We are down to the final week of the season and the last four standing have controlled their respective Areas all season long. All four of these front-runners are battle tested, balanced and well coached, so today's matchups should make for some great tilts.
We've been getting great reader input this week... keep it up. As always, your positive comments, analysis and predictions are welcome in the comments section below each post. Let's keep it positive... no running down any players, coaches or programs... we've had to moderate comments in the past at this point in the season. Honor The Game!
Here are the previews of today's action:
-- Lovett (15-4) @ Northview (18-2) - Both of these teams have been dominant through the opening rounds of the playoffs. Lovett rolled Fellowship Christian 18-6 and Toona 13-5, while Northview dominated McIntosh 17-6 and Pope 16-8. These teams didn't meet in the regular season, but both faced a strong schedule and fared well.
The Lovett Lions seem to have recovered from a headscratcher OT loss to Area foe Starr's Mill a few weeks ago, but they really haven't faced a strong team other than Toona since then. To further confuse things, the Lions topped 6A power Milton earlier in the same week they fell to Starr's. Their only other losses were to strong 6A teams in Hooch, Lambert and Lassiter. The Lions notched quality wins over Whitefield, McIntosh, Pope, HIES and Westminster.
The Northview Titans rolled through their Area 3 schedule unscathed, but, other than Blessed Trinity, the Area really didn't produce strong teams this season. Their only losses were 16-17 to Decatur and 8-11 to Lake Mary (FL). The Titans notched signature wins over Lambert (early in the season), Pope (twice), Westminster and Johns Creek. Their offense has been prolific: they've scored double digits in all but two games (9-7 over Westy and the loss to Lake Mary).
This should be a great game, and it will be interesting to see how Lovett's defense handles Northview. The Lions have played a slightly tougher schedule, but the Titans have dominated everyone they've faced since early April.
-- Westminster (16-4) @ Decatur (18-2) - These two have dominated the lower half of the playoff bracket: Westy rolled over Lakeside-Evans 19-1 and HIES 12-5 while Decatur similarly dominated Kell 20-4 and Blessed Trinity 13-6. They met previously in early April, with Decatur winning that game 10-7.
The Wildcats rolled through a strong Area 2 field this season, and all of their losses were to strong teams. After an opening 5-6 loss to Lassiter, they were also beaten by Northview 7-9, Decatur 7-10, and Lovett 5-6 in a 3OT thriller. Their signature wins included an impressive list of 6A teams in Harrison, Walton, Hooch, Alpha and Roswell, although they faced all of them earlier in the season before several seemed to improve significantly. Their strong early sched prepared them well for their Area battles, and the Cats haven't lost since mid April.
The Decatur Bulldogs followed last season's Semi Finals appearance with another strong season. Both of their losses were to very good teams: 6-14 to Lassiter and 4-13 to McCallie (TN). They again dominated a rather weak Area 4, but they also notched quality wins over Johns Creek, Hooch, Northview, Westy, Creekside (FL) and Riverwood. Most of their scores have been lopsided: they've held their opponents to single digits in all but 3 games, and they've only been held under 10 goals in 3 games as well.
Westminster has played the tougher schedule... Decatur's out of Area schedule included some mid-tier 5A teams. And the Cats have an interesting distinction of having lost to all 3 of the other Semi teams, but they are usually a tough team to best twice in a season. Decatur has built on last season's success to have a dominant season and look like the team to beat.
The GLB will have a full re-cap of this game, and we hope the readers will give us the deets from the other game.