Top 10 games of first round

Class 7A

Walton at Colquitt County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium, Moultrie

Records, rankings: Walton is 6-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 3-7A and No. 9; Colquitt County is 8-2, the No. 2 seed from 1-7A and No. 6.

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 35-12 in the second round of the 2020 Class 7A playoffs.

Things to know: This is the only Class 7A first-round game between ranked teams. Walton has been as high as No. 4; Colquitt was No. 3 for a week. Colquitt County and Walton have played twice, with Colquitt winning in 2020 and 2017, both in the second round. In the 2020 game, Colquitt’s Charlie Pace rushed for 118 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. He has surpassed 100 yards six times this season on the way to 1,112. Walton also has an outstanding running back. Sutton Smith (committed to Memphis) has 783 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage on 117 touches. The teams have two common opponents. Colquitt County beat Marietta 28-25 and lost to Lowndes 52-31. Walton beat Lowndes 34-28 and lost to Marietta 42-14. Expect a high-scoring game. Colquitt County’s average score is 39-23. Walton’s is 35-29. Both are inside the top 10 in Class 7A scoring but outside the top 20 in points allowed.

Winner plays: Alpharetta/Archer winner

Class 6A

Creekview at Carrollton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Grisham Stadium, Carrollton

Records, rankings: Creekview is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-6A and No. 10; Carrollton is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 5-6A and No. 6.

Last meeting: Carrollton won 31-14 in 2009.

Things to know: This is one of four first-round games between top-10 teams. Creekview finished third in Region 7 after seven-point losses to Riverwood and Cambridge, the top two seeds. Mason Hicks threw for a season-high 292 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 28-20 victory that ruined Johns Creek’s bid for the region title. Hicks has thrown for 1,515 yards and rushed for 534 this season. Tyler Stevens has 761 yards rushing and 341 receiving with 17 touchdowns. He’s gone over 1,000 yards from scrimmage the past two seasons. Carrollton was staring at the No. 4 seed until a last-minute rally to beat Douglas County 35-31 last week. M.J. Morris (committed to N.C. State) caught a 49-yard pass from WR Terrell Carmichael on fourth-and-13 to keep the winning drive alive. Morris has thrown for 2,458 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. Carrollton has won six consecutive first-round games and made the quarterfinals five straight seasons. Creekview is 1-8 all-time in the first round, last advancing in 2018, when the Grizzlies reached the quarterfinals under current Grayson coach Adam Carter.

Winner plays: Alcovy

Johns Creek at Rome

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Barron Stadium, Rome

Records, rankings: Johns Creek is 7-3, the No. 4 seed from Region 7-6A and unranked; Rome is 8-2, the No. 1 seed from 5-6A and No. 6.

Last meeting: Johns Creek won 38-14 in 2011.

Things to know: Rome finished tied with Carrollton and South Paulding for first place in 5-6A but emerged as the No. 1 seed via the point-differential tiebreaker. It is the Wolves’ fourth region title in six years. Johns Creek could have won Region 7 with a victory over Creekview last week. Instead, the Gladiators lost 28-20 and fell all the way to the No. 4 seed. Rome has won six consecutive first-round games, while Johns Creek is 1-5 all-time in the first round. Both teams have a 2,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a receiver closing in on 1,000 yards. Johns Creek QB Kyle Durham is 110-of-184 passing for 2,002 yards and 22 touchdowns. Tylan Johnson has rushed for 1,159 yards and 10 TDs on 178 carries, and Joshua Thompson has 925 yards and 15 TDs on 31 receptions. Rome sophomore QB Reece Fountain is 158-of-233 passing for 2,067 yards and 15 TDs. Bryson Hill has run for 1,004 yards and 17 TDs on 139 carries, and Martel Hight has 55 catches for 837 yards and two TDs. The teams have one common opponent – Carrollton lost to Rome 45-27 and beat Johns Creek 41-28.

Winner plays: Houston County/Evans winner

South Paulding at Cambridge

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Cambridge High School Stadium, Milton

Records, rankings: South Paulding is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-6A and unranked; Cambridge is 8-1, the No. 2 seed from 7-6A and No. 9.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Both teams tied for first place in their regions but failed to earn the No. 1 seed because of tiebreakers. South Paulding was tied with Carrollton and Rome in 5-6A but settled for the No. 3 seed when it came up short in point differential. Cambridge tied with Riverwood in 7-6A but lost to the Raiders in the head-to-head matchup. Cambridge, which opened in 2012, got its first playoff victory when it beat Kell in the first round last year. South Paulding missed the playoffs last year but is in the postseason for the fifth time in nine years. Both teams have 2,000-yard passers. Cambridge senior Zach Harris is 124-of-216 for 2,111 yards and 21 touchdowns, and South Paulding junior Kasen Weisman is 120-of-191 for 2,035 yards and 17 TDs. South Paulding, the more balanced of the two offensively, also has a 1,000-yard rusher in Jamarion Wilcox, who has run for 1,288 yards on 179 carries. Both teams have scoring averages in the mid-30s, but Cambridge has allowed about half as many points (15.0 per game compared to 28.9).

Winner plays: Grovetown/Lee County winner

Class 5A

Blessed Trinity at Southwest DeKalb

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, James R. Hallford Stadium, Clarkston

Records, rankings: Blessed Trinity is 6-4, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-5A and No. 9; Southwest DeKalb is 6-4, the No. 2 seed from 5-5A and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Blessed Trinity finished third in Region 7-5A behind Cartersville and Calhoun and will be playing a first-round playoff game on the road for the first time since 2003. The Titans have never faced Southwest DeKalb but are 35-19-1 all-time against teams from DeKalb County. Blessed Trinity’s Justice Haynes is a four-star recruit and the No. 4 junior running back nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He missed three games early in the year but finished the regular season with a Class 5A-best 1,654 yards rushing. Southwest DeKalb lost at Eastside 3-0 in the first round last season and is 1-7 in its last eight first-round games. The Panthers started this season with losses to Stockbridge, Stephenson and Lithia Springs but have since won six of seven, including five of six in region play. They get about 61% of their offense from the running game. Billy Johnson and James Carswell average almost 180 yards per game combined. Both are among the top 10 in DeKalb County in average yards per game.

Winner plays: Veterans/Woodward Academy winner

Coffee at Creekside

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Arrowhead Stadium/The Swamp, Fairburn

Records, rankings: Coffee is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-5A and No. 7; Creekside is 8-2, the No. 2 seed from 3-5A and No. 5.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Watch the game: On television on GPB

Things to know: This is the only Class 5A first-round game between ranked teams. Creekside’s losses are to No. 1 Cartersville and No. 2 Woodward Academy. Coffee’s losses are to No. 3 Ware County and No. 4 Warner Robins. Coffee, a semifinalist last season, has won seven straight first-round games. This is Coffee’s 15th consecutive playoff game on the road dating to 2017. Coffee is 10-4 in those games. Creekside has won three straight first-round games. Creekside is 0-6 against South Georgia teams since Eric Berry led the Seminoles to a 2006 victory over Glynn Academy. Both teams are more known for their defenses. Creekside is allowing nine points per game, second-best in Class 5A. Coffee allows 12 per game, fifth-best. Coffee’s standout offensive player is Maurice Turner, who has 948 all-purpose yards in only seven games. Creekside’s is Nyqua Lett, who has thrown for 1,443 yards and rushed for 531.

Winner plays: Cass/St. Pius winner

Class 3A

GAC at Cherokee Bluff

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Yonah Field, Flowery Branch

Records, rankings: Greater Atlanta Christian is 4-6, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-3A and unranked; Cherokee Bluff is 10-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-3A and No. 10.

Last meeting: Greater Atlanta Christian won 35-0 in 2019.

Things to know: Until now, Greater Atlanta Christian hadn’t done worse than 7-3 in the regular season since 2009. All six losses have come against teams ranked when they played or later. A Class 3A semifinalist the past two seasons, GAC has won 10 straight first-round playoff games. GAC’s best players have been WR/DB Will Hardy (900 all-purpose yards, team-leading 117 tackles; committed to Virginia) and OL/DL Addison Nichols (committed to Tennessee). Cherokee Bluff, a Hall County school that opened in 2018, is the fifth school in GHSA history to win two region titles in its first four seasons, first since Spalding in 2001-02. The Bears are the first Hall County team to go 10-0 in a regular season since Gainesville in 2009. Cherokee Bluff is top five in Class 3A scoring (44.3 per game) and points allowed (8.9) but hasn’t played a top-10 team this season, or since 2019, coincidentally against GAC. Cherokee Bluff’s best players have been RB Jayquan Smith (1,368 yards rushing) and OL/DL Mateo Guevara (committed to Middle Tennessee).

Winner plays: Johnson-Savannah/Appling County winner

Hart County at Ringgold

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Don Patterson Field, Ringgold

Records, rankings: Hart County is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-3A and unranked; Ringgold is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 6-3A and No. 9.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: This is one of only four first-round games that the computer Maxwell Ratings pegs as a pure tossup. Hart County has been ranked most of the season. Its only losses are against No. 1 Monroe Area (35-21) and No. 2 Oconee County (35-13). Both teams average 38 points per game and are heavy-run teams. Hart County’s J.L. Lackey has rushed for 1,220 and 19 touchdowns yards in only six games. Nori Moore has rushed for 940 yards. Ringgold fell short last week in its bid to win a first region title when beaten by Rockmart 18-6. Kori Dumas has rushed for 1,302 yards, making him the first 1,000-yard regular-season rusher in school history. Ringgold is trying to reach the second round for the first time since its 2013 Class 3A semifinal team. Ringgold’s average score 38-11 against the class’s 43rd-toughest schedule, according to Maxwell. Hart’s average score is 38-22 against the second-toughest schedule.

Winner plays: Jackson/Thomson winner

Class 2A

Dodge County at Fitzgerald

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jaycee Stadium, Fitzgerald

Records, rankings: Dodge County is 7-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 3-2A and No. 9; Fitzgerald is 8-2, the No. 2 seed from 1-2A and No. 4.

Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 15-6 on Sept. 10.

Things to know: Fitzgerald held Dodge County to 119 total yards and 1-of-12 on third-down conversions in its victory during the regular season. DeNorris Goodwin rushed for 81 yards on 17 carries. Fitzgerald leans heavily on the run, averaging more than 250 yards per game in region play. Goodwin (193 yards), Xavier Walker (97) and Jakorrian Paulk (90) all had big games in a 46-26 victory over Cook two weeks ago. LB E.J. Lightsey, a preseason all-state pick, is a three-star prospect who has committed to Florida. The Purple Hurricane reached the semifinals or beyond in five of the past season seasons. Dodge County, led by first-year head coach Ray Hardin, is in the playoffs for a school-record 10th consecutive season. The Indians finished in third place in a region that had four teams in the top 10 for the majority of the season (Bleckley County, Northeast and Washington County are the others). Freshman QB Duke Johnson has passed for 1,020 yards and run for 599. Demron Gordon and Lamarie Mirchell also have more than 500 yards rushing.

Winner plays: Bremen/Fannin County winner

Class A Public

Manchester at Georgia Military

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Davenport Field, Milledgeville

Records, rankings: Manchester is 5-4, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-A Public and unranked; Georgia Military is 10-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-A Public and No. 9.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Georgia Military is a region champion for the first time since 1960 and a 10-game winner for the first time since 1934. The Bulldogs were one of two Class A Public schools to finish the regular season 10-0 (No. 4 Metter was the other). Georgia Military’s player to watch is sophomore RB/LB Jessie Washington. He has rushed for right at 1,000 yards and is the team’s second-leading tackler. The Bulldogs are allowing just 5.6 points per game, best in Class A and second-best in the state behind Collins Hill’s 5.44. Manchester, in its first season under coach Stephen Holmes, spent about half the season in the top 10 but dropped out after consecutive losses to Macon County and Schley County in October. The Blue Devils are in the state playoffs for the seventh straight season, one short of tying the school record. Manchester leans on a running game led by Zae Marshall and Anthony Bartholomew, who have combined for 1,500 yards. Freshman Keelan Whitaker ran for 137 yards on eight carries in a 52-7 victory over Taylor County last week.

Winner plays: McIntosh County Academy/Mitchell County winner

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