Three of those schools — Chattahoochee, Milton and Johns Creek — didn’t have to look far to find the first formidable opponent in their path as all three teams will take to the road Friday night looking to knock off one of AAAAAA’s top 10 teams.
Chattahoochee (7-3 overall) enters the playoffs as the only No. 4 seed from north Fulton and will square off against Norcross (10-0) in the first round. The Blue Devils are the undefeated region champions from 7AAAAAA, ranked No. 2 in the state and are allowing just 12 points per game to the opposition.
But tangling with a top-ranked, undefeated squad isn’t foreign territory for head coach Terry Crowder’s squad. Just three weeks ago the Cougars upended then undefeated West Forsyth (9-1) 29-28, thwarting the Wolverines chance at a perfect season and dropping them outside the state’s top five.
“Because we beat West Forsyth I can look these kids in the eye, tell them we can beat Norcross and believe it,” said Crowder after beating Centennial last Thursday night and learning of their playoff fate. “Now I know it’s going to be a heck of a challenge, but because we beat West Forsyth the kids know they have a heck of a chance.”
After locking up the third seed in 5AAAAAA with a 42-14 win over Woodstock last Friday, Milton (7-3) drew a playoff matchup against South Gwinnett (8-2) — the No. 2 seed from 8AAAAAA. The Comets are winners of eight of their last nine games, ranked No. 10 in the state and their only two losses are to unbeaten Norcross and defending state-champion Grayson.
“The key for us is to just play a complete game,” said Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro after his team beat Woodstock on senior night. “We know we won’t have a chance against anybody if we don’t play a complete game for four quarters.”
Johns Creek (8-2) will hit the road in round one as the No. 3 seed for the second straight season.
A year ago the Gladiators were pitted against traditional state-power Flowery Branch in round 1 — a game they lost 41-38 in the waning seconds — and drew another state powerhouse this post-season in North Gwinnett (9-1).
The Bulldogs have won seven straight games, are ranked No. 4 in the state and suffered their only loss early in the season to Norcross 31-21.