No. 4-ranked Marist travels to Athens Friday to take on Class AAAAA Clarke Central in a game notable for two reasons.
The two teams with storied football histories are meeting for the first time, and Marist coach Alan Chadwick goes for his 300th career win. Chadwick, in his 28th year as the Marist head coach, has led the War Eagles to double-digit wins 18 times, including state championships in 1989 and 2003, and has never finished with fewer than seven wins.
This one figures to be a shootout. Clarke Central averaged 38 points per game while going 10-2 in 2011. Marist averaged 32 points while going 9-2.
Other games to watch:
No. 1 Sandy Creek at Banneker
Last meeting: Sandy Creek won 21-9 in 2009, the only meeting between the two schools.
Three things to watch: 1. Banneker went 6-4 in 2011, and all four losses were to teams that went to the playoffs. 2. Sandy Creek QB Cole Garvin passed for more than 2,300 yards last year. 3. Sandy Creek has won 41 of its last 42 regular-season games.
No. 4 Cairo vs. Thomasville
Last meeting: Cairo won 7-3 in 2009
Three things to watch: 1. Eight of the last nine games between these two schools have been decided by a touchdown or less; Cairo has won seven straight. 2. Cairo LB is key returning starter from a defense that allowed 146 points in 14 games in 2011. 3. Cairo is breaking in a new QB but has a strong receiving corps.
No. 5 Statesboro at Lakeside-Evans
Last Meeting: Statesboro won 28-21 last year and has won eight of nine meetings
Three things to watch: 1. Can Lakeside slow down Statesboro RB Dequan Daniels? 2. Statesboro averaged 31 points per game in 2011. 3. Lakeside-Evans won five of its last six regular-season games to get into the playoffs a year ago.
Columbia at Cedar Grove (0-1)
Last meeting: Cedar Grove won 34-0 last year
Three things to watch: 1. How will Columbia’s defense fare against Cedar Grove QB Johnathan McCrary? 2. The Lions won four of their last five games in 2011 to make the AAA playoffs. 3. Class AAA Cedar Grove has won four straight over Columbia.