Second-round previews: Class AAA

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here

(Daniel Varnado/Special to AJC)

(Daniel Varnado/Special to AJC)

*North Murray (8-3) at No. 2 Peach County (10-1): North Murray, opened in 2009, won its first playoff game last week, a 28-14 victory over Jackson County. TB Brady Harper has 1,392 rushing yards and 2,135 all-purpose yards and has scored 31 touchdowns. He ran for 179 and caught a 24-yard TD pass in the Jackson County game. Sophomore OT Luke Griffin has committed to Georgia. Peach County QB Antonio Gilbert was 23-of-31 passing for 282 yards and two touchdowns in the 42-13 win over Tattnall County last week. He’s thrown for 2,233 yards. Hs top receiver is four-star recruit Kearis Jackson, who has 991 all-purpose yards.

*Savannah (9-2) at No. 3 Westminster (9-2): Savannah won its first playoff game, a 27-3 victory over Cook, since 1993 (Beach). It was the first state-playoff win since 1969 (Butler). Savannah has allowed only 7.5 points per game. Cook, held without a touchdown for the first time since 2014, featured 2,000-yard rusher Brandon Doe. Westminster possesses the most dynamic running back in AAA, Zay Malcome, who rushed for 266 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-18 victory over North Hall. He has 1,623 yards rushing on the season. Westminster, the defending AAA champion, has won nine straight games since a 19-16 overtime loss to No. 1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian.

*Sonoraville (8-3) at No. 7 Liberty County (10-1): Sonoraville has won a first-round road game the past two seasons but never reached the quarterfinals. Tristan Key rushed for 104 yards and scored the winning touchdown in the 15-9 victory over Franklin County last week. Liberty County, a region champion for the first time, is in the second round for the third time since its opening in 1993 but has never made a quarterfinal. Jaalon Frazier threw five TD passes, three to five-star recruit Richard LeCounte, in a 56-10 victory over Pike County last week. Frazier has thrown for 2,521 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushed for 1,051 yards and 13 touchdowns.

*Worth County (7-3) at No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian (10-1): Worth County has completed only 23 of 59 passes but is content to feed 1,000-yard rusher Chris McDaniel, who scored two touchdowns in a 35-7 victory over Southeast Bulloch. Worth is seeking its first quarterfinal since 1997. GAC is remarkably balanced with QB Davis Mills (125-of-177 passing for 1,927 yards) and RB Kyler McMichael (1,233 yards rushing) among AAA’s leaders Davis, who is committed to Stanford, threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-17 win over Pace Academy last week. McMichael rushed for 186 yards. GAC has won at least 10 games in each of coach Tim Hardy’s five seasons.

*Bremen (7-4) at Pierce County (8-3): Bremen is the only No. 4 seed remaining in AAA. The Blue Devils beat Region 8 champion Morgan County 24-21 after trailing 14-0. Jarvis Buffington returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown that tied the game 14-14. Bremen then got a 25-yard fumble-return TD from Logan Johnson after Matthew Lyons forced the turnover. Pierce County QB Stetson Bennett leads AAA in passing yards with 3,320 and has 35 touchdowns. Pierce also has a 1,000-yard rusher, Shyhiem Clark, who ran for 154 yards in a 41-34 victory over Westside of Macon last week. Pierce has scored at least 41 points in seven consecutive games.

*No. 8 Lovett (8-3) at No. 5 Crisp County (11-0): Lovett QB Brady Tindall, not usually a big passer, was 21-of-39 for 305 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-28 victory over Dawson County last week. That was Lovett’s 13th playoff road win in Mike Muschamp’s 12 seasons at Lovett. No other coach or team has more over that span. Crisp County has played only one home playoff game in that time, and it was the 42-0 victory over Islands last week. Sophomore Jammie Robinson rushed for 170 yards and went over 1,000 on the season (1,029). DL Markavius “Big Cat” Bryant, a four-star recruit, is probably AAA’s top pass-rushing threat.

*No. 10 Jackson (8-3) at No. 4 Calhoun (9-2): Jackson put up 434 yards rushing in its 44-7 victory over Brantley County last week. Antavious Greer is the team’s leading rusher at about 1,100 yards. Jackson is seeking its first quarterfinal since 2009. Calhoun’s best player is LB/QB Baylon Spector, a Clemson commit who has rushed for 611 yards, passed for 294 and made 45 tackles, eight for losses. Gavin Gray is the main quarterback now. He’s 88-of-130 passing for 1,146 yards and 20 touchdowns. Calhoun misses preseason all-state RB Olico Dennis, lost for the season with an ACL injury. Calhoun has won eight straight second-round games, all at home.

*No. 6 Cedar Grove (9-2) at Jenkins (10-1): Cedar Grove, a semifinalist last season, beat Union Grove 63-17 last week. Grant Walker rushed for 178 yards, giving him 1,299 on the season. Jelani Woods was 9-of-9 passing for 123 yards. Union County’s first-quarter field goal provided the first points against Cedar Grove’s first-team defense since Sept. 23 (Westminster). Jenkins won its first region title since 1966 this year and then secured its first-ever playoff victory in a 31-14 win over Dougherty. Jenkins intercepted six passes, three by FS Jordan Stafford. Joe Burke rushed for 192 yards, giving him 1,107 on the season.

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