Class 3A blog: Peach at Crisp, Cedar Grove at GAC highlights Week 8

What is on the schedule tonight in Class 3A? Two of the biggest games of the season when four of the top-5 programs face each other as top-ranked Cedar Grove travels to No. 5 Greater Atlanta Christian and No. 2 Crisp County plays host to No. 4 Peach County.

The two games could be the de facto region championship games for Regions 2 and 5-3A and the product of which will be two hellacious No. 2 seeds for whichever programs lose.

However, once the playoffs begin, those seeds might not mean much in this classification.

“I think the little number next to your name, whether it is 1, 2, 3 or 4, will have limited meaning once you hit the playoffs,” said Crisp County coach Brad Harber. “Because in this class, you will have some teams on the road in the first round and they will be the favorites because they have gone through some tough regions.”

And regions 2 and 5-3A are without a doubt the most difficult regions in the class.

Second-ranked Crisp – at 4.2 points per game – is allowing the fewest points in the class and while Peach County has allowed just 7.6 points per game, fourth in the class, it leads the classification in scoring as of last week. The Trojans are coming off a 58-0 victory over Pike County last week. Crisp defeated Mary Persons 38-7 last week and has shut out three of its five opponents.

In the other top-tier matchup, No. 1 Cedar Grove has allowed just 6.3 points per game, third in class. Fifth-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian has allowed 8.8 points per game, seventh in the class. Cedar Grove is coming off a 70-0 victory over Redan last week. GAC beat Douglass 42-7 last week. For several seasons, GAC has owned 7-3A before reclassing to 5-3A alongside Cedar Grove this year.

“The region switches have definitely made it more exciting during the regular season,” Cedar Grove coach Miguel Patrick said of GAC joining 5-3A and Peach and Crisp gathering in 2-3A. “GAC has a top flight program and some of the best coaches in the state. Coach (Tim) Hardy does a great job. I think this will be a true test of where we are at this point in the season with us being so far behind everybody else with the COVID restrictions that the county placed on us.”

Cedar Grove’s season was delayed until the beginning of October by DeKalb County Schools and the Saints, the 3A defending champions, are just three games into the season. After victories over Class 7A Milton (14-7), Carver-Atlanta (35-13) and Redan last week, Greater Atlanta Christian Cedar Grove’s first real test this season.

“They are a complete team,” Greater Atlanta Christian coach Hardy said of the Saints. “I would not call them an offensive team or a defensive team. They are really good on both sides of the ball. And have been for many years.”

Let’s run it.

Below are previews of both games courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily.

Cedar Grove at GAC (Courtesy or Georgia High School Football Daily)

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

Records, rankings: Cedar Grove is 3-0 overall, 2-0 in Region 5-3A and No. 1; Greater Atlanta Christian is 5-0, 2-0 and No. 5.

Last meeting: Cedar Grove won 28-18 in the 2019 Class 3A semifinals.

Things to know: The winner of this game will take sole possession of first place in Region 5-3A. Sandy Creek also is unbeaten in region play but has played one fewer game and had to cancel this week’s game against Westminster over COVID-19 concerns. Cedar Grove won the two previous meetings with GAC, both coming in the playoffs. Cedar Grove QB Austin Smith (committed to Eastern Michigan) was the team’s leading rusher in its first two games (16 carries, 159 yards) but passed for a season-high 219 yards and three TDs in a lopsided victory over Redan last week. Second-leading rusher Rashod Dubinion, who had touchdown runs of 62 and 26 yards against GAC last year, ran for two TDs and scored on a 55-yard punt return last week. GAC’s Deymon Fleming has passed for 967 this season but has picked up the pace in the past three games, averaging 255 yards and throwing for eight of his 10 touchdowns. He also is the team’s second-leading rusher with 153 yards, trailing junior Gannon Hearst’s 205. Brooks Miller has 407 receiving yards.

Peach County at Crisp County (Courtesy or Georgia High School Football Daily)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cougar Den, Cordele

Records, rankings: Peach County is 4-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 2-3A and No. 4; Crisp County is 5-0, 2-0 and No. 2.

Last meeting: Peach County won 35-7 in 2009.

Things to know: Given the region implications, this is the biggest game played in Cordele since at least 1997, when Peach beat Crisp in a game that decided Region 2-3A. Both teams have won four consecutive region titles. Crisp has won 17 straight region games. Peach has won 29 straight. Neither team has allowed more than 14 points in a game. That includes Peach County’s lone defeat, a 14-7 decision to Northside of Warner Robins. Crisp’s offense is erratic but explosive. QB A.J. Lofton rushed for 154 yards against Eagle’s Landing Christian. QB A.J. Brown rushed for 154 against Upson-Lee. RB Marquise Palmer has rushed for 2,505 yards in his career. The defense has a number of Division I prospects, led by LB Chris Paul, who is committed to Arkansas. Peach County has a major D-I recruit of its own, four-year starter Terrence Ferguson, a tackle committed to Alabama. Sophomore QB Christian Martin passed for 231 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 58-0 victory over Pike County. The Trojans have averaged 52 points since their opener and leads 3A in scoring per game at 42.8.

Another game to watch: Third-ranked Oconee County (6-0) will put its flawless record on the line in a 8-3A game against a Hart County program that struggled with losses to Wayne County (29-13) and White County (50-47) in the first two weeks of the season. The Bulldogs beat North Hall 55-22 on Sept. 22 before losing to 4A No. 2 Jefferson 26-19 on Oct. 2. Last week, Hart beat Franklin County 36-21. This game will be measuring stick toward the caliber of Oconee County at the season’s mid-point. Hart, Oconee and Monroe Area are each tied at 1-0 in region play.

Class 3A Top 10 schedule

1. Cedar Grove (3-0) travels to Greater Atlanta Christian (5-0) for a 5-3A game.

2. Crisp County (5-0) hosts Peach County (4-1) for a 2-3A game.

3. Oconee County (6-0) hosts Hart County (2-3) for a 8-3A game.

4. Peach County (4-1) travels to Crisp County (5-0) for a 2-3A game.

5. Greater Atlanta Christian (5-0) hosts Cedar Grove (3-0) for a 5-3A game.

6. Appling County (5-0) hosts Long County (0-6) in a 1-3A game.

7. Rockmart (4-1) hosts Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (1-4) for a 6-3A game.

8. Pierce County (4-1) travels to Brantley County (0-6) in a 1-3A game.

9. Sandy Creek (2-2) is off this week.

10. Cherokee Bluff (6-0) is off this week.

Records by Region

Region Reg. Pct. Tot. Pct.

1-3A 9-18 0.333 9-18 0.333

2-3A 10-8 0.556 10-8 0.556

3-3A 6-10 0.375 6-10 0.375

4-3A 10-14 0.417 10-14 0.417

5-3A 9-7 0.563 9-7 0.563

6-3A 7-10 0.412 7-10 0.412

7-3A 14-13 0.519 14-13 0.519

8-3A 20-8 0.714 20-8 0.714

Unbeaten programs remaining: Appling County (5-0), Crisp County (5-0), GAC (5-0), Cedar Grove (3-0), Cherokee Bluff (6-0), Oconee County (6-0).