Georgia's high school playoffs start this week, with tough opening-round games for Lakeside and Evans.
Statesboro (6-4) at Lakeside (9-1)
Head coaches: Steve Pennington (Statesboro), Jody Grooms (Lakeside)
Last week: Lakeside picked up its school-record ninth win, beating Josey 43-0; Statesboro lost to Brunswick 26-14.
Previous meetings: Statesboro holds a 6-0 record against Lakeside, including a 21-0 win in their last meeting in 2007. The Panthers have been outscored in the six games 213-21.
Offense: Statesboro averages 18.7 points per game; Lakeside averages 29.5.
Defense: Lakeside has six shutouts and has allowed only 3.9 points per game; Statesboro allows 13.1 per contest.
Statesboro has one of the top programs in the state, boasting 10 region and five state titles. Since Pennington took over six years ago, he has compiled a 62-12 mark with a 15-0 region record and a state crown in 2005. This year the Blue Devils are slightly down, but they are still very dangerous and a tough first-round foe.
This is not your average Lakeside team, however. The Panthers have an incredibly stingy defense and an underrated offense. Throw in home-field advantage, and the Panthers should be moving on.
Lakeside 20, Statesboro 10
Evans (8-2) at Ware County (5-5)
Head coaches: Marty Jackson (Evans), Ed Dudley (Ware)
Last week: Evans lost home-field advantage for round one by falling to Richmond Academy 21-15, while Ware County cost themselves a region title by falling to Effingham County 7-6.
Previous meetings: Ware County leads all-time 2-0, including an 8-6 win in 2007.
Offense: Evans has a high-powered offense that generates 31.5 points per game, while Ware County averages just 12.6 points.
Defense: Ware gave up 13.9 points per game in the regular season despite a brutal schedule. Evans yielded 13 points per game against a much easier set of foes. Ware County has yielded only 16 points in its past six games after opening the season 1-3.
Do not be fooled by the record. Ware County had losses to Class AAAAA powerhouses Lowndes and Stephenson and shut out region champ Brunswick 10-0. Evans will need to do something it did not do in last year's opening round loss to Mount Zion-Jonesboro: play mistake-free ball. If that doesn't happen, it might be another early exit for the Knights.
Ware County 14, Evans 10
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