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MAHONE: Southern Crescent developing playoff swagger

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

As we enter the second round of the state playoffs, we still have four teams alive.

Some might claim that I’ve drunk too much Henry and Clayton county Koolaid when it comes to making my weekly game predictions.

Maybe I have, but it tastes great, and until something better comes along, I will keep sipping.

It says here that Union Grove, Eagle’s Landing Christian, Stockbridge and Lovejoy should all take care of business tonight in the playoffs.

Union Grove will make the longest trip of any Southern Crescent team when it heads south to Waycross to take on No. 10 Ware County. The last two seasons, the Gators have advanced to the quarterfinal round.

Ware is 1-2 against teams from the Southern Crescent.

This is proving to be a special season for Wolverines senior Derrick Craine as he has helped them to an eight-game winning streak. Union Grove is one win away from notching the most victories in school history, and a trip to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.

It should be a good old-fashioned, smash-mouth game at Memorial Stadium with the visitors enjoying a long, but happy bus trip home.

Eagle’s Landing Christian coach Jonathan Gess doesn’t have to spend much time reminding his players how tough it is to beat an opponent — especially a region foe — twice in one season.

All he has to do is point to last season’s Class A semifinals against Landmark Christian as evidence. After beating Landmark by 21 points in the regular season, the Chargers lost by seven in the playoffs to end their season.

To avoid another playoff collapse, the Chargers have to defeat Our Lady of Mercy for a second time this season. In nine previous meetings, OLM hasn’t come close to beating the top-ranked Chargers.

But Gess is quick to point out that the playoffs is a different beast.

“What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter right now,” Gess said. “It will matter after the season.”

But ELCA is not ready for this season to end without a trip to the Georgia Dome for a shot at the Class A private school championship.

The Chargers get another step closer tonight with a win over OLM.

This year’s version of the Stockbridge Tigers are trying to lay claim to being the best team in Henry County history. To be included in that brief conversation of the county’s best, the Tigers have to protect the homefield against visiting Wayne County.

Stockbridge will extend its winning streak to 11 games.

Lovejoy avoided a matchup against powerhouse Lowndes after Marietta emerged from Martin Stadium in Winnersville as the victor.

In order for the Wildcats to move into the quarterfinals, the defense must contain LSU-bound quarterback Anthony Jennings. It will be the biggest test of the season for Kevin “Bull” Jones’ defense.

They should get a passing grade.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor for the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.