Rural North Georgia shone brightly in a first round of the Georgia high school football playoffs as Dawson County, Union County and Madison County earned historic victories in a weekend of few surprises.
Dawson County beat a ranked opponent from its own classification for the first time in its 27-3 victory over No. 10 Westminster in Class AAA. Despite five consecutive playoff berths, a region championship and a state quarterfinal finish in 2015, Dawson had been 0-43 all-time against top-10 teams in its class.
Union County and Madison County, both coached by alumni, won the first state-playoff games in their histories.
Union County, under coach Brian Allison, defeated South Atlanta 19-15 in a AA game. The Panthers won a region playoff game in 1964, advanced to Class B quarterfinals in 1972 and 1973 in eight-team brackets and made the playoffs six of the past seven seasons, but this was their first true state-playoff win.
Madison County, which defeated Ridgeland 27-20 under coach Chris Smith, won a region playoff game against Norcross in 1982 but had been 0-3 in the state playoffs.
Johns Creek and St. Francis also won state-playoff games for the first time.
Top-10 teams went 61-4 in the first round. That's after ranked teams lost 11 times in 2018.
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