• Dawson makes history, 2 Buckhead private schools gone from playoffs

    By: Todd Holcomb

    Updated:

    Bainbridge resumed a familiar role Friday night, beating a top-10 team on the road in the playoffs, while Westminster and Lovett suffered rare playoff losses to unranked teams, one that made startling history for Dawson County.

    The first night of the 2019 Georgia high school football playoffs is done, and predictability was the theme. Top-10 teams were 60-4. 

    One surprise was the demise of the Buckhead private schools in Class AAA as 10th-ranked Westminster lost to Dawson County 27-3 while Lovett fell to North Hall 24-21. 

    Dawson County's victory was the most remarkable as it was program's first win in history over a top-10 opponent from the same classification. The Tigers had been 0-43 in those games since the program's inception in 1967, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. 

    It was Dawson's second road playoff victory in history. The Tigers won at Trion in the 1999 first round.

    Dawson had little football tradition until coach Sid Maxwell arrived in 2015 but has made the playoffs each season since, winning a region title and reaching the AAA quarterfinals in 2015, but the Westminster victory was the first of its kind. 

    For Westminster and Lovett, this will be the first season since 2002 that neither will be part of the second round. Lovett had won 19 straight playoff games against unranked opponents since 2004. Westminster had won 10 straight since 2009. 

    Meanwhile, defending champ Bainbridge of Class AAAAA beat No. 9 Griffin 20-14. Bainbridge entered last year's playoffs 5-5 and beat five straight ranked opponents, three on the road, toward its first state title in 36 years. 

    The only other games that might be called upsets were Fitzgerald's 30-12 victory over No. 8 Bleckley County in AA and Hiram's 16-12 win over No. 10 Southwest DeKalb in AAAAA. Fitzgerald spent most of the season in the top 10, but Hiram, which entered 5-5, hadn't won a playoff game since 2010. 

    The most impressive team in the first round might've been Sandy Creek, a 42-7 winner over Denmark in the only first-round game between ranked teams. Sandy Creek (10-1) was No. 5 in AAAA while Denmark (7-3) was No. 8 with all of its losses to top-five teams. Sandy Creek's only loss is to No. 1 Carrollton.

    The No. 1-ranked teams that played were perfect, as expected. The first round saw Lowndes over Hillgrove 38-8 in AAAAAAA, Dacula over Dalton 49-18 in AAAAAA, Carrollton over Arabia Mountain 42-14 in AAAAA, Cartersville over Flowery Branch 14-6 in AAAA, Peach over Brantley County 19-0 in AAA and Rockmart over Temple 24-7 in AA. Class A's top teams have first-round byes. 

    Three first-round games will be played Saturday night. They are Lithia Springs at Clarke Central, Fannin County at Cedar Grove and Elbert County at Douglass. Next week's second round features 128 teams, each vying for the quarterfinals.

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