Football Fridays in Georgia: 2022 Playoffs Preview
On this week's podcast, Hannah and Jon are joined by an all star line-up of high school football experts from across Georgia who give us a full preview of the 2022 GHSA Playoffs.
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: This season has been one of the better seasons for football in our area in a good long time.
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: You might want to get there and get your popcorn ready because you're going to see a lot of fireworks in the sky.
Ryan Hall, North Gwinnett Quarterback: I mean, that's what we've been working for, and we got here.
Hannah Goodin: Since I'm in the studio by myself this week, it's my turn to say, "Let's go." Welcome to the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so: large device or small. How is that for a Jon Nelson impression? I'm Hannah Goodin.
Jon Nelson: Pretty good.
Hannah Goodin: Jon's calling in from the road in Statesboro. Jon, what do you got going on today? You're not here in the studio with us.
Jon Nelson: No, I'm not. Having all of the stuff that we have on a Monday with a very busy Sunday night as we're taping it here. Very busy Sunday night. A historic night in an entirely different sport. But our friends at South Georgia Tormenta have opened up their offices for me so that I can do the show from here this week. But I will be back. I'll be back next week. Everything's cool, but go ahead and drive it and let's see what folks want to talk about for the first week of the playoffs, and we brought in the All-Stars to help us out.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, Jon is cheating on us with the fut-ball. But I'm in the driver's seat today, so hang on, everybody. It's going to be it's going to be a fun one coming up today. It's going to be a very bumpy ride, believe me. Coming up on today's show, we're going to recap our Football Fridays in Georgia game of the week, North Gwinnett versus Norcross. It was the last week of the regular season preview, our first-round playoff TV game, Blessed Trinity versus North Forsyth. And we have our GPB All-Stars on today. So, let's get things started by talking about that game of the week, and let's hear from our cotton commission player of the game, North Gwinnett quarterback Ryan Hall.
Niki Noto, Sideline Reporter: Ryan, I got to ask you just real quick. How are you feeling right now?
Ryan Hall, North Gwinnett Quarterback: I don't have words. I mean, that's what we've been working for. And we got here, and we showed we were ready. We showed what we can do, and we won here.
Hannah Goodin: Doesn't have words. Bulldogs clinch the Region 7 7A title for the fourth time in six years under head coach Bill Stewart. With the 35 to 27 win, the Bulldogs are now the one seed. The Blue Devils will be the two-seed. So Jon, what were your takeaways from the game?
Jon Nelson: This, I mean, it was you had two of the top teams, two of the traditional powers in Gwinnett County. And just when you thought, you know, if you were a fan of North Gwinnett, they were going to start distancing themselves from Norcross. Norcross comes in and, you know, third and fourth quarter, they're sitting there and making it a one-score game. But then North Gwinnett obviously gets the Duke and holds on when they need to do to get that one seed they're in a region, but once again, you know, when you have two traditional Gwinnett County powers, I mean, it was fun to see it. And once again, great and great atmosphere for the last week of the regular season over the Blue Devils Stadium.
Hannah Goodin: North Gwinnett will now face off with four-seed Dacula and Norcross will play three-seed Mountain View. So, Jon, we have the regular season in the books. It's officially playoff time, which is your Super Bowl, pretty much. What were your overall observations from the last week heading down the final stretch of the season?
Jon Nelson: Oh, I mean, it was. It's always fun because, I mean, and I guess we can peel back the curtain a little bit. What was it like for you? How would you best describe what I was doing, starting basically at the kickoff of our Football Fridays in Georgia game until the last possible millisecond before the post-game show?
Hannah Goodin: Okay, guys. Being in the studio with Jon is a little distracting, to say the least. You probably talk to yourself for 3 hours straight, pacing around the studio, phone in one hand, pins flying. You have people on speakerphone; your computer wasn't working, so you were basically slamming that against the desk. Jon, you were doing the most.
Jon Nelson: In my notes for that evening was an inch thick. I'm not kidding.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, man. That's why you're the best, though, Jon. It's why you are the best.
Jon Nelson: Well, thank you for that. But no, it was in pencil and pen. There was math. It was permutations and combinations and the worst case of postseason trigonometry that you could ever have. But, yeah, when I when, my notes went into the recycle pile because, you know, it's cool and everything, but everything starts anew. Now for season three, an inch thick worth of paper is getting recycled.
Hannah Goodin: We can't wait. We have all of our All-Stars on deck, ready to talk to us about the playoffs. So let's get right to it, Jon. Time to welcome in our very first GPB All-Star. That is Georgia High School Football Daily founder and editor Todd Holcomb gives us an entire state overview. Todd, what were your biggest takeaways from the last week of the regular season?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder, and Editor: Well, there were 25 region championships decided, and so that was pretty cool. A lot of kind of climax to the whole season and, you know, a lot of games that were, you know, winner take all kind of things. So. That was it was a great final weekend.
Jon Nelson: So, Todd, now that you've got all of your brackets filled out in ten, what matchups to you seem to be the most intriguing, at least on your board for the first round of the playoffs?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder and Editor: You know, the Brunswick coach, he did our four questions interview today, and he said that Brunswick County's gone 10 and 0, two straight seasons. And then they reward for winning the region again as they're playing Houston County, I think, averaging about 70 points a game or something. And Brunswick coach Coach Grady, was saying that that's the best number 14 in history. That's kind of what coaches like to say, but they're pretty good. I wouldn't want to be playing out in can, so that's a pretty good one. You know Westlake is playing Valdosta. Both those teams are in our top ten and have been in around the top ten all year. So, that's a good one. Ware County, I still think Jones County is good. I mean, they were top five in the preseason. You know, it suffered some losses, but they got some weapons. And so Ware County, they ranked number one in 5A, and they get to play Georgetown. So, it's a pretty, pretty, pretty tough matchup. So yeah, there's some other LaGrange and Burke County that's pretty strong. Carrollton Lowndes that'll be interesting.
Hannah Goodin: Two-part question for you, Todd. Any big surprise teams that made their way in? And on the other side of that, an underdog that you can see making a run here in the playoffs?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder, and Editor: Well, the most surprising team, I thought, was Cherokee last week. I mean, they were two and seven. They were playing Kennesaw Mountain and Kennesaw Mountain. I think they were seven and two. And I mean, Kennesaw Mountain is the team, you know, we were looking at ranking. They have a lot of good players, and somehow Cherokee just took them out. I didn't know. I had no idea any of that would happen, so they kind of snuck in. So, I mean, not last long, but that was a pretty, pretty cool way of getting in there also. Well, a huge surprise. But LaGrange, that was pretty dramatic. They were playing their arch-rival, you know, county rival Troop. You know, they were big underdogs who were undefeated in LaGrange, wins in a must-win game, and they got in the playoffs. And although I think they're a good team, they could win rounds, but still, they were up against it. So yeah, stories like that are pretty cool.
Jon Nelson: So, then let me take Hannah's question and go the next step with it. With that underdog, who what underdog or below-the-radar team do you think can make a run and go deep into the playoffs with the eight championships?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder and Editor: Yeah, I mean, a lot of that depends on the draw. You know, it's not just who the team is that you know, start looking at the bracket. And I was trying to identify a few of those, you know, I thought Parkview, you know, they beat Greyson last week, and I think they could be one. I mean, it really town they were, you know, in the top ten a bit better, and they have this kind of inexplicable losses, and then they'll come back and have a really nice win like that one. So they could be won in the high class. Milton's got a good draw too. You know, they've not been a team that people talk a lot about. You know, they were the runner-up last year. Not quite as good a team, perhaps this year. But I wouldn't be surprised if they made the semifinals. You know, I talked about Houston County a little bit ago. I mean, they've got a really good quarter. That's the team that finished fourth, but I think I could go as far as the quarters if they pull out from close games. Jefferson's another team that I think, you know, they have a great player. Sammy Brown has been hurt a lot of the year. He's back and healthy now, and I like their quarter. I think they could get the to the semi-finals in their top ten team, but you know they're not ranked super high. I think they could, you know do pretty well. Warner Robins is another team that was almost written off after a lot of early losses. I mean, I think they're playing a lot better now as far as somebody that probably nobody's talking about. This is 3A was this team that I circled, this Monroe Area; they lost five or six games, and played a brutal schedule coming from a really good region. I think they can go deep. Well, I mean, a team that would really be a Cinderella, you know, just out of nowhere. Another one Fellowship Christian. I think they're a really good class 2A school under coach Tim McFarland. That I think is really good if you get semi-is or further.
Jon Nelson: What's it like to have a lot of the traditional names but then at the same time you have a team like Langston Hughes who is ranked top 20 nationally, you have a Mill Creek and a Buford and one of the most highly contested regions around? What's it like to see this mix of the new folks coming their way through like a Langston Hughes, but still seeing the traditional names like a Buford that are attached even though now Hughes doesn't get the rematch with you for they're in separate classes? But what's it like to see the balance, I guess, of the new and the old when it comes to powers and traditional number one?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder, and Editor: I mean, you always like to see teams that haven't won, you know, breakthrough or get that opportunity to, you know, to make it. Of course, he was in the final last year, but they've never won. And I think they're probably as big a favorite of, you know, if anybody. I mean, in any class. And hopefully, Creekside, it's been a while since they won. That's another South Pole team that I think could be the best team in 5A as well. So yeah, no, Creeks never won, you know. I mean, this could be their best shot and they don't have to go through Buford again in a rematch. But that's good. Yeah, that's another team like that. Yeah. A lot of the teams that won it last year are still in contention. But yeah, there’s, I think we're in for three or four maybe to win it for the first time.
Hannah Goodin: Nice. Well, Todd, thank you so much for your time today. Everybody go follow at GHSF Daily on Twitter. And how can people sign up for your daily emails?
Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily Founder, and Editor: Well, just search is down on our like you said on Twitter or our website the football daily dot com and there's a link to click and yeah get our newsletter. It comes every morning and it's free. I think everybody likes high school football will enjoy it.
Hannah Goodin: Our next guest is WRBL-TV Columbus sports director Jack Patterson. Jack, congratulations on your promotion to sports director.
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: Appreciate it. Hannah. And it's always great to be back on as Nellie likes to say, the great GPB.
Hannah Goodin: Thank you. We are excited to have you. All right. Give us the lowdown of what's happening in West Georgia heading into playoffs.
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: I'll tell you this, is that this season has been one of the better seasons for Georgia, for football in our area in a good long time, especially in the city of Columbus. You have Northside winning their first-ever region championship in 5A. Spencer winning their first-ever regional championship in the GHSA in 2A, you got Carver going back to the playoffs. You think about it. They were one point away from beating Thomasville for the region championship. You have Shaw everything that team has been through with the loss of their Coach Pellegrino during off-season. They make the playoffs in Class 4A. So, a lot of great, great football in the city of Columbus this season. And then you have Troup County winning their first region championship in 35 years, Schley County's first-ever region champs LaGrange with their insane win last Friday night to beat Drew County, deny Drew County a perfect season, and get into the playoff. It was a winning scenario for the Grangers. They get the two-seed in that murderer's row in 4A, and then Manchester they're back in the playoffs. You've got so much great football in our area. This seems like to be an incredible playoff for us down here.
Jon Nelson: So Jack, since you've mentioned teams, let's get into players for those who haven't had the chance to catch up in the Western frontier. Two part question first and foremost Taeo Todd. Yes, he is still a cheat code?
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: Yup. "Troup County's Taeo Todd was a human cheat code." A regular on the top three on three on the Prep Zone Friday night, Jon.
Jon Nelson: No question. He is definitely a regular in the top three. So. Then outside of the Cheat Code, who are some of the other players that you've had the chance to focus on that folks are getting a chance to see for the first time who are some of the big names coming into the playoffs out West?
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: I definitely want in Class 5A for Northside. I want to turn your attention to Malachi Hosley. He's one the leading rusher in the state of Georgia, regardless of classification. There's him and another guy that keeps trading the lead in Class 5A for leading rusher in the state. But Malachi Hosley, we like to call him the whole dang showdown here because you put the ball in his hands, and he's magic. And I really, really think the playoffs will be a time to shine for him. And he is the engine that makes that Northside all things go. So, people are going to start hearing his name more and more as we go into the playoffs. AJ Tucker, there's but a bunch of running backs at LaGrange High School. AJ Tucker is probably the leader, the leader of the class, but there's a bunch of guys there. Jaylan Brown, the quarterback over there as well, and Magic Johnson, the wide receiver for LaGrange. They got a whole bunch of talent that LaGrange is dangerous. A lot of people wrote him off after those close losses: the White Water and Stars' Mill. But LaGrange is a dangerous, dangerous team. And the fact that they got a 2 seed should worry a lot of teams in Class 4A because they are going to likely go on the road in the second round, and I'll go ahead and call this. They'll probably upset somebody. I don't know. I haven't looked at the bracket, so I don't know how that quadrant is set up. But LaGrange, I would say they have an opportunity to make a deep run in the playoffs. Matt Napier has those boys locked and loaded, going down to Class 1A Division 2, Schley County. There's a dynamic duo down there that is just so dog-on good. And as Jay Kanazawa as the quarterback and Jalewis Solomon, the wide receiver, they are, you know, they are so connected with each other and those guys, they can get the job done short or long. Malachi Banks is a great running back for the Wildcats as well. And then Zayden Walker, the brother of former Auburn, Zykeivous. They use him on both sides of the ball down there. Hannah, I don't know about you, but I just don't want to be on the business end of that man. He dwarfs over me. I'm a 6'1", 260 lbs. guy, and he dwarfs over me.
Hannah Goodin: Wow.
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: So, I don't want to be on the business end of him. He's a sophomore. And just like I said, that's just the tip of the iceberg of all the talent that we have here that's heading into the playoffs.
Hannah Goodin: Jack, it is always a pleasure having you on your energy and your passion for West Georgia football. Just comes through the microphone. Thank you so much for being here. Where can people follow you on social media?
Jack Patterson, WRBL-TV Columbus Sports Director: You can follow me on Twitter @JPattersonTV. You can follow the WRBL Sports team @WBRLSports on Twitter and WBRL News 3 Sports on Facebook.
Hannah Goodin: We now have joining us Marvin James from WMAZ Sports Anchor, letting us know all about Central Georgia football. And Marvin since I'm in the studio by myself this week, it's my turn to say, "Let's go." How was that?
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: That was epic. I like it. Every time it gets better and better. I love it.
Hannah Goodin: I know. That's only the third time I've done it, so I feel pretty good about that. But no, seriously, tell us what's happening in Central Georgia. As of now, we are in the playoffs.
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: Okay. Well, we wrapped up the regular season, as everyone knows, last week. And we got a couple of teams that I think that are that are vying near the top for a chance for a state championship. Also, always I guess the eyes would be on Warner Robins since they've been the past five years and won back-to-back championships. They're coming into the playoffs as the second seed. Um, they lost to the region. Um, but you know, the thing is, they lost the region last year, so that doesn't really matter. But, um, there are 6, and 4 had some troubles earlier in the season offensively and change the offensive coordinator midway through the season. So, things have gotten better with that. You know, we also had Perry, but I think a chance for the third year in a row, and I think they may be one of our, um, best chances to win a state championship from Central Georgia. Um, Coach Kevin Smith has those guys rolling, and they look really good both on offense and defense and special teams. So, I'm excited about what they can do as well.
Jon Nelson: Is there a team either flying below the radar or one that you and everybody there and Football Friday night would consider to be an underdog that could make a deep run?
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: I think the Northeast Raiders last year, they went to, I believe, the quarterfinals. I think Swainsboro knocked them out. They lost their quarterback, a kid that transfer, not transfer, but graduated and went to play over at Mercer. But right now, they've got a kid named Nick Woodford, who is strong. I'm sure you guys have heard of right now have like 2300 rushing yards, and 47 total touchdowns. This kid is the real deal.
Hannah Goodin: I want to zone in on Warner Robin's trying to three-peat as 5A state champs. They have three seed Jenkins in the first round. What's it going to take for them to be able to make another deep run in another shot at a state championship this year, Marvin?
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: Going more points. I think like I said at the beginning of the year, this is a team that totally went under a huge base with and a lot of people don't really remember that. But they lost their offensive coordinator. They lost their defensive coordinator, and they lost their offensive line coach whom all went over to Houston County. So, from that standpoint, and they lost several other assistant coaches. So, from that standpoint, you lose a large chunk of leadership with head coach Marquis Westbrook and not to mention the seniors the players, but they have rallied around each other really have that "me against the world mentality" start off the season I think they were 1 and 3. One and four, maybe, and, so they finished up 6 and 4, 2nd in the region, scoring a bunch of points. I think that they starting to believe in themselves right now and are starting to click. And the teams they lost to were Valdosta, Lee County, Houston County, and Dutchtown, who were all doing very well in the playoffs and probably an 8-2 record. So, I think they have the chance to make some noise is just going to have to be right now. The proof is in the pudding for them.
Jon Nelson: Marvin, my last question for you has to do with Region 1, 6A. And you mentioned the new head coach at Houston County, Jeremy Edwards. They're averaging about 47 million points a game on offense. And then you've got Northside, you know since you were focused on the south side of Georgia, 247. Let me go to the north side of 247 and ask you what you think about Houston County, who's in a big win as a four-seed going up against Brunswick in the first round. That's an atypical 4-1 matchup. And then you've got Northside, who's got Glynn Academy, the other teams in Region 1 6A. What do you think?
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: All right, then. Lee and Thomas County Central on top of that. So, I told you those three or four teams are not going to be easy out. Houston County is extremely dangerous 7 and 3 led by five-star Antwann Hill junior quarterback and Ryan Taleb as running back. These guys are going to really put up a lot of points, and they're really going to shock the Brunswick crowd up there. I think I like that typically in the first round of playoffs. You might want to get their individual popcorn ready because you're gonna see a lot of fireworks in the sky from the Houston County Bears team. Jeremy Edwards has those guys rolling, and Northside coach Chad Alligood also has those guys played really well in the season. They battled with Thomas County Central and lost 24-14 in the region championship, but they beat Lee County. We all know about that rally that happened in the last 6 minutes of the ballgame. They've got a new quarterback in there right now, sophomore D.J. Hudson, who has played really well. So, I think these two teams, this whole region, could really be play for a long time in the playoffs, actually.
Hannah Goodin: Marvin, thank you so much for your time today and for breaking down Central Georgia. Tell everybody where they can follow you on social media.
Marvin James, 13WMAZ Sports Anchor: I'm @sportsguymarv, sports guy marv on Instagram and also on Twitter. And Marvin James, there's Marvin James WMAZ on Facebook. But you can also check us on 13wmaz.com and football Friday night, 11:35 on WMAZTV.
Hannah Goodin: Next up is the host of Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia, Phil Jones. And Phil, fill us all in on South Georgia football.
Phil Jones, Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia Host: Yeah, there are so many interesting matchups and typically, you know, we'll have some 4s versus 1s that are worth looking at. One in particular, and of course you got to know we're based in, we're statewide company based in Valdosta. I tell you, I'm interested to see this Lowndes, Carrollton game. I don't think it's your typical 4 versus 1 where you can just pencil in an automatic W for Carrollton. Sure, they're going to be favored, but look out for the Vikings. They proved they can hang with the best. They beat Grayson earlier this year. So, I think it's an interesting matchup, guys.
Jon Nelson: When it comes to the lower classifications outside of 7A, is there a team that, for you, is flying below the radar that folks aren't giving a whole lot of credence to? Who do you think could be one of those underdogs in the lower classes that could make a deep run?
Phil Jones, Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia Host:I'll tell you. I'm not sure if they're an underdog but look out for Charlton County. Yeah, Russ has done a great job there. And I think people still, you know, consider Clinch to be the cream of the crop. But, you know, I'd say look out for Charlton County. And I know they won the region. You may say, "well, that's not really flying under on the radar," but I don't know that they're getting the respect, especially that they did from their heyday. But I think they're back. And I think they're a team to look out for.
Hannah Goodin: Your base in Valdosta. So, let's talk about some Valdosta teams.
Phil Jones, Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia Host: So again, another very interesting matchup. I'll start with Valdosta, Westlake. This is one of the more explosive offenses in the state with R.J. Johnson, one of the top quarterbacks. Last time I checked, he was the active career passing leader all the time in high school football in the state. Whether he is still holding that title or not, one of the best quarterbacks in what I call the year of the quarterback in Georgia. Valdosta, on the other hand, the stingiest the stingiest defense in the state. They've had a little bit of a rocky row here on the end of the season at Valdosta. Again, if there is an issue, there is not being able to put up a lot of points. But that defense and what do they say about defense, guys? Defense wins championships. We're going to see if that indeed is true. I wouldn't bet against the Cats at all.
Jon Nelson: So then, Phil, my last question for you has to do with Region 1 AA and the stout teams that are coming out of there. You've got, you know, Coach Hammond with what he's been able to do turning Worth County around. You've got the defending champ there in Fitzgerald, because, as we all know, to be the man, you've got to beat the man. Everybody's looking at them. Then you've got the story with Cook and the head coach and what Coach Slack and what they've been able to do in turning that program around. I'm looking at Region 1 in AA as a bunch that could make a deep run and has three teams do that.
Phil Jones, Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia Host: I think you're right. So had a chance to call the Fitzgerald Cook game a couple of weeks ago. It was our ITG Game of the Week. And I got to tell you, you know, about Fitzgerald. You hear about this terrible when you see them up close. You see why they are so dominant. Tucker Pruitt was running. I don't know, four or five guys, just one behind another, all equally great backs. That depth, that talent, I think, is going to go a long way as it did last year. Cook, the same thing, they've got a great young running back, and his name escapes me right now. But boy, he is having a fantastic season. And Byron Slack has done a great job. I think what Cook was missing was that dose of discipline that they so needed. And this is really no shot at the previous guys that went through there. But I think that Byron Slack has done a fantastic job of solidifying that program, getting those guys on board, and they're playing really good football. That was a solid Worth County team that they beat and pretty much handle pretty easily that night. And I'll end the conversation with them, and you talk about Jeffrey Hammond. He has got Sylvester more excited about high school football than that city has been in a long time. Yes, they took it on the chin against Fitzgerald, but who hasn't? Watch out for Worth County and maybe in reverse. I'll answer your question as far as the dark horse team that has one of the best young quarterbacks in Chip Cooper. There at Worth, and I really like Jeffrey Hammond he's just a winner or understudy of the great one, Rush Propst. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Hannah Goodin: Phil Jones, where can everybody follow you on social media?
Phil Jones, Extra Point for ITG Next Georgia Host: @PhilJonesRadio. You can also check me out at PhilJonesRadio.com.
Hannah Goodin: Last but definitely not least, he is the voice of GPB Sports Football Fridays in Georgia and host of Recruiting 2022. It's Matt Stewart to cover the Atlanta area here on the podcast and Matt, happy playoff time. It's the first round this upcoming week, and what have you seen from the Atlanta area schools? Who's got a chance to make a really deep run this year?
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Well, I mean, I think the usual suspects, you know, we saw Langston Hughes on GPB two weeks ago just demolish a pretty good South Paulding team. And it was really more about Langston Hughes just being a tidal wave of talent and not so much that South Paulding did anything wrong and now with Buford out of 6A. Unfortunately, I would love to see that rematch with Buford because they had a great chance to beat them last year and just didn't. But Langston Hughes, can anybody stop them in 6A? I think is question number one. And then question number two, kind of a similar question with Buford in 7A; although, I think the pool is deeper for Buford in 7A than it is for Langston Hughes in 6A. But who knows? Someone may step up there and surprise, but I think those two teams are definitely, you know, in good shape to make a deep run, maybe even be back in the finals. And of course, Buford playing for history seems like every year they're knocking down another historical marker. This year, they're trying to establish themselves as the only program in state history to win a state championship in every single classification.
Hannah Goodin: Let's talk recruiting. Who is on your must-watch list when it comes to prospects heading down the playoffs?
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Well, I mean, the best prospect I think we saw all year on GPB was certainly Caleb Downs at Mill Creek. And, you know, he was matched up against his Alabama, future Alabama, teammate for Verron Haynes in that game and not taking anything away from Verron. Verron, a five-star running back. I think he proved it in that game.
Jon Nelson: Justice?
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Justice, Verron's son. Yes. Thank you for catching me on that. No hobnail boot here. But yeah, you know.
Hannah Goodin: It was on your mind from the Tennessee game, Matt.
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Yeah. And Georgia didn't need a hobnail boot. They just stepped on Tennessee and squashed them like a bug. But, you know, Justice certainly is a five-star running back. And he proved that in the game we had on GPB on October 14th. But Caleb Downs, to me, he just jumps off the screen. I mean, he can do anything. I mean, if they wanted to run him at running back, they could do that. I think if they wanted to play in the quarterback, they could certainly do that. Although, you know, you probably want to put him in a situation where you can get him the ball in space. There's nothing I don't think Caleb Downs can do. Certainly, you know, coming off doing the, you know, the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he reminds me a lot of like of Eric Berry, a guy that can just do anything, put him wherever he'll do anything. And that's that's what I would say about Caleb Downs. I think Caleb Downs led his team to a state championship Mill Creek's been in the semifinals twice before but has never been able to get to the state finals. Can you know, does Caleb Downs have enough to do to get his team to the state finals? And if they do, and if they play Buford, can they beat them?
Jon Nelson: Well. And then you go to that quadrant, which, as we fill things out in ten, is the upper right. They would have to have a second-round game if the seeds followed through in number.
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: See Jon. What you're trying to get me or you're trying to get me sidetracked on my annual argument about seeding the teams now, aren't you? This is your subtle.
Jon Nelson: You are saying it, actually.
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Passive, passive-aggressive way of trying to get me fired up? But yeah, I mean, you're right. I mean, you're looking at Mill Creek and North Cobb. At North Cobb, quite conceivably in the second round of the state playoffs, which to me is such a shame because having seen both of those teams this year a number of times, I believe that's a semifinal match-up. But the way the Georgia High School Association designates their playoff format instead of seeding teams, you get this in the second round, which is great for the second round, but bad from one of those teams from making a deep run. And then, if you're not one of those teams out, that means quite conceivably, you have a less deserving team making a deep run. So, you got me started on it. But yes, I think that's a semifinal match-up. Unfortunately, it would be coming in the second round, so it appears.
Hannah Goodin: Matt, we know you're so busy calling all sorts of games around the state. Thank you so much for your time today. Where can everybody find you on social media?
Matt Stewart, Voice of FFIG and Host of Recruiting 2022: Matt Stewart TV, @Matt Stewart TV, is the best place to find me on Twitter. And then you can check out my Facebook page at Matt Stewart Sports Facebook page. You can follow me there.
Hannah Goodin: Great content. So, everybody follow Matt on social media, and we can't wait for another awesome Football Friday in Georgia playoffs. Round one. The playoffs begin on GPB Friday at 7:30 p.m., Recruiting 2022 at 7:00 with Matt and Jon, and our game of the week is Blessed Trinity versus North Forsyth. John previewed this one for me.
Jon Nelson: The winner of this one gets Hughes.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, oh, no.
Jon Nelson: That's your, yeah, that's you. It's upper right in the 6A bracket, but the winner of this one. And it'll be our first time for a Football Friday's match at North Forsyth, so it'll be fun to see the atmosphere there. But yeah, the winner of this one gets Hughes in that mini bracket, the lower section of the upper right quadrant. So, it'll be a tall order. But the winner of this one, it's North Forsyth, two out of Region 8, and Blessed Trinity, three out of Region 7. You'll get that one, and your 12th game of the year will be against Hughes, in all probability.
Hannah Goodin: Cannot wait for it. And sorry about the winner getting Hughes. Okay. And these games are going to be split between Friday and Saturday. Jon, break that down for us.
Jon Nelson: It's odds and evens except for single-A and this year, three, five, and seven. Class three, class five, class seven. That is on Saturday. Every other game is on Friday. And that's because of the official shortage. And we can't say this enough. It's something that we've been mentioning a whole lot is that if you want to be an official, now is the time because you really can help things out across all sports here in the state of Georgia. Alabama is experiencing the same things. They have official shortages as well. So, if you've ever wanted to be an official, now's the time. And this is a reminder to do that. You know, if you want to dive in and be an official, now's the time.
Hannah Goodin: Maybe it's because everybody's yelling at him all the time, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Well, and that's disappointing that, you know, that folks feel like, you know, feel compelled that they should do that as their first instinct. But no, it does turn it does turn folks away, sadly. And I think that you know, the officials, they do get a bad rap. But I think they're just as vital because, you know, we wouldn't really have the sports that we have to the extent that we have them if we didn't have officials. So, now it's just something that folks should consider when they're at a game, regardless of what sport we're talking about.
Hannah Goodin: I know a few Auburn fans who usually get very angry at officials through the TV. Here's your flag football news. We got a triple header in Sharpsburg on this Thursday, November 17th. Trinity Christian versus East Coweta 5:45 pm. Trinity versus Northside, Columbus at 6:45 pm, and East Coweta versus Northside Columbus at 7:45. You don't want to miss it. It'll be streaming on GPB.org/sports and the GPB Sports App. All right. My least favorite part of the podcast is the staff whip round. So, Jon, I'm going to once again let you just take it away this week.
Jon Nelson: Okay. Lassiter finished their regular season 3 and 7, losing to Blessed Trinity. Lakeside ended their non-region schedule finished with a win over Clarkston. So, your buddy Morris Starr.
Hannah Goodin: My Bro.
Jon Nelson: With a record of 8 and 2.
Hannah Goodin: Love it.
Jon Nelson: Parkview, so Jake the Snakes Parkview Panthers, 7 and 3. They beat Grayson. They played North Paulding in the first round of the playoffs in 7A. Decatur for Commander Sandy, 6 and 4. They're the number one seed in their region, Region four. They beat MLK. They get Harris County in beautiful, bustling downtown Decatur. In the first round of the 5A playoffs. Ambassador Jeremy ran the table, 10 and 0, region champ. Leading Trion, they get Athens Christian up at Jerry Sharp field up there in Rome first round of the A Division 1 playoffs. And for King James, Central Macon, the Chargers, knocked off Southwest, but central Macon gets Fitzgerald in the opening round of the playoffs. So, it's across-the-board varying results. But one, two, three, or four of the six on the staff have postseason aspirations now.
Hannah Goodin: So, what does the winner get? Darlington, 10-0. So, is there a prize?
Jon Nelson: Season's not over yet.
Hannah Goodin: I know, but is there a regular season prize? Are we going to do a prize when the season is over?
Jon Nelson: We probably should. That'll be up for debate.
Hannah Goodin: We will get to thinking.
Jon Nelson: So, that'll be for folks to listen. For folks to listen, what should the prize be?
Hannah Goodin: What about The Biggest Loser? Do they get something, too? No?
Jon Nelson: They have to make sure that the prize for the winner is taken care of in the most appropriate fashion possible.
Hannah Goodin: Well, it's- we'll see.
Jon Nelson: I believe you would get the wooden spoon, as they say.
Hannah Goodin: So, I have to buy the prize? Oh, man.
Jon Nelson: Hey, she volunteered it. Everybody else on the open mic, I believe Hannah, just volunteered.
Hannah Goodin: All right, well, Jon, what are your thoughts heading in the playoffs?
Jon Nelson: No, I'm looking forward to it. This is the beginning of season three, and we're down to the final 255, and we'll see where it goes from here. But now, this is where the fun happens. And if you thought the pacing was faster the last week of the regular season, business really picks up now for this five-week sprint at Georgia State.
Hannah Goodin: I know. Okay, guys Football Fridays in Georgia start Friday at 7- 7:30. And the postgame show is wild with bracketology. Jon is in rare form, so you don't want to miss it. We have winning coaches calling around all over the state who will be advancing, and Jon is talking 90 miles an hour about teams that you've never heard of.
Jon Nelson: Well. Sometimes maybe 90 miles an hour.
Hannah Goodin: I'm just messing with you, Jon. Hey.
Jon Nelson: Send us home.
Hannah Goodin: I am. I'm going to. I'm in a good mood today. And you're a little — you're a little quiet today, Jon.
Jon Nelson: Well, because you're driving the bus, I'm just making sure that the drive is okay and that everything gets the bus gets into the barn in one piece.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. Well, now it's a different perspective on the podcast with me in the lead. All right, everybody. Well, thank you for listening to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. See you on Friday. That's all I got. Bye.