Semifinal preview: A capsule look at all 14 games


Roswell at Grayson

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson

Records, rankings: Roswell is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAAAA and No. 3; Grayson is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAAA and No. 2.

Last meeting: Grayson won 24-14 in the second round of the 2009 Class AAAAA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Roswell and Grayson are playing in their first semifinals since their last state titles - Roswell in 2006, Grayson in 2011. 2. Both teams have balanced attacks built around a feature back. Roswell RB Sheldon Evans has rushed for 1,600 yards (6.9 ypc) with 26 touchdowns, while QB Quintarius Neely is 169-of-281 passing for 2,164 yards and 30 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Grayson RB Cameryn Brent has rushed for 1,501 yards (7.6 ypc) and 24 touchdowns, while QB Chase Brice is 154-of-235 passing for 2,436 yards and 28 touchdowns with eight interceptions. 3. Both teams have four or five blue-chip recruits on defense. Grayson DE Mykell McDanniel and DT Ellison Hubbard are probably the most productive among Grayson's, although less-heralded MLB Bryce Smith is the leading tackler. Roswell LB Tre Lamar (Clemson) and LB Tyrone Hopper (North Carolina) are ACC-bound, and DB Zavier McKinney and DB LeAnthony Williams, both juniors, are four-star recruits.

Colquitt County at Mill Creek

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Markham Field at Mill Creek Community Stadium, Hochston

Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 1; Mill Creek is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAAAAA and No. 5.

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 31-14 in 2014.

Three things to know: 1. Colquitt County, in its seventh consecutive semifinal, averages 432 yards of total offense and scored at least 33 points in every game. Mill Creek, in its first semifinal, allows 142.7 yards per game and hasn't allowed more than 17 in any game. 2. Colquitt County QB Chase Parrish has thrown for 2,759 yards and 33 touchdowns for a team that gets 56 percent of its yardage passing. But while Colquitt has no feature back, RB/WR Ty Lee rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the 49-31 victory over South Forsyth last week. He also has 41 catches for 668 yards. WR Kiel Pollard has 16 TD receptions and 11 rushing touchdowns, mostly out of the Wildcat formation. 3. Mill Creek is allowing 27.0 yards rushing per game, but its pass defense is just as impressive as opponents are completing just 44 percent of their passes. Mill Creek has 20 interceptions and 63 sacks (17 by DE Tyler Vernon). Mill Creek averages only 146.5 yards rushing per game. Cameron Turley has thrown for 2,151 yards with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions.


Northgate at Allatoona

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buccaneer Stadium, Acworth

Records, rankings: Northgate is 12-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAA and No. 9; Allatoona is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAAAA and No. 10.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Northgate, which opened in 1998, is in the semifinals for the first time. The Vikings lost in their only other quarterfinal appearance in 2000. No Coweta County school has won a state title. Allatoona, opened in 2008, is in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. The Buccaneers are trying to become the first Cobb County Schools team to win a state title. 2. Northgate has two 1,000-yard rushers (Ton Evans and Kyle Cater) and a quarterback (sophomore Kyle McLaren) nearing 1,000 yards passing in its run-oriented offense. However, the Vikings are probably better known for a defense that has allowed just 8.8 points per game and held nine opponents to a touchdown or less. LB Jamie Skalski (committed to Clemson) is the team leader in tackles and sacks. 3. Allatoona has run for 311 yards per game in the playoffs despite the loss of leading rusher Russell Halimon, who is out with a knee injury suffered in the first round. Brandon Archibald (182 yards vs. Winder-Barrow), Charles Anderson (104 vs. Starr's Mill) and QB Brandon Rainey (112 yards and a school-record seven rushing TDs vs. Houston County), have recorded 100-yard games in the playoffs.

Ware County at Glynn Academy

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Glynn County Stadium, Brunswick

Records, rankings: Ware County is 11-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAAAA and unranked; Glynn Academy is 11-2, the No. 2 seed from 3-AAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: Glynn Academy won 14-7 on Oct. 9.

Three things to know: 1. Glynn Academy's victory over Ware County in the regular season snapped the Gators' 34-game region winning streak and essentially prevented them from winning their fourth consecutive region title. Coffee finished as the No. 1 seed in 3-AAAAA. Glynn Academy is playing in the semifinals for the first time since 1968, while Ware County is back for the first time since 2012. 2. Ware County averages 255.2 yards rushing and 70.4 yards passing. RB Dedrick Mills (committed to Georgia Tech) is the Gators' leading rusher with 1,153 yards, including a season-high 270 and four touchdowns on 16 carries in a 46-21 victory over Drew last week. He was held to 33 yards on nine carries, and the team had a season-low 69 yards rushing, in the first game against Glynn Academy. 3. QB Deejay Dallas (committed to Georgia) is the key to a Glynn Academy offense that averages 236.8 yards rushing and 86.5 passing. Dallas is the team's leading rusher with 1,118 yards and 13 touchdowns on 148 carries. RB Garrison Hurd, who missed the first matchup with Ware County because of an injury, had a season-high 205 yards on 26 carries in a 24-21 victory over top-ranked Stockbridge last week.

Class AAAA

Woodward Academy at Buford

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Records, rankings: Woodward Academy is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAA and No. 3; Buford is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAA and No. 2.

Last meeting: Buford won 40-7 in the second round of the 2013 Class AAA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Woodward Academy and Buford have not played each other outside of the 2013 meeting. Woodward is 3-2 all-time in semifinals, losing in 2014 to St. Pius and winning most recently in the 1980 Class AAA championship season. Buford has won 26 consecutive home playoff games. Woodward has lost five straight road playoff games. 2. Buford averages 264.3 yards rushing per game and has several backs capable of having big games. In the 49-7 victory over Thomson last week, it was Christian Turner, who went for 183 yards and increased his season total to 728. QB Mic Roof has thrown for 1,454 yards. Buford allows only 125.7 total yards per game, 50.6 rushing. 3. Woodward Academy averages 197.7 yards passing and 155.3 rushing, but with RB Elijah Holyfield healthy after a five-game regular-season absence, the team is more balanced. Holyfield has rushed for 995 yards, including 249 last week in a 42-14 victory over Marist. QB Ryan Glover has thrown for 2,570 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Bainbridge at Cartersville

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville

Records, rankings: Bainbridge is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 1-AAAA and No. 5; Cartersville is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAAA and No. 1.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Bainbridge is in the semifinals for the first time since 1993, when Kirby Smart was a first-team all-state defensive back for the Bearcats. Neither school has won a semifinal since its last state championship - Bainbridge in 1982, Cartersville in 1999. 2. Bainbridge sophomore RB Dameon Pierce has rushed for 1,950 yards and 33 touchdowns, including two big ones in the fourth quarter last week in an 18-17 victory over St. Pius. QB Brett McLaughlin has thrown for 2,013 yards, with 1,222 of that going to WR Tyler Storey, but Bainbridge completes only about half of its passes. 3. Cartersville's Trevor Lawrence is living up to the hype of his rating as the No. 2 sophomore quarterback in the country. He has thrown for 3,313 yards and 39 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Terrius Callahan has 60 catches for 1,160 yards. RB Taimon Pennymon has 852 yards from scrimmage despite missing three games.

Class AAA

Westminster at Cedar Grove

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, James R. Hallford Stadium, Clarkston

Records, rankings: Westminster is 9-4, the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAA and unranked; Cedar Grove is 11-1-1, the No. 2 seed from 4-AAA and No. 3.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Westminster and Cedar Grove are two of the remaining three teams from Region 4-AAA (Blessed Trinity is the other), but they are in opposite subregions and have never met. Westminster is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season after not advancing that far since 1996. Cedar Grove is in the semifinals for the first time since its 1991 team was the Class AA runner-up. 2. Westminster averages 204.2 yards per game rushing, led by Zay Malcome's 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns. QB Rankin Woley has passed for 711 yards, rushed for 470 and had a hand in 17 touchdowns. The Wildcats have a big weapon in PK Blake Gillikin, who averages 44.3 yards punting, has put 62 of 77 kickoffs (81 percent) into the end zone, and made 12 of 21 field goals, including a school-record 56-yarder in a 51-21 victory over Adairsville last week. 3. Cedar Grove's LaBron Morris is the leading rusher in DeKalb County with 1,676 yards on 201 carries. Tre' Shaw has run for 670 yards, including 258 and three touchdowns in a 47-0 first-round victory over Pierce County. QB Jelani Woods is fourth in the county in passing yards with 1,883 and leads with 20 TD passes. DT Antwuan Jackson, a four-year starter and AJC Super 11 selection, has 50 tackles for losses.

Calhoun at Blessed Trinity

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell

Records, rankings: Calhoun is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAA and No. 1; Blessed Trinity is 12-0-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAA and No. 2.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Calhoun is the defending Class AAA champion and has won 28 consecutive games. The Yellow Jackets are in the semifinals for the seventh time in eight years, reaching the state final six times during that stretch. Blessed Trinity, which began its football program in 2001, is in the semifinals for the second consecutive season and second time in school history. Titans coach Tim McFarlin led Roswell to a share of the Class AAAAA title in 2006. 2. Calhoun has a balanced offense that averages about 260 yards rushing and 212 passing. Olico Dennis is the leading rusher with 1,252 yards, but QB Kaelan Riley (committed to Mercer) ran for 106 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-30 three-overtime victory over Elbert County last week. It was the second straight overtime win for the Yellow Jackets, who beat Peach County 20-14 in the second round. 3. Blessed Trinity is a little more reliant on the running game, getting about 63 percent of its yards on the ground. Milton Shelton has run for 1,776 yards on 207 carries and scored 27 of the team's 40 rushing touchdowns. QB Conor Davis has passed for 1,314 yards and 15 TDs, but freshman Jake Smith subbed for the injured starter last week in a 35-7 victory over Dawson County and was 8-for-14 for 132 yards and a touchdown.

Class AA

Fitzgerald at Jefferson County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Warrior Field, Louisville

Records, rankings: Fitzgerald is 12-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 1-AA and No. 5; Jefferson County is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from 3-AA and No. 7.

Last meeting: Jefferson County won 28-14 in 2013.

Three things to know: 1. Fitzgerald coach Jason Strickland began his coaching career under J.B. Arnold in 2001, Arnold's first season at Jefferson County. They've been friends since and scheduled to play each other in their opening games in 2012 and 2013. Their teams split. 2. Jefferson County averages 194.4 yards rushing and 178.1 passing per game. QB T.J. Bell has thrown for 2,083 yards and rushed for 1,129 and had a hand in 46 touchdowns. He threw for a career-high 345 yards in a 31-28 victory over Rabun County last week. Nikel Stone and Jakota Turner each had more than 100 yards receiving. 3. FB J.D. King's rushing total is up to 2,206 yards after his 332-yard game in a 54-28 victory over Benedictine last week. Fitzgerald averages 353.3 yards per game. QB James Graham has attempted only 75 passes but has rushed for 1,292 yards.

Pace Academy at Greater Atlanta Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross

Records, rankings: Pace Academy is 11-2, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA and No. 9; Greater Atlanta Christian is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 6-AA and No. 2.

Last meeting: Greater Atlanta Christian won 33-13 on Oct. 9.

Three things to know: 1. In the regular-season game between the two, GAC trailed 13-12 at halftime but cashed a Pace Academy turnover into a touchdown early in the third quarter, then had a 17-play, 83-yard drive to take control. QB Davis Mills (12-of-19 passing, 161 yards, two TDs) threw a 13-yard TD pass to Marcus Young to finish it. 2. Mills has more than 25 BCS offers, including those from Stanford and Michigan. He is 148-of-235 passing for 2,537 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has rushed for 530 yards. OL Devin Cochran committed to Vanderbilt over Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. DL Ford Higgins, who had four tackles for losses against Pace in October, is GAC's top defensive player. 3. Pace Academy has a big offensive line led by Tim Coleman (Furman) and Andrew Thomas (four-star junior) and rushes for 201.6 yards per game and throws for 99.8. Deon Jackson (940) is closing in on 1,000 yards. Pace PK Samuel Sloman (19 of 21 field goals) is probably the best kicker in AA, if not GAC's Brooks Bruce (9 of 11, long of 52).

Class A (public)

Commerce at Clinch County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Donald Tison Field at Panther Stadium, Homerville

Records, rankings: Commerce is 9-3, the No. 9 seed and unranked; Clinch County is 11-1, the No. 5 seed and No. 4.

Last meeting: Commerce won 37-7 in the first round of the 2014 Class A public-school playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Clinch County is 7-6 all-time in semifinals. This will be the Panthers' first semifinal since their 2010 Class A championship team. Commerce was in the semifinals last season but hasn't reached a final since its 2000 Class A championship team. Commerce is 5-11 all-time in semifinals. 2. Commerce attempted only one pass (incomplete) in its 20-7 victory over Marion County last week but averages 298.7 yards rushing per game. Most of it comes from FB/LB Will Thomas (146-1,039-8) and RB/FS Cole Chancey (130-971-7), who each went over 100 yards against Marion. Chancey also is the team's leading tackler. 3. Clinch County passes even less than Commerce. Four players have more than 700 yards rushing - TB Shannon Young (182-1,471-19), WB Zebulon Johnson (40-745-11), sophomore QB Charles McClelland (124-715-7) and freshman QB Trezman Marshall (89-707-7). McClelland and Marshall have passed for 503 yards combined.

Irwin County at Emanuel County Institute

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tiger Stadium, Swainsboro

Records, rankings: Irwin County is 9-2-1, the No. 3 seed and No. 6; Emanuel County Institute is 11-1, the No. 2 seed and No. 7.

Last meeting: Irwin County won 14-6 in the first round of the 1997 Class A playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Irwin County is in its third consecutive semifinal, that after reaching only one in the previous 38 years. ECI broke a 24-year drought in 2007 but has been a Class A force since, winning state titles in 2007 and 2012. This game, originally scheduled to be played at ECI, was moved to Swainsboro High School because of muddy field conditions at ECI's Rountree Stadium. 2. ECI RB Ricky Lee has rushed for 1,467 yards and scored 28 touchdowns, although he was held to 28 yards in a 34-31 victory over Mount Zion last week that came down to the final minute. ECI gets two-thirds of its total yards on the ground, but QB Rhett Gay is very efficient (99-of-148 for 1,562 yards, 22 touchdowns, two interceptions). 3. Irwin County's top player is two-way starter D.J. Pollard, who has rushed for 1,686 yards and made 104 tackles. Irwin struggled to generate offense last week in a 21-0 victory over Trion but returned two interceptions for touchdowns, one each by William Lewis (67 yards) and Cartayion Benyard (59 yards). Irwin County has thrown for only 578 yards and five touchdowns.

Class A (private)

ELCA at Prince Avenue Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Brad Akins Field, Bogart

Records, rankings: Eagle's Landing Christian is 9-3, the No. 4 seed and No. 2; Prince Avenue Christian is 12-0, the No. 1 seed and No. 1.

Last meeting: Eagle's Landing Christian won 47-17 in the 2014 Class A private-school quarterfinals.

Three things to know: 1. Eagle's Landing Christian is making its fifth consecutive semifinal appearance. The Chargers beat Prince Avenue Christian 33-0 to win the 2012 Class A private-school championship and lost to Mount Paran Christian in the final last season. Prince Avenue is in the semifinals for the first time since that 2012 loss and is seeking its first state title. 2. ELCA gave up 81 points in its three losses against ranked teams from higher classifications (Stockbridge, GAC and Woodward Academy) but has allowed just 6.1 points per game in its nine wins. Last week, the Chargers held Mount Paran to 17 yards rushing and less than 100 total yards in a 31-7 victory. LB Chase Burdette, the Region 5-A defensive player of the year, was one of four players with 10 tackles. 3. Prince Avenue gets 327.3 yards per game from its running game, which provides about 86 percent of the offense. Kevon Hudson is the leading rusher with 1,281 yards and 23 touchdowns on 121 carries (10.6 yards per carry). Seven other backs have at least 20 carries and 100 yards rushing, and all of them average at least 5 yards per carry. The Wolverines average less than five pass attempts per game but have thrown for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Stratford Academy at Aquinas

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aquinas Stadium, Augusta

Records, rankings: Stratford Academy is 9-3, the No. 10 seed and unranked; Aquinas is 11-1, the No. 3 seed and No. 5.

Last meeting: Aquinas won 48-28 on Nov. 6 in the Region 7-A championship game.

Three things to know: 1. This will be the third meeting of the year for these Region 7-A rivals. Aquinas won 35-28 on Sept. 18 before winning the rematch in the region championship game. It will be the first time two GHSA teams have met three times in a season since Brunswick and Glynn Academy did it in 1989. Stratford Academy is in the semifinals for the first time since moving to the GHSA last season. Aquinas is in its third consecutive semifinal and won the Class A private-school title in 2013. 2. Stratford Academy showed off the depth of its running game when three players had 100-yard games in a 43-15 victory over Pinecrest Academy in the quarterfinals. O'Showen Williams (1,325 yards for the season), Kasey Sanders (910) and Kasey Sanders (714) have combined for 2,949 yards and 35 touchdowns rushing. QB Sim Patrick averages about 100 yards passing per game, and WR Quintez Cephus (committed to Wisconson) is nearing 1,000 yards receiving. 3. Aquinas RB D'Angelo Durham has rushed for 1,105 yards this season, and his two best games have come against Stratford Academy - 172 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in the first matchup, and 261 yards and three TDs in the first rematch. QB Liam Welch has passed for 1,742 yards, run for 562 and had a hand in 27 touchdowns.

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