Colquitt County players break through their banner at the start of a high school football game Sept. 21, 2018, at Grayson High School in Loganville.
Photo: Casey Sykes/For the AJC
Photo: Casey Sykes/For the AJC

Capsule previews of Wednesday’s four state championship games

Class A (private) 

Athens Academy vs. Eagle's Landing Christian 

When, where: 10 a.m. Wednesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta 

Records, rankings: Athens Academy is 13-0, the No. 1 seed and No. 2; Eagle's Landing Christian is 12-1, the No. 3 seed and No. 1. 

Last meeting: Eagle's Landing Christian won 41-3 in the 2017 Class A private-school championship game. 

Things to know:Athens Academy is 26-1 the past two seasons, its only loss to ELCA, which is 42-0 against Class A opponents since 2015. The teams' offenses are similar. Athens Academy's Palmer Bush is 91-of-130 passing for 1,478 yards and 15 touchdowns. ELCA's Brayden Rush is 74-of-132 for 1,477 yards and 21 touchdowns. Rush is more of a run threat. He had a career-high 220 yards against Savannah Christian in the semifinals. ELCA's Keaton Mitchell has rushed for 2,336 yards, while Athens Academy's Len'Neth Whitehead has run for 1,377, but Whitehead plays significantly as a linebacker on defense. Also prominent for the Spartans will be LB William McLanahan (leading tackler) and RB/DB Payton Bowles and WR/DB Deion Colzie, both two-way starters. ELCA's most notable defenders are LB Johnathan Youngblood (region player of the year, 16 tackles for losses, four interceptions), WR/CB Justin Menard (committed to Central Florida) and WR/CB Justin Robinson (SEC/ACC offers). ELCA is trying to become the third school in history to win four straight state titles, joining West Rome (1982-85) and Buford (2007-10). Athens Academy has won nine region titles since 2001, tied with ELCA for the most in the GHSA among all private schools, but never won a state title. 

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Eagle's Landing Christian by 4 

RELATED: AJC high school football scoreboard

Class AA 

Heard County vs. Rockmart 

When, where: 1 p.m. Wednesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta 

Records, rankings: Heard County is 12-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AA and No. 3; Rockmart is 14-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AA and No. 2. 

Last meeting: Rockmart won 33-0 on Sept. 7. 

Things to know: The teams' first meeting, in the fourth week of the regular season, was called off at halftime by Heard County after a long weather delay. Rockmart broke that game open with four second-quarter touchdowns - a 97-yard pass from Dylan Bailey to Juke Boozer, a 75-yard punt return by Javin Whatley and runs of 5 and 53 yards by Zabrion Whatley, who has rushed for 1,077 yards and 18 TDs this season. The Yellow Jackets' leading rusher, however, is Markus Smith with 1,142 yards and 18 TDs on 106 carries. Bailey has passed for 1,463 yard and 22 TDs. Rockmart, seeking its first title since 1950, is No. 2 in Class AA scoring offense (45.8 points per game) and No. 3 in scoring defense (8.5). Heard County, in the championship game for the first time, has won 11 consecutive games since back-to-back losses to No. 1 Hapeville Charter (33-3) and Rockmart. The Braves have won 11 straight games since and have been led by RB Aaron Beasley, a Tennessee commit who did not play against Rockmart the first time. Beasley has rushed for 1,817 yards and 21 touchdowns on 262 carries for a team that averages 242 yards per game on the ground. Alijah Huzzie has passed for 1,490 yards and 18 TDs, and Lequincy Shepherd (26 catches, 651 yards, 11 TDs) is the top receiver. 

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Rockmart by 12 

Class AAAA 

Cartersville vs. Blessed Trinity 

When, where: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta 

Records, rankings: Cartersville is 14-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAA and No. 2; Blessed Trinity is 14-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAAA and No. 1. 

Last meeting: Blessed Trinity won 21-17 in the second round of the 2017 Class AAAA playoffs. 

Things to know: Cartersville (2015 and 2016) and Blessed Trinity (2017) have combined to win the past three Class AAAA championships. Cartersville is 55-1 since the start of the 2015 season, its only loss coming to Blessed Trinity last year. In that game, Jake Smith threw the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Davis with 12 seconds remaining, ending Cartersville's 41-game winning streak. Both players are back this year, as are many of the key players from the championship team. Smith has 1,777 passing yards this season, and Davis has 840 receiving yards. But the Titans' leader is RB/LB Steele Chambers (committed to Ohio State). He has rushed for 1,589 yards (including a season-high 244 in a 51-35 semifinal victory over Troup) and 25 touchdowns, completed his three pass attempts, all of which went for touchdowns, and is second on the team in total tackles with 46. Cartersville's offense is led by junior QB Tee Webb, who took over after the graduation of Trevor Lawrence. Webb has thrown for 2,726 yards and 35 TDs. Senior RB Marcus Gary has 1,456 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing and 277 yards and three TDs receiving. Cartersville also has the top defense in AAAA, allowing just 7.21 points per game. Cartersville coach Joey King is 67-3 in his five seasons at the school. 

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Blessed Trinity by 3 


Milton vs. Colquitt County 

When, where: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta 

Records, rankings: Milton is 12-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAAAAA and No. 8; Colquitt County is 14-0, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAAAA and No. 1. 

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 42-35 in the 2014 Class AAAAAA quarterfinals. 

Things to know: Colquitt County is playing in its fourth state-title game in five seasons. That hadn't been done in the highest classification since Parkview from 2000 to 2004. Colquitt won in 2014 and 2015 and lost on the final play of the 2017 title game to North Gwinnett. Milton, meanwhile, had not reached so much as a semifinal in 67 years until this season. Colquitt County, ranked No. 2 in one national poll, certainly has been the more dominant team, but there are similarities. Colquitt beat Archer 22-21 last week. Milton beat Archer 21-19 in the opener. The team's passing stats are nearly identical. Milton's Jordan Yates is 176-of-275 for 2,420 yards and 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Colquitt's Jaycee Harden, a first-year starter, is 169-of-259 for 2,396 yards and 22 touchdowns with six interceptions. Both teams have a 1,000-yard rusher - Colquitt's Daijun Edwards (1,379) and Milton's Josh Edwards (1,105). Colquitt has another outstanding back, Ty Leggett (1,171 yards from scrimmage), but Milton QB Yates has run for 858 yards. Colquitt's defense, which allows a classification-best 10.1 points per game, is better than any other that coach Rush Propst has had in Moultrie, or even prior at Hoover through five Alabama state titles. Milton DB Joe Charleston (committed to Clemson), LB Jordan Davis and DE/LB Allen Walker are game-changers on that side for their team, as well. 

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Colquitt County by 21 

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RELATED: AJC High School football scoreboard

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