The 2018 prep football regular season is history. The playoffs are here and there are some outstanding first-round matchups in the offing this week as we head into the second season. All teams remaining are preparing for that five-week sprint to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta where all classification titles will be settled.
The top seeds in each classification are the obvious choices to capture the titles this season, but since all 200-plus teams still playing this week are unbeaten (0-0), there is that mathematical chance that a No. 3 or 4 seeded team will get hot at the right time and shock everyone.
Week One in Class 7A has some interesting first-round games. There is Camden County at Walton. The Wildcats are back in the playoffs after a brief hiatus, and are looking forward to meeting the Raiders. Walton is loaded with talent and the home field advantage will help since the game is being played in Raider Valley. However, Camden County is a team on a mission. This is also the GPB Football Fridays in Georgia game on Friday. Other games in 7A of note: Mountain View at Norcross, South Gwinnett at Milton, and Forsyth Central at Archer. Top-ranked Colquitt County hosts Etowah.
Defending 6A Champion Lee County opens defense of its 2017 title, when its hosts Mundy’s Mill, the No. 4 seed out of Region 4, while surprising Centennial, the No. 2 team from Region 7 plays host to Allatoona. In the southeastern portion of the state, Effingham County welcomes Lakeside-Evans from the metro Augusta area. In another interesting matchup, Alpharetta, the No. 3 seed from Region 7, plays at Region 6 No. 2 seed Sequoyah.
Class 5A’s defending champions, the Rome Wolves are looking for a three-peat as they open play at home against Maynard Jackson. This third straight title that Rome would like to win will not be an easy one for the multi-talented north Georgia squad. There is powerful Warner Robins and Buford to contend with, plus, there were several 5A teams on hot streaks coming down the home stretch of the regular season such as: Dutchtown, Stockbridge and Jones County from Region 4, and unbeaten Wayne County from Region 2.
In Class 4A there are many challengers to defending 2017 champion Blessed Trinity and one of them is region member Marist, who opens at home against Heritage-Catoosa from Region 6. Other favorites in the hunt for the Class 4A title include: Mary Persons, St. Pius X, Cartersville, North Oconee and newcomer Pickens. Many observers also anticipate another rematch between Blessed Trinity and Marist for the 2018 title.
Class 3A has several new contenders to go along with last year’s finalists Peach County and Calhoun. There is Benedictine Military, up from 2-AA a year ago, and the Region 3 champions, and Monroe Area which captured the Region 8 crown. Pierce County is unbeaten after winning the Region 2 title and Greater Atlanta Christian is always a factor at title time.
Classic 2A matchups in round one finds Washington County at Vidalia, Elbert County at Callaway, Dodge County hosting Toombs County, and Region 2 champion Swainsboro playing host to Northeast Macon.
The Football Friday in Georgia game of the week this week is Camden County at Walton on GPB-TV. The All-Access Pass kicks things off at 7 p.m. and the kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
I’ll see you for “Tommy’s Takes” in the All-Access pass with my take on the top three games in South Georgia this week.