Buford at Cartersville
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville
Records, rankings: Buford is 10-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAA and ranked No. 3; Cartersville is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAA and ranked No. 6.
Last meeting: Buford won 40-0 in the 2007 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. Buford’s run-heavy offense is led by Dontravious Wilson, who had 134 yards and a touchdown in the Wolves’ 31-7 victory over Carver of Columbus last week to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Buford also gets big contributions from Zavior Hoxie and Joshua Thomas, who each has been the team’s leading rusher in a playoff game. 2. Cartersville QB Brooks Barden threw his 37th and 38th TD passes in a 21-13 victory over No. 1 Thomson last week. He is 166-of-295 passing for 2,672 yards with only two interceptions. He spreads the ball to leading rushers Brandon Long (589 yards) and Kalin Heath (517) and receivers Hayes Linn (38 catches, 568 yards, eight touchdowns), T.L. Ford (29-537-9) and Mark Quattlebaum (29-415-6). 3. Buford is in the semifinals for the sixth consecutive time, and a victory would put the Wolves in the state championship game for the 11th time in 13 seasons. Cartersville is making its seventh semifinal appearance. The Purple Hurricanes haven’t advanced this far since 2004, when they went 6-4 in the regular season but won three playoff games before being eliminated by Washington County.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Buford by 3
North Hall at St. Pius
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, George B. Maloof Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: North Hall is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA and unranked; St. Pius is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAA and ranked No. 7.
Last meeting: St. Pius won 38-13 in the 2011 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. North Hall gets most of its offense from the running game, which averages 343.9 yards per game. The Trojans have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in T.J. Tate (142 carries, 1,059 yards and 13 TDs) and Kevin Christmas (113-1,038-8). QB Brad Brown has rushed for 728 yards and 15 touchdowns and passed for 585 yards and eight scores. 2. St. Pius leading rusher Ryan Braswell and QB Jack Spear combined for 2,067 yards on the ground in the first 12 games, but it was Branden Mitchell who had the big night in a 40-35 victory over Washington County last week. Mitchell rushed for a season-high 164 yards and had two catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. The Golden Lions average 309.8 yards rushing for the season. 3. North Hall had never won more than seven games in a season before coach Bob Christmas arrived in 2001. Since then, the Trojans have had nine winning seasons and will be in the semifinals for the second time (the other was in 2007). St. Pius is in the semifinals for the first time since 2006 and the fifth time overall. The first three trips came in a four-year stretch beginning in 1965.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: St. Pius by 4
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