It’s about commitment …
A Ridgeland player gave up his seat at the Heisman ceremony to be available to play in the Panthers’ Class AAAA semifinal Friday night against Marist. Senior linebacker Daniel Johnson, a 4.0 student who was named a national finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman, turned down a trip to New York so he could take the field against Marist.
“It really was a no-brainer,” Johnson told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Meanwhile, Sandy Creek had to bring in extra seating to meet the GHSA’s seating requirement and hold onto its status as host school for the semifinal game. Once the Patriots won the coin flip to secore home-field advantage this week — Monroe Area also was short of the requisite 4,000 seats.
A look at the AAAA semis:
Monroe Area (12-1) at Sandy Creek (13-0): Monroe Area quarterback Stanton Truitt presents the Sandy Creek defense with an X-factor offensive player for the second straight week. Truitt has put up more than 1,300 rushing yards and 700 passing yards despite missing four games with an ankle injury, and like Burke County’s Donquell Green, no team has stopped him. Green compiled more than 200 yards of total offense against the Patriots, who went to extensive efforts to keep the ball out of his hands. Meanwhile, Sandy Creek’s full cupboard of weapons poses clearly the biggest challenge Monroe Area has faced all year. Alternating tailbacks Eric Swinney (1,300 yards) and Delvin Weems (976) both average more than 9 yards per carry, and quarterback Cole Garvin has thrown for nearly 2,300 yards. Receiver Demarre Kitt surpassed 1,000 receiving yards last week. The thing that jumps out about this matchup is that the one team that beat Monroe Area — albeit without Truitt on the field — Eastside-Covington, lost to Sandy Creek 55-0 in the first round. Prediction:
Sandy Creek 38, Monroe Area 24.
No. 2 Marist (12-1) at No. 9 Ridgeland (12-1): Marist hits the road to North Georgia for what figures to be a classic irresistable force vs. immovable object contest. The War Eagles have allowed 20 points in regulation just once – that in a 21-17 loss to Thomas County Central in the season’s second week – and they have five shutouts on their 2012 resume. Marist has needed to be stingy in the second and third rounds, gutting out a five-overtime win against Carrollton and beating Stockbridge 15-7 last week. Ridgeland, on the other hand, has scored at least 35 points in every game, and has topped 40 points 10 times in 13 games. Using a wing-T with Darrell Bridges as the fullback, the Panthers have won 12 straight since a season-opening loss to AA power Calhoun. Bridges has more than 2,100 yards and 37 touchdowns, while uber-recruit Vonn Bell has 1,006 rushing yards. Prediction: Marist 28, Ridgeland 24.