North Gwinnett at Lovejoy
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Twelve Oaks Stadium, Hampton
Records, rankings: North Gwinnett is 11-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA and ranked No. 4; Lovejoy is 11-1, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAAAAA and ranked No. 7.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Lovejoy QB Alejandro Bennefield threw three TD passes and Georgia Tech-committed RB Travis Custis rushed for 93 yards in a 36-15 victory over Marietta in the second round. But Lovejoy’s defense was the story. LSU-bound QB Anthony Jennings was intercepted twice, and Lovejoy had 14 tackles in Marietta’s backfield, most of them on Jennings. 2. North Gwinnett QB Michael Haynes has thrown for 2,112 yards and rarely makes a mistake (26 touchdowns, five interceptions), but a key to the 28-10 victory over Grayson last week was RB Cam Lewis’ 120 yards rushing. Grayson was allowing fewer than 35 yards rushing per game. North Gwinnett also forced four fumbles and got a safety on a bad snap. 3. North Gwinnett is 14-6 in the playoffs under Bob Sphire, who arrived in 2006, but reached the semifinals only once, in 2007. Lovejoy is the first Clayton County school since Mount Zion in 2000 to reach the quarterfinals in the highest class after reaching the Class AAAA final in 2011.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: North Gwinnett by 10
Winner plays: Mill Creek/North Cobb winner
Mill Creek at North Cobb
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Emory Sewell Stadium, Acworth
Records, rankings: Mill Creek is 9-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA and unranked; North Cobb is 10-2, the No. 2 seed from 4-AAAAAA and unranked.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Mill Creek RB Jacorey Lewis has rushed for 595 yards and eight touchdowns in his two playoff games to emerge as a late-rising player-of-the-year candidate. For the season, he has rushed for 2,040 yards and scored 30 touchdowns, with at least one in each game and as many as six against Duluth on Oct. 19. 2. RB J’Vonte Herrod scored five touchdowns in North Cobb’s 42-14 victory over Hughes in the second round. It helped North Cobb surpass 40 points in a game for the ninth time. North Cobb has scored no fewer than 26 points in a game this season. 3. The winner will be making the semifinals for the first time in the highest classification. Mill Creek, which opened in 2004, has never made the semis. North Cobb most recently made the semifinals in 1959, when playing in Class C.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Mill Creek by 1
Winner plays: North Gwinnett/Lovejoy winner
Norcross at Camden County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Chris Gilman Stadium, Kingsland
Records, rankings: Norcross is 12-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA and ranked No. 2; Camden County is 11-1, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAAA and ranked No. 5.
Last meeting: Camden County won 21-6 in the 2008 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. Norcross RB Alvin Kamara, the most highly recruited running back remaining in the state playoffs, rushed for 194 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-7 victory over South Gwinnett last week. Kamara has rushed for 1,784 yards and scored 26 touchdowns on the season. DE Lorenzo Carter and LB Lyle Mouton each had two sacks in the South Gwinnett game. Carter has 18 sacks on the season. 2. While some rate Kamara as the top running back prospect, Camden County’s Brice Ramsey is rated by some as the state’s top quarterback prospect. Ramsey is 70-of-128 passing for 1,358 yards and 19 touchdowns with only one interception. He has committed to Georgia, as has RB/CB J.J. Green, who rushed for a season-high 117 yards in a 34-14 victory over East Coweta in the second round. 3. Camden County won a coin toss to be the home team, per GHSA rules when two teams with the same seeding meet in the playoffs. Norcross, which opened in the 1950s, has never traveled south of metro Atlanta for a football game and is 2-6 on the road in the playoffs. Camden is 23-4 in home playoff games since 2002, but Camden has been eliminated the past two seasons at home – by Hillgrove in 2010 and Colquitt County in 2011.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Norcross by 12
Winner plays: Colquitt County/Parkview winner
Colquitt County at Parkview
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Big Orange Jungle, Lilburn
Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 9-3, the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and ranked No. 9; Parkview is 9-3, the No. 3 seed from 8-AAAAAA and unranked.
Last meeting: Parkview won 35-14 in the 2005 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. Colquitt County scored the winning touchdown in its 26-23 victory over Newnan on a 19-yard run by John Boatwright with 1:38 left. But more clutch perhaps was a fourth-and-10 conversion on the drive as QB Cole Segraves threw a 34-yard pass to Todd Boyd. Segraves is 80-of-115 passing for 999 yards and three touchdowns in the four games since Colquitt lost to Valdosta. 2. Parkview became the first team in the highest class ever to win its first two playoff games in overtime in the 26-23 victory over West Forsyth. In last week’s game, RB/LB Justis Rosser helped Sam Willis get a sack on West Forsyth QB A.J. Erdely in overtime to limit West Forsyth to a field goal. Rosser then scored on a 15-yard run on Parkview’s possession for the victory. 3. Only 12 teams that were seeded third or fourth have reached the semifinals in the highest classification, and the winner of this game will add to that list. But it won’t be the first time for either school. Colquitt County has made the semis as a No. 3 seed three times (1998, 2009, 2010), and Parkview was the first team ever to win a state title as a No. 3 seed (1997). Parkview and Colquitt account for five of the 12 times that a No. 3 or No. 4 seeds have made the semis.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Parkview by 3
Winner plays: Norcross/Camden County winner
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