Thomas County Central, Douglas County undefeated heading into semifinals

High school football

Credit: For the AJC

Credit: For the AJC

High school football

Undefeated teams Thomas County Central and Douglas County will be joined by fellow region champions Woodward Academy and Marist in the Class 6A semifinals Friday night.

Woodward Academy, which defeated top-ranked Gainesville in the quarterfinals last week, will travel to Douglas County, which is seeking its first trip to the finals since 1964. Thomas County Central and Marist will renew one of the state’s best rivalries from the 1990s and early 2000s when they meet at Marist’s Hughes Spalding Stadium.

Here’s a look at this week’s semifinal games.

Woodward Academy at Douglas County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tiger Stadium, Douglasville

Records, rankings: Woodward Academy is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 3-6A and No. 10; Douglas County is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-6A and No. 3.

Last meeting: Douglas County won 37-3 in 2005.

Things to know: Woodward Academy advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2019 with a 20-17 victory over top-ranked Gainesville. Landon Walker threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Abdullah with 2:31 remaining for the game-winning score, and Andrew Hines sealed the win with an interception. Hines also had 11 tackles. Abdullah provided Woodward Academy’s first points when he returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown, but the War Eagles trailed 17-7 at halftime. Hudson Hanges kicked two second-half field goals (32 and 48 yards) to get Woodward Academy within striking distance. Douglas County tied a school record for wins and reached the semifinals for the first time since 1988 with a 59-45 victory over Lee County. Douglas County built an early 21-0 lead, saw that lead cut to 31-28 by halftime, then pulled away in the second half. The Tigers rushed for 319 yards, led by Rah’keith Kelly with 14 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown. James Johnson ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns on five carries, had 55 yards receiving and a touchdown on three catches, returned a fumble 35 yards for a touchdown, led the team with 13 total tackles, had two tackles for losses and returned a kickoff 40 yards. Sire Hardaway threw for 172 yards and a touchdown, giving him 2,433 passing yards for the season.

Maxwell Ratings’ projected score: Douglas County 24, Woodward Academy 17

Thomas County Central at Marist

When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Hughes Spalding Stadium, Atlanta

Records, rankings: Thomas County Central is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 1-6A and No. 2; Marist is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-6A and No. 7.

Last meeting: Thomas County Central won 28-21 in 2013.

Things to know: Thomas County Central has won seven of eight all-time meetings with Marist, but the series is best known for the four semifinal games the teams played between 1996 and 2003 that were decided by an average of 5.5 points (Thomas County Central won three of those four). Thomas County Central is back in the semifinals for the first time since 2007 after a 19-16 victory over Rome last week. Drew Reneau kicked a 31-yard field goal on the final play of the game. It was his fourth field goal of the game and gave the Yellow Jackets their only lead. The Yellow Jackets’ lone touchdown came on a 6-yard pass from Jaylen Johnson to Trey Brenton on fourth-and-goal that tied the game 13-13 late in the third quarter. Thomas County Central is the highest-ranked team remaining in the Class 6A field. Marist is in the semifinals for the first time since its 2020 Class 4A championship season after defeating Roswell 48-21. Roswell took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Marist took control with a 27-0 run in an 11-minute span in the second and third quarters. Joseph Pizzo ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Jack Euart ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns and was 4-of-6 passing for 86 yards and two TDs. Euart is the team’s leading rusher for the season with 808 yards and has thrown for 795 yards. Jackson Hughes has 668 rushing yards for the season.

Maxwell Ratings’ projected score: Thomas County Central 24, Marist 14

Quarterfinals

Douglas Co. 59, Lee Co. 45

Woodward Academy 20, Gainesville 17

Marist 48, Roswell 21

Thomas Co. Central 19, Rome 16

Semifinals

Woodward Academy at Douglas Co.

Thomas Co. Central at Marist

Championship

7 p.m., Dec. 12

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta

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