Class 2A blog: What to watch in Week 4

For previews of the Thomasville-Bainbridge and Westminster-Pace Academy games, see the GHSF Daily’s top 10 games here.

Also, check out the latest episode of The Class 2A Blogcast, where I’m joined by guest and AJC colleague Stan Awtrey. This week’s topic: The potential chaos that could ensue should the pandemic rear its ugly head in the middle of the state playoffs. You can listen here, and on Apple and Spotify.

COVID-19 news: Fitzgerald will now play Jefferson County, replacing a Dodge County that won’t play for a second consecutive week; Union County canceled its game against George Walton; Toombs County will now play West Laurens instead of Mitchell County. Also, Jeff Davis' game against Tattnall County has been canceled.

Callaway Cavaliers at Douglass Astros

When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta

Records, rankings: Callaway is 2-0 and ranked No. 1 in 2A; Douglass is 0-1 and unranked in AAA.

Last meeting: Callaway won 41-20 in the 2019 2A quarterfinals.

Watch the game: NFHS Network

Maxwell’s projection: Callaway by 21

Notes: The Cavaliers enter this matchup ranked No. 1 for the first time this season thanks to a pair of wins over 4A’s Troup (27-7) and Hardaway (17-6) in which the defense — led by preseason all-state selections Keyshawn Suggs, a defensive lineman, and Demetrius Coleman (quarterback-defensive back) — was dominant. The Cavs' plethora of talent and D-I prospects are noted in the Week 2 previews. The Cavs lead the all-time series against Douglass 4-0. Before last season’s quarterfinals, the two last met in the first round of the 2017 2A playoffs, with the Cavs winning 28-8. They also played a home-and-away in 2012-13, with the Cavs winning both games by a combined 102-23. This year the Cavs are projected to win by the same margin (21 points) as they beat Douglass by in last year’s quarterfinals. The Astros, who moved up to 3A this year, lost their opener 19-7 to 1A Private’s No. 4 Wesleyan last week. They’ll need a big game from preseason all-state selection Quintavious Lockett, a junior running back. Senior quarterback Quindarious Sterling, listed by recruiting services as an athlete, holds an offer from Army.

Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane at Jefferson County Warriors

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

Records, rankings: Fitzgerald is 3-0 and No. 2; Jefferson County is 0-1 and unranked.

Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 40-20 in the 2015 2A semifinals.

Maxwell’s projection: Fitzgerald by 16

Notes: This was a game that wasn’t originally supposed to happen, but when Dodge County canceled its game against the Purple Hurricane, they picked up the Warriors, who haven’t played since losing their season opener 21-14 to 3A’s Thomson on Sept. 4. The Warriors are coming off a two-week quarantine. The schools are located 130 miles apart. The Purple Hurricane have climbed from their preseason No. 4 ranking to No. 2 with dominant victories against 3A’s Cairo and 1A Public’s then-No. 1 Irwin County and then-No. 9 Turner County. They’ve outscored those opponents 84-29. They’re led on defense by preseason all-state selection Chance Gamble, a defensive back who is listed by recruiting services as a receiver and holds three offers. The Warriors began the season ranked No. 10 but were booted from the polls after their loss. Senior defensive back-receiver Aquavious Hunter committed to Navy in June, and junior linebacker-safety-running back Nick Jordan holds an offer from Coastal Carolina. This is the final non-region game currently on the Warriors' schedule before entering Region 4 play, where they’re seeking a third consecutive region title. They’ve reached the playoffs every season since 2002 and have advanced every year since 2010. The Purple Hurricane have reached the playoffs every year since 2000.

Bleckley County Royals at Vidalia Indians

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buck Cravey Field, Vidalia

Records, rankings: Bleckley County is 2-1 and No. 9; Vidalia is 0-1 and unranked.

Last meeting: Vidalia won 28-7 in 2009.

Maxwell’s projection: Bleckley County by 5

Notes: This matchup resumes after an 11-year hiatus. Vidalia leads the all-time series, which began in 1988, 11-4, with Bleckley County last winning in 2007. The Royals rebounded from a tough 21-20 loss to 1A Public’s No. 7 Wilcox County on Sept. 11 to beat South Atlanta 44-6 last week. They’re led by 5-star offensive lineman Amarious Mims and defensive lineman Willie Harris, who are both preseason all-state selections. The Royals' game against the Indians will be their final before entering Region 3 play, with a scheduled bye for next week. The Indians, who were quarantined for the first two weeks of the season, opened their season last week with a narrow 14-8 loss to 1A Public’s Emanuel County Institute. The game marked the debut of Indians first-year coach Jason Cameron, who comes to Vidalia from Jenkins, where in three seasons he guided the Warriors to a 33-7 record and trips to the quarterfinals (twice) and the semifinals. The Indians have a preseason all-state selection in senior lineman Jaylin Burns.

Darlington Tigers at Heard County Braves

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Staples Stadium, Franklin

Records, rankings: Darlington is 2-0 and No. 10 in 1A Private; Heard County is 3-0 and No. 10 in 2A.

Last meeting: Heard County won 21-7 in 2017.

Maxwell’s projection: Heard County by 4

Notes: Both schools rest relatively close to the Alabama border, with Darlington 75 miles north of Heard County. The only other times these two met were for home-and-aways in 2016-17, with Darlington winning 28-14 in 2016. The Braves are 3-0 for the first time since 2016, and the 2018 2A champions appear to be back on track after starting last year 0-4 and finishing 4-7 for their first losing season since 2003. Helping to bolster their roster is the recent addition Chief Borders, a senior 3-star linebacker committed to Florida. He made his Braves debut last week after being ruled by the GHSA as eligible to play following his transfer from McEachern, where he was ruled ineligible to play after transferring from Carrollton. He had 11 tackles — two for losses — and two sacks in the Braves' 35-20 win over Manchester. The Tigers have won their first two games by a combined score of 73-18 against 1A Private’s Lakeview Academy and St. Francis. They have a preseason all-state selection in senior lineman Davis Watson, who holds offers from Army and Kent State, and who is tasked with helping to anchor the offensive line following the graduation of five-star Tate Ratledge, now a true freshman at Georgia.

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