• Four No. 1-ranked teams go down Friday night

    By: Todd Holcomb

    Updated:

    Four No. 1-ranked teams, one defending champion and the state's most dominant region took tumbles Friday night in the Georgia high school football playoffs.

    Failing to survive the quarterfinals were Carrollton of Class AAAAA, Cartersville of AAAA, Peach County of AAA and Athens Academy of A – all ranked No. 1. They were beaten by Buford, Woodward Academy, Cedar Grove and Eagle's Landing Christian, respectively. 

    Until this round, only one of the eight No. 1 teams, Rockmart of AA, had lost.

    Buford beat Carrollton 24-21, finishing the Trojans' season at 12-1. After missing out last season, Buford (12-1) is in the semifinals for the 12th time in 13 seasons. Buford had been ranked No. 1 until the final game of the regular season when upset by Clarke Central, costing the Wolves' the Region 8 title. 

    Woodward beat Cartersville 31-28 in a game between No. 1 and No. 2 teams in AAAA. Both entered 12-0. Woodward is in the semifinals for the first time since 2015.

    Cedar Grove and ELCA are defending champions that won rematches of 2018 title games. Cedar Grove, ranked No. 2, beat Peach County 36-3 while ELCA, ranked No. 3, defeated Athens Academy 28-10. 

    Lee County was another defending champion playing a No. 1-ranked team, Dacula, but Lee's bid for a third straight title ended with a 56-21 loss at home. Dacula is 13-0.

    Lee's Region 1 had a rare bad night as No. 4 Valdosta, No. 6 Coffee and unranked Houston County also lost. Teams from this region have won each of the past three state titles in the class, Lee County in 2017 and 2018 and Valdosta in 2016. Five of the six state finalists since 2016 have been Region 1 members.

    Now, the AAAAAA semifinals will go on without them as Richmond Hill defeated Valdosta 16-14, Allatoona beat Coffee 24-0 and Harrison defeated Houston County 28-7.

    Richmond Hill's advancement was the most surprising. Pegged as 26-point underdog against Valdosta by the computer Maxwell Ratings, the unranked Wildcats are in the semifinals for the first time since the Savannah-area school opened in 1986.

    There were no other major upsets, although other highly ranked teams were knocked out.

    No. 5 North Gwinnett beat No. 2 McEachern 32-13 in AAAAAAA to join No. 1 Lowndes, No. 6 Marietta and No. 7 Parkview in the semifinals of the highest classification. Parkview hadn't been to the semis since 2004, Marietta since 1994.

    Starr's Mill defeated No. 8 Dutchtown 25-24 in overtime to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2010. 

    In AAAA, No. 6 Oconee County beat No. 4 Marist 17-7. Oconee hasn't been in the semifinals since its state-championship season of 1999. 

    Thomasville, which started the season 2-4, beat No. 2 Rabun County 38-24. Thomasville, ranked No. 6, is in the semifinals for the first time since 1993.

    Another drought-breaker was No. 7 Jenkins of AAA. The Warriors of Savannah are in the semifinals for the first time since 1966.

    Holy Innocents' is in the semifinals for the first time. The second-ranked Golden Bears beat Mount Paran Christian 28-0 in a Class A private-school game.

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