Prior to the start of the 2009 high school football season, The Times doled out four bold predictions. Now that the season is complete, it’s time to see how those predictions turned out.
The Chestatee-White County winner will make the playoffs
Before the 2009 season started, it appeared that this matchup would determine which team from Region 7A-AAA would join North Hall in the playoffs. Not exactly.
While we were wrong on the teams, one matchup did ultimately determine a playoff spot, it just happened to be on the other side of the region.
As Gainesville was cruising to its second straight region title, the next two best teams — Flowery Branch and West Forsyth — in Region 7B-AAA were forced to duke it out for the final playoff spot. All that resulted from that game was a last-second touchdown from Connor Shaw to Robbie Boudreau that gave the Falcons a 54-51 victory and a berth in the Class AAA playoffs.
Flowery Branch took full advantage of its playoff spot by winning three games on the road before losing to state runner-up Gainesville in the semifinals.
Region 7-AAA will put three teams in the quarterfinals
It was close, but only Gainesville and Flowery Branch reached the quarterfinals since North Hall was eliminated in the second round by St. Pius X.
Not only did the Red Elephants and Falcons reach the quarterfinals, but the two Hall County teams reached the semifinals and played each other for a berth in the Class AAA championship game.
The game was one for the ages, with the Falcons taking a 14-0 lead and Gainesville storming back to score 22 unanswered points for the win.
Johnson will be the area’s most-improved team
This award actually goes to Jackson County, which surprised everyone by starting the season 3-0 for the first time since 1981.
After going a combined 1-18-1 over the past two years, the Panthers opened the 2009 season with a 44-0 rout of Our Lady of Mercy and a 42-7 win over Sonoraville. Jackson County defeated Prince Avenue Christian 13-3 to improve its record to 3-0.
The Panthers went on to lose their next six games, but their 26-23 win over Stephens County in the season finale was the first region win since a 21-16 victory over Heritage on Nov. 10, 2006.
Union Co. will make its first playoff appearance since 2001
Wrong on this one too, as the Panthers finished 6-4 and failed to reach the postseason.
While Union County was unable to snap its streak, one team in the area did something it hasn’t done in years: get out of the first round of the playoffs.
For the first time since 2006, the Commerce Tigers advanced to the second round of the Class A state playoffs with a 29-19 win over Landmark Christian.