Class 4A Blog: Three newcomers punch tickets to quarterfinals

The Quarterfinals will have three first-ever meetings and a tremendous showdown between No. 1 Cedartown and No. 7 Bainbridge in a rematch of the Bearcats 21-10 win in the 2020 quarterfinals. Bainbridge and Benedictine have recently won state titles, Wayne County’s last championship came in 1959 and Cedartown, North Oconee, Stockbridge, Troup and Holy Innocents’ are all in pursuit of historic first-ever state titles. Additionally, Stockbridge, Wayne County and Holy Innocents’ are the three newcomers to Class 4A that are still alive in the bracket.

North Oconee cruised past Lovett 35-9 on Friday. Dominic Elder rushed for three touchdowns for the host Titans, which led 28-3 at halftime. Elder had touchdown rushes of 4 and 2 yards in the first half and Max Wilson threw both of his touchdowns in the first half as well, finding Cole Davidson for a 17-yard score and Brooks Thompson for a 42-yard score. Lovett made a field goal with under a minute remaining in the first half, and neither team scored again until Elder rushed for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put North Oconee ahead 35-3. North Oconee faces Wayne County at home in the quarterfinals.

The No. 4-ranked Cadets are heading to the quarterfinals for the ninth time in 10 years following a 45-6 rout of visiting Spalding. Benedictine led 21-0 at halftime and 42-6 heading into the final frame thanks to a pair of punt return touchdowns and a pick-six from senior Za’quan Bryan, a rushing score and a touchdown reception from sophomore Na’seir Samuel and a touchdown run from Bryce Baker. Quarterback Luke Kromenhoek finished 11-of-14 for 121 yards.

Host Stockbridge took a 16-0 halftime lead in its 38-6 win over Walnut Grove with a Shelton Lewis fumble recovery touchdown, a Lewis 30-yard touchdown reception from Cobey Thompkins and a 40-yard Preston Wright field goal. Stockbridge added touchdown runs from Jayden Woods (40 yards), Diontre Stone (30) and Jayden Scott (10) before Wright’s 27-yard field goal pushed the lead to 38-0.

Holy Innocents’ advanced to the quarterfinals with a 24-14 win over Central-Carroll. Bainbridge (8-4) was 0-4 against ranked opponents prior to the Bearcats’ 44-0 win over Burke County that results in the program’s third-straight trip to the quarterfinals, Troup defeated Cairo on Saturday and Cedartown crushed Stephenson 48-16.

QUARTERFINAL MATCHUPS

R7#1 Cedartown at R1#1 Bainbridge

R3#2 Wayne County at R8#1 North Oconee

R5#1 Stockbridge at R3#1 Benedictine

R4#1 Troup at R6#1 Holy Innocents’