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High school football capsules: Playoffs Round 2

POSTED: November 21, 2013 10:44 p.m.

South Paulding Spartans at Gainesville Red Elephants

Where: City Park Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: South Paulding, Ed Koester; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: South Paulding (10-1, No. 2 Region 5-AAAAA); Gainesville (10-1, No. 1 Region 8-AAAAA)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: South Paulding (3-1); Gainesville (5-1)

Last week: South Paulding beat Sequoyah 48-21; Gainesville beat M.L. King 28-14.

Outlook: Gainesville’s second-round game has the potential to turn into a high-scoring shootout with two of the state’s top quarterbacks and passing attacks going head to head.

Gainesville is led by the state’s all-time leading passer and Clemson University signee Deshaun Watson, who has thrown for 2,810 yards and 37 touchdowns this season, while his counterpart from South Paulding, Chandler Burks, has racked up 2,334 yards and 24 passing touchdowns.

Those quick-tempo passing games have led to high-scoring totals for both. The Red Elephants have topped 40 points nine times through 11 games, while the Spartans aren’t far behind with eight 40-plus-point games.

Gainesville spreads it around with short and long passes mixed between the running backs and wide receivers.

For the Red Elephants, Jay Gaudlock leads in receptions with 71 for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns, while junior running back Michael Byrd has 49 catches for 447 yards. Rodney Lackey (42 catches, 639 yards) and Chastin Newman (33 catches, 537 yards) also figure heavily into the Gainesville passing attack.

Since Gainesville’s spread offense is designed to throw first, it creates gaps for the run game, too. Byrd is the Red Elephants’ leading rusher with 118 carries for 878 yards and 11 rushing scores.

After a 165-yard night in the first-round win, Watson is second on the team in rushing with 849 yards and 11 scores.

South Paulding is balanced in its offensive production with 2,627 rushing yards and 2,471 through the air. Jae Bowen, a senior, is the Spartans’ leading receiver with 50 catches for 741 yards, while sophomore L.J. Pope is second on the squad with 36 catches for 654 yards.

Burks (1,367 yards, 17 touchdowns) and Bowen (1,158) are both over 1,000 yards on the ground for South Paulding, which is making its first playoff appearance in the eight years the school has been playing football.

South Paulding suffered its only loss of the season 31-28 to 5-AAAAA champion North Paulding in the regular season.

Gainesville won its first-round game on the back of staunch defensive plays. Twice the Red Elephants’ defense stopped M.L. King on fourth and 1 run plays at the 1, and came up with a pair of interceptions. Gainesville linebacker Devan Stringer had a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Lions.

The Red Elephants’ defense is led on the season by J.D. Sosebee with 138 tackles and three sacks, while Stringer has 118 stops and six tackles for a loss.

The winner plays the Lee County/Mundy’s Mill winner in the quarterfinals on Nov. 29.

Chestatee War Eagles at Sandy Creek Fighting Patriots

Where: The Battlefield, Tyrone

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Sandy Creek, Chip Walker

Records: Chestatee (9-2, No. 2 Region 8-AAAA); Sandy Creek (10-0-1, No. 1 Region 5-AAAA)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: Chestatee (4-2); Sandy Creek (6-0-1)

Last week: Chestatee beat Grady 41-13; Sandy Creek beat Cedartown 63-10.

Outlook: Fresh off making history with its first-ever playoff victory, Chestatee draws a tough second-round matchup against top-ranked Sandy Creek, the defending Class AAAA state champion.

As usual, the Fighting Patriots’ season was nothing short of dominant. After a 27-27 tie against Florida powerhouse Plant in their season opener, Sandy Creek cruised past the rest of its opponents with a balanced offense that cracked 50 points in the next three outings.

The defense stepped up later in the season with three shutouts, and two more teams were held to just seven points.

In the Fighting Patriots’ win over Cedartown last week, they held the state’s top running back and Georgia commit Nick Chubb to just 71 yards on 19 carries after he rushed for more than 2,500 yards during the regular season.

With the run game being Chestatee’s bread and butter, the War Eagles will need more than one player to shoulder the load of getting yards on the ground against such a stout defense.

Luckily, they had a pair of 100-yard rushers last week against Grady in Tray Bryant, who had three touchdowns in the win, and leading rusher Zac Cheshire.

Cheshire’s season totals rank him among the area’s top running backs with 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Bryant is a larger, more physical back with 598 yards and 11 touchdowns. Throw in the rushing efforts of Blake Buffington (426 yards, five touchdowns) and quarterback Wyatt Burgess (438 yards, four touchdowns), and Chestatee has a formidable running game that can wear down even the largest of defenses.

But Sandy Creek can counter with plenty of offense of its own. The Fighting Patriots feature a talented quarterback-wide receiver tandem in Marshall commit Cole Garvin (1,896 passing yards, 15 touchdowns) and Clemson commit Demarre Kitt (803 yards, six touchdowns).

In the running game, they boast a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Delvin Weems (1,156 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Eric Swinney (1,056 yards, 19 touchdowns).

Chestatee has proven to be a talented defensive unit, especially on its line. Nose tackle Khalil Cantrell and defensive ends Cody Humphries and Rob Minor have combined for 16 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. Leading the War Eagles’ linebacking corps are William Fayson (123 tackles) and Kris Pierce (103 tackles).

If Chestatee can pull off the upset in Tyrone, it will be the first team to defeat Sandy Creek in the second round since Rome accomplished the feat in 2008. The Fighting Patriots didn’t lose again until the 2011 Class AAA state quarterfinals, when their 41-game losing streak that spanned two state titles was snapped at Gainesville.

It was the last time they played a Hall County team.

The winner plays the Griffin/Statesboro winner in the quarterfinals on Nov. 29.

Woodward Academy War Eagles at Buford Wolves

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Woodward Academy, John Hunt; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Woodward Academy (9-2, No. 2 seed Region 6-AAA); Buford (11-0, No. 1 seed Region 7-AAA)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: Woodward Academy (4-2); Buford (6-0)

Last week: Woodward Academy defeated North Oconee 53-21; Buford defeated Sonoraville 58-0.

Outlook: Woodward Academy features a balanced offensive attack that has eclipsed the 40-point mark four times in the past fives weeks.

After a slow start to the season, and losing two of its first five games, Woodward Academy has won six straight games, outscoring opponents 232-83 during that span.

Woodward Academy sophomore running back Elijah Holyfield (5-11, 190), who played his freshman season at Riverside Military, rushed for 85 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries last week.

War Eagles senior quarterback Terry Googer (6-4, 210), a South Carolina pledge, threw for 113 yards and finished with three total touchdowns.

Buford features a balanced attack, with junior Joshua Thomas (81 carries, 643 yards, 11 touchdowns) leading the running game. He finished with 68 yards rushing on just five carries last week.

Thomas Wilson (54 carries, 483 yards, 13 touchdowns), Evyn Cooper (36 rushes, 510 yards, four touchdowns) and Xavier Gannt (38 rushes, 429 yards, 7 touchdowns) have also played pivotal roles in the Wolves’ running game this year.

In the passing attack, Taylor Mitchell and Montgomery VanGorder have been sharp and accurate all season for Buford. Last week against Sonoraville, the seniors combined to complete 9 of 10 passes for 101 yards.

On the season, Mitchell and VanGorder have combined to complete 79 of 109 passes for 1,302 yards with 16 touchdowns.

The winner of tonight’s matchup faces either Jefferson County or Carver-Columbus in the state quarterfinals on Nov. 29.

White County Warriors at Blessed Trinity Titans

Where: Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell

Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; Blessed Trinity, Tim McFarlin

Records: White County (9-2, No. 2 seed Region 7-AAA); Blessed Trinity (8-3, 5-1 No. 1 seed Region 6-AAA)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: White County (3-2); Blessed Trinity (5-2)

Last week: Blessed Trinity defeated Jackson County 41-14 in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs last week, while White County used a three-touchdown performance from senior Dalton Whitfield to cruise past Adairsville, 52-28.

Outlook: White County has lost all three meetings against Blessed Trinity since the start of the 2012 season, including a 30-0 defeat on Sept. 20.

Tonight, the Warriors will look to turn around their luck against the Titans, while also securing the school’s first-ever 10-win season and its first second-round playoff victory.

Both teams have powerful running games, with quality short-yardage passing attacks.

The Titans boast a pair of 900-yard rushers in senior Chad Matheny (929 yards, 11 touchdowns) and sophomore Milton Shelton (907 yards, 4 touchdowns).

In the passing game, sophomore Conor Davis has completed 56 percent of his passes for 948 yards and eight touchdowns.

His favorite targets are Chris Siebert (42 catches, 233 yards), Patrick Jasinski (17 catches, 232 yards, 4 touchdowns), Colin Bradley (15 catches, 245 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Robert McQuaid (27 catches, 196 yards, 1 touchdown).

White County is riding the momentum of its fourth-ever playoff victory last week, and will look to replicate its offensive production again this week.

In last Friday’s win over Adairsville, the Warriors racked up 450 yards on the ground, led by senior Dalton Whitfield’s 237 yards and three touchdowns.

Maurice Sutton finished with 109 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.

Defensively, White County allowed just 7 points in the second half last week and forced a pair of turnovers.

The winner of tonight’s matchup faces either Washington County or Peach County in the state quarterfinals on Nov. 29.

Jefferson Dragons at Heard County Braves

Where: Staples Stadium, Franklin

Coaches: Jefferson, Ben Hall; Heard County, Tim Barron

Records: Jefferson (9-2, No. 2 Region 8-AA); Heard County (10-1, No. 1 Region 5-AA)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: Jefferson (5-2); Heard County (4-1)

Last week: Jefferson beat Westminster 28-0; Heard County topped Pepperrell 27-14.

Outlook: Jefferson will still be helmed by junior T.J. Skelton at quarterback in tonight’s game, even though its coach says season-opening starter Evan Shirreffs is now fully healed from a broken thumb on his throwing right hand dating back to early in the season.

According to Hall, both will likely see playing time against a Braves defense which has held the opposition to 14 points or fewer eight times this season.

The Dragons will still be lead in the running game with Tristen Jackson (625 yards, nine touchdowns) and Isaiah Blake (531 yards, 13 touchdowns) leading the way. Skelton has completed 37 of 72 throws for 617 yards and seven passing touchdowns.

Shirreffs still leads the Dragons passing with 70 completed throws for 1,015 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Skelton also leads the Dragons in receptions with 18 catches for 305 yards.

Jefferson is currently playing at a level pleasing to Hall. The Dragons were sharp in all phases of the game and will need to continue to do the same tonight against the Braves, who are playing in the postseason for the ninth consecutive season.

In Round 1, Blake’s 144 rushing yards and Jackson’s 84 yards on a slick field sent the defending state champs to a shutout win against the Wildcats.

“That was a great effort against Westminster,” Hall said. “I thought that was the most complete game we’ve played all season.”

Now, Jefferson turns its attention to Heard County, which is paced on offense by 1,730-yard rusher Duranta Dunson. He scored on three runs and finished with 200 yards in the Round 1 win against Pepperrell.

The winner plays the Thomasville/Lamar County winner in the quarterfinals on Nov. 29.

Charlton County Indians at Commerce Tigers

Where: Tiger Field at Ray Lamb Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Charlton County, Rich McWhorter; Commerce, Michael Brown

Records: Charlton County (6-4, No. 9 Class A public school bracket); Commerce (7-3, No. 8 Class A public school bracket)

Records vs. 2013 playoff teams: Charlton County (1-2); Commerce (1-3)

Last week: Tonight’s matchup is the first round of the state tournament for both teams.

Outlook: Charlton County has experience against three out of the 16 playoff teams this season, while Commerce has not seen any of its potential opponents yet this year.

Charlton County’s two losses against playoff teams have come to the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the tournament, showing the strength of the Indians’ region and schedule this season. Charlton County lost to No. 4 Irwin County by a field goal in the final game of the regular season.

The Indians are led by running back Andrew Lee, who scored once in last week’s loss, and quarterback Trae Harrington, who added another score against Irwin County.

Meanwhile, Commerce is the only school from Region 8-A to advance to the public school playoff bracket and earned the eighth seed thanks to Charlton County’s loss, gaining home-field advantage to avoid the 288-mile drive to Folkston, which is in the southeast corner of the state.

The Tigers hope to use a strong ground attack to try to stifle Charlton County.

Tigers quarterback Caleb Brooks paces the team with six touchdowns and 363 yards on 100 rushing attempts, and is 21 of 46 passing for 273 yards and four touchdown passes.

J’Varius Wood caught three touchdown passes, and Grant Mayberry hauled in another for Commerce.

Commerce has a number of rushers leading the team, including Jamir Walton, who has 689 yards and eight scores on 149 carries. Chance McClure has five rushing touchdowns so far this season and 664 yards on 138 carries, and Drew Whitfield has scored three times on 50 rushing attempts for 166 yards.

Cole Chancey boosts the ground game even more with an average of 5.4 yards per carry — 321 yards on 60 rushes.

McClure also leads the Tigers in tackles with 72 this season. Wood has 37 tackles, Chancey has 48, and Tyreke Wiggins adds 44 for Commerce.

Both teams are almost even in terms of points scored and points allowed. Commerce averages 21.4 points per game while allowing 21.2. Charlton County averages 24.3 points while allowing 19.4.


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