Class 4A Blog: Semifinals highlighted by star-power, defensive fortitude and experience

2020 GHSA football championships at Centre Park Stadium.

Credit: Adam Krohn

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2020 GHSA football championships at Centre Park Stadium.

Credit: Adam Krohn

Credit: Adam Krohn

The semifinals are just days away and the four remaining teams vying for the Class 4A championship this season stage a tremendous pair of matchups. We’ll start with the left side of the bracket where No. 4 Cedartown will travel to No. 3 Carver-Columbus. The first thing that stands out about his matchup is that it pins two teams known for their rushing attacks. Carver-Columbus albeit can throw the ball, but the offense is primarily formed around Jaiden Credle—who rushed for 137 yards and both of the Tigers’ touchdowns in their 16-14 quarterfinals win over Dougherty. As a team, Carver-Columbus racked up 319 yards off 46 team carries and that was fueled by a season-high 101 rushing yards by Jamari Riley. Quarterback Devin Riles finished that game with 61 yards passing off 7-of-12 attempts. Cedartown runs the triple option offensively and prides itself on its downhill rushing attack, but quarterback Reece Tanner is also capable of making plays with his arm. Tanner completed 5-of-8 attempts for 111 yards and a touchdown in Cedartown’s 39-25 win over Perry in the quarterfinals. Tanner’s efficient passing was complimented by an outstanding 334-yard ground game off the team’s 53 carries. Leading the rushing department was UGA-commit CJ Washington—who racked up 204 yards and three touchdowns off of 26 carries. Patrick Gardner and Harlem Diamond join Washington as a triple-threat and will all see a lot of action this week against Carver. Defensively, Cedartown has been exceptional at stopping the run and the Bulldogs will try to do what they have done all season—turn opponents one-dimensional by stopping the run and then control time of possession with their offense.

On the opposite side of the bracket, North Oconee and Benedictine will meet for the second time this season. Benedictine won the prior meeting 48-17, but neither the Cadets nor the Titans have lost since that game. Auburn-commit Holden Geriner quarterbacks Benedictine’s offense and he was precise and highly-effective in the quarterfinal win over defending state champion Marist—tossing 227 yards and three touchdowns off 10-of-13 passes. Benedictine also got a monster performance from UGA-baseball commit Justin Thomas—who had 214 rushing, 77 yards receiving and three touchdowns in Benedictine’s win over Cedartown earlier this year. North Oconee head coach Tyler Aurandt and the Titans are making the program’s first-ever semifinal appearance and have an experienced group that is playing as well as any of the semifinal programs heading into kickoff. Quarterback Max Wilson and playmakers Khalil Barnes and Dominic Elder will need to continue playing well to keep the offense moving and allow the Titans’ opportunistic defense to do what they do best. In the quarterfinal win over Bainbridge, Jack Fabris and Brett Biga both had interceptions.