Class 4A Blog: What to watch for Round 2

The Sweet 16 kicks off on Friday with eight must-see matchups that today’s blog will breakdown. Starting in the upper left quadrant, Stephenson (7-3) will visit No. 1 ranked Cedartown (11-0). The Jaguars had a 40-38 last-minute comeback thriller over Pace Academy in the first round and Cedartown is coming off a 49-0 rout over Cedar Shoals that saw the Bulldogs surge to a 42-0 halftime lead. Stephenson’s win was fueled by a heroic effort by Devin Ingram—who finished with 363 all-purpose yards. The winner of Stephenson/Cedartown will faceoff in the quarterfinals with the winner of Burke County and host Bainbridge. The Bears and the Bearcats are one of two top 10 showdowns this week in Class 4A with No. 8 Burke County facing the No. 6 Bainbridge. Burke County is coming off a thrilling 23-20 win over LaGrange in the first round and Bainbridge impressed with its 58-20 win over a talented Baldwin team. Keenan Phillips had three first-half touchdowns in Bainbridge’s triumph and notched his fifth-straight 100-plus yard rushing game.

The bottom left quadrant will see Lovett travel to No. 2 ranked North Oconee after scoring a 13-6 win over rival Westminster last week. North Oconee coasted to a 49-6 win over Sonoraville to improve to 11-0 and was led by a brilliant performance by three-star receiver and defensive back Khalil Barnes—who scored three touchdowns, including a 55-yard interception return and a 93-yard rushing score. No. 7 Wayne County will visit No. 3 Perry in the classification’s other top 10 showdown. Wayne County was 0-9 last season, but has been led by former Rabun County head coach Jaybo Shaw this year after entering the classification from its previous home in Class 5A. The Jackets are a run-heavy team with Matthew Fuller leading the way. Perry’s offensive attack is led by quarterback Armar Gordon, a 2,000-plus yard passer. Additionally, the Panthers have a 1,000 yard receiver in Dakari Anderson and a 1,000 yard rusher in Demetrious Carter.

The top right quadrant of the bracket will see if Spalding can take down defending state champion Benedictine and if Walnut Grove can pull off a victory at Class 4A newcomer Stockbridge. Benedictine impressed with its 34-10 win over Whitewater last week and Stockbridge scored a 28-14 win over Hapeville Charter. Walnut Grove posted its first-ever playoff win in school history with its 17-13 victory over Heritage-Catoosa and Spalding was a 26-7 winner over Westover.

The bottom right quadrant features Cairo at Troup and Central-Carroll at Holy Innocents’. The Cairo game will be determined by the Syrupmakers ability to limit the big-play ability of Troup quarterback Taeo Todd—who accounted for 180 passing yards and 106 rushing yards in the first round. Holy Innocents’ was plus 24 in the turnover margin during the regular season and will challenge Central-Carroll with its triple-option attack. Meanwhile, Central-Carroll’s offense has been able to move the ball at will all season so limiting turnovers will be an imperative to win this game.