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MAHONE: Lovejoy, Stockbridge, ELCA staying alive in postseason

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

Now it gets a little tougher to pick these games.

There are three teams from the Southern Crescent still left in the football playoffs. All three teams — Lovejoy, Stockbridge and Eagle’s Landing Christian — are ranked in the final regular season Associated Press poll.

And so are their opponents for tonight’s quarterfinal round games.

Lovejoy hosts North Gwinnett while Stockbridge welcomes Marist to Tiger Stadium and defending Class A champion Savannah Christian travels to McDonough to take on top-ranked Eagle’s Landing Christian.

There is merit to picking North Gwinnett, Marist and Savannah Christian to win.

However, there are also compelling argument to chose Lovejoy, Stockbridge and ELCA. And you don’t have to be a homer to do it.

As I said last week, I’ve been drinking the Southern Crescent Koolaid, and its been sweet.

Thank you, and I’ll have some more.

North Gwinnett is good. It is evident in their record and quarterback’s 2,000-yard passing season. The Bulldogs did something that Lovejoy couldn’t do — beat a Colquitt County team.

OK, it was a last-second field goal on a neutral field, but it goes down as a win all the same.

That victory propelled the Bulldogs into the state rankings, and they have stayed their ever since.

However, it was Lovejoy’s close loss to Colquitt that bolted the team into the rankings. A good sign of respect.

It is hard to believe that North has faced a defense as fast as Lovejoy’s or a better running back than Travis Custis.

That combination should be enough to carry the Wildcats into the semifinals.

Savannah Christian has been one of the top Class A programs in the state. The Raiders have played in three straight championship games, winning it all last season.

ELCA has stumbled the last three seasons in trying to make it to the state playoffs. Many believe this is the Chargers year.

For that to happen, they have to beat the champions.

The road to the Class A championship should continue to go through McDonough as the Chargers prevail.

This has been a dream and magical season for Stockbridge from becoming the first Henry County team to beat Griffin to winning the program’s first region title. The upcoming Tiger program takes on one of the top football powers in metro Atlanta in Marist, which is no stranger to playoff success.

Stockbridge has never beaten Marist in six tries. Tiger coach Kevin Whitley is 0-1 against Marist — a playoff loss in 2006 when he had Georgia Player of the Year Eric Berry at Creekside — now a Kansas City Chief defensive back — as his quarterback.

To his defense, Berry was hurt entering that game and not at 100 percent.

But the Tigers dream season lives for another week.

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