Class 3A blog: Region 5 teams poised to make strong bracket runs

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

If you are trying to assess the strength of regions heading into the Class 3A high school football playoffs, you probably want to start with Region 5.

The four-team league has three teams ranked in the top 4 – No. 1 Cedar Grove, No. 3 Sandy Creek and No. 4 Carver-Atlanta – and they are expected to wreak havoc in the brackets as we maneuver toward the Dec. 10 state championship game.

Top-ranked Cedar Grove, the defending champions, has won four state titles since 2016. The Saints open the playoffs in the top-right quadrant against Bremen, the Region 6 No. 4 seed. Assuming the Saints advance in the first two rounds, and Region 3 No. 1-seed Calvary Day does the same, it could make for a true test in the quarterfinals.

Carver-Atlanta, in the top-left quadrant, will face Region 6 No. 2 Ringgold in the first round. The Panthers lost to Cedar Grove in last year’s state title game and enter the postseason wanting another opportunity. Quarterback Bryce Bowens is 109-of-193 passing for 1,507 yards and 11 touchdowns, with seven rushing touchdowns. Zyee’k Mender and Deandre Buchannon each have five touchdown receptions for the Panthers.

Sandy Creek, in the bottom-left quadrant, will play Region 6 No. 3 Coahulla Creek to open the playoffs. Quarterback Geimere Latimer is 111-of-196 passing for 1,761 and 24 touchdowns. He has 88 carries for 484 yards and eight touchdowns. Cameron Watts is the leading receiver with 26 catches for 541 yards and 10 touchdowns and leads a group of seven receivers with touchdown catches.

This quadrant also holds two other strong programs -- Region 8 No. 1-seeded Stephens County and Region 2 No. 1 Peach County.

Other storylines to follow: Keep an eye on unranked Savannah Christian (9-1), which lost 34-28 to second-ranked Calvary Day on Sept. 23. The Raiders will face Region 4 No. 3 Hephzibah in the opening round, and if they win, will play Peach or Crisp County in the second round. Quarterback Paulus Zittrauer is 85-of-135 passing for 1,355 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has rushed for eight touchdowns on 59 carries. David Bucey has 27 receptions for 481 yards and five touchdowns to lead receivers. Sophomore Zo Smalls has 140 carries for 1,076 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Class 3A first-round schedule

All games Saturday

R5 #3 Carver-Atlanta at R6 #2 Ringgold

R8 #4 Monroe Area at R7 #1 Dawson County

R3 #3 Liberty County at R4 #2 Morgan County

R2 #4 Jackson at R1 #1 Thomasville

R6 #3 Coahulla Creek at R5 #2 Sandy Creek

R7 #4 Wesleyan at R8 #1 Stephens County

R4 #3 Hephzibah at R3 #2 Savannah Christian

R1 #4 Crisp County at R2 #1 Peach County

R1 #3 Dougherty at R2 #2 Mary Persons

R4 #4 Salem at R3 #1 Calvary Day

R7 #3 Pickens at R8 #2 Hebron Christian

R6 #4 Bremen at R5 #1 Cedar Grove

R2 #3 Upson-Lee at R1 #2 Carver-Columbus

R3 #4 Long County at R4 #1 Harlem

R8 #3 Oconee County at R7 #2 Lumpkin County

R5 #4 Douglass at R6 #1 Adairsville