CALHOUN, Ga. - Hal Lamb and Maurice Freeman may be adversaries on the football field tonight, but the opposing coaches in the Class AA quarterfinal are in complete agreement about one thing.
Calhoun and Brooks County should not be playing each other yet.
"He and I talked about it last week and we agreed that this would make a great state championship game," said Lamb, whose 12-0 No. 1-ranked Calhoun team gets to host the also undefeated No. 2-ranked Trojans. "I don't like it, but he was very upset about it."
Freeman's angst is understandable. Brooks lost an epic semifinal game to the Yellow Jackets in 2008 when the Trojans were stopped at the goal line on the game's final play (though most Trojans fans still insist the ball crossed the line). They lost again last year in the second round, 43-30.
It's not that Freeman doesn't want to play Calhoun; he just doesn't want do do it in the quarterfinals.
"We've had to face Calhoun now three times in the past five years," Freeman said, "and it seems at least once we would be on the opposite bracket. We know to win the state title you have to beat Calhoun, but we would prefer to do it in the [Georgia] Dome in the finals."
Freeman, whose team owns an impressive regular-season win over Class AAAAAA Valdosta, isn't complaining without a reason. He correctly points out that Buford and Calhoun, ranked No. 1 and No. 2, did not meet before the finals in each of the past three years.
"We knew this was a very distinct possibility when we saw how the brackets were drawn, and that if we won our region we would face Calhoun in this round," Freeman said. "But we wanted to go 10-0, and my hat's off to the players for not backing down from the challenge. Now our goal is to win a state title, and to do that we'll have to go 15-0 and beat Calhoun Friday. It's a tough road for sure."
The GHSA draws up its championship brackets before the season and so far has not considered the idea of seeding teams 1 through 32 at the end of the regular season. Though it might lead to having the best teams meeting over the final two weeks, it also couldn't be done without controversy.
"They could reseed the teams, but that would open up a whole lot of things," Lamb said. "This is the system we have and we have to make the best of it. The shame is these are two very good football teams and one will be sitting home next week."