There is a recurring gridiron rivalry between the southern and northern regions of Georgia that grows each season as more state titles are traded by the two football hotbeds. This rivalry exists across all seven of the state's classifications, but nowhere is it deeper than Georgia's highest classification with metro Atlanta's Gwinnett County and the powerhouses of Region 1 in the southern part of the state, igniting again in this week's Atlanta Falcons Football Friday on Comcast Sports Southeast at 7:30 p.m. Since 1996, Gwinnett County has shared nine state titles while the southern heavyweights claimed the other eight. Brookwood (2010), Grayson (2011) and Norcross (2012) have won state titles in the last three years and earned Gwinnett County bragging rights - for now.
Both regions produce some of the nation's top college prospects and both send the toughest and most prepared teams into the playoffs each season. Head coach Rush Propst, who is in his 25th season as a head coach, leads Colquitt County. Behind their leader, the Packers became the first team in history to reach the semifinals five straight times in Georgia's highest class this year with a 42-17 win over Dacula in the quarterfinals. The Packers surged to a 28-3 lead at halftime and had a 35-3 advantage heading into the fourth quarter before Dacula scored two late touchdowns with a running clock. Colquitt amassed 402 yards of total offense and quarterback Daniel Mobley passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Colquitt has won 13 road playoff games in the past five years under Propst, which is as many as any other school in the state has tallied over the past 25 years.
Norcross also cruised in the quarterfinals and dominated the Packers' region opponent Lowndes, 28-7. Norcross quarterback A.J. Bush was 11-of-25 passing for 148 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 12 times for 56 yards and a 17-yard score. The Blue Devils' defense, which is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, forced five Lowndes turnovers.
Last season, Norcross topped the Packers, who were on their fourth trip to metro Atlanta in the postseason, by a 41-27 score in the state semifinals. Alabama-signee Alvin Kamara was the difference maker with a 65-yard receiving touchdown and second half touchdown run to pace Norcross. Propst scheduled a preseason scrimmage at Norcross to start this season in order to prepare his team for its grueling schedule. As South Georgia's last team standing in Class AAAAAA, The Packers' are hoping to return to the podium for the first time since 1994.