Class 7A blog: Previews of 8 quarterfinal games

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Credit: Jamie Spaar

These are previews of the eight Class 7A quarterfinals ordered as they appear on the draw. They include the computer Maxwell Ratings’ predicted score of the game.

*Lambert (10-1) at North Gwinnett (9-2): Ninth-ranked Lambert’s 45-14 victory over Wheeler last week was the Longhorns’ first playoff win since 2016. A victory Friday would put the 14-year-old Forsyth County school in the quarterfinals for the first time. Lambert rushed for 326 yards in the first round, but the team is normally balanced offensively. QB James Tyre has thrown for more than 1,700 yards, and Brandon Jones has nine TD receptions. North Gwinnett beat Duluth 37-7 last week. Ryan Hall threw three TD passes, and his 53-yard run on North Gwinnett’s first play from scrimmage in the second half made the score 30-7. North Gwinnett’s blue-chip defensive recruits, Kayden McDonald (committed to Ohio State) and Grant Godfrey (committed to Kentucky), scored touchdowns on offense. North Gwinnett, more of a running team, has a 1,000-yard rusher, Julian Walters. North Gwinnett has made the playoffs 18 of the past 19 seasons and made the quarterfinals seven times. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Lambert 28-21

*Harrison (4-7) at Colquitt County (11-0): Harrison was the only Class 7A underdog that won last week. The Hoyas beat Brookwood, a 15-point favorite per the computer Maxwell Ratings, 21-17. Brookwood didn’t have AJC Super 11 QB Dylan Lonergan, who was injured. Harrison QB Braylan Ford scored on a 2-yard run with 4:37 left for the game-winner. Ford was 19-of-30 passing for 228 yards and a touchdown. Harrison gets three-quarters of its total yards passing. Brady Kluse has 1,003 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. Colquitt County, ranked No. 2, beat Pebblebrook 56-16 last week. QB Neko Fann was 12-of-17 passing for 145 yards, went over 4,000 yards passing for his career and threw his 49th and 50th career TD passes. Charlie Pace has more than 3,000 career rushing yards. WR Ny Carr and TE Landen Thomas, both committed to Georgia, round out one of 7A’s best offenses. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Colquitt County 40-0

*Walton (9-2) at Buford (11-0): Sixth-ranked Walton is in the second round for the sixth consecutive season after a 35-21 victory over South Forsyth. Jeremy Hecklinski threw two touchdown passes to Wyatt Sonderman and finished with 321 yards, leaving him just 13 short of 3,000 for the season. Makari Bodiford ran for 130 yards and has 1,379 for the year. Top-ranked Buford beat Peachtree Ridge 63-6 for its 16th consecutive playoff victory. The Wolves outgained Peachtree Ridge 489-81 and had 368 yards rushing. Justice Haynes (committed to Alabama) rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Devin Williams returned an interception for a touchdown. Buford, in its first season in Class 7A, is seeking its fourth consecutive state title. Walton is 1-2 all-time against No. 1 teams. The victory came against Roswell in 2007. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Buford 28-12

*Marietta (5-6) at Carrollton (11-0): Marietta beat Newton 35-0 in the first round. Five of Marietta’s losses came against top-10 teams, so the first-round home victory was no surprise. Unusual was the 303 rushing yards. Jaylen Frazier ran for 187 yards and three touchdowns, one an 84-yarder, on 18 carries. Russell Bey scored on a 76-yard run. Marietta is typically more of a passing team. Fourth-ranked Carrollton beat Lowndes 38-14 last week. Freshman QB Julian Lewis was 20-of-30 passing for 221 yards, raising his season total to 2,820 with 35 touchdowns. Bryce Hicks had 116 yards rushing, 76 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Quin Ackley returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown. The Trojans held Lowndes to 12-of-27 passing with two interceptions and five sacks. Carrollton and Marietta have met twice, both in the 1940s, with Marietta winning each. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Carrollton 30-8

*Parkview (8-3) at Westlake (8-3): This is a game between playoff regulars that have never played each other. Westlake has been in the playoffs each of the past 10 seasons while getting to the quarterfinals or better four times. Parkview has made it eight straight times and made the quarters or better three times. Parkview was the only No. 4 seed to win in Class 7A last week. The Panthers defeated North Paulding 34-28. Khyair Spain rushed for 209 yards, giving him a Class 7A-best 2,167 for the season. Colin Houck was 14-of-24 passing for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Parkview led 34-14 at halftime. No. 10 Westlake won the only 7A game between ranked teams last week when it defeated No. 8 Valdosta 28-13. R.J. Johnson passed for 272 yards. His two TD throws put Westlake up 14-0, and the Lions never trailed. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Westlake 27-21.

*Mill Creek (10-1) at North Cobb (9-2): Mill Creek is ranked No. 3 and North Cobb is No. 5, making this perhaps the most intriguing second-round game in the class. Mill Creek beat Meadowcreek 59-22 last week after scoring five touchdowns on its first 12 offensive plays. Cam Robinson rushed for 129 yards, pushing him to 1,109 for the season. Hayden Clark has thrown for 1,808 yards. North Cobb beat Denmark 42-10 last week with long scoring strikes. Nick Grimstead threw a 75-yard TD pass to T.J. Smith, and David Eziomume scored on runs of 90 and 73 yards on consecutive offensive snaps in the fourth quarter. Mill Creek is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons. North Cobb has lost in the second round as a region champion the past two seasons. A quarterfinal would be North Cobb’s first since 2016. These teams have played each other once, in 2012, with North Cobb winning 42-35 in the quarters. A common opponent this season is No. 1 Buford, which beat North Cobb 21-14 and Mill Creek 39-27. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Mill Creek 27-25.

*Camden County (8-3) at Grayson (9-2): Camden County coach Jeff Herron is making his return to Grayson, where he led the Rams to a 2016 state title in his only season. He’s in his second year back at Camden County, where he won three state titles more than a decade ago. Camden defeated East Coweta 44-33 last week, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a back-and-forth game. Jaden Dailey rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns. Camden feeds whoever has the hot hand in the wing-T. In the final game of the regular season, Deonte Cole rushed for 158 yards in a 48-21 victory over Lowndes, which is the common opponent between these two. Lowndes upset Grayson 24-14 and lost to Camden 49-21. Grayson won its first-rounder 30-3 over Hillgrove. Amari Alston ran a kickoff back for a touchdown after a blocked-punt safety, and Jaylon Williams ran an interception 35 yards for a score. Jeff Davis was 15-of-24 passing for 170 yards. Camden and Grayson rank 2-3 behind Lowndes in victories in the highest class this century but have met only twice, most recently in 2009, each winning once. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Grayson 21-19

*Norcross (8-3) at Milton (8-3): Both teams have reached the second round for five consecutive seasons. Seventh-ranked Milton was the runner-up last year and champion in 2018. Norcross made the semifinals in 2020. These teams last played each other in 2016 with Norcross winning 24-10 in the first round. Norcross beat Mountain View 37-13 in the first round. A.J. Watkins was 21-of-27 passing for 220 yards. He’s thrown for 2,009 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. TE Lawson Luckie, who is committed to Georgia, had nine receptions for 140 yards. Milton beat Cherokee 28-0 after taking a 21-0 halftime lead and never letting the Warriors back in the game. Scott Moskowitz rushed for 159 yards, giving him 893 on the season, and Luke Nickel was 20-of-29 passing for 244 yards. He’s passed for 2,101 this season. Debron Gatling had eight receptions for 104 yards. Owen Phillips had three of Milton’s five sacks. Maxwell Ratings prediction: Milton 28-13