Gwinnett teams. I think it just adds to the argument of how deep the football talent is in the area.

GWINNETT'S PLAYOFF TEAMS

Class AAAAAA

North Gwinnett at Lovejoy

Mill Creek at North Cobb

Norcross at Camden County

Colquitt County at Parkview

Class AAA

Buford at Carver-Columbus

Class AA

Early County at GAC

IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY

Region 7 wins battle with Region 8

For the last two years Region 8 has won the battle with fellow Gwinnett Region 7. Region 8 produced the last two state champions in Grayson and Brookwood.

It appears the power has shifted north again to Region 7.

Region 7 went 8-7 against Region 8 this season, including 3-0 in last week's playoff games. Region 7 has three teams left in the playoffs — Norcross, North, Mill Creek — and Region 8 has just one with Parkview.

The Panthers can keep Region 8's bragging rights by bringing home another state title.

North score a surprise over Rams

For a lot of people, the shocker of last Friday was North Gwinnett beating defending state champion Grayson.

I don't think it should be too much of a surprise. North is a good team. The Bulldogs have only lost one game and that was to No. 2 ranked Norcross.

I think the surprise is the score of the game, a 28-10 win for North. I didn't imagine such a lopsided game. It probably would have been worse if North scored TDs instead of kicking field goals.

The same things that hurt Grayson in its loss to Parkview were the same things against North — turnovers and penalties. The Rams had four turnovers (three fumbles and an interception) and more than 100 yards in penalties. It doesn't matter who you are facing in the playoffs, it's hard to win a game with those kind of stats.

Cardiac cats continue to win

Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe had some heart problems bother him late in the season. I don't know if his team's two overtime playoff wins have helped his health.

Parkview is finding ways to win in the playoffs, which is all that matters right now. They need extra time to do it, but running back Justis Rosser and the Panthers' defense continue to shine each week.

At this point in the year, I don't think there's a team that's been in more closer games and won.

Hawks' offense clicking

I was at the Mill Creek vs. Brookwood game at the beginning of the season, which the Broncos won. I felt like the Hawks could have won that game if running back Jacorey Lewis didn't get hurt and miss most of the second half.

Lewis turned in another big game with a 252-yard performance to push him over 2,000 yards this season in Friday's second round win.

Mill Creek has scored 97 points in its last two games. It makes you wonder if there's a team that can either keep pace with the Hawks' offense or at least slow them down.

Christmas list

Before the playoffs started, I was hoping for Grayson vs. Norcross in the state finals. The Rams lost, so I'm adjusting my prediction to North vs. Norcross. How cool would a Region 7 re-match in the Georgia Dome with the state title on the line be?

I know I'm being greedy, but I also want an all-Gwinnett semifinal. A county sweep this week and we would have North vs. Mill Creek and Norcross vs. Parkview in the fourth round. Both games would be regular season rematches.

Comments

NGHS09 1 year, 12 months ago

Brandon, I hope that this doesn't come across the wrong way, and I have read a number of acknowledgements of NG's victory, but....

Can atleast one sports writer from this great paper just admit that North Gwinnett dominated Grayson Friday? You begin by giving NG props, but then go into why Grayson "beat themselves". NG caused those turnovers...I don't know how many times that has to be mentioned before it becomes reality for most people, but those are the facts. It was 28-3 late in the 4th quarter for crying out loud! Ok take away the botched punt snap and its 26-3...no difference. Of course Grayson had better athletes and looked better on paper, but anyone who witnessed Friday night's game knows NG was the better team on that night. Winning in the playoffs ultimately comes down to the team that is better for only one night, five times in a row. You can throw stats and hype out the window in the playoffs. It only takes being better than the other team for ONE night at a time. NG was the better team Friday. It's not hard to understand or acknowledge. I picked Grayson to win it all again this year, but NG proved us all wrong and they deserve FULL credit without any excuses for the team that they beat. I understand that turnovers and penalties can lose anyone a game, but it's not like Grayson gave NG any free-bees! If anyone gave anyone free-bees it was NG's penalties that gave Grayson plenty of opportunities to score...and they basically did nothing with them. I've said it all along, Sphire doesn't lose to anyone twice in a row when it really matters.

I can already see it now...IF NG loses to Lovejoy, yall will be quick to label the Grayson game as a fluke and jump all over NG saying, "They just got lucky and the Lovejoy loss proves that Grayson had a bad night." There is a very logical reason for the fact that Parkview and North Gwinnett are still playing. IF NG wins it all then Sphire and his coaching staff deserve coaches of the decade awards for the job they have done this year. Especially when you consider all of the towering obstacles that they just continue to hurdle over. I love the BLITZ articles so keep them coming!

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NGHS09 1 year, 12 months ago

Forgot to mention the 25 yards in penalties that Grayson committed because they were drawn offsides by NG's snap count...2 of those were committed by Mr. #1 himself.

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NGHS09 1 year, 12 months ago

On a lighter note Brandon,

Will you be providing an indepth look into each of these four games? Now that you can focus on only 6 matchups this week (+Booford :) and GAC), I would love to read an indepth preview of each game. Gwinnett could win three titles this year. An all Gwinnett semi-final would be insane and the matchups would be the perfect stage for every recruiter in the U.S. to view Gwinnett's talent. Fingers are crossed for the upcoming weeks!

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Brandon Brigman 1 year, 12 months ago

NGHS - I don't know if I would give North credit for all of the turnovers. The opening kickoff, the Grayson kid fumbled the ball and recovered it. Does North's kicker get credit for causing that fumble with his kick? Obviously, Dante's forced fumble and INT were caused by North. I believe Carter Cross knocked another one loose. But the other fumbles appeared to be by Grayson not holding onto the ball. I didn't see anything that would indicate that North forced them like the other turnovers. Either way it doesn't matter. Unless I wrote an entire blog about how North Gwinnett could beat the Atlanta Falcons you would still find a way to give me a hard time. :)

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Flyer 1 year, 12 months ago

@Brandon-- Not sure I follow your logic on this. The opening kickoff was recovered by Grayson. Therefore it was not a turnover. As for the turnovers, Dante caused the first one with a tremendous play. Carter Cross cuased the second with a sack and the ball was recovered by Peston Green. The third fumble was clearly caused by CJ James crashing in on Gallman and Jalen Brooks stuffing him in the hole. I just got through watching both the sideline and endzone view of this play. Lastly the interception was again a great play by Dante. Turnovers are different than fumbles,

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Brandon Brigman 1 year, 12 months ago

Oh, and to answer your question, yes, we'll have a lot of football coverage this week.

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NGHS09 1 year, 12 months ago

AHHH Brandon you know me to well!!...The recovered fumbles by Grayson did not hurt them. The ones that DID hurt them were caused by NG. That was my point! Keep the stories coming!

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