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Murphy: The ins and outs of the first round
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This year’s first round of the playoffs had some distinct elements that aren’t usually so evident in the opening round.

Maybe it is a sign of a little more parity between the teams that got paired up in the first round of the postseason, or it may just simply be the luck of the draw.

The biggest thing I noticed right off the bat was the relatively low number of No. 1 seeds getting upset in the first round (3). Maybe it is just a bad memory on my part, but it seems like there’s usually at least six or seven of the 40 top-seeded teams that don’t make it past Week 1 of the playoffs.

Kudos to Flowery Branch (8-3) for being one of the No. 4 teams to knock off a region champion. The Falcons took down Region 6-AAA champion Ridgeland, and are now ready to face No. 3 seed Grady Friday night in Atlanta. With four wins last year on the road in the playoffs and a good start on the road to this year’s postseason, nothing will surprise me with the Falcons anymore.

Fourth-seeded Cook’s win over No. 1 seed Northeast-Macon in Class AA also is a game with potential local interest. With the win, the Hornets (6-5) will face Appling County (10-1) in the second round, with the winner moving on to face either Jefferson (11-0) or Buford (10-1).

The only other No. 4 seed upset took place in Cobb County where Brookwood (6-5) defeated McEachern (10-1).The other trend from the first round was the lack of huge blowouts. Usually in the first round, there will be a sacrificial lamb from Savannah that will take a 60- or 70-point loss on the chin.

In fact, the biggest margin of victory of victory was 44-0 in a pair of games (Thomasville over Henry County and Stephenson over Bradwell Institute).

Locally, it is very satisfying to see three teams from Hall County (North Hall, Flowery Branch and Gainesville) now in the second round for the second year in a row. There’s a realistic chance that all three could win and move on to the quarterfinals.

That would certainly stack the odds in our favor of crowning a state champion.

Jackson County also put three in the second round (Commerce, Jefferson and East Jackson).

The most compelling game in the second round has to be Buford at Jefferson in Class AA. How rare is it for a No. 1 seed, like the Dragons, to have such a brutal opponent so early in the playoffs?

If Jefferson was to win it would advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1977 and snap the Wolves chances at three-straight state titles.

Pontentially, the most lopsided second round game that will be played locally is Gainesville against Dunwoody (7-4) at Bobby Gruhn Field.

It looks like the Red Elephants have essentially drawn a bye to the state quarterfinals. More power to em’. Gainesville has had an unbelievable season to this point.

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