The computer ratings suggest Savannah Christian-Calvary Day final, but semifinal opponents might not agree

The Saints make an onside kick, one of several in the game, during the Cedar Grove at Mill Creek HS football game, September 15, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Jounal Constitution)

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Credit: Jamie Spaar

The Saints make an onside kick, one of several in the game, during the Cedar Grove at Mill Creek HS football game, September 15, 2023. (Jamie Spaar for the Atlanta Jounal Constitution)

If you pay attention to computer ratings, the Maxwell Projections has Savannah Christian advancing to play Calvary Day in the Class 3A high school football finals.

The other teams might have something to say about that Friday night, when top-ranked Calvary Day travels to No. 2 Cedar Grove, and No. 4 Savannah Chrisitan travels to No. 9 Carver-Columbus for the state semifinals.

Arguably the two best teams in the class will face off on the left side of the bracket. Calvary Day is trying to advance for an opportunity to win a program-first state championship. The Cavaliers advanced to the title game in 2013 but lost to Aquinas 27-7. Senior quarterback Jake Merklinger has 33 touchdown passes with a majority of those throws to seniors Caden Arnold and Michael Smith.

Merklinger and senior Trevor Strowbridge have combined for most of the team’s rushing offense, but five players – Ca’den Jones, Edward Coleman, Jordan Tillman, Chase Lucas and James Mobley -- have contributed.

Cedar Grove quarterback E.J, Colson, a Central Florida commitment, has led the Saints to the championship game in the past two seasons with a 56-26 victory in 2021 against Carver-Atlanta. Cedar Grove lost to Sandy Creek in the championship game last season. The Saints won titles in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

The Maxwell Projections favor Calvary Day to win 33-24.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 4 Savannah Christian is trying for its first finals appearance since winning the 2011 Class A championship. The Raiders feature a two-punch rushing attack from juniors Zo Smalls and Kenry Wall. Smalls has 214 carries for 1,594 yards and 27 touchdowns, and Wall has run the ball 87 times for 1,010 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Blaise Thomas is 94-of-143 passing for 1,728 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior David Bucey and Wall have combined for 11 touchdown receptions.

Hosting Carver-Columbus advanced to the Class 4A championship game in 2021 before losing to Benedictine 35-28. The Tigers have one state title -- Class 3A in 2007 – and face a tall task against Savannah Christian. Carver moved past Monroe Area 18-14 in the quarterfinals after outlasting Upson-Lee 8-7 in the second round.

The Maxwell Projections favor Savannah Christian, 27-15.

Class 3A schedule

No. 1 Calvary Day at No. 2 Cedar Grove

No. 4 Savannah Christian at No. 9 Carver-Columbus

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