Class AA blog: What to watch in Round 2

For the GHSF Daily’s Class AA Round 2 previews, go here. For my predictions, made before the playoffs began, go here.

Brooks County Trojans at Rockmart Yellow Jackets

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Rock, Rockmart

Records, seedings, rankings: Brooks County is 7-4, the No. 2 seed from Region 1 and ranked No. 7; Rockmart is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 7 and ranked No. 1.

Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the teams.

Maxwell's projection: Rockmart by 16

Winner plays: Union County/Metter winner

Notes: The outcome of this game could depend on the availability of Rockmart starting quarterback Javin Whatley, who left the Yellow Jackets’ first-round 24-7 win over Temple in the second quarter and didn’t return. Whatley, a junior, was recently named the 7-AA player of the year. The last update, which came on Tuesday morning, was that he was awaiting MRI results to determine the extent of his injury. The Jackets’ camp has stayed mum on his status. If he’s unable to go, look for senior Paine Culver to start in his place. The Jackets, last year’s runner-ups, are looking to advance to at least the quarterfinals for a second year in a row. The Trojans are coming off a 42-14 home victory over Washington County, which extended their win streak to four. All of their losses have come to ranked teams (A-public’s Mitchell County and Clinch County, AAAAA’s Bainbridge and Dublin). Bainbridge and Clinch County were ranked No. 1 at the time the Trojans played them. The Trojans have advanced in the playoffs 12 years in a row and are looking to get to at least the quarterfinals for the seventh time in that span. They are led by junior quarterback Ni’Tavion Burrus (87-of-162 passing fro 1,463 yards and 16 touchdowns to seven picks) and sophomore running back Omari Arnold (152 carries for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns).

Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane at Callaway Cavaliers

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Callaway Stadium, Hogansville

Records, seedings, rankings: Fitzgerald is 8-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 1 and unranked; Callaway is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 5 and No. 3.

Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 35-21 in the 2009 AA quarterfinals.

Maxwell's projection: Callaway by 14

Winner plays: Douglass/Jefferson County winner

Notes: The Cavaliers are on a 10-game win streak after dropping their season opener, 10-7, to Opelika (Ala.) on the road. Last week they walloped Chattooga 54-7. They’ve given up seven points or less in their last five games, outscoring opponents 225-14 in that span. They’re looking to advance to at least the quarterfinals for a fourth consecutive year. They’re led by senior running back, AJC Super 11 selection and Auburn commit Tank Bigsby, with senior lineman and fellow Auburn commit Tate Johnson blocking for him. Junior quarterback Demetrius Coleman is being recruited as an athlete by Alabama, Ole Miss and North Carolina among others, and top receiving threat, senior Jacob Freeman, holds 11 offers including Baylor, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. The Purple Hurricane stumbled into the playoffs losing two of their last three to ranked Thomasville and Brooks County, which knocked them from the rankings after spending all but one week there. However, they rebounded with a Round 1 road win over No. 8 Bleckley County, 30-12. They’re looking to advance to at least the quarterfinals for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons, and for the second year in a row.

Swainsboro Tigers at Hapeville Charter Hornets

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Trojan Stadium at Banneker, College Park

Records, seedings, rankings: Swainsboro is 8-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 2 and unranked; Hapeville Charter is 9-1-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 6 and No. 4.

Last meeting: This is the first meeting between the teams.

Maxwell's projection: Hapeville Charter by 23

Winner plays: Bremen/Dublin winner

Notes: The Tigers were ranked all season but entered the playoffs outside of the top 10 after losing their last two. In either of those losses, a win would have clinched them the region title and a No. 1 seed. Instead, they’re now road warriors and lived up to that billing with a 37-3 win in Round 1 over Harlem. Before the two-game skid, they’d won six in a row. They’re looking to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. They’re led by senior quarterback Kade Youmans, who is 113-for-211 passing with 1,766 yards and 24 touchdowns to five interceptions. Junior running back Robert Allen has 1,033 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 165 carries. The Hornets are looking to stamp a ticket to the quarterfinals for just the third time in a program history that dates back to 2011, and for the first time since winning the AA title in 2017. Last week they beat Putnam County 56-0 for their third shutout in the last four games and fourth this season. They’re led by three 4-stars in junior defensive end Zavier Carter, junior receiver Jaquez Smith and senior receiver Rico Powers. Senior quarterback Jeremy Stephens holds two mid-major offers.

Bracket

Photo: GHSA.net

All other games including Maxwell’s projections

  • Douglass at Jefferson Co. -6
  • Dublin vs. Bremen -11
  • Rabun Co. vs. Toombs Co. -35
  • Thomasville vs. Pepperell -2
  • Union Co. at Metter -6

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