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The football teams at Christian Heritage School and North Murray High School have made a habit of winning this season.
The two entered the postseason last week with matching records of 9-1, and each now faces the next step on their way to hopefully winning a state championship as they host second-round games tonight.
Christian Heritage earned a bye in the first round of the Class A-Private playoffs, and North Murray won its first-round game in Class 3A over Monroe Area last Friday, 28-14. While each journey has been special to their respective program, marking many firsts along the way, each team has never had a better record than they do now.
The Lions, though the school is more than 30 years old, entered the Georgia High School Association at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, while North Murray was established in 2010.
Here's what to expect from tonight's games.
No. 9 Wesleyan (9-2, 5-2 in Region 5-A) at No. 8 Christian Heritage (9-1, 5-1 in Region 6-A), 7:30 p.m.
Christian Heritage has now had a week to rest and focus on the postseason, having not lost since the beginning of October.
The Lions dropped their only game this year to Darlington, ranked No. 7 in the classification's playoff bracket. The teams were the only non-region winners to receive a first-round bye.
"We're counting it as 10-1 since we are in the second round now," Christian Heritage coach Jay Poag said. "I'm not going to say this is a surprise to us. The ball bounced our way a few times last year to go 7-4 and 7-3 in the regular season. It was all very special, but we had most everyone coming back this year and we expected to be competing for championships.
"It's been a good year and we've really taken care of business."
In the team's wins, there hasn't been a whole lot to worry about. The Lions have held seven opponents in their nine wins to seven points or less. The only nail-biter was when they defeated North Cobb Christian, another second-round playoff team, on a blocked extra point, 21-20.
"I like our football team, but I really like our defense," Poag said. "We are where we want to be."
While the Lions have a big matchup tonight, Poag is also looking to the future of the program. He said last week's rest period was an opportunity to grow knowing the team is still going to be relatively young after this season.
"Once you make it to a deep point in the playoffs, you're only benefiting your program because you're fitting in extra practice when other teams are sitting at home," he said. "With the bye, you get the chance to get some of these kids healed up and get those that are coming up some extra reps."
With the playmakers it has, Christian Heritage has remained relatively healthy this season. Poag said while some of that might be luck, his players are dedicated to staying in shape.
The Lions weight-lift in the mornings before school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
"They've really bought into the weight room and it helps us stay healthy. It helps us stay as physical as we are," Poag said.
The bye also allowed Christian Heritage to see this week's opponent in person. Wesleyan defeated First Presbyterian Day School in overtime, 35-28.
Poag said playing Wesleyan might be like looking in a mirror.
"They look a lot like we do," he said. "They have a sophomore quarterback who looks a lot like Christian (Thomas) and a sophomore running back that looks a lot like Gage (Leonard). They've got two nice wide receivers that pretty much have the same stats as Evan Lester has. They've even got a good kicker just like us with Joe (Dixon).
"If there is a difference in the two teams, we've run the football a lot more than they have. We hope that plays out in our favor. It should be a good game."
Region 4-3A No. 2 seed Jackson (8-3, 5-1) at Region 6-3A No. 1 seed North Murray (10-1, 8-0), 7:30 p.m.
North Murray's only loss this season was to an undefeated Class 2A standout team Rabun County, which is still alive in its classification and set to host its own second-round playoff game tonight.
While it was the Mountaineers' first game of the season, that loss in Week 2 has only made the team stronger, coach Preston Poag said.
"We weren't healthy then, but I'm glad we played them because it prepares you for playoff games," he said. "I don't think it's as much about us never winning this many games, but I'm just so happy for these kids. That's a great record to be 10-1. I've said this before, but this is just a team that wants to win."
North Murray's closest call this season in a game it won was last week's first-round playoff matchup. A difference of 14 points looks minimal when the team won nine regular-season games by an average of 26.4 points.
Digging a little deeper, the Mountaineers have been a much better team in the second half.
In its first region game of the season, North Murray trailed Ringgold -- which finished winless this year -- 17-10, only to score 35 unanswered points in the final two quarters for a 45-17 win. Against Calhoun, North Murray held a narrow 10-7 lead at the break, again scoring unanswered points -- this time 21 -- in the second half to win, 31-7.
The experience of a large senior class helped the team once more this past week. North Murray was leading Monroe Area, 14-0, until it allowed a score just before halftime to cut its wiggle room at the break, 14-7.
Monroe scored to open the third quarter and the Mountaineers were suddenly looking at a tie game.
"I knew it would be a good matchup, but it's been like a replay all year," Poag said. "Our kids fought, and we tied it up. All this season when things get close, we always respond. Then we were able to seal it at the end."
Poag said, though he wasn't surprised, he took a back seat in his usual speech during the team's huddle before the fourth quarter.
"I'm usually the one talking, but the seniors jumped in there this week," he said. "They know what's in front of them, and it was do or die. That was the first time that they had gotten in there to get everyone fired up.
"There's no game that is too big for this team. Sometimes if you're young, they don't really know how to handle it and they can get worked up. Not this team, though."
From what Poag has seen of Jackson, the team looks similar to Monroe Area.
"They're not as big, but they are fast," he said. "They are dangerous and can take it to the house on any play."
He's got assets all around him, but Jackson will likely be concerned with where quarterback and corner Ladd McConkey is, or where he's putting the ball.
McConkey is in his first year as the starting quarterback on the high school level.
"I've never had a kid who can play so many different positions and is good at all of them," Poag said. "He and D'Ante (Tidwell) shut down one of Monroe's best receivers last week. He's a big- time recruit, and he caught one pass."
With a defense to back him up, highlighted last week by Dylan Flood who had 16 tackles and an interception, as well as Chaisen Buckner with 12 tackles and two sacks, McConkey can work his magic -- and he knows it.
"I knew Ladd playing quarterback growing up, and I knew he would be exciting to watch. He doesn't throw it that great, but he just makes it happen," Poag said. "He runs around until he can make a play. The receivers help him, too, because they know how he is. They might have to change directions on the field, but they always come back."