Class AAAA Blog: Playoff field is set following eventful Week 12

The regular season wraps up on Saturday with Carver-Columbus taking on Americus-Sumter. The Class AAAA first round pairings will not be set in stone until this matchup determines the final seeding for Region 1.

Last night, there were several results worth noting.

Heritage-Catoosa held off host Northwest Whitfield 30-22 to secure the No. 2 seed out of Region 6-AAAA. Northwest Whitfield opened up a 6-0 lead with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Owen Brooker to Cooper Pardee. The Generals answered with an 8-yard touchdown run by Nick Hanson and then forced a turnover at midfield, setting up Gabe Ogle touchdown run that put Heritage up 14-6 at the end of the first. Northwest Whitfield orchestrated a scoring drive that was capped with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Booker to Callen Nealey, but the potential game-tying 2-point conversion attempt failed, keeping the Bruins down 14-12. Hanson dialed up a 16-yard touchdown pass to Sam Randolph on Heritage’s following drive to grow the lead back to 21-12 with 7:41 left in the half. Northwest’s Bryce Mantooth cut into the lead with a 6-yard Bruins touchdown, but Heritage kicker Anderson Britton added a 34-yard field goal with just 18 seconds left in the half to push it back to 24-19. The Bruins kicked a 25-yard field goal late in the third quarter to bring it within 24-22 heading into the final frame. Hanson appeared to give Heritage breathing room with a 7-yard rushing touchdown, but a failed PAT kept it a one-possession game and the Generals couldn’t celebrate until Northwest Whitfield’s last-ditch hail mary fell incomplete.

High School Sports

The Region 8-AAAA champion Oconee County Warriors came away with a 42-14 win over the Madison County Red Raiders behind a well-balanced offensive attack. Oconee County outscored Madison County 35-7 in the first half, including two rushing scores by Darius Norman and a 16-yard pass from Max Johnson to Jake Johnson in the opening frame. Madison County’s Adam Echols scored on an 85-yard kickoff return later in the first to make it a 21-7 game. Max Johnson’s second touchdown pass of the night went to Ben Noland in the second quarter, and an interception return for a touchdown by Oconee County’s Max Brown gave the Warriors a comfortable lead at halftime. Norman scored his third touchdown of the night in the third quarter, bringing the score 42-7, and Martavian Cooper had a 14-yard rushing score in the fourth for Madison County.

Cartersville outscored Troup 24-14 in the second half at Callaway Stadium to cap off its fifth-straight perfect regular season with a 45-35 win. Additionally, the win extended the top-ranked Purple Hurricanes’ regular-season winning streak to 58-straight games and their region winning streak to 53-straight victories. Before the Canes pulled away, however, Troup found success through much of the first half. The Tigers answered a 9-yard Evan Slocum touchdown run with a pair of Trey Williams rushing scores to take a 14-7 lead into the second quarter. Cartersville was able to tie it up 14-14 on a Harrison Allen 1-yard run that came on a 4th-and-goal, but then Troup quarterback Kobe Hudson put the Tigers back ahead 21-14 with a touchdown pass to Marquavious Kelly with one minute left in the half. Devonte Ross returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Troup 15-yard line, and quarterback Tee Webb found Ross for a 10-yard score to make it 21-21 at the break. Cartersville regained the lead on a 24-yard field goal by Oscar Hernandez and a Marko Dudley interception set up a 53-yard rushing touchdown by Webb that extended the lead to 31-21. Hudson ran in a 6-yard touchdown, but Cartersville’s offense kept rolling and Webb connected with Kyler Johnson for a 51-yard score that put Cartersville up 38-28 heading into the final quarter. Allen added another 13-yard rushing touchdown to give the Canes their biggest lead of the game (45-28). Troup’s final points came on a Hudson touchdown pass with just 12 seconds left.

Woodward quarterback Mike Wright passed for three touchdowns in a 40-7 win over Luella and rushed for another to lead the War Eagles to a flawless regular season in Region 4-AAAA. Wright, who was 16-of-25 for 241 passing yards, connected with Hunter Sellers (47 yards) and Ambe Caldwell (6 and 5 yards) for touchdowns. Wright opened the scoring on his pass to Sellers, and his 63-yard touchdown run with 8:24 left in the first quarter gave Woodward a 14-0 lead. The War Eagles enjoyed a 23-0 lead at the end of the first quarter after a 12-yard fumble return by Chase Marshall at the 3:55 mark and a safety with 2:42 left. Wright’s 6-yard pass to Caldwell early in the second quarter put Woodward up 30-0 and James Mayfield’s 25-yard field goal with 9:23 before the half pushed the lead. James Jones broke free in the third quarter and scored on a 58-yard run for Luella’s only offensive production before Wright’s 5-yard pass to Caldwell put the game out of reach. Caldwell finished with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.

In Region 7-AAAA, Aaron McLaughlin accounted for all five of Denmark’s touchdowns en route to a convincing 34-14 win over visiting Flowery Branch. The Danes trailed 7-0 in the first quarter but reeled off 27 unanswered points, eventually extending a 14-7 halftime advantage to lead by 20 midway through the third. Flowery Branch quarterback David Renard threw a touchdown pass to Baxley O’Brien to cut the deficit to 27-14 before McLaughlin answered with his third scoring strike of the night. McLaughlin also rushed for two scores and two of his touchdown passes went to Ze’Vian Capers.

Class AAAA First Round Pairings

R8#3 St. Pius at R6#2 Heritage-Catoosa

R2#4 Upson-Lee at R4#1 Woodward Academy

*R1#3 at R3#2 Thomson

R7#4 Flowery Branch at R5#1 Cartersville

R6#3 Pickens at R8#2 North Oconee

R4#4 Luella at R2#1 West Laurens

R3#3 Baldwin at R1#2 Cairo

R5#4 Troup at R7#1 Blessed Trinity

R4#3 Hampton at R2#2 Perry

R6#4 NW Whitfield at R8#1 Oconee County

R5#3 Cedartown at R7#2 Marist

R3#4 Richmond Academy at R1#1 Carver-Columbus

R2#3 Mary Persons at R4#2 Eastside

R8#4 Madison County at R6#1 Ridgeland

R7#3 Denmark at R5#2 Sandy Creek

*R1#4 at R3#1 Burke County

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