Pace-GAC highlights Round 1 of the state football playoffs
What happens when you are a coach trying to figure out how to stop Davis Mills and No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian?
“I have had a lot of sleepless nights,” said Pace Academy coach Chris Slade.
Ninth-ranked Pace Academy (6-4) is the No. 4 seed from tough Region 5 and will look to silence the high-powered and balanced offense led by Stanford commitment Davis Mills on Friday at Spartan Stadium in Norcross in the first round of the playoffs.
“This is my fourth time facing (Mills) in three years,” Slade said. “He is really good, man. He is smart. He is tall and can see well in the pocket. He is a very intelligent quarterback. He’s patient. And he can run. He is more athletic than you think. So I am worried about him all around.”
Mills is 105-of-150 passing for 1,651 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. When Mills feels the need, he can give the ball off to running back Kyler McMichael, who has rushed for 1,048 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The programs met twice last season. GAC won the regular-season game 33-13, but Pace won the last meeting in the Class AA semifinals 45-20 and went on to win the Class AA state championship.
Pace will enter the game without four players who were ejected last week for their part in a scuffle during a 29-6 victory against Towers.
Here are some other first-round games worth monitoring:
Lovett at Dawson County: No. 8 Lovett (7-3, 5-2) is the No. 3 seed from Region 5, and Dawson County (7-2, 5-1) carries the No. 2 seed from Region 7. These programs will play for the first time at Tiger Stadium in Dawsonville.
Lovett avoided the No. 4 seed from Region 5 by beating Pace Academy in the regular season, which kept it from facing Mills and GAC in the first round.
Both programs have dual-threat quarterbacks who have put up similar numbers this season. Lovett’s Brady Tindall has completed 126-of-215 passes for 1,404 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tindall also leads the Lions with 629 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Dawson quarterback Coey Watson is 98-of-169 passing for 1,494 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has rushed for 607 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Bremen at Morgan County: Morgan County (8-2, 5-0) is the No. 1 seed from Region 8, and Bremen (6-4, 2-2) is the No. 4 seed from Region 6. They will play for the first time ever at Bill Corey Stadium at Legion Field in Madison.
“I will tell you, the biggest thought that we have is that we are really happy for our seniors to have won the region championship,” said Morgan County coach Bill Malone. “Secondly, our only concern right now is with Bremen and the fact that they don’t look like your typical No. 4 seed. Talking with other coaches in the region, there are a number of coaches over there who think they should have finished as high as No. 2. So this ought to be a really good matchup Friday night.”
This season marks Malone’s 10th at Morgan. It is his first region title and first trip to the playoffs since 2012, when Morgan County lost to North Hall 13-9 in the second round.
The other No. 1 seeds in AAA are heavily favored in the first round:
— No. 2-ranked Peach County (9-1, 6-0) will play host to Tattnall County (5-5, 2-3) at Anderson Field in Fort Valley. The Trojans sealed the No. 1 seed in Region 4 after beating Jackson 24-21 last week. Tattnall is the No. 4 seed from Region 2. The winner will face the Jackson County/North Murray winner.
— No. 3-ranked Westminster (8-2, 7-0) will face North Hall (6-4, 3-3) at Alfred E. Thompson Stadium in Atlanta. Westminster grabbed the No. 1 seed from Region 5, and North Hall is the No. 4 seed from Region 7. The winner will face the Cook/Savannah winner.
— No. 4-ranked Calhoun (8-2, 4-0) will host Monroe Area (3-7, 2-3) at Phil Reeve Stadium in Calhoun. The Yellow Jackets locked up the Region 6 title after defeating Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 48-0 last week. The winner will face Brantley County/Jackson winner.
— No. 5-ranked Crisp County (10-0, 4-0) will play host to Islands (3-7, 2-3) at the Cougar Den in Cordele. Crisp locked up its first region title since 1995 after beating Worth County 28-20 last week. The winner will face Lovett/Dawson winner.
— No. 7-ranked Liberty County (9-1, 5-0) will play host to Pike County (6-4, 3-3) at Olvey Field in Hinesville. Liberty is the No. 1 seed from Region 2 after beating Pierce County 56-46 last week. Liberty trailed at halftime. The winner will face Sonoraville/Franklin County winner.
— Unranked Jenkins-Savannah (9-1, 7-0) will play host to Dougherty (2-7, 1-3) at Savannah Memorial Stadium after winning its first region title in 50 years. The winner will face Union Co./Cedar Grove winner.