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Lamar-Bleckley playoff preview

By Ken K. Green Lamar County hosts Bleckley County Friday night in the first round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs at Thunder Alley. The Trojans are undefeated at 10-0, Region 4-AA champions and one of only three undefeated Class AA teams in the playoffs. The Royals are 6-4 and the fourth seed from Region 3-AA. Lamar is averaging 40.1 points per game (4th in the state in AA) while yielding 11.0 (7th)for a point differential of +29.5 (5th). When and Where: Friday 7:30 p.m. at Trojan Field Weather: Mostly clear and breezy with temperatures in the mid-40 at kick-off and dropping to the lower 40s by games end. Advisory: A category 10-0 Blue Thunder storm is getting stronger week by week and will hit Trojan Field full force Friday evening. Admission: $8 at the gate as set by the GHSA. Advance tickets are available all day Thursday and until one o’clock Friday at Lamar County High School and Middle School and at Slice’s Pizzeria on Main Street with no reduction in price per the GHSA. Only babies in arms and persons bearing GHSA membership cards and media passes will be admitted at no charge. Last week: Bleckley County lost to Jefferson County 35-0. Lamar County beat Monticello 48-6. Series: Lamar leads 6-4 and was 2-0 vs. Bleckley’s predecessor, Cochran High School, with a pair of wins in the mid-70s. The Trojans won this year’s season opener against the Royals 27-21. Bleckley won here last year 27-19. The Lamar/Bleckley series began in 1980. Post-season records: The Trojans are 5-12 overall in 12 previous appearances in the post season. The Royals are making their 11th appearance in the playoffs and are 2-10. Royal defense: 4-3 base front allowing 27.9 points per game. Royal offense: Spread scoring 25.3 points per game. Top players: #9 Tavon Ross (QB), #21 Zack Moe (WR/DB) and #76 Antonio Girtman (OL/DL). Royal coach: Sam Barrs 31-47 in 7th season at Bleckley. 156-115 overall in 24th year including Dublin and Crisp County. Word is Coach Barrs will be retiring after this season. Prediction: Maxwell ratings has the Trojans a 20 point favorite. CalPrep projects Lamar a 41-19 winner. Rankings: The Trojans are ranked in the top ten in Class AA in five polls. Associated Press (#6), Atlanta Journal-Constitution (#7), Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (#8), Maxwell (#9) and MaxPreps (#9). Bleckley is #27 in MaxPreps. Injury report: The Trojans are relatively healthy and will regain the services of outside linebacker Ray Lyons who had to serve a one game suspension last week for being ejected for an altercation against Greene County. For Bleckley, Tavon Ross and Zack Moe were both limited due to injury last week but are expected to go Friday. What you should know: A Trojan win would give them the most in school history and advance them to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Royals have only been past the first round once advancing to the quarterfinals in 2006. The Lamar/Bleckley winner will face the winner between Blessed Trinity and Heard County next week. The Trojans would host. The Royals would have to travel. What Lamar Head Coach Jason Strickland says: “Bleckley has had a strong year. They are just a couple of points away from hosting a first round playoff game. It is always scary to play a good team twice in one season especially when there is someone like Coach Sam Barrs walking the sideline. We know they will be well prepared. Their quarterback has had an incredible year. He gave us fits in the first game and that was his first career start. Now with some games under his belt you can see him improve every week. They are going to spread you out and make you stop him running the football. Defensively they are led by their big defensive lineman. He is a mountain who just causes a tremendous amount of pressure from the interior line. They have played pretty consistent all year. The first time we played we did not take advantage of opportunities to go ahead and put the game away. All of a sudden we looked up and we were trying to hold on for dear life. A Sam Barrs team is not going to lay down. Like most games I think it will come down to who blocks and tackles the best.”

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