Class 4A Blog: Semifinal Primer

Benedictine Cadets quarterback Luke Kromenhoek (17) attempts a pass during the first half against the Cedartown Bulldogs in the GHSA Class 4A finals, at Center Parc Stadium, Friday, December 9, 2022, in Atlanta.  (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

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

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

Benedictine Cadets quarterback Luke Kromenhoek (17) attempts a pass during the first half against the Cedartown Bulldogs in the GHSA Class 4A finals, at Center Parc Stadium, Friday, December 9, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

The Class 4A semifinals will feature Stockbridge at Benedictine in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals and Perry at Starr’s Mill in the first-ever meeting between the schools. Benedictine carries a 24-game win-streak and moreover, the Cadets have not lost a game within Class 4A since the 2020 semifinals against Jefferson, which resided in Class 4A at the time. Benedictine is two wins away from joining rare company and achieving a three-peat and has hosted all four rounds of this year’s playoffs. Last round, Bryce Baker had touchdown runs of 28, 12, four and 41 yards as Benedictine rolled over visiting North Oconee 48-26. The Cadets trailed 6-0 early but took leads of 7-6 after one quarter, 21-13 at halftime and 27-13 going into the fourth quarter. Benedictine quarterback Luke Kromenhoek had one touchdown run and tossed a 14-yard scoring strike to La’Don Bryant before Ack Edwards capped off the point production with a two-yard plunge late in the fourth quarter. For North Oconee, Harrison Faulkner had a touchdown run and threw a 26-yard TD pass to Landon Roldan. The Titans also got scores on the ground from Max Wilson and Tate Titshaw.

Stockbridge is the only other remaining semifinalist that is yet to fall within the classification this season and its two losses were to Colquitt County and Douglas County before its active 11-game win-streak. Outside of its 28-24 comeback win over Westminster in the second round, the Tigers have won by 35 ppg against its 10 Class 4A opponents. In the quarterfinals, Jayden Scott had three touchdown runs–including from 43 and 21 yards out–as visiting Stockbridge cruised past Spalding 35-14. The Tigers’ lead was 14-0 both after one quarter and at halftime before they extended it to 21-0 going into the fourth. Spalding finally got on the scoreboard with a 48-yard pass from Cur’Tavian to Cedric Evans, but Stockbridge’s Jayden Howard returned the ensuing onside kick 51 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers also got a 16-yard scoring strike from Cobey Thompkins to Ryan Johnson, while the Jaguars tacked on their second touchdown in the form of a 36-yard connection between Clark and Kywon Davis.

The Perry Panthers were the lone No. 2 seed that advanced to the quarterfinals and now will appear in the semifinals for the first time in school history. Head coach Kevin Smith says the program has been knocking on the door of their ultimate goal in recent seasons and his squad is heathly with the return of quarterback Colter Ginn from a late season injury. The Panthers outpaced Stephenson 34-20 in the quarterfinals. In the win, Perry scored 27 points in a row to take control following an early 7-0 deficit and cruised to a road win over Stephenson. The Panthers led 14-7 at halftime and 27-7 going into the fourth quarter. They got two touchdown runs by Ahmad Gordon, two touchdown passes by Colter Ginn and two field goals by Zach Peacock. Devin Ingram started the scoring for Stephenson with a 10-yard run and added a 24-yard TD on the ground in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars also got a three-yard touchdown run from Matte Barton.

Starr’s Mill is coming off the closest quarterfinal battle and the Panthers earned a thrilling 35-29 to earn the right to host the semifinals for the first time in school history. With the game tied at 29-29, Starr’s Mill quarterback Logan Inagawa launched a 41-yard Hail Mary that Lincoln Delaere caught in the endzone as time expired, giving the Panthers a dramatic road victory. Starr’s Mill led 10-0 after one quarter and 15-0 at halftime before things got crazy in the second half. Central-Caroll pulled to within 22-13 going into the fourth and eventually tied the score with a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion run from Jonaz Walton at the 56-second mark. Unfortunately for the Lions, that was followed by the Panthers’ heroic last-minute drive. Starr’s Mill also got a 26-yard scoring strike from Inagawa to Lathan Hunter, two touchdown runs by Dorsey Benefield and a pair of field goals by Hunter Meeks.

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