Meadowcreek – for years the undisputed worst football program in the highest classification – is in the playoffs for the first time since 1988.
The dream came true Friday when the Mustangs defeated Central Gwinnett 41-34 in a Region 7-AAAAAAA road game. Meadowcreek had been 0-17 against Central, its Gwinnett County rival.
There’s nothing cheap about Meadowcreek’s accomplishment. The region is solid, and so is Central (5-4, 2-3), a team led by a major Division I quarterback, Kentucky-bound Jarren Williams. Other teams in the region – Brookwood, Parkview and Norcross – have been ranked at various times this season.
Much of the credit goes to third-year coach Jason Carrera, who inherited a program that had gone 5-125 over the previous 13 seasons. Meadowcreek is now 7-1 overall, 3-1 in the region. The Mustangs must finish with Parkview and Norcross but are assured of no worse than the No. 4 seed.
Here are more developments from Friday night in the high class:
-Brookwood wins key rivalry game: No. 7 Brookwood (6-2, 4-0) took sole possession of first place in Region 7 with a 30-27 victory over arch-rival Parkview (5-3, 3-1). For more on that game, read Stan Awtrey’s story on AJC.com. The game was probably the most important in the series since 2005, the last time the contest between these two decided first and second place.
-Tift County earns signature win: No. 10 Tift County (8-1, 1-1) defeated No. 6 Colquitt County (7-2, 1-1) 38-35, winning this Region 1 game on a field goal on the final seconds. That was Tift’s first victory over a ranked team from the same classification since 2013 (Coffee), breaking a 12-game losing streak against the Top 10. What’s even better is that Tift County is in position to secure its first home playoff game since 2006, when the Blue Devils won their region and reached the state semifinals. That’s assuming that Tift beats last-place Camden County and that Colquitt doesn’t muddy the waters by beating No. 1 Lowndes (9-0, 2-0) on Oct. 27.
-Mountain View upsets Mill Creek: Eighth-ranked Mill Creek (6-3, 3-2) suffered a third loss 20-17, which endangers its Top 10 ranking. For more on that game, see Alex Makrides' story on AJC.com. Carlos Ayala kicked the winning field goal as time expired, and WR Malachi Carter had over 200 yards receiving. Region 6 appears headed for a three-way tie for second among Mill Creek, Mountain View and Collins Hill. No. 5 North Gwinnett (7-1, 4-0) needs to beat Collins Hill (5-3, 3-1) for that to happen. Mountain View has never hosted a playoff game, so that’s now a possibility.
-South Forsyth, Westlake alone at top: No. 9 South Forsyth in Region 5 and unranked Westlake in Region 2 broke ties at the top of their standings, winning comfortably as expected. South Forsyth (7-1, 3-0) defeated North Forsyth 47-10 and should win its second region title in three seasons. Westlake (5-3, 3-0) beat Newnan 27-0 and can expect to win its fourth straight region championship. For more on the Westlake game, read Jay Stone’s story on AJC.com.
-Pebblebrook is moving up: The Falcons (4-4, 2-1) of south Cobb County beat East Coweta 35-28 to put themselves in position for the No. 2 seed in Region 2 behind Westlake. Pebblebrook could finish second and host its first playoff game since 2006 by winning out and will be slightly favored in those games against Newnan (3-5, 2-1) and Wheeler (2-6, 0-3). The program hasn’t had a winning season since 2009. Pebblebrook had been 0-7 against East Coweta.
-Walton wins; QB injured: No. 3 Walton (8-0, 3-0) continues to be the class of Region 4. The Raiders beat Lassiter (5-3, 1-2) 42-19. For more on this game, read David Mitchell’s story on AJC.com. But there is concern about outstanding QB Austin Kirksey, who left the game in the second quarter and spent the rest of the game on the sideline with his left (non-throwing) arm in a sling. Kirksey has over 1,500 yards passing on the season. Walton still must face Etowah (4-4, 2-1) and Woodstock (5-3, 2-1).
-On any given Friday in Region 3: McEachern (6-2, 3-0) emerged as the lone unbeaten team in this balanced region and unpredictable region by winning 14-7 in overtime against North Paulding (6-2, 1-2) while North Cobb (5-3, 1-2) desperately got its first region win with a 7-0 win over Marietta (6-2, 2-1), which suffered its first region loss. Hillgrove (5-3, 2-1) also won in a region of great parity, depth and uncertainty.
Lowndes 52, Camden County 10
Tift County 38, Colquitt County 35
Westlake 27, Newnan 0
Pebblebrook 35, East Coweta 28
Campbell 35, Wheeler 23
McEachern 14, North Paulding 7
North Cobb 7, Marietta 0
Hillgrove 52, Kennesaw Mountain 27
Etowah 28, Roswell 21
Walton 42, Lassiter 19
Woodstock 30, Cherokee 6
Milton 17, Forsyth Central 0
South Forsyth 47, North Forsyth 10
West Forsyth 24, Lambert 24
Mountain View 20, Mill Creek 17
North Gwinnett 44, Peachtree Ridge 8
Duluth 28, Discovery 14
Norcross 45, Berkmar 0
Brookwood 30, Parkview 27
Meadowcreek 41, Central Gwinnett 34
Grayson 41, Newton 16
Archer 58, Rockdale County 7
South Gwinnett 21, Shiloh 0