Here’s what to look for this weekend in each of the Class AAAAA quarterfinals:
- While Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson has gotten a lot of attention for his record-breaking career passing yardage, Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith has been putting up huge numbers as well, even if they have been a bit more under the radar. Smith ran for 266 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 41-35 victory over Lee County last week. He has 613 yards and eight TDs in two playoff games, which were the first postseason victories in the school’s 11-year history. Smith returned this season after suffering a torn ACL last year. Region 4 runner-up Mundy’s Mill is the only remaining team in Class AAAAA that is not a No. 1 seed.
- Another player who has been a bit overlooked is Kell quarterback Cameron Rosendahl. In four games since taking over as the starter after an injury sidelined Matthew McGuigan, Rosendahl has completed 68 percent of his passes (52-for-76) for 556 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. And that’s for a team that runs for 224.7 yards per game, led by Jay Moxey’s 1,282 yards. The 12-0 Longhorns have averaged 39.5 points in the past four games, more than the 36.1 they averaged in the first eight. Assuming McGuigan doesn’t return this week, Rosendahl’s performance could be key against a Warner Robins team that allows 165.2 yards per game passing but only 106 rushing.
- Ware County will be looking for a better outcome than the last time it came to DeKalb County to face Tucker in the quarterfinals. In 2010, a Gators team that had given up just 100 points in its first 12 games found itself trailing 29-0 early in the third quarter, and Tucker went on to an easy 42-3 victory. Ware County has given up more points in a game only once in coach Ed Dudley’s five seasons (49 vs. Gainesville in last year’s state final). Tucker got two rushing touchdowns each that night from Bashr Coles (144 yard rushing) and N’Quan Maggett (70 yards) and fumble returns for scores by James Vaughters and Ramal Davis.
- The high-scoring game of the quarterfinals is likely to be the one between Creekside and North Paulding. They are the two highest-scoring teams in the playoffs, and this is the only game that matches teams that both average more than 40 points per game. Creekside has scored 89 points in postseason victories against Lakeside-Evans and Harris County, while North Paulding has scored 85 in wins over Riverwood and Stephenson. North Paulding quarterback Chase Noonan (2,125) and Creekside QB Felix Harper (2,092) both passed for more than 2,000 yards during the regular season.