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Playoff primer: Second round

11/17/2011
Robert Nkemdiche is often called a man-child and has the attention of several BCS programs. Ryan Gibson/ESPNHS

There were certainly some surprises on the gridiron during the first round of the state playoffs, and the second round promises to provide even more drama. We take a look at five of the most intriguing matchups for this weekend’s action.

For the entire postseason schedule, click here.

Brookwood (8-3) at MLK (11-0)

MLK has been one of the toughest teams to beat in this fall, and the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the defending Class AAAAA champs. Jonquel Dawson, who is battling a leg injury, and WRs Blake Tibbs and Carnell Boyd have kept the offense clicking on all cylinders, while Kenderius Whitehead and the defense forced six turnovers in last week's win over Coffee. The Lions will have their hands full with Brookwood’s two-pronged rushing attack of Nick Tompkins and Jamaal Cole, each of whom wreaks havoc for opposing defenses. Brookwood has played well in recent weeks and took No. 1 Grayson down to the wire before falling by seven in Week 9.

Lowndes (8-0) at Grayson (11-0)

Lowndes has advanced to the second round of the playoffs on the strength of its bruising rushing attack, while Grayson has remained on top of the state’s rankings thanks to its massive front seven's ability to disrupt the run. Which team’s trend will prevail? Look for Lowndes senior RB Mike Moore and Grayson junior DL Robert Nkemdiche (pictured, above) to have a big say on the final outcome.

Griffin (9-2) at Tucker (11-0)

Tucker shredded Spraberry’s defense on the ground to the tune of 468 yards in a 44-14 win last week. RBs Dallas Rivers and Yusof Minor and QB Juwaan Williams each found the end zone twice in the victory. On defense, the Tigers recorded six sacks. Griffin scored twice in the final three minutes to record an improbable 47-43 win over Jonesboro in its first-round matchup. Tucker dominated the last meeting, a 38-0 drubbing in 2008.

Troup (9-2) at Sandy Creek (11-0)

Something will have to give in this matchup as Sandy Creek features an explosive offense that averages 37.5 points a contest, while Troup’s defense yields only 11.1 points. ESPNHS All-State junior LB Reuben Foster helped Troup limit six opponents to single digits but the D has struggled to maintain that pace over the last two weeks. Three-time defending champ Sandy Creek is in the midst of an amazing 40-game win streak and teams have had no answer for the Pats ‘ ground game led by Mississippi commit Mike Hilton or the air attack that features Auburn-bound WR JaQuay Williams.

Laney (9-2) at Carver Columbus (10-1)

These two squads haven’t met since the mid-‘60s, when Laney emerged victorious due to a forfeit. The Wildcats are coming off their first postseason win in five seasons after dispatching Morgan County, 41-13, last week. Laney will put its hopes and the ball in the hands of RB George Myers, who topped 100 yards last week. Carver is the more playoff-tested squad and has a suffocating defense that has held seven of its last eight opponents to single digits. Marquez Holloway has ignited a Tigers attack that hasn’t scored less than 26 points this season.