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From left are North Paulding Coach Jim Bob Bryant, Hiram Coach Pete Fominaya, South Paulding Coach Jason Thompson, Robbie Finley of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, East Paulding Coach Billy Shackelford and Paulding County High School Coach Van Spence at the annual Paulding Rotary Club “Pigskin Preview” event.

Three Paulding schools could take their first steps toward state football championships tonight in the first round of the playoffs in seven classifications.

North Paulding in Class 7-A, South Paulding in Class 6-A and Hiram in Class 5-A will play first-round games in the Georgia High School Association state football playoffs.

North Paulding received an at-large bid.

The Wolfpack did not earn any of the top four spots in the region needed to gain automatic bids, but its power rating was the highest of all 7-A schools which did not earn playoff spots.

The GHSA power rating was determined based on such factors as the won-loss records of a team and its opponents’ won-loss records and the opponents’ strength factors.

North Paulding, which finished 6-4 this season, will face undefeated and third-ranked McEachern in the first round at 7:30 p.m. at Cantrell Stadium in Powder Springs. The Indians defeated the Wolfpack 49-19 on Nov. 8.

The Wolfpack are led by quarterback Kyle Bird, who completed 113 of 167 passes for 1,529 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He was the team’s leading rusher with 452 yards.

South Paulding earned the second seed in Region 5-6A and will host North Atlanta in the first round tonight at 7:30 at Tim Glanton Stadium.

The Spartans finished 8-2 overall this season after finishing 2-8 last season.

Offensive leaders this year included senior wide receiver Parker Self, who had 14 touchdowns and 1,223 yards receiving, which is second highest in the state.

Senior quarterback Austin Seymour completed 188 of 314 passes for 2,416 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Senior running backs Thomas Marshall rushed for 749 yards and seven touchdowns; and Julian Beris ran for 609 yards and six touchdowns.

Hiram earned the fourth seed from Region 7-5A and will travel to Buck Godfrey Stadium in Decatur to play Southwest DeKalb.

The Hornets finished 5-5 overall this year. Offensive leaders included senior quarterback Zander May, who completed 55 of 122 passes for 1,007 yards; and senior running back Jalen Townser, who rushed for 832 yards and six touchdowns.

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