Second-round playoff preview: Class AAA

Rockmart at Carver (Columbus)

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

Records, rankings: Rockmart is 6-5, the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAA and unranked; Carver is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAA and ranked No. 2.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. QB Torrance McGee overcame three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and passed for 170 yards and two touchdowns and scored a touchdown in a 42-21 victory over Dodge County in the first round. Caver led 35-6 in the second quarter. 2. Rockmart won its first playoff game since 1988 in a 34-33 victory over Appling County last week. It was Rockmart’s first road win in the playoffs since beating Valdosta 52-21 in the 1950 Class A championship game. QB Julian Welch’s 8-yard run with 2:19 left was the game-winner. 3. Carver is one victory from its sixth consecutive trip to the quarterfinals. The only other schools that can achieve that this season are Buford, Cairo, Grayson and Lincoln County. Cairo had made only one other quarterfinal in its history before the current streak started.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Carver by 31

Winner plays: Buford/North Oconee winner

Buford at North Oconee

When, where:7:30 p.m. Friday, Titan Stadium, Bogart

Records, rankings: Buford is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAA and ranked No. 3; North Oconee is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAA and ranked No. 8.

Last meeting: Buford won 44-7 in the second round of the 2008 Class AA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Buford RB Zavior Hoxie rushed for 109 yards and QB Montgomery VanGorder had three TD passes in a 41-27 victory over Cedar Grove in the first round. Buford had 470 yards in total offense. Cedar Grove QB Johnathon McCrary was 305 yards short of the state record for career passing yards. He was held to about 200 yards. 2. Sophomore RB Kawon Bryant rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns in North Oconee’s 37-14 victory over Ringgold last week. North Oconee QB Nick Colvin, a preseason all-state pick, and DB John Jarrard left the game with first-half injuries and did not return. 3. Buford is 12-0 in second-round games since 2000, winning by an average of 39-10. North Oconee is 0-3 in the second round, all over the past five seasons.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Buford by 5

Winner plays: Rockmart/Carver winner

Johnson (Savannah) at Thomson

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Brickyard, Thomson

Records, rankings: Johnson is 5-6, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAA and unranked; Thomson is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from 3-AAA and ranked No. 1.

Last meeting: Thomson won 20-6 in the 1977 regular season.

Three things to know: 1. Thomson QB Chris Tutt was injured on the first play of the game and didn’t return in a 27-3 victory over Jackson last week. RB Chris Jordan rushed for 121 yards on 13 carries, and William Bussey returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown. Jackson had three yards rushing. 2. Johnson QB Shyheim Roberts threw five TD passes in a 32-23 victory over Chapel Hill in the first round. Three were longer than 50 yards, including a 67-yarder on Johnson’s first play from scrimmage. Johnson led 25-23 with 2:18 left when RB Corbin Mitchell scored on a 43-yard run to seal it. 3. Johnson’s victory was the Savannah school’s first in a state playoff game. Johnson, which began playing football in the 1950s, did win a region playoff game in 1992 over Savannah and played in a state championship game in 1963 in the Georgia Interscholastic Association. But there were no playoffs leading up to the ‘63 title game, which Johnson lost 39-7 to South Fulton.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Thomson by 39

Winner plays: Blessed Trinity/Cartersville winner

Blessed Trinity at Cartersville

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

Records, rankings: Blessed Trinity is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAA and ranked No. 9; Cartersville is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAA and ranked No. 6.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Junior QB Brooks Barden threw six touchdowns, passed for 218 yards and had more than 100 yards rushing in Cartersville’s 56-21 victory over Jackson County last week. 2. QB Spencer McManes threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in Blessed Trinity’s 35-14 victory over White County. Blessed Trinity had beaten White County only 21-19 in a regular-season meeting that came down to a two-point conversion stop. 3. Cartersville is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the 11th time, first since 2004. Cartersville is 0-3 in second-round games since then. Blessed Trinity, which started football in 2001, has never advanced the second round. The Titans lost to Lamar County 28-14 last season in their only other second-round appearance.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Cartersville by 10

Winner plays: Johnson/Thomson winner

Peach County at Pierce County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bearville Stadium, Blackshear

Records, rankings: Peach County is 10-1, the No. 2 seed from 2-AAA and ranked No. 5; Pierce County is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Pierce County beat Central of Carrollton 33-27 in the first round after trailing 27-14 with 2:11 left, when Central still had the ball. LB Deshaves Hagan forced a bad pitch, and DB Darius Foreman ran it 65 yards for a touchdown. Pierce got the ball back with a minute left and drove 60 yards for the tying touchdown, a sneak by QB Tyler Harris. Pierce’s extra point was blocked. But Pierce stopped Central in overtime, and RB Josh Henderson scored on a 15-yard sweep to win it. For more on Pierce’s comeback, read this story. 2. Peach County QB Greg Williams threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over Jefferson County in the first round. Pierce County, which had two punts blocked last week, will notice that Peach blocked a punt against Jefferson County and returned the loose ball for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put away what had been a close game. 3. Pierce County’s victory over Central was the school’s first playoff win since 2002, when Pierce made the quarterfinals for only the second time in history. The other was in 1982. Peach County will make the quarterfinals for the eighth time in 10 seasons with a win.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Peach County by 17

Winner plays: Morgan County/North Hall winner

Morgan County at North Hall

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Brickyard, Gainesville

Records, rankings: Morgan County is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAA and unranked; North Hall is 9-2, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. North Hall RB Kevin Christmas rushed for 142 yards, part of North Hall’s 388 yards in total offense, in a 38-7 victory over Woodward Academy last week. The margin of victory was vindication for those who felt North Hall was overlooked in the rankings this season. Woodward had spent four weeks in the Top 10 while North Hall spent two. 2. Morgan County held on to its 24-21 victory over Gordon Central last week when Carter Shultz, Michael Gray and Stewart Spence forced a fumble at the Morgan 2-yard line with 0.4 seconds left. Morgan County broke a four-game losing streak in first-round games. HB Michael Gray and FB Marquis Benton each passed 1,000 yards rushing on the season. 3. North Hall is trying to reach its first quarterfinal since 2007, third in history, all since 2004. That’s also the last time that North Hall lost a playoff game at home. The Trojans are 7-0 at home in the playoffs since. Morgan County needs a win to make its first quarterfinal since 1992.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: North Hall by 12

Winner plays: Peach County/Pierce County winner

Washington County at Callaway

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Callaway Stadium, LaGrange

Records, rankings: Washington County is 10-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 3-AAA and ranked No. 4; Callaway is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAA and ranked No. 10.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Washington County QB William Walker threw six TD passes in the first half of a 55-7 victory over Pike County in the first round. Those were the only passes that he completed in the game. They totaled 188 yards. Washington County also had two backs with more than 100 yards rushing in Melvin Hill (113) and Jukilo Johnson (105). 2. Callaway won its 10th consecutive game in a 49-7 victory over Tattnall County last week. QB Tez Parks threw a TD pass and had two TD runs, one of 56 yards. Callaway scored six touchdowns – all of 20 yards or longer – in the second and third quarters. 3. Both teams have suffered their only losses to undefeated teams. Callaway lost its opener 43-37 to Heard County. Washington County lost 28-14 to Thomson.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Washington County by 16

Winner plays: Hart County/St. Pius winner

Hart County at St. Pius

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, George B. Maloof Stadium, Atlanta

Records, rankings: Hart County is 6-5, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAA and unranked; St. Pius is 9-2, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAA and ranked No. 7.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. St. Pius beat Dawson County 72-28 in the first round. The 72 points were the most in St. Pius history and third-most in GHSA playoff history. Three St. Pius backs went over 100 yards rushing in QB Jack Spear (148), RB Ryan Braswell (127 with four touchdowns) and Branden Mitchell (104). 2. Hart County won its first playoff game since 2006 after four first-round losses by beating Adairsville 32-11. The victory also prevented a losing season, which would have been the school’s first since 1991. 3. St. Pius and Hart County have two common opponents. St. Pius beat North Oconee 50-14 and Blessed Trinity 24-17. Hart lost to North Oconee 42-14 and Blessed Trinity 24-10.

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: St. Pius by 23

Winner plays: Washington County/Callaway winner

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15 comments Add your comment


November 20th, 2012
8:44 am

Sorry to see Cedar Grove go down and Johnathon McCrary come up short. With a better draw the QB could still be playing and would of gotten the record.


November 20th, 2012
9:55 am

I was at that game.. CG shoulda spread out the field like thay did to start the 2nd half to use McCrary’s mobility & passing skills.. Buford was having nothing of getting burned deep.. His throws were a little short, hence the interception in the end zone in 1st 1/4. His receivers dropped atleast 4 – 6 passes..

In closing – The Wolves were not going to have a state passing record broken against them!!


November 20th, 2012
10:24 am

is amazed at the point spread of the pierce/peach game. but that shouldn’t suprise me all these atlanta writers have written off these lowly south georgia teams, even though they have only won. it is a shame that pierce county can’t get any recognition for going 10-1 and get no respect, i’m not saying they will win but geez give me a break with all this north georgia bias!!!


November 20th, 2012
11:01 am

Jamo – That’s why they play the game.. If Pierce is all that, they’ll get er done Fri & then move on…


November 20th, 2012
11:19 am

Hart County Fans,
Welcome to SPX. We welcome all visitors to our Campus, however please understand we have VERY limited on campus parking. In order to accommodate the huge crowds which attend our games the school runs a free shuttle from our off campus parking lot located across form the Atlanta Century Center Marriott:
The shuttle is free and should start around 5:00 pm, runs throughout the game and drops across from the school. This is the easiest and least stressful way to get to and from the game. You are invited to visit Tom Novaks Famous Concession stand where you will find a full menu ranging from the traditional burgers, to fresh French Fries, Gumbo, Chic Filet sandwiches and more. Looking forward to a great game! See Ya Friday.


November 20th, 2012
9:33 pm

@jamo the maxwell ratings are that private company sort GHSA BCS. Seems high school football has partnered with them for some added exposure country wide. Has nuthin to do with AJC. But hell they didn’t even rank any pocket of Georgia as having the best hs football in the country. Geez they picked Philly as one spot. Everyone knows it is GA,FLA, and Texas. The rest pretenders SEC proves that !
So feel free to ignore. GO TITIANS……
@Hart County no place to park at ST Pius grab the shuttle.

Cedar Grove Football

November 21st, 2012
12:13 am

He is still second all time. Can’t wait 2 see him perform in the Army All American game


November 21st, 2012
1:46 am

This game will be over by half time. Trojans too physical for the bears. So Long BEARS !!!!! We are going to rock your world baby!!!!

Trojan Sailor

November 21st, 2012
6:25 pm

JAMO, it seems that a Geography lesson is in order. Peach County is located 100 miles SOUTH of Atlanta in central GA. Sure, Pierce is further south, but just because Peach County is north of you does NOT make us a north GA team. Further, although ranked #1 in AAA for 9 weeks by both AJC and the AP, Peach County received VERY little coverage from AJC and also receives relatively slight coverage from the major central GA paper, The Macon Telegraph ( since we are located within 20 miles of Northside High (best team in AAAAA) and Warner Robins High (among the top 8 teams in AAAAA). Hope this helps…

As for the 17 point spread, all I can say is that the game appears to me to be a very high scoring contest and THAT will be Pierce’s best chance of winning. I recommend that you check for a brief history of the Peach County program. We produce fast, strong, and determined athletes year after year and, dare I say that on a per capita basis, more than most every other school in GA. So the 17 points isn’t so much a stretch as it is a recognition of Peach County’s dominance over the past 23 years and the strength of this year’s team.

Best of luck on Friday and I hope that the Bears are ready for their first BLACK HAT experience.

Trojan Sailor

November 21st, 2012
6:27 pm

….and JAMO, one more thing: I totally agree that AJC has a severe north GA bias.


November 22nd, 2012
11:41 am

The AJC is in Atlanta. It hasn’t been a state-wide paper for several years. Sad but true reality as newspapers have dwindled.

Trojan Sailor

November 22nd, 2012
1:04 pm

Concur, Winks–and happy Thanksgiving to all!!

I’m sure that AJC has staff and budget limitations that necessarily limit their coverage. But it shouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to have a dedicated “south” GA story every week, especially with Class 1-AAAAAA teams Lowndes and Camden receiving national attention every year. Or perhaps on Northside-Warner Robins, another nationally prominent team coming from AAAAA. I recall in 2010 when Peach County made it all the way to like #29 in the national rankings without nary a peep or hint of notice by the AJC. But alas, maybe south GA is asking too much of a north GA media center.

BT Titan Fan

November 23rd, 2012
1:06 am

BT will beat Cartersville by 3 and advance to the Elite 8. Just like I called out all of the Cedar Grove fans (who were calling BT another “slow footed” team) letting them know they would lose to BT, finish 3rd in the Region, and then get beat by Buford, this will be no different. Cartersville is overrated and living off their past storied history and weak conference schedule. BT is on the rise and Coach Tim McFarlin knows how to win in the post-season. BT would win by more if they had their Senior TB who went down in Week 1 but their freshman TB who is a future D-1 kid will step up. Donovan Tate is no longer playing for Cartersville, BT is not intimidated. BT wins by 3 and moves on.

BT should have beaten SPX, had them on the ropes, they would have had the cake draw that the Lions are now enjoying, but such is life in the GHSA.
Go Titans!

Seen a few

November 23rd, 2012
7:19 am

BT Titan Fan…SPX fan here. Good luck to ya. I’ll be pulling for y’all.

Cville Canes Fan

November 23rd, 2012
3:21 pm

@ BT Titan Fan. Some pretty harsh words about Cartersville being overrated. What do you based this upon? D Tate not being on the team is not relevant to what this team has done so far. Our region is not week. We have 4 teams that made the playoffs that include Rockmart, Gordon Central, Adairsville and Ringgold. Nevertheless, the Canes beat the teams we faced, so how much more can you do. The Canes have many talented players that are just as good if not better than Tate. The Canes are a balance team with not just one player that carries the team. You will see this Friday. I am sure BT isn’t intimidated and shouldn’t be at this stage of the season. Believe me the Canes are not either. It will come down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes. Finally, we shall see if BT can match the size, speed, athleticism of the Canes high powered offense. We shall see. We shall see my friend.