Preview Tuesday state championship games: Georgia high school football – Atlanta Journal Constitution
Class A (public)
Irwin County vs. Clinch County
When, where: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Irwin County is 13-0, the No. 1 seed and No. 1; Clinch County is 12-1, the No. 6 seed and No. 2.
Last meeting: Irwin County won 21-3 on Sept. 14.
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Things to know: This is the third time in four seasons that these Region 2-A rivals have met in the championship game. Irwin County won the regular-season matchup the previous two times but lost to Clinch County in the final each year. Irwin County also won in the regular season this year, getting two touchdowns from Jamorri Colson (40-yard interception return and 66-yard reception) and one from Jamal Paulk (48-yard run) in the teams’ region opener. Irwin County, which also lost to Hawkinsville in the 2014 final, is seeking its first state title since 1975. The Indians average 293.2 yards rushing, led by DJ Lundy (143 carries, 1,509 yards, 28 touchdowns), Paulk (112-837-9) and Jay Stanley (75-656-8). Zach Smith is 52-of-103 passing for 1,082 yards and 16 TDs. The Indians allow just 8.38 points per game, second-best in Class A. Clinch County, seeking its third championship in four years and eighth overall, remains a run-based team, averaging 296.8 yards rushing while attempt only about six passes per game. The key offensive players are Tyler Morehead (1,094 yards rushing, 379 yards passing) and Trezmen Marshall (796 rushing, 188 passing). They have combined for 31 touchdowns rushing and five passing. Marshall (committed to Georgia) also lead the team in tackles with 59.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Irwin County by 4
RELATED: AJC high school football scoreboard
Cedar Grove vs. Peach County
When, where: 1 p.m. Tuesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Cedar Grove is 13-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAA and No. 2; Peach County is 12-2, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAA and No. 4.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Things to know: A low-scoring game might be in the cards as these teams are noted for their defenses. Or as one coach who has seen both up close put it a couple of weeks ago, “Peach County’s defense is excellent. If they meet Cedar Grove in the championship, it might be a 0-0 tie.” That was a voice from quarterfinalist Westminster, which lost to Peach County 21-3 in the quarterfinals and to Cedar Grove 30-3 in the regular season. Cedar Grove’s front seven is stout with the likes of LB Isaiah Ratcliff, LB William Jenkins and defensive linemen Rashad Chaney (Minnesota commit), Alvin Williams and Dante Walker (Arkansas), all first-team all-region performers. DB Jadon Haselwood has their back in the secondary while doubling as the nation’s No. 1 wide-receiver recruit (990 yards receiving). Robert Jones (1,162 yards rushing) averages 11.3 yards per carry. Quarterbacks Austin Smith and Kendall Boney have thrown 33 TD passes. Peach County has not allowed more than 14 points during its 10-game winning streak. LB Sergio Allen, a Clemson commit and the team’s leading tackler, and DL/LB Cedric Hillsman are the ringleaders of that unit. QB Jaydon Gibson has completed 71.6 percent of his passes (166 of 232) for 2,197 yards and 19 touchdowns. Peach doesn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, but junior Tijah Woolfolk has run for more than 100 yards in three of the past four games. This is Peach County’s ninth state-championship game. The Trojans won the most recent of their three titles in 2009. Cedar Grove has reached the semifinals or better each of the past four years and won a state title in 2016.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Cedar Grove by 6
Bainbridge vs. Warner Robins
When, where: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Bainbridge is 9-5, the No. 2 seed from Region 1-AAAAA and unranked; Warner Robins is 12-2, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAA and No. 3.
Last meeting: Warner Robins won 38-0 on Oct. 19.
Things to know: Warner Robins’ trouncing of Bainbridge in the regular season was Bainbridge’s first game after Hurricane Michael, which canceled several days of school and practice. The Bearcats have won six straight since then, including victories over four top-10 teams in the playoffs. Caleb McDowell, a sophomore, has averaged 101 yards rushing during the winning streak. Quayde Hawkins, also a sophomore, is averaging 171 yards passing after having only one 100-yard passing game over the first half of the season. DE Roman Harrison, the region’s defensive player of the year and a Tennessee commit, and LB Randy Fillingame have 61 tackles for losses between them. Both teams are allowing 17.0 points per game, but Warner Robins’ offense has been the more explosive, as it averages 36.9 points to Bainbridge’s 23.3. Warner Robins QB Dylan Fromm, the region player of the year, has thrown for 4,107 yards, sixth-most in state history. WR Marcayll Jones has 1,866 yards receiving, a state record. Warner Robins’ leading tackler is a sophomore, LB Demarcus Robinson. A state title for Warner Robins would be its first since 2004. Bainbridge last won a state title, or played for one, in 1982.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Warner Robins by 19
Northside (Warner Robins) vs. Lee County
When, where: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Northside is 9-5, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 5; Lee County is 14-0, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAAA and No. 1.
Last meeting: Lee County won 24-7 on Oct. 13.
Things to know: Northside and defending state champion Lee County will meet in the second consecutive all-Region 1 final, and the winner will be the third straight champion from the region (Valdosta won in 2016). This game matches the Region 1 player of the year (Northside QB Jadin Daniels has passed for 1,565 yards and rushed for 1,549) against the state’s top defense (Lee County allows 5.5 points per game). Northside was held to 133 yards of total offense in the regular-season meeting but still managed to give the Trojans their closest game this season. Other names to know for Northside are Eric Smith (769 yards rushing), Daniel Neal (607 receiving yards) and Cory Munson (12-for-18 on field goals, 40.8-yard average punting). Lee County junior QB Kyle Toole, in his first season as a starter, has passed for 2,939 yards and 33 touchdowns with just one interception. He had a season-low eight completions against the Eagles in the regular season but passed for 174 yards and a touchdown. Shaundarious Kimbrough (110 carries, 641 yards, 16 TDs) and Preston Simmons (113-421-13) lead a rushing game that averages 139.7 yards. Northside is seeking its first state title since 2014 and fourth overall. Lee County’s 2017 championship was its first.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Lee County by 23
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