Top 10 games of Week 4

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Benedictine at Ware County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Waycross

Records, rankings: Benedictine is 2-1 and No. 1 in Class 4A; Ware County is 2-0 and No. 3 in 5A.

Last meeting: Benedictine won 49-42 in 2021.

Things to know: These southeast Georgia programs played each other for the first time in 2020, and each has won once. Those games and this one have featured teams with top-five rankings. Gradiated from each this season are their best quarterbacks in program history – Benedictine’s Holden Geriner and Ware County’s Thomas Castellanos – which suggests this will be a lower-scoring affair than last year’s shootout, when Geriner passed for 440 yards. Za’Quan Bryan, who had 186 of those receiving yards, is back. New Benedictine QB Luke Kromenhoek is 31-of-53 passing for 459 yards and six touchdowns in about eight quarters of play. Benedictine’s two victories are by shutout (vs. Jenkins and Westminster). Benedictine lost to Florida power Christopher Columbus 41-15. Ware County’s new quarterback is Nikaeo Smith, who is 27-of-42 passing for 449 yards. WR Jarvis Hayes has receiving totals of 124 and 132 yards in two games. Ware has beaten Richmond Hill 20-7 and Baldwin 41-3.

Cedartown at Calhoun

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Phil Reeve Stadium, Calhoun

Records, rankings: Cedartown is 3-0 and No. 3 in Class 4A; Calhoun is 2-1 and No. 4 in 5A.

Last meeting: Calhoun won 31-7 in 2021.

Things to know: These northwest Georgia teams first played in 1927, and Cedartown leads the series 17-3-1, although they’ve met only twice since 1985, with Calhoun winning both. This time, Cedartown is favored, with the computer Maxwell Ratings putting the Bulldogs as an 11-point choice. Cedartown has blown out Rockmart, Callaway and Sequoyah, winning by an average score of 36-7. Cedartown averages 302.7 rushing yards and 92.8 passing yards per game. Harlem Diamond has rushed for 284 yards and four touchdowns and caught a 61-yard TD pass. All-state LB Eli Barrow is averaging 11 solo tackles per game, nearly one-third of his team’s total. Calhoun has beaten Gardendale, Ala., 31-30 and Creekview 26-21 after an opening loss to Blessed Trinity. The Yellow Jackets trailed in both victories. Calhoun’s top player is probably RB Caden Williams, though the 1,500-yard rusher from 2021 hasn’t gone over 100 yards yet this season as Calhoun, showcasing QB Trey Townsend, has been more of a passing team this year, averaging 218 yards by air.

Colquitt County at Lee County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Trojan Field, Leesburg

Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 3-0 and No. 4 in Class 7A; Lee County is 3-0 and No. 2 in 6A.

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 54-17 in 2015.

Things to know: Colquitt County is 10-0 all-time against Lee County, though almost all those games were played before Lee became a significant statewide player. Both teams have been dominant in their 3-0 starts this season. Colquitt is winning by an average score of 36-4, though Lee will be the Packers’ first stringent test. Preseason all-state RB Charlie Pace leads his region in rushing with 299 yards while averaging 11.5 yards per carry. Neko Fann is 33-of-53 passing for 400 yards and seven touchdowns. Ny Carr (10-138) and Landen Thomas (7-89) are the leading receivers. Both are committed to Georgia. Colquitt’s numbers are deflated by blowouts and lightning-shortened games. Lee County’s average score is 35-6, and its best win was a 26-10 decision against Warner Robins. Ousmane Kromah has rushed for 366 yards on 10.2 yards per carry playing only two games. Lee County is averaging only 13 passes per game, historically low under coach Dean Fabrizio, but the Trojans haven’t needed to pass much so far.

Columbia at Cartersville

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville

Records, rankings: Columbia is 3-0 and No. 5 in Class 2A; Cartersville is 3-0 and No. 1 in 5A.

Last meeting: Cartersville won 42-7 in the first round of the 2015 Class 4A playoffs.

Things to know: Columbia made waves in the opener by winning against Class 7A Camden County 13-10 as a 34-point underdog. Winning this week – against a No. 1-ranked team on the road as a 28-point underdog – might top that. Columbia last beat a No. 1 team in 1979 (Avondale) and a ranked opponent of any kind in 2014 (Cedar Grove). Plus, Columbia is a much smaller school, though not without weapons for the fight. Columbia’s player to watch is Jaden Baugh, a four-star junior recruit who has 147 rushing yards, 111 receiving yards and 14 solo tackles. Kenyon Partridge has four sacks. Cartersville is coming off a 28-20 victory over Allatoona in which the Purple Hurricanes trailed 20-0 late in the third quarter. Freshman Nate Russell came off the bench for injured starter Paul Gamble to lead the rally. The two are 36-of-62 passing for 563 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Cartersville is 78-1 in regular-season games since 2014 and last a home regular-season game in 2011.

Fitzgerald vs. Madison County (Fla.)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday, Glynn County Stadium, Brunswick

Records, rankings: Fitzgerald is 3-0 and No. 1 in Class 2A; Madison County is 2-0 and ranked No. 1 in Florida’s Class 1A Rural.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: This is part of the Border Classic, which features seven games between Georgia and Florida teams. The event’s hosts are Brunswick, playing Bolles of Jacksonville, and Glynn Academy, playing Creekside of St. Johns. The other Georgia teams are Richmond Hill, Coffee, Charlton County and McIntosh County Academy. The Fitzgerald-Madison County game is between defending state champions. Fitzgerald won Georgia’s Class 2A for its first title since 1948, although the program has been a consistent winner this century with 10 semifinal finishes or better. Madison County won Florida’s Class A four of the past five seasons under current Coffee coach Mike Coe. Madison County frequently plays Georgia teams, including Valdosta last year. This will be Fitzgerald’s first game against a Florida team. Fitzgerald long has run the wing-T, but this year’s team is passing more than usual. Sultan Cooper is 26-of-39 passing for 390 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald averages 242.7 yards per rush. Madison County has one major Division I recruit. Cornerback Jonathan Akins is committed to Maryland.

Jefferson at Oconee County

When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Warrior Stadium, Watkinsville

Records, rankings: Jefferson is 2-1 and No. 9 in Class 5A; Oconee County is 2-1 and No. 7 in 3A.

Last meeting: Oconee County won 21-20 in 2019.

Things to know: Each head coach in this game is a former coach of the other team. Jefferson’s Travis Noland was at Oconee County the past eight seasons and was 70-27 with three region titles. Oconee County’s Ben Hall was at Jefferson from 2013 to 2016, then at Flowery Branch the past five years. Noland’s Oconee County teams played Hall’s Jefferson teams three times, with Hall’s teams winning twice. This season, both teams have dynamic two-way starters, both major Division I recruits. Jefferson’s Sammy Brown, an uncommitted junior running back/linebacker, has rushed for 486 yards and three touchdowns and made eight solo tackles. Jefferson averages 296.3 yards rushing and 158.0 passing, a little more balanced than when current Georgia freshman Malaki Starks was the Dragons’ run-first quarterback. Oconee County’s Whit Weeks, a senior running back/linebacker committed to LSU, has 286 yards from scrimmage (212 rushing) and 28 solo tackles. These teams have played seven times since 2014 with four decided by seven points or less and one going overtime.

Marist at Woodward Academy

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Graham Hixon Field at Colquitt Stadium, College Park

Records, rankings: Marist is 2-1 and No. 8 in Class 6A; Woodward Academy is 1-1 and No. 5 in 6A.

Last meeting: Woodward Academy won 14-9 in 2021.

Things to know: These are two of the four private schools (St. Pius and Blessed Trinity being the others) that were moved into Class 6A this season. Both have lost to unbeaten top-10 opponents – Marist to Gainesville and Woodward Academy to McCallie of Tennessee. Marist is averaging 238.7 yards rushing and 60 passing with no featured offensive player. Jackson Hughes, with 26 carries and no receptions, leads the team with 124 of its 896 total yards. Ian White and D.J. Mazzone have split time at quarterback. Marist’s best all-around players have been Channing Henderson (84 yards rushing, 13 solo tackles) and Luke Harpring (three sacks, four tackles for losses and a 47-yard TD reception). Woodward is a pass-heavy team built around Jalen Woods, who has thrown for 424 yards in two games. He has mid-major offers. WR Ben Grice has had more than 100 yards receiving in both games. Woodward has five major Division I prospects on defense – DB C.J. Heard, DB River Hanson, DL A.J. Hoffler, LB Andrew Hines and LB Myles Graham. The 2021 game between these teams was a classic, with Woodward making a game-saving tackle at the Marist 1-yard line on the final play.

Parkview at North Gwinnett

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium, Suwanee

Records, rankings: Parkview is 2-0 and No. 9 in Class 7A; North Gwinnett is 2-1 and unranked in 7A.

Last meeting: North Gwinnett won 34-27 in 2021.

Things to know: These Gwinnett County rivals appear to be back on track after uncharacteristic mediocre seasons. Parkview was 4-7 and failed to win a playoff game for the first time since 2015. North Gwinnett was 6-6, its first non-winning season since 2015. Parkview has beaten Johns Creek and Shiloh. North Gwinnett has beaten McEachern and Archer and lost to Winter Park, a top-10 Florida team. Parkview’s top playmakers are QB Colin Houck, a Mississippi State baseball commit; Khyair Spain, who has 335 yards rushing in two games; and WR/DB Mike Matthews, who has three TD receptions and 18 solo tackles. North Gwinnett’s Malek Briley has 312 receiving yards in just two games as a weapon for sophomore QB Ryan Hall. Julian Walters has rushed for 300 yards. North Gwinnett’s best-known players are LB Grant Godfrey (committed to Kentucky) and DL Kayden McDonald (uncommitted AJC Super 11 pick), who rank 1-2 on the team in tackles. In the 2021 game between these teams, North Gwinnett trailed 27-20 in the fourth quarter but then scored a touchdown on a fake field goal. Godfrey recovered a Parkview fumble on the ensuing kickoff, leading to another touchdown.

Roswell at Milton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Eagles’ Nest, Milton

Records, rankings: Roswell is 3-0 and No. 3 in Class 6A; Milton is 0-2 and unranked in 7A.

Last meeting: Milton won 44-34 in 2021.

Things to know: Both north Fulton County schools began the season ranked, but Milton fell out after losing to Lipscomb Academy of Tennessee 17-7 and Christian Brothers of Missouri 41-27. Perhaps the demotion was premature as MaxPreps ranks Lipscomb and Christian Brothers as their states’ No. 1 teams. Milton sophomore Luke Nickel is 41-of-73 passing for 435 yards and three touchdowns in his first varsity starts. Debron Gatling has 18 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Both are underclassmen with major Division I offers. Roswell, playing down in Class 6A, has beaten Denmark 35-10, Centennial 35-14 and Marietta 24-20. New starting quarterback K.J. Smith had his best game against Marietta. He was 16-of-21 passing for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Nykahi Davenport has topped 100 yards rushing in each game. Roswell leads the all-time series 38-28-1, but Milton has won the past three, including the 2021 game that was not as close as the final 10-point margin.

Valdosta at Warner Robins

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Warner Robins

Records, rankings: Valdosta is 3-0 and unranked in Class 7A; Warner Robins is 1-1 and No. 2 in 5A.

Last meeting: Warner Robins won 48-20 in 2021.

Things to know: These teams renewed their rivalry in 2020, with each winning a game since, although Valdosta’s 2020 victory was overturned by forfeit when its quarterback, Jake Garcia, was found to be ineligible. In 2021, Warner Robins was defending its Class 5A title while Valdosta was banned from the playoffs and finished 4-6. This season, Valdosta is one of the state’s most improved teams, according to the Maxwell Ratings, which have the Wildcats as a five-point favorite. Valdosta has beaten North Miami, Cook and Banneker by an average of 39-5. Valdosta’s strength is its defensive line. Mr. Inside Omar White (four-star recruit, 300-pounder) and Mr. Outside Eric Brantley (preseason all-state) have 15 tackles for losses between them. Warner Robins lost its opener to Lee County 26-10, then beat crosstown rival Northside 17-10. The defense, led by AJC Super 11 Vic Burley, limited Northside to 186 yards and 10 first downs, with Ekareyun Hammock getting three tackles for losses and two sacks, but the offense is still finding its way. New starting QB Chase Reese is 17-of-38 passing for 252 yards. All-state RB Malcolm Brown has 227 yards from scrimmage.

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