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Football: Preview of first-round state playoff games

North Forsyth at North Gwinnett
North Forsyth running back Bryson Trigg rushes for one of his five touchdowns against Forsyth Central on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium in Suwanee.

Records, rankings, seedings: North is 5-5, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 5-7A; North Gwinnett is 9-1, ranked No. 7 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

Series history: North Gwinnett leads 4-0.

Last meeting: North Gwinnett won 24-6 in 2009.

What to know: North is back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2013, but the Raiders haven’t won a first-round game since 2005. They’ll be hard-pressed to end that streak against a talented North Gwinnett team that won Region 6 under first-year head coach Bill Stewart. The Bulldogs have three four-star prospects in senior offensive lineman Warren Ericson (committed to Georgia), junior defensive back DJ Turner and sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Josh Shuler, according to 247Sports. But maybe most impressive about North Gwinnett’s season is how it managed to overcome a season-ending injury to Texas A&M-committed quarterback Cade Fortin in the Bulldogs’ second game. Senior Jimmy Urzua has since thrown for 1,191 yards and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions.

Who’s next: The winner of Grayson-Norcross.

Mountain View at South Forsyth
South Forsyth defensive lineman tackles Forsyth Central's Kyle Marzullo on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. /// Photo by Paul Ward

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at War Eagle Stadium in Cumming.

Records, rankings, seedings: Mountain View is 8-2, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 6-7A; South is 9-1, ranked No. 6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 5.

Series history: Tied 1-1.

Last meeting: South won 45-14 in 2015.

What to know: The War Eagles enter the Class 7A state playoffs as region champions. The last time they did that (2015), they went on their memorable run to the Class 6A state quarterfinals. This South team appears to have the requisite qualities for a similar run – a balanced offense behind quarterback Cal Morris and running back Jared Honey, stingy defense led by the likes of defensive lineman Ryan LaFlamme and solid special teams play. But first they have to get past a Mountain View team that may be the strongest No. 4 seed. The Bears’ biggest standout is senior wide receiver Malachi Carter, a Georgia Tech commit who has caught 64 passes for 1,214 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Who’s next: The winner of Newton-Parkview.

West Forsyth at Mill Creek
West Forsyth's Ben Bresnahan scores a touchdown during the Wolverines' football game against Lambert on Oct. 20, 2017. - photo by Michael Chung

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Mill Creek Community Stadium in Hoschton.

Records, rankings, seedings: West is 7-3, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 5-7A; Mill Creek is 7-3, unranked and the No. 2 seed from Region 6.

Series history: Mill Creek leads 2-0.

Last meeting: Mill Creek won 51-13 in 2015.

What to know: West has been a model of state playoff consistency for Forsyth County. The Wolverines are making their third straight postseason appearance and seventh in the past eight seasons. But West hasn’t won a first-round game since 2012 – which, coincidentally, is the last time the Wolverines got to host a state playoff game. They’ll go on the road again, this time to face a Mill Creek team that’s coming off back-to-back state semifinals appearances but is less talent-rich than those teams. The Hawks emphasize the run on offense with 204.4 rushing yards a game, led by senior running back Uriah Leverette (1,032 rushing yards, 12 TDs), and have a standout defensive back in South Carolina commit Jonathan Gipson.

Who’s next: The winner of Archer-Meadowcreek.