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.
South Effingham vs Rockdale Co
Newnan vs Pope
Dunwoody vs Allatoona
Thomas Co Central vs North Forsyth
Creekview vs Johns Creek
Tift Co vs Jackson Co
Alexander vs Marist
Woodward vs Glynn Academy
South Effingham won the 6A State Duals title over North Forsyth last year 36-28, but it was not a comfortable match for either team. With the release of this years brackets, those two teams look to hit again in the semifinals. South Effingham has picked up right where it left off last year, and they have looked the part of the defending Champs all season long, punctuated by their Region Championship over the #2 seed, Glynn Academy. They shouldn't have two much trouble navigating through the first two rounds of the tournament this year. It is up in the air who S. Effingham will face in the quarters, Pope is the Region Champion, but Newnan is a tough squad that has had a very up and down year. However, Pope is still a very young and inexperienced team, and the Cougars will be able to fall back on their experience from last years Elite 8 run, to advance. Allatoona has a very patchwork lineup, and Dunwoody has been consistent all year in beating the teams they are supposed to beat. Coming off of last years runner-up finish, North Forsyth had some major rebuilding to do after graduating almost half their lineup for the 2nd year in a row. They aren't quite as dominant as they were last year, but they have a solid lineup from top to bottom, and that will help the push past Thomas Co Central, in a match that could be a lot closer than people think. They match up very well with Dunwoody in the quarters and should get their rematch with South Effingham.
2 absolutely huge first round matchups on the bottom side of this bracket with Tift vs Jackson and Glynn vs Woodward. Creekview and Alexander should both slide into the quarters without too much resistance, will they be facing a team that is trying to catch their breath after close 1st round duals? Neither Tift nor Jackson have a "gauntlet" to navigate in their lineup, but they both have very strong wrestlers balanced throughout. Tift has fewer weaknesses in their Starting 14, which will make it very important for Jackson Co to pick up big bonus points with their proven stars. I give Jackson Co the nod in a close one, they are hungry after missing out on the Elite 8 last year due to a brutal sectional draw. Glynn vs Woodward in round 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Cow, what a treat for those in attendance at 6A on Friday night, these two teams wrestled twice at the Elite 8 last year, in round 1 and in the consolation finals, Woodward won both duals, but Glynn returns much more of their lineup than Woodward does. Glynn's strength is concentrated in the front half of their lineup, while Woodward has their 5 potential State Finalists spread through out. This gives Woodward a lot more flexibility to get the matchups that they need in order to win. In looking at the matchups at each weight, I think Woodward is a slight favorite, but I'm going to side with the team that has been consistent since November and pick Glynn to advance. Whoever wins that first round match will breeze through the quarters by comparison to see Creekview in the semis.
South Effingham vs North Forsyth- South Effingham won by 8 last year, and they return almost their entire lineup, and added a couple of pieces that have legit State Placement potential. Whereas North Forsyth lost half their lineup and are much less experienced than last season. Look for South Effingham to show just how dominant they are this season.
Prediction- South Effingham over North Forsyth by 30+
Creekview vs Glynn Academy- These two teams met earlier in the season, oddly enough, at North Forsyth, and Glynn Academy came away as very comfortable victors. Neither team has really changed their lineup significantly since that match in mid December, so I would expect a similar outcome.
Prediction- Glynn over Creekview by 24
Pope over Rockdale
Thomas Co Central over Allatoona
Tift Co over Johns Creek
Woodward over Marist
Alexander over Pope
Jackson Co over Thomas Co Central
Tift Co over Dunwoody
Woodward over Newnan
Jackson Co over Alexander
Woodward over Tift Co
North Forsyth over Jackson Co
Woodward over Creekview
3rd Place Match
North Forsyth knocked off Woodward in the semifinals last year 32-31 in an absolutely amazing dual, but both of these teams are much different than last years' version. One question to keep an eye on for this dual is the health of Woodward at the conclusion of 2 grueling days of dual meets. They have been somewhat inconsistent this year, and a big reason for that is not having all their people in the lineup at the same time. There are a variety of reasons for this I am sure, but one has to wonder if part of that is just trying to keep guys healthy and fresh for the stretch run. Both teams have a path to victory in this dual, but if either team is missing any of their key pieces, they will be in trouble. This is a 2 to 3 point dual if both teams match up their best against one another, so if anyone is not at their best they will struggle to win the dual.
Prediction- Woodward over North Forsyth by 2
South Effingham vs Glynn Academy- A rematch of the Region 2 Championship match that saw South Effingham pull away late to win by a comfortable margin. What kind of adjustments can Glynn make to close that gap and give themselves a chance. For the Red Terrors to win they must be practically flawless in the lower half of the lineup, they just don't match up well with South Effingham in the upper weights. Ultimately it's that balance that will carry South Effingham to back to back State Titles.
Prediction- South Effingham over Glyn Academy by 15