The Single A Private classification has never been this balanced and thick with championship caliber challengers. Also known as teams who can actually beat Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. I have mentioned all year, Single A Private has four teams floating above the rest (Tier One contenders). Any of Prince Avenue, ELCA, Athens Academy and Fellowship Christian could win the state title. Truly. The kicker is, Fellowship or Athens Academy will knock one of the other out in round two and ELCA should meet Prince Ave in the Elite Eight. This opens the door for a group of “second tier” contenders who are title game quality, like Savannah Christian, Wesleyan, Christian Heritage, North Cobb Christian, Calvary Day, Trinity Christian or First Presbyterian to enter the Final Four. And any of them could.

Coming up this week in The Empire State of the South…

255 teams begin down the road to the GHSA football championships, December 28-30, at Center Parc Credit Union Stadium on the campus of Georgia State University.
We will not have a game of the week broadcast for you this week, but are returning for the season finale of the Georgia High School Scoreboard Show 10pm-Midnight. We will get you updated on all the first-round playoff action and preview the rest of the tournament.
And don’t forget fans, after a couple of weeks out in the field we will talk to you all again just after Christmas for the live broadcast coverage of the 2020 Tommy Guillebeau GHSA Football State Championship Games.
All eight state championship games, spread across three days, will be live on some variation of the Dickey Broadcasting Stations, 680 The Fan and XTRA 106.3FM.

Now it’s time for our annual playoff preview!

Happy Holidays from all of us at 680 The Fan’s Friday Night Football!

Grayson appears to be a slight favorite above the rest. The Rams can dominate with the power run game, finesse through the air or crush you on defense. The team who can best match the Rams athletically, Lowndes, has struggled since returning from COVID-19 quarantine, but I would expect the Vikings to find themselves and start a streak of good play. Colquitt County is an interesting team to analyze. Region 1 wasn’t quite as good as many expected and the Pack, a very good team, did catch Lowndes at the right time. Is Colquitt a legitimate challenger to Grayson? I love, love, love the bottom left quad. Collins Hill is electrifying. Parkview is bruising. Denmark can do a little of both. East Coweta has been one of my darling teams all season. Any of the four are semifinal caliber. Discovery is making its first playoff appearance. Camden is underrated. Oh, and there is the defending champ in Marietta.

You know this classification in wide-open, in relative terms, when 19 teams have been ranked at some point this season. This is the deepest, most competitive classification in the state. Another great way to gauge that competitive balance is to ask yourself: “How many of these teams are semifinal caliber?” In my opinion: a stunning 10 teams. Buford’s dismantling of a particularly good, physical Dacula team in the season finale is an alarm bell for the rest of the classification. Meanwhile, folks are salivating at the potential of a Carrollton-Valdosta matchup in the Elite Eight. The bottom right-hand quad of the 6A bracket is brutal where Richmond Hill, Westlake, or Allatoona could all reach the state championship game. Speaking of which, it is too bad either Westlake or Richmond Hill will bounce the other out before the quarterfinals.

The predetermined bracket strikes again. Although, I don’t usually mind as much when it happens in the quarterfinals, it is a bummer to see we could end up with a matchup between #1-ranked Warner Robins and #2-ranked Blessed Trinity that early. The winner will be the consensus favorite to win the whole thing. As Cartersville continues to surge, that perceived gap is closing quickly. Having said that, a potential matchup with Ware County in the quarters will be one of the best in the state. As good as everyone knows Ware is, they could still be the most underrated team in the class. My favorite quadrant is in the lower left-hand side of the bracket where any of Calhoun, Clarke Central, Coffee, Ola, or Starr’s Mill could reach the Final Four. In fact, the Trojans from Coffee could be the ultimate sleeper pick in 2020. If they are, they will have to do it from the toughest quad in the bracket.

Well, for so many, Jefferson and Marist have been on a collision course all season. In our 680 The Fan Friday Night Football rankings, no one else has been ranked number one or number two this season. Don’t just let that bit of info fly passed you. Think about how rare that is. No one else has been able to crack the top two. Impressive. Now, make no mistake, either can be beaten. If Carver of Columbus or Benedictine were to face Jefferson in the Elite Eight and Final Four respectively, they would matchup up well with the Dragons. On the other side of the bracket, Flowery Branch plays a physical brand of football with tremendous athletic mix that could match Marist. Take that analysis and crank it up two notches if the War Eagles face Cedartown or Bainbridge in the semifinals. The Bulldogs have two elite talents and the Bearcats have so many kids with championship experience.

Things just got interesting. Well, this was going to be a fun class to watch this postseason no matter who was placed where in the bracket. However, with Cedar Grove having to forfeit four victories in the next to last week of the season, and no longer the top seed from Region 5, the path for the two-time defending champions did become noticeably tougher. Most people in the state believe the top two favorites for the title are Cedar Grove and Crisp County, who met for the crown last year. Now, they could potentially meet in the quarterfinals. And no team can match up better with Cedar Grove than my preseason state championship pick, Crisp County. While everyone is watching these two, they might forget Oconee County, last season’s 4A runner-up. Or they may overlook Peach County and Greater Atlanta Christian. That would be a massive mistake.

The 2A bracket (along with 1A Public) is one of the most balanced, spread out fields of competitors in the state’s postseason lineup. There are two to three legitimate Final Four caliber teams in each quadrant. Immediately we notice the top left quad and the potential for a Callaway-Thomasville tilt in the quarterfinals. That would be great. Top rated recruit Gunner Stockton will have a tough first round matchup with a good Haralson County team but should be on course to face any of the four teams below them in the quad. Fitzgerald is the obvious favorite in their portion, but Toombs County and Heard County are battle tested. That leaves the most wide-open group of eight in the field, in the bottom right-hand corner of the bracket. Is Jefferson County a slight favorite there? Because they could be out in round one versus Cook. Jeff Davis is so underrated, but which Washington County team will they see? Is Bremen a sleeper after performing well in what may have been the best region in 2A football?

I believe this classification is the most balanced of any bracket in the state this year. 6A has more title contenders and 2A is nearly as spread out, but this class features more quality in each quadrant than the others. It is rather remarkable in fact, just how spread out the contenders are. After doing some extensive research, because I am a Georgia high school football nerd, I counted just how many teams were ranked, at any point, in any state poll, this year. Top left quad: five teams. Bottom left quad: four teams. Top right quad: four teams. Bottom right quad: five teams. This balance should lead to some incredible first, second and third round games. As a result, I am not sure any class will have a set of quarterfinal matchups as good as this one. Potentially: Metter versus Macon County; Commerce hosting Irwin County; Brooks County or Dublin taking on Bowdon. 1A Public has potentially never been this good.

The Single A Private classification has never been this balanced and thick with championship caliber challengers. Also known as teams who can actually beat Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy. I have mentioned all year, Single A Private has four teams floating above the rest (Tier One contenders). Any of Prince Avenue, ELCA, Athens Academy and Fellowship Christian could win the state title. Truly. The kicker is, Fellowship or Athens Academy will knock one of the other out in round two and ELCA should meet Prince Ave in the Elite Eight. This opens the door for a group of “second tier” contenders who are title game quality, like Savannah Christian, Wesleyan, Christian Heritage, North Cobb Christian, Calvary Day, Trinity Christian or First Presbyterian to enter the Final Four. And any of them could.

Chris Mooneyham

Chris Mooneyham is a twenty-year broadcast veteran freelancing for several companies across America. Currently, he is a co-host and guest anchor for Atlanta’s sports leader, The Fan 680AM/ 93.7FM. While at The Fan, he has worked a myriad of shows including: NFL Game Day, College Game Day, Friday Night Football, Chuck and Chernoff, Buck and Kincade and The Rude Awakening. Mooneyham also serves as a guest anchor on Sports Updates. Aside from his work in the Fall on 680, you can find Chris reporting on the sidelines for the television broadcasts of Kennesaw State football. In the Spring, the Atlanta native is the play-by-play man for the highly decorated Emory University baseball team. He is a lead play-by-play man for the NFHS Network, and over the last decade, Chris was assigned the call for state championships in nearly every sport. One of his great honors, is spending the last seven years as play-by-play man for the Rising Seniors Georgia Junior Bowl on ESPN. After launching his own production company in 1998, Chris was the voice of Kennesaw State University baseball from 1998-2006; where he worked the 1998 and 1999 Division II National Championship Games and numerous national tournaments. Past jobs on his resume include: play-by-play man for the ABA’s Atlanta Vision, host for the Touchdown Club of Atlanta weekly blog, emcee for the nationally renowned symposium Sports Concussion’s: A Town Hall Meeting, and so much more. His voice over work has been featured all across the country including: Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, Houston and Seattle. 

Mooneyham graduated from Kennesaw State University with a BS in Communications, with a focus on Media Studies, and a minor in Film Studies. 

Doug Konkel

Doug Konkel has been a presence (sometimes even a wanted one!) at 680 the Fan since 2001. A finalist, but eventual loser, in the original 680 Ultimate Fan Contest, Doug soon began hosting shows with Perry Laurentino, Jerry Elinger and others over the years. Most notably he was on the Sunday morning Review/Preview Show and currently hosts the seasonal recruiting show The Official Visit with Rusty Mansell of 247Sports. He even had a forgettable  stint as Promotions Director at 680 before giving way to the much more able Scott McFarlane. Doug has been part of 680’s Friday Night Football since its inception over a decade ago and has been responsible for color commentary on game broadcasts for the last several years with play-by-play maestro Karl Werl.
Doug’s nomadic academic career took from the University of Florida to the University of South Alabama (where he received a degree in communications) to law school at Georgia State. He is married to the remarkable Laura Zucker, the best pediatrician in Georgia and the world’s most fervent yet diminutive Duke basketball fan, and together they are the parents of two current super-geniuses and future captains of industry, Ben and Sam Konkel.

 

Steve West

Returning to the Friday Night Football lineup is its longest tenured host, the venerable veteran of Atlanta sports radio, Steve West. With 21-years in the Atlanta market, “Westy” has cultivated a loyal listener fanbase as the laid back, book of football knowledge.

With The Fan since day one of the relaunch in September of 2000, only Buck Belue and John Kincade can equal Steve’s service time. In that time, West has guest or co-hosted on countless shows in the station lineup.

The list over the last year would be lengthy as well, but a sampling would include: Buck Belue’s College Football Today, Hometeam and Hamilton, Buck and Kincade, and NFL Game Day.

This Fall, West will begin his 13th season as the host of the 680 FNF Scoreboard Show.  

A die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan, Steve has been a season-ticket holder since the late 1980s, and the Falcon fanbase has always turned to him for straight talk and an honest breakdown of the club.

West earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Residing in Sandy Springs, Steve’s interests include fitness, travel, and pop culture

Karl Werl

Karl Werl begins his fourteenth season as the lead play-by-play voice and one of the original members of 680 the Fan’s Friday Night Football. Karl has worn many hats in broadcasting throughout the Southeast since he entered the business in 2001. He originally started with 790 the Zone as a producer and sports reporter covering the University of Georgia, Atlanta Falcons, and Atlanta Braves as well as producing weekend and daily shows. He started doing play-by-play with Emory University calling baseball, softball, and basketball then had an opportunity to be the Director of Broadcasting and Play-by-Play voice for the Fayetteville SwampDogs of the Coastal Plain League out of Fayetteville, NC where he was selected to call the All-Star game in Wilson, NC and the Petite Cup Championship. While in North Carolina, Karl called high school football and hosted a Saturday morning high school football recap show. Upon his return to Atlanta, Karl returned to the business sector but continued to stay in broadcasting doing freelance play-by-play work for GASports.com and Georgia News Network calling the GHSA Football State Semifinals and Finals, Georgia Public Broadcasting calling basketball games and calling regular season and playoff baseball for the Sunbelt League before being tabbed as the play-by-play voice for 680 the Fan’s Friday Night Football.

Karl graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Along with Mr. Hanover while at The Zone he created the now defunct Werl Ball and finished a close second to Mr. Hanover’s fraternity in the All Row Sports Championship and still thinks they would have won if The Stroke’s blade had not cracked. I’m not bitter.

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