Class 3A second round loaded with several upset possibilities

#1, Jaiden Patterson, tackles #1 for the Saints during the Cedar Grove at Mill Creek HS football game, September 15, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Jounal Constitution)

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Credit: Jamie Spaar

#1, Jaiden Patterson, tackles #1 for the Saints during the Cedar Grove at Mill Creek HS football game, September 15, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Jounal Constitution)

There are two games between ranked teams, unranked programs trying to upend championship-caliber programs and rather large upset chances in each quadrant of the Class 3A bracket this weekend.

Things could get interesting during the second round of the high school football playoffs.

Crisp County squeaked into the top-10 rankings late in the regular season, and after its first-round 45-20 victory against Hephzibah the Cougars have a chance to upend state-championship favorite No. 3 Mary Persons on the road.

But that’s a tall task.

The Bulldogs are led by sophomore quarterback Mac Nelson and senior running back and Louisville-commitment Duke Watson. Nelson is 84-of-147 passing for 1,410 yards and seven touchdowns, but it’s Watson who can disrupt opposing defenses. He has 195 carries for 1,627 yards and 29 of Mary Persons’ 38 rushing touchdowns.

Crisp County quarterback Hagan Slimp and junior Markevion Hartage run things for the Cougars. Slimp has passed for 11 touchdowns, Hartage for three. Senior Kevon Merrell (seven touchdown runs), senior C.J. Jones (five) lead the run game. Sophomore DeShaun Fedd has seven touchdown receptions.

The other game between ranked teams features higher-ranked No. 4 Savannah Christian traveling more than three hours to play No. 7 Morgan County because of Savannah Christian’s No. 2 seed from Region 3.

Savannah Christian, coming off its four-overtime victory against Peach County, is led by quarterback Blaise Thomas, who is 86-of-127 passing for 1,612 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has passed to senior David Bucey for six touchdowns and junior Kenry Wall for five touchdowns, but it’s the run game that could give Morgan County fits.

Zo Smalls has 170 carries for 1,294 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wall has 55 carries for 691 yards and 11 touchdowns. Thomas added four rushing touchdowns.

Morgan County also has a run game that is led by Jaydon Dorsey. The senior has 164 carries for 1,213 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sophomore Christian Monfort has 63 carries for 536 yards and six touchdowns. Five other players combined for seven rushing touchdowns.

Upset chances from unranked teams: Bremen travels to No. 2 Cedar Grove; Thomasville will play at No. 1 Calvary Day; Wesleyan faces No. 6 Stephens County; Oconee County plays at No. 5 Lumpkin County; Upson-Lee goes to No. 9 Carver-Columbus.

A path to the championship?: After upending defending-champion and No. 8 Sandy Creek 24-21 in the first round, unranked and upset-minded Monroe Area faces Region 7 No. 4 Gilmer in the second round. If the Purple Hurricanes win, they would face Upson-Lee or No. 9 Carver-Columbus in the quarterfinals, then possibly Savannah Christian or Lumpkin County in the semis. Monroe Area already defeated the defending champions and could reach the semifinals from the bottom-right quadrant.

Class 3A second-round schedule

R1 #2 No. 10 Crisp County at R2 #1 No. 3 Mary Persons

R6 #2 Bremen at R5 #1 No. 2 Cedar Grove

R1 #3 Thomasville at R3 #1 No. 1 Calvary Day

R7 #2 Wesleyan at R8 #1 No. 6 Stephens County

R8 #2 Oconee County at R7 #1 No. 5 Lumpkin County

R3 #2 No. 4 Savannah Christian at R4 #1 No. 7 Morgan County

R7 #4 Gilmer at R8 #3 Monroe Area

R2 #2 Upson-Lee at R1 #1 No. 9 Carver-Columbus