After three years of the "Elite 8" the GHSA has decided to go back to the way things used to be with 2 teams from each Region qualifying for a 16-team bracket for the State Duals. For those new to this format, there are a couple of "quirks" to the bracket that can sometimes impact the seeding of the tournament. First, teams from the same Region, must be on opposite sides of the bracket, and secondly, the first round must be between a Region Champ and a Region Runner-up.
Mt. Pisgah vs Charlton
Oglethorpe vs McIntosh Academy
Dublin vs Temple
Lamar vs Trion
Commerce vs St. Francis
Bryan Co vs Heard
Dade Co vs Irwin Co
East Laurens vs Social Circle
To me the 1A bracket seems very balanced with the top teams spread out fairly well. Defending Champ Mt. Pisgah should roll through Charlton in round 1 and for the 2nd year in a row they will meet up against Oglethorpe Co in the quarterfinals. Last season Pisgah won 70-9, and while they should advance to the semis, I don't see them beating Oglethorpe by such a lopsided margin this season. Dublin vs Temple is probably the best 1st round match in this classification, with the winner advancing to face a very tough Trion squad that seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time. Dublin is one of those dual teams that is "sneaky good" as they have their top guys spread out in a way that allows them to maneuver things to get the best match ups for them. Temple is progressing nicely in year 2 under the new regime, and while they have taken a small step back from last season, overall they are in good shape, look for Dublin to advance in a tight one.
Commerce and Social Circle look to be destined to meet up in the semis on the bottom half of this bracket. Commerce will be tested at a few weights in round 1 against St. Francis, but the overall depth of the lineup will get them through to the quarters. Heard Co is an up and coming team that has a tremendous amount of momentum coming off their first Area title, but the Tigers experience will be too much for the Braves to overcome. Social Circle lost in the Semis last year 33-31 against Mt. Pisgah, since then they have been on quite a run, including winning the Traditional State Title. The picked up this year where they left off, and have had numerous top notch wins this season. They will advance to the semis by beating East Laurens and then a tough Dade Co team, that wound up with a tough draw.
Mt. Pisgah vs Trion- This is yet another State Dual finals rematch taking place in the semis, just like 3A, 5A, and 6A. Last year Pisgah won 33-32, but both teams have lost quite a few pieces from their 2023 teams. Mt. Pisgah has been very consistent all year, but they have competed in mostly Individual tournaments this season. On the other hand, Trion has kind of eased into the schedule and they have really picked up steam as the season progressed. Everything on paper is telling me to go with Mt. Pisgah, but there is just something about this Trion team that has me second guessing myself.
Prediction- Trion over Mt. Pisgah by 2
Commerce vs Social Circle- As stated above, Social Circle has been dominant all season long, and I firmly expect that to continue this weekend. Social has one of the most daunting lightweight groups in the State, and there aren't too many teams that can stack up to the fire power that they will put on the mat in the lower half of the lineup.
Prediction- Social Circle over Commerce by 31
McIntosh Academy over Chalton
Temple over Lamar Co
St. Francis over Bryan Co
Irwin over East Laurens
Dade Co over McIntosh Academy
Heard Co over Temple
Dublin over St. Francis
Oglethorpe over Irwin Co
Dade Co over Heard Co
Oglethorpe Co over Dublin
Mt. Pisgah over Dade Co
Commerce over Oglethorpe Co
3rd Place Match
Mt Pisgah vs Commerce- What kind of a Mt. Pisgah team will Commerce face? Will it be a demoralized team that isn't focused because they just lost a chance to repeat as State Dual Champions, or will they get a team that is laser sharp and galvanized to finish the dual season on a winning note. If its the former, Commerce will win a very close dual, but if its the latter, look for Mt. Pisgah to prevail by a comfortable margin.
Prediction- Mt. Pisgah over Commerce by 18
Trion vs Social Circle- There will be numerous weights in this dual that will feature some great matchups, and Trion will be heavy favorites in several weights, but the overall talent of this Social Circle lineup gives Trion a very tough path to Victory. Trion will be able to keep it close with an upset or two, but it may take 3 or 4 of them for them to win the Dual.
Prediction- Social Circle over Trion by 15