Class 4A Blog: Quarterfinals Breakdown

The remaining eight teams in the Class 4A programs will have the opportunity to play in the much-celebrated post-Thanksgiving quarterfinals. Dougherty joins seven region champions in this talented Elite 8 field and all teams are coming in battle-tested and very capable of keeping their hot-streaks going. Here’s a look at each of the matchups:

R1#3 Dougherty (10-2) at R2#1 Carver-Columbus (11-1): Dougherty has had a tremendous 2021 season and has worn the No. 3 seed out of Region 1 extremely well in the playoffs. One major difference this year from The Trojans’ 0-5 finish in a COVID-shortened 2020 season is sophomore Kameron Davis—who is the team’s leading rusher and passer. Davis is the No. 9 ranked prospect in the state for the Class of 2024 and he will be a major impact player for the Trojans in the years to come. Dougherty’s latest playoff win (7-0 over Riverdale) also showcased the team’s defensive fortitude and that trend will have to continue to slow down the No. 3 ranked Tigers this round. Carver has won 11 straight since a 25-22 loss to Lee County in the opener. The Tigers reached the quarterfinals for the second-straight season last Friday with a 52-12 victory over Hapeville Charter. Hapeville was coming off an impressive win over 2020 runner-up Jefferson the previous week. Carver quarterback Devin Riles passed for 180 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 66 yards and he has 1,769 passing yards and 639 rushing yards for the season. Jaiden Credle ran for 165 yards on 15 carries and has racked up 1,737 yards this season. This will be the third all-time meeting between the programs and Carver is 2-0, winning 41-0 in 2018 and 44-8 in 2019.

R7#1 Cedartown (10-1) at R4#1 Perry (11-1): Dougherty’s win over Riverdale was the only close game in the second round. All the other region champions scored massive wins, including Region 7 champion and No. 4 ranked Cedartown, which reached its second consecutive quarterfinal with a 48-14 victory over Cairo. The Bulldogs are averaging 47 points per game during a seven-game winning streak since their only loss, 31-7 against Class 5A quarterfinalist Calhoun on Sept. 23. Cedartown ran for 387 yards against Cairo, with Patrick Gardner (129), Harlem Diamond (113) and C.J. Washington (101) combining for five touchdowns. Diamond, the team’s leading rusher, surpassed 1,000 for the season and has 1,019 with 19 touchdowns. This will be the first-ever meeting between the programs and Cedartown will have a tremendous defense on the field that has allowed just 9.5 ppg this season. No. 7 ranked Perry coach Kevin Smith has led the Panthers to a school-record 11 victories this season. The Panthers beat Flowery Branch 42-7 last week to reach their second straight quarterfinal and like Cedartown, they have a very talented defense that is giving up just 9.67 ppg. Junior quarterback Armar Gordon was 8-of-15 passing for 142 yards and two touchdowns last week against Flowery Branch and he now has 2,715 passing yards and and 29 touchdowns this season. Traveon Wright and Casson Clark each returned interceptions for touchdowns. Perry’s only loss was a 31-26 defeat to Spalding. The Panthers responded with a 37-24 win over Washington County and then closed out Region 4 with a 4-0 stretch that included a 152-8 scoring advantage. Perry defeated a talented Hardaway team 31-12 in the first round and then had that impressive 42-7 win over Flowery Branch. Cedartown had a similar midseason loss and has been on a warpath ever since with its closest margin of victory being its 57-23 trouncing of Northwest Whitfield.

R6#1 Marist (10-1) at R3#1 Benedictine (10-2): In Class 2A, No. 1 Rabun County will visit No. 2 Thomasville and in Class 4A, No. 1 Marist will visit No. 2 Benedictine in another highly-anticipated No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle. Todd Holcomb and the Georgia HS Football Daily accurately described this game as being between two teams that have been destroying the competition. Neither team has lost within Class 4A this season. Marist’s loss came 14-9 to Woodward Academy and the War Eagles have won nine-straight since. That win-streak includes an average margin of victory of 34 ppg. Benedictine’s lone losses came to Christopher Columbus (FL) and Beaufort (SC) and they have racked up a 10-game winning-streak since. The Cadets have posted a 40-point average margin of victory their last 10 games. Marist is the reigning state champs and are making their ninth quarterfinal appearance in the last 10 seasons and Benedictine is in its eighth quarterfinal in the last nine seasons. This will be their first meeting since 2005. Marist owns a 9-1-1 all-time record in the series and Benedictine’s last win over Marist occurred all the way back in 1946. Marist rushed for 283 yards and got touchdowns from seven different players in a 48-7 victory over LaGrange last week. Quinn Gooding rushed for 108 yards on six carries and scored on a 5-yard run on the War Eagles’ opening possession. Marist limited LaGrange to 133 total yards. Benedictine quarterback Holden Geriner is committed to Auburn and was 11-of-14 passing for 189 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-7 second-round victory over Luella. Za’Quan Bryan caught two TD passes and finished with 105 receiving yards, pushing him over the 1,000-yards mark for the season (1,072). Geriner has thrown for 2,538 yards with 26 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Benedictine is averaging 51 ppg this season and has won its two playoff games 122-7 (59-0 win versus Thomas County Central in the first round). Additionally, Justin Thomas has racked up 1,160 rushing yards off 109 carries and has a team-high 23 rushing touchdowns this season.

R8#1 North Oconee (9-3) at R1#1 Bainbridge (9-3): In the bottom right quadrant of the bracket will be a pair of red-hot teams that have surged late in the season. Both teams were 1-3 after the fifth week of the regular season, and come into this week’s game as region champions with eight-game winning streaks. North Oconee has held six of eight opponents in the streak to a touchdown or less, including Spalding in a 37-0 victory last week. Khalil Barnes scored on a 53-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, and the Titans led 23-0 at halftime. Rodrick Finch and Dominic Elder added rushing touchdowns in the second half as the defense continued stifling a talented Spalding team. Bainbridge had 436 yards of total offense in a 48-7 second-round victory over Northwest Whitfield. Kennan Phillips ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and Bo Smith was 11-of-17 passing for 255 yards and three scores. Phillips has rushed for 687 yards and Smith has passed for 1,970 yards this season. Bainbridge limited Northwest Whitfield to minus-4 yards rushing on 20 carries and 242 total yards. The Bearcats have held five of eight opponents to eight points or less during their winning streak. Bainbridge is in the quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons. North Oconee is making its first appearance since 2014 and this will be the first-ever meeting between the programs.