A Friday night doubleheader in the playoffs? In this week's podcast, Hannah and Jon talk with the Fulton County AD Steven Craft about the difficulties and logistics behind setting up the Mill Creek/Milton and Rome/Langston Hughes games. Plus, we get a look at all of the brackets as we march toward the state finals. 






Jon Nelson: It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog.

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: This is about our kids. This is about our coaches, our communities, and everything that they pour into this.

Jon Nelson: One of these things is not like the other.

Hannah Goodin: I think you got your point across, Jon.

Jon Nelson: Did I get my point across?


Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so — large device or small. It's time for the semifinals here in the playoffs in the GHSA. We are down to the final four. In each classification, it is 32 teams left, not including flag football, as their playoffs are kicking in as well. We'll get into that as we go here today. Jon here, Hannah there. And it's an interesting show because it's going to be an interesting week.

Hannah Goodin: It's going to be. So, here's what we're doing on today's show. We're going to recap our Football Fridays in Georgia game of the week, Walton versus Carrollton.

Jon Nelson: Check.

Hannah Goodin: Preview our doubleheader semifinal games.

Jon Nelson: So much for burying the lead.

Hannah Goodin: Okay. Yeah, you heard that right — Mill Creek versus Milton and Rome versus Langston Hughes. We're going to break down key games with some bracketology. And here from Fulton County AD Steven Craft is on the underrated Fulton County High School football team.

Jon Nelson: Well, and also the idea of what it will take to logistically pull off this doubleheader. And for those of us here at Georgia Public Broadcasting, it's a first. When the semifinals themselves were at the Georgia Dome before. Now you have things now where it's one site for the finals. It used to be home sites for the finals in the semifinals were at the Georgia Dome and it was two days of five games that would start at like 11:00 or, you know, 9:00 in the morning. And it would go like nine, 12, three, six and nine or whatever. And then we'd be all just incredibly tired and we would crash all day on Sunday. This is the first time in the history of Georgia Public Broadcasting where when we have on site doubleheaders for home sites, that we're doing two games at once. I mean, we've done there have been times in the regular season where we would come on at our regular time, we'd wrap up a game and then we would do our main game, like we would do at Memorial Stadium, Hallford Stadium. Shows you how old I am in DeKalb County, but I mention it is the Dekalb Memorial Stadium, but this is the first time that we've had semifinals back to back one site on Georgia Public Broadcasting. And obviously we-.

Hannah Goodin: Not a Web game, TV game.

Jon Nelson: No, no, no, this is straight up TV. And it's going to be we're catching up with everybody and keeping everybody up to date with what's going on with all the 7:30 kicks. Keep an eye on your social media if your teams decide that they want to kick off a little earlier. But Hannah and I are going to be bringing in all the planes and directing traffic for one more week and figuring out who the finalists are going to be in a week and a half's time over at Georgia State Stadium in Center Park.

Hannah Goodin: A lot more of that to come. But first, I want to take a look around the state. In some big news: So coming out of the quarterfinals-.

Jon Nelson: How big was it?

Hannah Goodin: Coming out of the quarterfinals defending champions Warner Robins and Fitzgerald survived, both winning in OT. Dutchtown is a semifinalist for the first time in its 18-year history after taking out Mays in OT 42-34. Jon, those were some wild games.

Jon Nelson: And you've got another couple of semifinalists for the first time, Saint Francis in the semis for the first time.

Hannah Goodin: What a fun story that is.

Jon Nelson: Frank Barden, who won championships at Cartersville, is now taken Saint Francis to a semifinal, one game away from playing in the last game of the year. Schley County, Darren Alford, who's been a guest with us a lot on the postgame show, Schley County has now made it to the semifinals for it used to be, let's get into the playoffs then. Let's get into round two. Let's get into the quarters. Now, they're into the semis and that progression with Darren Alford is is working out as well.

Hannah Goodin: Our road warriors. Yes Cedartown did not have to make the four hour bus ride back unhappy. They beat Bainbridge 26 to 21. So, that was 257 mile drive. Not the longest, though, Calhoun to Ware was 309 miles. And Calhoun did have to make the drive back sad. They lost 35 to nothing. So that's a long, long, quiet ride back, Jon.

Jon Nelson: No doubt about it. Oh, I forgot to mention, we have a new friend. Oh, we have a new friend.

Hannah Goodin: No way.

Jon Nelson: Once again, let me go below the for those watching the video version, I'm going to go below the table, which is a naughty. It's not not a good thing to do for television.

Hannah Goodin: Naughty not nice.

Jon Nelson: It's naughty. It's not nice. It's a naughty not nice thing for television.

Hannah Goodin: I don't know where you're going with that.

Jon Nelson: It's just it's just not something that you're supposed to do on TV. I'm breaking rules for Television.

Hannah Goodin: But you do it every show.

Jon Nelson: Of course, I do. But still, you want to sit there and you want to tell folks that it's not something that you're supposed to do that.

Hannah Goodin: It's naughty not nice.

Jon Nelson: No.

Hannah Goodin: Okay, let's look at this helmet. It's maroon?

Jon Nelson: Yes.

Hannah Goodin: It's a nice shade of maroon, though, with a gold spear through the top.

Jon Nelson: I thought maybe like a lightning bolt maybe, or something.

Hannah Goodin: So, what team is this?

Jon Nelson: This is Dooly County. This is from our this is from our friends at Dooly County and coach Cecil Lester, who made it to the previous round before losing to Lincoln County. So, Lincoln County beats Dooly County 24-21but Coach Lester-.

Hannah Goodin: Yeah, but they made a great run.

Jon Nelson: They did. I caught up with him for my column two weeks ago. And here is the Dooly County helmet, the Dooly County Bobcats. Here's the helmet. So, we get to add this to the stacks as I break my fingers.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, boy.

Jon Nelson: As I break my fingers but yeah Dooly County. We get to now add that to that new friend to our stacks on the studio.

Hannah Goodin: We kept trying to get him on the postgame show, too. And that technology just wasn't cooperating.

Jon Nelson: No technology was not cooperating in Lincoln County. And but no. Once again, thanks to Cecil Lester and everybody, in Dooly County, for bringing us our new friend. And as we always say, we want to show you off to the rest of the state. And so, if you want to have your helmet on the set, find a way to reach out to us. And we will be more than happy to have new friends introduced here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast on Countdown to Kickoff on Thursday.

Hannah Goodin: All right, let's recap our Football Fridays in Georgia game of the week. It was a 7A quarterfinal match-up between Walton and Carrollton at Grisham Stadium, which featured the classification leading passer and Trojans quarterback Juju Lewis. He has 3,339. I was hoping for like 3,333 yards.

Jon Nelson: So next time out, you want him to have minus 6 yards passing for one play, so that way, it is 33, 33.

Hannah Goodin: 3,333 yards. He was 22 of 32 for 333 yards.

Jon Nelson: There you go.

Hannah Goodin: Wow. And four touchdowns. No interceptions on Friday. Okay. But he wasn't even the best performer on the field if you can believe it. Bryce Hicks was our Cotton Commission player of the Game.

Jon Nelson: For the second time ever.

Hannah Goodin: First time we've had a second, second timer. The first time we've had a second timer. And listen to these numbers. He had 89 yards rushing, 64 yards receiving, five touchdowns, also accounting for five tackles and an interception in the 52 to 27 wins over the Raiders. Here's Carrollton head coach Joey King after the game with reporter Nikki Noto Palmer.

Nikki Noto Palmer, Sideline Reporter: Coach, what can you say about our Georgia Cotton Commission player of the game over here by six.

Joey King, Carrollton Head Coach: He was on the field on both sides of the ball all night long. I've said it time and time again. He's our best football player. He can play any position on the field. He'd probably try to play offensive line if we let him, but not quite big enough. But I love him to death, and he fought his tail off tonight.

Hannah Goodin: We also pulled a clip from Hicks himself. Here he is after the game.

Nikki Noto Palmer, Sideline Reporter: All right. Let's bring in our Georgia Cotton Commission player of the game, Bryce Hicks. Bryce, bring it in. How are you feeling?

Byrce Hicks, Carrollton's Junior RB and CB: I'm good. I'm good. It's a good win. We came out and executed. It came out with the win. Now we go on to the fourth round.

Nikki Noto Palmer, Sideline Reporter: That's what's up. You're going to the semis. You got to go through Moultrie. You're playing Colquitt County. Do you know anything about that program?

Byrce Hicks, Carrollton's Junior RB and CB: I know they got our old head coach. Calhoun, but it's going to be a good physical game. So I'm just we locking in on Sunday? On Sunday meetings.

Nikki Noto Palmer, Sideline Reporter: All right. Well, you had a physical game yourself. Let's go through these numbers on the ground. 19 carries for 90 yards, three touchdowns. Then in the air, four receptions, 64 yards, two touchdowns. How did you get it done, tonight?

Byrce Hicks, Carrollton's Junior RB and CB: I just executed the team. We came out did what qwe practiced all week and just came out to life.

Hannah Goodin: So, Jon, this kid just had the night of his life.

Jon Nelson: He's...again.

Hannah Goodin: And He goes.

Jon Nelson: Again.

Hannah Goodin: "I just did my thing.".

Jon Nelson: Yeah.

Hannah Goodin: "Just another Friday night for me."

Jon Nelson: But that's. But I think that's.

Hannah Goodin: A Terrible Impression.

Jon Nelson: But I think that speaks to what Joey King and the coaching staff are giving when it comes to presentation and how you want to just go ahead and focus on the task at hand every single week. What the the coach's messaging is rubbing off on the players and they know that that the drill is not done, that the season is not completed. And so for them, it is just it's great to win, but it's another step in the process. And remember that this game was tied at one point and then Carrollton put the pedal down and put 52 on the board by the time the night was over.

Hannah Goodin: Wow. It was really a wild one to watch. And like Nikki said, Carrollton advances to the semis to face Colquitt. This will be their first meeting. So, it'll be an interesting one.

Jon Nelson: Well, and we also heard, you know, facing their old coach in Sean Calhoun for a friend of the post-game show as well. So that's a while, it's two great teams and two great programs, I know that folks might be focusing on that little bit of subplot as well, but that's only half the bracket in 7A.

Hannah Goodin: So are two doubleheaders are a 7A game and a 6A game. The game we just talked about was bottom left of the 7A bracket. So, let's take a look at those two brackets. Jon, starting with 7A. What happened?

Jon Nelson: Colquitt put up 52, Carrollton put up 52. Mill Creek was up early on. Westlake got the win 38 to 14. And then Milton once again in control over Grayson 35-12. So, you had two teams in the throws, you had two teams in the fifties. And I think it speaks to once again, what we're seeing is the extremes with high powered offenses and stingy defenses. As you get to this point of the season, that's how you end up with Carrollton, Colquitt, Millcreek and Milton at Lakewood.

Hannah Goodin: Now, in 6A, you have Roswell and Hughes, two Fulton County teams still in the race. What are your takeaways from 6A last Friday?

Jon Nelson: Well, I think Thomas County Central had a big lead and Roswell came back to get the win. So great, come from behind win for Roswell. You just hope that if you're a fan of the Hornets that they didn't expend all their energy and coming back and getting this win to get to the semifinals. Then, you have Gainesville and Houston County. This game I think was tied at 14 at one point, then Gainesville. We've seen them all season long, just grow into these games and put up big numbers by the time they're done. So, Gainesville won by two touchdowns. Hughes, this one was tied early as well. I think it was 21, 21 then. Daniel Boone Williams, the head coach at Hughes, they've adjusted and they've we've seen that this season on Football Fridays. They put up 56 on the board. And in a game that I think maybe took, and I'm being facetious here, it might have taken like an hour and 12 minutes, but Rome and Marist, two teams that want to sit there and run the clock, make sure that the other team has to be clinical in their possessions. Rome got the win 17-7, so that's your final four.

Hannah Goodin: More brackets are coming up after our guest. But in the meantime, you can go to GPB.org/ sports for all the brackets or download the GPB Sports App.

Jon Nelson: What she said, and so it's time to catch up with someone who has had a very, very busy last couple of days, Fulton County athletic director Steven Craft, to break down what it's like to try to put a doubleheader together and what it's been like for Fulton County Athletics and Fulton County football to be making this deep run with this many teams.

Hannah Goodin: Hey, thanks for joining us on the show today. So, Fulton County schools are always heavily represented late in the season like this. Many go on to win state championships. Three are left in it. What does that say about football in your area?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: It just says we have amazing kids, amazing coaches, amazing community support, and tremendous district support because it takes all of us in there. But, you know, at the end of the day, this is about our kids, this is about our coaches, our communities, and everything that they pour into this. You know, when you advanced this deep into the playoffs, you have talent, but also, you know, you have luck. But really, it comes down to that commitment that all of the stakeholders have in place in order to make this happen. So, you know, as a district athletic director, you know, this is one of the proudest accomplishments to have three teams in the state semis. And, you know, we had five in the quarterfinals that, you know, nearly qualified. So, it means just an amazing accomplishment for our district and our schools, and most importantly, our kids.

Jon Nelson: Well, and you're seeing different names coming to the fore as well. I mean, Alpharetta makes it into the playoffs, and they're turning their program around. You're seeing Cambridge win Region titles. It's like you're seeing, yes, you're seeing some of the same names that we're used to seeing. But you're also getting that new blood from the county as well that's being put into it and making those deep runs in the playoffs too.

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, I think it just shows the level of competition that we have in our district. You know, everybody is competing against each other, and, you know, iron sharpens iron, and, you know, they're working on getting to that next step. And so, you see programs that are elevating to our other programs that have already had, you know, a long history of success. And so, it's just good for everybody. And, you know, I love that it's not always just the same teams that other teams are popping up and, you know, it's just, you know, just they love competing. And, you know, I think we've got an environment that is really conducive for that in Fulton County.

Hannah Goodin: On the flip side of all of this, you hear a lot more about Cobb County schools and Gwinnett County schools. Do you think Fulton County gets the respect it deserves?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: You know, that's tough. That's a tough question for me to answer. I am extremely proud of the success we have had across the board in all sports during my 11 years as the athletic director here. And I think when you look back at it and look at the success and the number of state titles, you know, I would put our record up against anybody. So, I can't control who gets talked about. You know, we definitely do our part to celebrate our programs and support our programs. But, you know, I'm very proud that we have three teams in the state semifinals. And I'm pretty sure there's not another district right now that can claim that for this year, at least in 2022.

Jon Nelson: All right. So let's let's get into the logistical aspect of the semifinals. In a playoff structure, what's it like juggling all these different chainsaws as an athletic director, trying to get something orchestrated the way that you had to at times in the playoffs, not just this year, but in other years? How difficult a task is it for an athletic director to to do what is being done with doubleheaders and stadia and neutral sites and all these kinds of things? How tough a task is that?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: It's hard. I'm not going to lie to you. It is hard. But I've got amazing school athletic directors that I support them and they get a lot of work done for us. But, you know, we do have to work hard on the logistics. And, you know, in this situation that we're in right now, you know, three teams in the semis. I don't have one stadium that can support the GHSA, the requirement of 6000 seats. So, then we have to find venues if we're the designated home team. And so, you know, working that out is tough. And, you know, I mean, I typically, you know, like the normal playoffs, you know, it may be north or south if we've got a couple of home games and, you know, I'll go to one game to the next. You know, the other night we had Creekside actually starting at 7 p.m. and I had two games at 7:30 p.m. So, I went to Creekside at 7 p.m. and went to Langston and watched the end of their first half. And then, I ended up that night with the Westlake Parkview game, so I saw all three of my teams compete that night. So, I'm busy and go as fast as I can, go to many locations as I can in one night.

Hannah Goodin: When it comes to Lakewood this Friday, how is it going to work specifically?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: Yeah, so we've got two games set up and that that is something that is a little unique for us in Fulton County schools, but that is not unique for APS. You know, they routinely have doubleheaders during the season and they had a doubleheader in the second round of the playoffs there. So, you know, we've got one game set up for five and that's the Milton versus Mill Creek game. And then we will start the next game right now slated for 8:00 and you know, it'll be 30 minutes after the ending of the first game. So, hopefully we stay on schedule. We can't always quite control that, obviously. But you know, we're going to bring the two the first two teams in and we're working we're still working through all the logistics of that. But then, you know, as soon as that game is over, we'll have the second game there. So, I think it's incredible that we can have two semis at the same venue. And I think it's awesome that y'all are agreeing to broadcast this, and I'm excited for this. And, you know, for me, I get to see, you know, two of my three teams participate. I don't have to drive all over the place for it. So, I'm kind of happy about that.

Hannah Goodin: So on those same lines, what about the fans? Do you have to completely clear the stadium out and then re ticket everyone? How is that going to work and isn't that going to take a lot of time?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: So normally with an event like this, you would have to clear the stadium. But the reality of this is, you know, Lakewood Stadium holds close to 12,000 people. So we're going to have a lot of space for the fans. And so we are not going to have to clear the stadium. All the tickets are done electronically through Go Fan. So the Milton in Millcreek will be buying, you know, from their link. The Langston and Rome fans will be will be buying from their link. So, you don't have to worry about the separation of money and making sure the schools are getting what they're entitled to do. So, you know, I am excited from the fact that we don't have to clear the stadium now. So if some of the if some of the fans from Mill Creek and from Milton want to watch the second game, they're going to be welcome to do that. We're going to have plenty of space. We'll move the bands out and move them in and out of the stands and then kind of work from there. So but you know, we should have plenty of space for everybody to be there on Friday.

Jon Nelson: Well, so let me ask you this. When it came to I guess the I guess what I'm looking for here is almost that the the play by play of how this came to pass.

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: Sure.

Jon Nelson: So, you're quarterfinals and you've you know who your teams are that are going into the semifinals. How immediate were the conversations getting all of these things in motion? Because it's teams, it's stadia, it's all these different things. How how busy was your weekend? I assume you have unlimited minutes on your cell phone where you can be in conference call capabilities. I mean, what was it like for you?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: That's exactly right. And I'll be honest with you, the phone call started as soon as I was driving home from Langston's game. That was the that was the second game that I went to on Friday night. And I knew I had three teams that qualified. And so I started reaching out right then I was reaching out with Gainesville's athletic director. I was reaching out to I was getting a number for Rome's athletic director and that I was reaching out to the head coach at at Mill Creek because I had his contact number. So, I started that conversation Saturday night and then, you know, probably worked till about 1:30, 2:00 that night and then, you know, started working the phones again, probably 7:30 Saturday morning and started kind of really working on this and, you know, making sure because, you know, obviously, you know, we had three teams that were designated as the home teams. And so I had to find venues for this. And, you know, at one point I had three venues and I lost one of those venues. And so that kind of forced us to like, okay, here are the options. And, you know, so Langston in Rome, you know, so just so you all know, when, when the home team stadium does not meet the capacity, then it is the responsibility of the home school to secure a facility that does meet it unless the opponent agrees to waive the seating requirement.

Jon Nelson: Right.

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: In this case, you know, all three schools asked to have a stadium that meets the stadium requirements and that is their right and you know, for the White Book. And so we started working. So I was fortunate, you know, through you know, McEachern was more than happy to host a game for us. And so we put Roswell and Gainesville there. I had already secured with APS to have the Langston Lakewood game at the Langston Rome game there at Lakewood. And then, you know, we weren't able to use their other facility, which is where I was kind of hoping to put the Mill Creek Milton game at. And so at that point I started the conversations with with the Mill Creek administration. Okay, here's the options that we can do. Here's some choices. Would you like for me to look at this, this and this? Are there any circumstances you would consider playing this game in Milton? And they said no. I asked them about, listen, the Forysth high schools did not meet the capacity, but their stadiums are much larger than ours. Do you want me to reach out to those schools to see if they would be interested? And they said no. So at that point, the then the venue that I had available to do was to do a doubleheader at Lakewood. So, at that point I started working on it, started having conversations with my counterpart, Jasper Jewell, who is the athletic director for APS, and Corey Collier, who was his coordinator, and start having conversations about like, hey, is it doable to do a doubleheader? And we started working through the logistics. And so I reached back out to Mill Creek and said, Hey, here's what I can do. Here are the options. Are you interested in this? And they said, No, we're not interested in that. We're not interested in that. I called a few other places that weren't interested in hosting us. And so I'm like, okay, here's where we are. We're going to do a doubleheader. And, you know, we, we finalized everything and signed the contracts Sunday. And then, you know, I just kept working most of the day, Sunday working on the logistics for this.

Hannah Goodin: Roswell is back in the playoffs for the first not for the first time for nine, four, nine years in a row. Milton, we all know what they can do there the heavyweight of Fulton County in the finals last year, won a state championship in 2018. But Hughes is a team that was two and eight in 2019 and has come on to the map with quarterfinals, finals, now they're in the semifinals. How much fun has it been to watch them come on to the onto the map here?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: It's absolutely incredible for them. And to your point, they were two and eight three years ago. These are the same kids. You know, they you know, they took their lumps that year. They were a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing and they're playing 6A football at that point with those kids. And those kids have grown up and they've gotten better. And Coach Williams and his staff have done an amazing job developing those kids and setting up structure and the environment for these kids to be successful. Those kids have embraced it. And, you know, listen, they came so painfully close last year to win in the state championship. You know, they were ahead for a good portion of their football game in the state finals. And, you know, they came up short. So, they have been hungry this entire year. So for me, as someone that, you know, I don't watch them practice every day, you know, I've got 16 high schools in Fulton County. 

Jon Nelson: You can't be at 16 places and watch, coach?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: I can't. I try. I tried, but not all the time. Maybe on a good day, I can. But to see their growth and to see their determination this year, you know, they obviously have had a target on their back this entire year. You know, they've been ranked number one from day one, and they have handled that pressure, and they played a challenging preseason schedule, you know, non-region schedule. They included a couple of nationally ranked teams, and you know, I'm proud of them for doing that, and I'm just excited for them to get an opportunity to play in the semis on Friday as well. You know, Milton is back after going through that. You know, they were in the state finals last year. They graduated a lot, but they have such a wonderful culture. They got a brand-new coach Ben Reeves, who was the offensive coordinator. And, you know, they haven't missed a beat. You know, they took a couple of losses early against nationally ranked teams, and that prepared them to have success in the playoffs. And then, you know, Roswell and Chris Prewett. Chris has been building that program each year since he took over about three or four years ago. And they were just getting better and better and better. And, you know, I knew, and they were playing their quarterfinal team and 7A last year. And so now they're down in 6A, and here they are in the semis. And, you know, I'm just proud of all three. I'm proud of the coaches. I'm proud of these kids.

Hannah Goodin: My last question for you is about flag football, which has made such a splash on GPB sports over the past couple of years. How has that sport grown in Fulton County and some who are some of the heavy hitters that are still going at it?

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: You know, we would have followed the very next year after Gwinnett and obviously COVID hit. And so, we did one team as kind of as a pilot, and that was Westlake that year. And then the next year, we had every single high school, and it has been just the support for it. The girls have absolutely loved it. The coaches are enjoying it. It is fun to watch and I'm excited to watch them. You know, anything we can do to promote female sports and get more athletes out there competing is, you know, it's going to get 100% support from me always. And what's unique about this is kind of where the season is. You know, you have a lot of multi-sport athletes that are playing flag football. And what they're doing is, you know, it's kind of unique, but our coaches are working together to support them. So, the softball coach is working, working with the flag football. You know, we've got volleyball girls that are out there, we got basketball players and the coaches are working together to allow these girls to play both sports at the same time. So, I'm excited for that.

Jon Nelson: Well, Coach, as always, it's great to have you on to kind of pull back the curtain when it comes to administrative duties and how it is for an athletic director, not just for one school, but for 11 billion that you have to kind of keep an eye on for an entire season.

Hannah Goodin: And your pride in the kid just gives me chills. The passion in your voice is really awesome.

Jon Nelson: So, Fulton County Athletic Director Steven Craft, coach, thanks for coming on with us to it to talk about the doubleheader, the logistics involved, and what it means this deep in a playoff run to have Fulton County going as deep as you are. Thanks for hanging out with us here in the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. We definitely will be seeing you on a sideline very soon.

Steven Craft, Fulton County AD: Perfect. Thank you all so much. And thank you for everything y'all do to promote athletics in the state of Georgia.

Hannah Goodin: Always great to catch up with Steven Craft to talk about Fulton County football, but as promised, let's go through the rest of bracketology. Jon left off at 5A. On the left side, Ware County will face Dutchtown. On the right side, Warner Robins versus Cartersville. Demons trying to get back to the finals again. What are your takeaways from Friday?

Jon Nelson: Two of the games went to free football, the Dutchtown game with Mays, as you mentioned, 40-34, and the stingy defense with Dutchtown that we've seen this season going to Ware County. You've mentioned travel.

Hannah Goodin: Travel, travel.

Jon Nelson: Travel. Not quite the 300-plus miles that Calhoun takes to go to Waycross. But I think it's going to be a stern test for Dutchtown as they go to Ware County. Ware County shut out Calhoun one and that one by 35. And then on the right-hand side of the bracket, two teams that we've always noticed and always know we're going to be making deep runs, Cartersville and Warner Robins. And I know that a lot of folks the beginning of the year, Warner Robins is one and 4.

Hannah Goodin: They do it every year. They do it every year.

Jon Nelson: But that's the thing, is that you want to challenge yourself and get you prepared for Region play and these kinds of runs. And we had Marquis Westbrook on the postgame show to talk about it. You're down, you're one in four, and I'm sure that a lot of folks were either kicking dirt on them. If they weren't, they aren't Warner Robins fans or might be concerned. But I'm always like, look. Region play is where you make your hay. You learn about yourself in non-region play, so you can be ready for Region play season two, which gives you these runs that we're seeing. But at the Mac, Cartersville, and Warner Robins, that one is going to be stout.

Hannah Goodin: It seems to work for Coach Westbrook.

Jon Nelson: Mm-hmm.

Hannah Goodin: Year after year, 4A, it's Cedar Town versus North Oconee and Benedictine versus Troup County.

Jon Nelson: Yeah, I know. West always seems to play east here. And this one's going to be in Savannah this round, you know, in these Regions that were paired, New Hampstead was the four seed coming out of that Region. They played Troup in a back-and-forth in round number one. And so now that we're here in round number four, you get Troup and Benedictine playing each other again. Great talents, Teo, Todd, Jaquan, Brian, Luke, Crum, and Hawk, fantastic athletic prowess. I think that the game still might be going on by the time we come back here next week to talk about it with the All-Stars.

Hannah Goodin: I don't doubt it.

Jon Nelson: And then North Oconee, undefeated, great season so far. From what we've seen from Tyler Aurandt and that group with the Titans, Cedartown is top-ranked most of the year. So, it's going to be a stern test for an undefeated team and game at Cedartown. It's going to be a great environment there.

Hannah Goodin: AAA, on the left, it's Carver, Atlanta versus Sandy Creek. And on the right, it's Cedar Grove versus Oconee County. Cedar Grove trying to get back as well, Jon.

Jon Nelson: Three teams from the same Region. Well, as we say here in public broadcasting, -

Hannah Goodin: The Region of doom.

Jon Nelson: One of these things is not like the other.

Hannah Goodin: Wait, we say that.

Jon Nelson: It's what that Sesame Street, I think.

Hannah Goodin: Oh.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. Well, one of the Sesame Street routines, you know, one of these things is not like the other. And that would be Oconee County. Everybody else is from the same Region, Carver and Sandy Creek on the left-hand side. They played each other already this year, and Sandy Creek won by ten. So, this is a rematch of a Region game on that side. And then Oconee County with, I think, there are three seeds coming in going to Cedar Grove. It's going to be a tough one as they go and play at Godfrey Stadium.

Hannah Goodin: AA, Fitzgerald versus Fellowship Christian, and Appling County versus Thompson.

Jon Nelson: Rockmart in Fitzgerald. We knew it was going to take a while. It did. It was free football there. And Fellowship Christian took care of Pierce County. They had a big lead early on, and Fellowship Christian got the win. We caught up with head coach Tim McFarlin of the Paladins on the postgame show as well. Fellowship and Fitzgerald's left-hand side that one's going to be interesting. Then, Thompson and Appling County. Thompson, I think, has been one of the more quiet teams this year because they're in the Augusta area, and you've got to kind of have to pay attention to the eastern frontier a little bit. Appling County's huge lines on the offense and the defensive side of the ball are going to be one of the toughest tests the Bulldogs have had all season.

Hannah Goodin: Class A Division 1. I think your song also applies to this one.

Jon Nelson: Yeah.

Hannah Goodin: One of these things is not like the other.

Jon Nelson: True.

Hannah Goodin: You have heavyweights Irwin County playing Swainsboro and then Prince Avenue Christian playing our Cinderella story, Saint Francis.

Jon Nelson: Well, but Saint Francis, though they won a region title. I wouldn't necessarily sit there if you're a fan of Saint Francis.

Hannah Goodin: This season. Maybe.

Jon Nelson: Or Frank Barden.

Hannah Goodin: Their whole season.

Jon Nelson: Yeah, but I mean, if you're Frank Barden, the head coach, you might win this. That's a great idea. Say, we're a Cinderella story. But they won, but they won a Region title. And so, they've come through as one seed. And Saint Francis is going to have to go to Bogart in the suburbs of Athens to take on Prince Avenue Christian, who Aaron Philo. And I know that you've been keeping an eye on here and following all season. Hannah is one of the tremendous quarterbacks here in the state of Georgia, Swainsboro, and Irwin County. This game was supposed to happen in the regular season, but the hurricane knocked it off the board. So, these two teams it was supposed to be in Swainsboro. This time it's going to be Buddy Mobile Stadium. Great matchup on the left-hand side.

Hannah Goodin: And that's interesting, Jon. And one of the other things about Saint Francis, too, do you think they have emerged this year because of the reclassification?

Jon Nelson: That could very well be. I mean, you also have teams that cycle through. And for Coach Barden, it's been a couple of years and so it's a couple of years under the same cycle of understanding what Coach Barden wants and chasing after championships and having veteran teams and things like that. Just getting adjusted to how Coach Barden wants to do things, I think plays into that too.

Hannah Goodin: And finally, Class A Division 2, we have Bowden playing Lincoln County and Johnson County playing Schley County.

Jon Nelson: And Lincoln County and Bowden. This one we do know is a 7:30 start. And so for Lee Chomskis and Lincoln County, they're having to travel all the way basically from Lincolnton, which is the South Carolina-Georgia border just north of Augusta to Bowden, which is on the other end of I-20. And you're going from one end of the state to the other. That's going to be an interesting travel plan and how Coach Chomskis' breaks up the day to go play. Bowden, one of the top ranked teams in Division 2 all season long, and Schley and Johnson. You know, we talked about Schley County, but once again, Germivy Tucker running back Johnson County. Make that Kid an Offer. He beat Herschel Walker's career record for yards.

Hannah Goodin: Call him. Call him.

Jon Nelson: Call Don Norton.

Hannah Goodin: We should put his cellphone number on the podcast.

Jon Nelson: Call Coach Norton in Wrightsville. Get Germivy Tucker an offer. Get Germivy Tucker on offer. Come on, coaches. I know you sit there and it's like, okay, well, he's 5 feet, you know, 5' 6" and he might be 150 pounds. But as we always say, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Germivy Tucker, make that kid an offer still flying below the radar.

Hannah Goodin: I'm going to have to turn my headphones down.

Jon Nelson: Still flying below the radar in a semifinal.

Hannah Goodin: You are screaming at me.

Jon Nelson: I'm screaming in general, one of the most overlooked running backs in the state of Georgia leads his classification, breaks Herschel Walker's record on campus. Make that Kid an Offer. Come on, folks, get with it.

Hannah Goodin: My brain is rattling in between the headphones.

Jon Nelson: Well, it's because I'm pounding the table.

Hannah Goodin: Yes and screaming.

Jon Nelson: Well, no. If I was screaming, it'd be a little louder than that.

Hannah Goodin: Oh, man. Well, I think you got your point across, Jon.

Jon Nelson: Did I get my point across?

Hannah Goodin: Yes. Even our listeners are about to call him and make him an offer,.

Jon Nelson: Make the Offer.

Hannah Goodin: I think, you know, I might call him. 

Jon Nelson: Call Johnson County High School. College coaches, you're missing out. That's all I'm going to say.

Hannah Goodin: All right, guys, we got a lot more brackets on Countdown to Kickoff this week. We took a turkey day break. Much needed mental rest. I know everybody missed us, but we're back this Thursday to break all this down even more in-depth. So make sure to tune in to Countdown to Kickoff, GPB Sports. Facebook Live, Thursday at noon.

Jon Nelson: What you said.

Hannah Goodin: In other very, very, very important news.

Jon Nelson: Yes.

Hannah Goodin: I just want to know.

Jon Nelson: Oh, here we go.

Hannah Goodin: Has everybody got their Christmas decorations up now?

Jon Nelson: Here we go.

Hannah Goodin: Is everybody on board?

Jon Nelson: Here we go. All right. So Christmas decorations, we this was see, for those that haven't caught up earlier episodes, Hannah like skipped nine holidays and had her Christmas decorations up in March.

Hannah Goodin: November 1st, I already got, already had the boxes out.

Jon Nelson: You know, for, you know, for St. Patrick's Day. She had her decorations up for Christmas. And the rest of us here.

Hannah Goodin: Have already got St. Paddy's out. Yeah.

Jon Nelson: Well, yeah. So straw poll before. Before we go, who has their decorations up and who is still working now that we have past Thanksgiving, how much leeway be giving yourselves anyone?

Jeremy Powell: It doesn't seem that anybody in this room has any Christmas decorations up.

Hannah Goodin: Disappointing.

Jon Nelson: So. Well.

Hannah Goodin: You guys are just a bunch of scrooges.

Jon Nelson: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. How how does. How does one relate to the other? This this cause effect relationship of yours does not compute, young lady. Oh, how does how does how does one relate to the other?

Hannah Goodin: I don't know. It just needs to be in the spirit, Jon, the spirit of Christmas.

Jon Nelson: So what you're saying-.

Hannah Goodin:  Or holiday. Whatever holiday, you celebrate.

Jon Nelson: So what you so what you're so what you're maintaining is that for those of us who traveled during Thanksgiving, those of us who had to go and other locations.

Hannah Goodin: Find the time, I am a twin mom with two jobs. I found the time.

Jon Nelson: Because you skipped like nine holidays and put it up in March. Can you believe I can believe this? Can I — can I sit here and ask this rhetorical "can you believe this?" Oh, can you believe that she is sitting there and saying, just because those of us had to travel, that we're supposed to find the time.

Hannah Goodin: Everyone is shaking their head at me.

Jon Nelson: 3 a.m. on Sunday morning to put up.

Hannah Goodin: Exactly! Exactly what I'm talking about.

Jon Nelson: Seriously.

Hannah Goodin: Should have woken up this morning, Jon. 3 a.m. decorated. Oh. I like your haircut, by the way. Championship haircut looks great.

Jon Nelson: Yeah. It had to happen.

Hannah Goodin: It needs to be, like, patted down a little bit, but, you know, we can work on that later.

Jon Nelson: But that's — But that's not a surprise that it needs to be patted down.

Hannah Goodin: Love the championship haircut. Brush cut. Ready to go? 

Jon Nelson: Yeah. Fresh cut. Ready to go. Speaking of. Ready to go. What's the broadcast plans again?

Hannah Goodin: Let me let me pull it up. Our doubleheader 5:00 7A match matchup between Mill Creek versus Milton, 8:00 6A game Rome versus Langston Hughes at Lakewood.

Jon Nelson: Yep. GPB, GPB TV, GPB.org, and the GPB Sports app for the first ever doubleheader semifinal, double, doubleheader, and neutral site Football Fridays in Georgia. As we get you ready for the championships, Hannah and I are going to try to direct all the planes on the tarmac and let you know who's going to be in and what the scores are all night long. So, it's going to be a fun night from Lakewood Stadium as we get everybody prepared for Georgia State. Yeah.

Hannah Goodin: And then we'll do media days on Sunday. 

Jon Nelson: Yes. And we'll catch up with coaches.

Hannah Goodin: Coaches, we'll tell you all about that next week, as well as check in with our all-stars.

Jon Nelson: All-stars for the next two weeks after this. So, it's going to be fun. So, the sprint continues when it comes to the championships. So, as I turn and see who one final time is here when we say so, thank you to everybody. So, it's King James, Ambassador Jeremy, Jake, the Snake, and Commander Sandy. And for you who've already put up your decorations because the rest of us actually had to travel when it came to our holiday activities.

Hannah Goodin: Just full of cheer.

Jon Nelson: Yes, you are.

Hannah Goodin: Every day.

Jon Nelson: At demand. Every day on demand. Just so you just hold up your decorations this past weekend. You're wrong. And I'm correct.

Hannah Goodin: That's. That's a good impression.

Jon Nelson: Of you yelling.

Hannah Goodin: I don't yell.

Jon Nelson: Oh, no, of course not.

Hannah Goodin: I don't think I've ever yelled.

Jon Nelson: Yeah, you yelled.

Hannah Goodin: I have?

Jon Nelson: You have.

Hannah Goodin: When?

Jon Nelson: Oh, it has nothing to do with this show. But you've yelled.

Hannah Goodin: We've, we've got to figure this out.

Jon Nelson: Yeah, we do. So, what we're going to do is we're going to figure it out, and we're going to let the rest of you guys root on your favorite teams and root on the semifinal. So, for everybody here at Georgia Public Broadcasting, thanks for hanging out with us for another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast doubleheader Friday night Football Fridays in Georgia on all of the GPB platforms. So, for everybody here, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Get your decorations up. Now that we've passed and are headed to Christmas. So, for everybody here, I'm just Jon.

Hannah Goodin: That's your final notice.

Jon Nelson: Play it safe, everybody. We'll see you in the semifinals.