No such surprises are expected this year.
The Trojans will now be the hunted, and not the hunter, after completing their second undefeated regular season in four years. And with Camden County getting upset by Colquitt County, Lassiter may be the top-ranked team when the Class AAAAAA state playoffs begin next Friday.
Lassiter’s journey toward a state championship will begin with a Brookwood team that is two years removed from winning its own state title.
Knowing they were the underdog that played with nothing to lose last year, the Trojans plan to take the Broncos seriously when they arrive at Frank Fillmann Stadium.
“We have to realize that everyone is undefeated now,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. “We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing in the regular season. (Being the top seed) doesn’t affect our approach to the game, but knowing we were the No. 4 seed (last year), we have to respect our opponents.”
Lassiter’s regular-season formula was simple. It jumped on most teams early and built large leads before halftime. The Trojans, however, need to find a way to avoid stretches of inconsistent play to be successful in the playoffs.
While Lassiter is in the state playoffs for a fifth-straight season, the postseason hasn’t been as familiar of a setting to Walker, which also went undefeated in the regular season. The Wolverines ended their schedule Friday with one of their better defensive efforts in a 21-0 win at Gordon Lee.
Walker and the other Class A playoff teams will get a bye next week and begin play Nov. 23. The Wolverines will learn their opponent Tuesday when the Georgia High School Association released its private-school Class A power rankings.
“Everyone may be tired of hearing this, but the kids aren’t ‘Let’s go out and win the next game,’” Walker coach John East said. “I believe we will be very focused.”
Lassiter’s east Cobb archrival, Walton, is trying to overcome a bigger opponent than the ones it faces on the field.
That opponent is the injury bug.
The Region 5AAAAAA runner-up Raiders need all the strength they can get when Parkview comes to Raider Valley for the first round.
Alabama-bound running back Tyren Jones sprained his knee against Etowah on Nov. 2 and was not on the field when Roswell upset the Raiders 28-24 on Friday. Many of the offensive linemen, Brandon Kublanow included, are banged-up, and quarterback Parker McLeod has missed time. Now McLeod is back in action, while backup quarterback Price Wilson is out with an injured knee.
Coach Rocky Hidalgo said he wouldn’t know the status of Jones and the other injured players until they are evaluated later this week.
Walton’s region rival, Wheeler, will have the toughest test of its breakout season. In their first trip to the playoffs since 2006, the Wildcats must travel to Grayson — last year’s Class AAAAA state champion, led by nationally renowned defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
The big schools in west Cobb have the daunting task of facing the stronger teams of south Georgia in the first round.
McEachern will be hosting Colquitt County — the team that upset previous No. 1 Camden County — North Cobb will host Valdosta, Marietta is at Lowndes and Hillgrove must draw Camden.
In Class AAAAA, Allatoona will bounce back from its first loss of the year — a setback against East Paulding for the Region 5AAAAA championship — as it gets ready to host Heritage-Conyers. Region 7AAAAA champion Kell will play host to Southwest DeKalb and Pope will be on the road to face Stephenson in a Saturday night game.