Class A Blog: Round Two matchups

Previews courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily.


Upper Left Bracket

R3 No. 2 Savannah Country Day (4-6) at R5 No. 1 Holy Innocents’ (10-1) Savannah County Day is in the second round for the third time in five seasons after a 21-19 victory over Stratford Academy. The Hornets trailed 13-0 in the second quarter, but QB Barry Kleinpeter (committed to New Hampshire) had touchdowns passing and rushing in a 21-0 run. Kleinpeter passed for 1,304 yards and ran for 537 in the regular season. Sixth-ranked Holy Innocents’ dominated North Cobb Christian 32-0 to reach the second round for the third time in four seasons. It was the sixth consecutive game, and eighth overall, in which the Golden Bears held an opponent to a touchdown or less. William Wright threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Drew Bomar and scored on a 7-yard run. Nick Morgan (5 yards) and Jacobi Murray (13 yards) also had touchdown runs.

R8 No. 2 Athens Academy (8-3) at R2 No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian (5-6) These schools have met four times, all in the playoffs, with ELCA winning all four by an average margin of 22 points. That includes state championship games in 2017 and 2018. No. 10 Athens Academy beat Mount Pisgah Christian 27-21 in overtime last week for its sixth consecutive first-round victory. Sam Bush rushed for 129 yards on 27 carries and scored the game-winning TD in overtime. Gio Newsome returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown. ELCA is ranked No. 5 despite its losing record, which came against a rugged schedule. The Chargers advanced to the second round when Heritage of Newnan forfeited. Junior Charlie Gilliam has passed for 1,417 yards this season, and sophomore Brandon Hood has run for 991. ELCA won five straight titles from 2015 to 2019 and lost in the quarterfinals last year.

Lower Left Bracket

R1 No. 2 Tattnall Square (9-1) at R7 No. 1 Darlington (10-1) Tattnall Square defeated Savannah Christian 28-21 last week for its first playoff victory since its 2016 team reached the semifinals. Tattnall Square trailed 21-14 in the fourth quarter, but Yasir Saleem ran for two touchdowns, including the game-winner with about two minutes left. The Trojans’ only loss came against First Presbyterian, 20-0, in the game that ultimately decided the Region 1 title. Eighth-ranked Darlington, the Region 7 champion, has won 10 straight since a 14-13 loss to Whitefield Academy in the opener. The Tigers beat Hebron Christian 42-17 last week for their sixth consecutive first-round win. Caleb Thompson ran for 131 yards on 10 carries and had a 23-yard touchdown reception, Patrick Shelley had 99 yards rushing and 64 yards passing.

R8 No. 3 Athens Christian (7-4) at R4 No. 1 Trinity Christian (10-0) Athens Christian won a GHSA playoff game for the first time in school history when it defeated St. Francis 42-39 last week. The Eagles will have a tough task this week against a Trinity Christian team that has destroyed everything in its path en route to the No. 1 ranking and an 11-0 record. The Lions, who had a first-round bye, have beaten their opponents by an average score of 54-8, and their closest game was a 34-3 win over No. 5 Eagle’s Landing Christian on Oct. 1. Athens Christian’s Johne’ss Davis (offers from Army and Navy) was the leading rusher in Class A Private during the regular season with 1,531 yards and added 122 to his total in the first round. Trinity’s David Dallas was the No. 2 passer (2,624 yards), and his brother Josh Dallas was the No. 4 receiver (801) yards. Both brothers are committed to Western Michigan.

Upper Right Bracket

R4 No. 2 Pacelli (8-2) at R6 No. 1 Fellowship Christian (10-1) Pacelli reached the eight-win mark for the first time since 2007 with a 28-14 first-round victory over Landmark Christian. Pacelli led 21-0 at halftime. Jalen Turner ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Caleb Perry was 6-of-7 passing for 50 and ran for 49 yards and a TD on eight carries. Perry has 954 yards passing and 541 rushing for the season. Fourth-ranked Fellowship Christian, in its first season under coach Tim McFarlin, has 10 victories for the fourth straight season after beating George Walton Academy 42-7. Caleb McMickle was 9-of-10 passing for 113 yards and Nick Persiano ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns – all in the first half as the Paladins built a 35-0 lead. Josh Cole intercepted a pass and had 10 tackles, five solo stops and three tackles for losses.

R5 No. 2 Wesleyan (8-3) at R3 No. 1 Calvary Day (11-0) Both teams are in the second round for the seventh time in 10 seasons, with one finals appearance each in that span. Wesleyan won a state tile in 2008, and Calvary Day is seeking its first. Seventh-ranked Wesleyan defeated Christian Heritage 21-14 last week. The Wolves led 21-7 at halftime and held on. Jett Miller was 15-of-23 passing for 244 yards and two touchdowns, pushing him over 2,000 yards for the season (2,114). No. 2 Calvary Day defeated Mount de Sales 49-7 to move within one win of tying the school single-season record. Sophomore QB Jake Merklinger was 13-of-15 passing for 149 yards and four TDs. Merklinger has passed for 2,168 yards, run for 243 and accounted for 32 TDs. Calvary Day won its only previous meeting with Wesleyan, 17-10 in the 2017 second round.

Lower Right Bracket

R4 No. 3 Brookstone (7-3) at R8 No. 1 Prince Avenue Christian (10-1) Brookstone is in the second round for the third time in four seasons after rallying to beat Whitefield Academy 14-10 last week. Brookstone trailed 10-0 in the fourth quarter, but Walter Blanchard scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes, including a 2-yard run for the game-winner with 27 seconds left. Defending champion Prince Avenue Christian advanced when King’s Ridge Christian forfeited in the first round, and a victory this week would put the Wolverines in the quarterfinals for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Sophomore QB Aaron Philo finished the regular season No. 2 in the state in passing with 3,054 yards. His top targets are Bailey Stockton (53 catches, 834 yards, 12 TDs), Ethan Christian (29-786-13) and Elijah Dewitt (46-642-3).

R5 No. 3 Mount Vernon Presbyterian (7-4) at R1 No. 1. First Presbyterian (9-2) Mount Vernon is in the second round for the third time and seeking its first quarterfinal. First Presbyterian won a first-round game for the fifth time since moving to the GHSA in 2010. It was last in a quarterfinal in 2012. Mount Vernon, the No. 3 seed from Region 5, advanced with a 14-7 victory over Mount Paran Christian. Liam O’Toole ran for both touchdowns, including a 47-yarder with 10:36 remaining that was the game-winner. Region 1 champion First Presbyterian defeated Aquinas 21-14, scoring the winning touchdown with about seven minutes left. Griffin Green ran for 137 yards and two TDs, and QB Jakhari Williams was 12-of-14 passing for 161 yards and ran for 41 yards and a touchdown. Green has rushed for 1,002 yards this season, and Williams has passed for 1,548.


Upper Left Bracket

R3 No. 2 Emanuel County Institute (9-2) at R5 No. 1 Macon County (10-0) Both of these top-10 teams most recently made the quarterfinals in 2017. ECI, ranked 10th, beat Terrell County 47-12 last week after leading only 13-12 at halftime. ECI rushed for 357 yards. ECI intercepted two passes, forced a fumble and blocked a punt. P.J. Farnum reached 1,007 yards rushing on the season. Macon County, ranked No. 3, beat Crawford County 35-0. It was the Bulldogs’ fifth shutout. Marlon Mitchell rushed for 190 yards, giving him 1,446 on the season. QB Landon Austin has passed for 1,385 yards and rushed for 452. Macon County and ECI have played only once, with Macon County winning 48-26 in the 2016 semifinals.

R8 No. 2 Lincoln County (8-3) at R2 No. 1 Irwin County (9-2) Lincoln County beat Mount Zion of Carroll County 36-0 in the first round. Tevin Gartrell rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. He has rushed for 1,273 yards on the season. Irwin County, the defending Class A Public champion, beat Turner County 35-12. Damarkas Lundy rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and caught a TD pass. He’s run for 1,086 yards on the season. Cody Soliday has thrown 20 TD passes without an interception. These teams have played twice prior, with Irwin winning in 2017 and Lincoln in 1989.

Lower Left Bracket

R5 No. 4 Manchester (6-4) at R3 No. 3 McIntosh County Academy (6-4) This game matches two teams that pulled upsets in the first round. Manchester beat Region 8 champion Georgia Military 20-8 in the first round. Tre Dunlap had 111 yards from scrimmage on 10 touches. The computer Maxwell Ratings didn’t consider it an upset as Manchester, under first-year coach Stephen Holmes, has been in and around the top 10 against a tough schedule. McIntosh County Academy beat Mitchell County 32-6 last week to reach the second round for the first time since 2016. Jareese Campbell rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and Will Jones ran for 72 and scored three touchdowns. MCA completed only one pass. It went 33 yards for a touchdown. This will be the first meeting between these teams.

R6 No. 2 Trion (10-1) at R4 No. 1 Wilcox County (8-3) Trion RB Rob Brown made history last week as the first Georgia player to rush for 400 yards twice in a career. Two weeks after his first 400-yard game, Brown ran for 448 yards in a 55-21 first-round victory over Social Circle, giving him a state-leading 2,450 yards for the season. Trion, which finished 3-7 a year ago, achieved a 10-win season for the first time since 2003. Wilcox County beat Charlton County 36-26 in the first round. Willie Butts had four receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown. Day Day Lewis scored three touchdowns and surpassed 1,000 yards rushing (1,057) for the season. Wilcox is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2012. Trion beat Wilcox County 20-19 in the 2018 first round, the only other time the two have played.

Upper Right Bracket

R2 No. 3 Turner County (5-6) at R6 No. 1 Bowdon (10-1) The winner of this game will end a quarterfinal dry spell. Turner County last made the quarters in 2008. Bowdon’s last quarterfinal was 2013. Turner County beat Dublin 38-36 last week. Dublin drove to Turner’s 14-yard line in the final minute, but DB Montarius Norris forced a fumble on a sack to finish it. Elijah Stephens rushed for 153 yards. He also scored two conversions and passed for another. Bowdon beat Commerce 35-0 last week. Commerce hadn’t been shut out since 2016. Robert McNeal was 7-of-7 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns, two to Gage Stephens. McNeal has thrown 20 TD passes with only one interception. He’s also scored 11 touchdowns. This will be the first meeting between these teams.

R5 No. 2 Schley County (10-1) at R3 No. 1 Metter (11-0) These are two of highest-scoring teams in Class A Public, though they get their points in different ways. Fifth-ranked Schley averages 41.4 points, fourth-most in the class. The Wildcats could wind up with a 2,000-yard passer (Jay Kanazawa has 2,273 yards), a 1,000-yard rusher (Zayden Walker has 986) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Jalewis Solomon has 913). They beat ACE Charter 50-10 in the first round, scoring their 50 points in the first half. Fourth-ranked Metter is born to run. The Tigers beat Seminole County 42-14 last week as Danny Cheley rushed for 168 yards and scored three touchdowns, one on a blocked punt. Josh Kelly rushed for 86 yards, giving him 1,326 on the season. Two other Metter backs are over 550 yards for a team that averages 45.2 points, second-most in the class. This is the first meeting between these teams.

Lower Right Bracket

R2 No. 2 Brooks County (8-2) at R8 No. 1 Washington-Wilkes (9-2) Brooks County beat Washington-Wilkes 47-7 in the 2020 quarterfinals. Washington-Wilkes will be the home team as the Region 7 champion this time. Washington-Wilkes beat Gordon Lee 28-7 in the first round as QB Dalen Cobb threw for 156 yards and rushed for 80. Cobb, the Class A Public 100 meters champion, has 1,434 yards passing and 1,182 yards rushing on the season. Second-ranked Brooks County beat Montgomery County 49-13 last week. Jamal Sanders passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Willie Brown had 136 yards receiving. Omari Arnold ran for 95 yards, giving him 1,609 on the season. Brooks County averages 46.1 points per game, most in the classification. Washington-Wilkes ranks seventh in scoring at 37.2.

R7 No. 2 Warren County (8-3) at R1 No. 1 Pelham (7-4) Warren County has beaten a ranked opponent in the playoffs each of the past three seasons. It was No. 8 Bowdon in 2019, No. 6 Macon County in 2020 and No. 7 Chattahoochee County last week. Rashad Myers rushed for 208 yards and three touchdowns while Travis Moss ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Warren County attempted only one pass (incomplete). Warren County had been pegged as a 31-point underdog by the computer Maxwell Ratings. Pelham beat Screven County 3-0 last week. LB/RB Jayden Parker had a team-leading eight solo tackles and three stops for losses and contributed 82 rushing yards on five carries. Pelham held Screven County to 73 total yards. This is the first meeting between these teams.