Semifinal previews: Class AA

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

(Jason Getz / AJC)

(Jason Getz / AJC)

Callaway at Benedictine

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, T.A. Wright Stadium/Savannah State, Savannah

Records, rankings: Callaway is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AA and No. 3; Benedictine is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 2-AA and No. 1.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Callaway is in the semifinals for the second time in program history and trying to reach its first championship game. The Cavaliers are led by RB D.J. Atkins, who has rushed for 2,041 yards this season, including 151 in a 35-34 victory over Screven County last week. Callaway won its quarterfinal on a 47-yard pass from Dylan Johnson to Braylon Sanders with 17 seconds remaining, capping a 98-yard, two-minute drive. Johnson passed for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Benedictine, a state champion in 2014, has not had a game closer than 14 points this season and outscored its three playoff opponents 158-20. The Cadets average 279.6 yards rushing, led by John Wesley Kennedy (92 carries, 977 yards, 14 touchdowns), Tyleek Collins (82-800-11) and Terrick Smalls (59-571-11). Collins scored on a punt return, a kickoff return and two runs in a 51-13 victory over Pepperell last week. QB Nick Iannone has passed for 1,606 yards and 22 TDs.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Benedictine by 17

Hapeville Charter at Fitzgerald

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

Records, rankings: Hapeville is 10-3, the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AA and No. 10; Fitzgerald is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 1-AA and No. 2.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Hapeville went 14-29-1 in its first five seasons before having a breakout season this year. The Hornets are led by QB Hajj-Malik Williams (over 2,000 yards passing, 450 rushing) and DE Cameron Merrell, the Region 6-AA offensive and defensive players of the year. The team’s highest-profile player is DB William Poole III, a consensus four-star recruit who has committed to Georgia. Hapeville has won nine consecutive games since a 1-3 start that included losses to Pace Academy, Wesleyan and Cartersville. Fitzgerald, the state runner-up last season, is in its third consecutive semifinal and 12th overall. Fitzgerald runs the ball 79 percent of the time and averages 282 yards per game rushing, led by Region 1-AA player of the year J.D. King (200 carries, 1,549 yards, 18 TDs). QB James Graham has passed for 1,489 yards, rushed for 711 yards and had a hand in 33 touchdowns. He ran for 112 yards and passed for 248 in a 35-16 victory over Rabun County last week.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Fitzgerald by 24

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