Sandy Creek at North Hall
7:30 p.m., The Brickyard
Directions: From Gainesville, drive North on Ga. Hwy 60 and turn right on Mount Vernon Road. North Hall High is five miles down Mount Vernon on the left. Parking is available along Mount Vernon Road, in front of the school’s campus, and at North Hall Middle.
Records: North Hall (11-0); Sandy Creek (7-4)
Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Sandy Creek, Chip Walker
When North Hall has the ball:
Wing T vs. 4-3
North Hall’s mode of operation is going to be simple to digest against Sandy Creek: Spread out the touches and keep the Patriots’ defense on its toes. The Trojans have four primary ball carriers, including senior tailback Hunter Wolf (1,169 yards), senior fullback Bobby Epps (845 yards), senior wingback Dylon Wolf (422 yards) and senior quarterback Fabian Jackson (372 yards).
North Hall has scored more than 40 points in 10 games this season, and the Trojans broke the school’s single-game scoring record twice.
"North Hall is the total package," Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker said. "I’ve watched film on them, and it makes me depressed just watching it so I have to turn it off they are so good."
North Hall’s task is trying to crack a stingy Sandy Creek defense that has allowed 10 points or fewer four times this season. Last week, the Patriots held an athletic Hart County offense to only eight points in their first round win.
The heart of Sandy Creek’s defense is at linebacker with junior Matt Solomon (113 tackles) and senior Zack Hilton (13 tackles for a loss).
"We know Sandy Creek has a good team, but we feel like our team is going to be ready to play," Trojans coach Bob Christmas said.
When Sandy Creek has the ball:
Multiple I formation vs. 4-4
Sandy Creek’s offense thrives on its passing game. And why not? The Patriots have a game-changer at wide receiver with junior Braxton Lane, who has blazing 4.31 speed in the 40-yard dash, according to Walker.
Lane, one of the top receivers in the class of 2009 has 50 catches for 974 yards and 10 TDs.
Sandy Creek also has a playmaker in junior quarterback Rio Johnson (6-2, 185), who has 1,600 passing yards this season. Last week, he orchestrated a 396-yard effort on offense against Hart County.
North Hall’s defense isn’t going to back down from the challenge. The Trojans have had very few lapses on defense this season. They’ve allowed fewer than 10 points in seven games to date.
North Hall’s defensive leaders include Jackson Griffeth (120 tackles), Thomas Sprague (85 tackles), Dylon Wolf (72 tackles), Colin Alford (59 tackles) .
Prediction: NORTH HALL. The Trojans got the wake-up call they needed in last week’s win against McNair.
Players to watch
No. 3 Hunter Wolf: Sr., RB, (5-9 190); 1,169 rushing yards 10 TDs 10 yards per carry
No. 37 Bobby Epps: Sr., FB/LB, (6-0 210); 845 rushing yards, 337 receiving yards 23 TDs
No. 53 Jackson Griffeth: Sr., DE, (6-3 200); 120 tackles 13 TFL
Rio Johnson: Jr., QB, (6-2 185); 1,600 passing yards 55 percent passing
Braxton Lane: Jr., WR, (6-0 185); 50 receptions for 974 yards 10 TDs
Matt Solomon: Jr., LB, (5-11 190); 113 tackles and 13 TFL
Darlington at Buford
7:30 p.m., Tom Riden Stadium
Radio: WDUN 550-AM
Directions: From Interstate 985 South take Exit 8; Take a right on Friendship Road and go through two redlights. Take a left on Buford Hwy. Turn right onto Sawnee Road and the school is approximately 1/4 mile ahead on the right.
Records: Darlington (9-2); Buford (11-0)
Coaches: Darlington, Tommy Atha; Buford, Jess Simpson
When Buford has the ball:
Multiple I vs. 4-man front
Darlington’s defense has been nothing to scoff at this season, giving up less that two touchdowns per game. However, according to Tigers’ coach Tommy Atha, his team hasn’t faced an offense this season like Buford’s.
The Wolves come in to tonight’s matchup having outscored their opponents, on average, 48-5.
They score easily, and quickly, thanks to a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Twoey Hosch who has passed for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns to only one interception this season.
"(Hosch) is a solid quarterback," Atha said. "And they pass the football very effectively."
Buford also runs the ball effectively, evidenced by the fact that four of the Wolves’ running backs have five or more rushing touchdowns. Demetris Murray, who will be playing in his first playoff game after sitting out last week’s game due to suspension, has 15 touchdowns, fullback Tyler King has 14 touchdowns, and Cody Getz and Storm Johnson (who is actually on the junior varsity roster)each have five rushing scores on the season.
"I could go on and on about who we need to focus on," Atha said. "It’s a long list."
When Darlington has the ball:
Double slots vs. 4-3
Darlington’s offense, according to Atha, is primarily a run offense that hopes to mix in some passes to throw Buford’s defense off its game.
The Wolves have given up 52 points all season, and until last week’s first round game in which they gave up six, they had posted three straight shutouts to end the season.
Here are the numbers: As a unit the defense has hurried opposing quarterbacks 182 times and sacked him 30 times. They have caused 15 fumbles and recovered 12. They have 83 tackles for a loss and have intercepted the ball 17 times.
Led by T.J. Pridemore, who’s verbally committed to Georgia Tech, Notre Dame recruit Omar Hunter, Jay Tee Swanson and Cody Vining, the Buford defense dominates.
"There’s absolutely no way that we’ve played against — or even seen on film — a team that matches the size and strength of Buford," Atha said.
Prediction: BUFORD. There’s just no reason to pick against them.
Players to watch
No. 5 Demetris Murray: Sr., RB/DB (5-10, 200); 799 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns
No. 58 Omar Hunter: Sr. OL/DL (6-1, 311); 86 tackles, 9 for loss, 4 caused fumbles
No, 42 T.J. Pridemore: FB/LB, (6-2, 236); 94 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 caused fumbles
No. 7 Derricus Ellis: FB/DE (6-2, 240)
No. 37 Patrick Collier: RB/LB (6-0, 185)
No. 62 Garrett Henderson: OL (6-0, 250)
Cherokee at Habersham Central
7:30 p.m., Mount Airy
Radio: 99.3 FM
Directions: Take I-985 North from Gainesville. North of exit 24, I-985 becomes Ga. 365. Continue North until you come to the Clarkesville/Mt. Airy exit (Ga. Hwy 197) just past the 49 mile marker. Exit there and at the end of the exit ramp turn right. Habersham Central is 3/10 of a mile ahead on the right.
Records: Cherokee (8-3, No. 4 Region 5-AAAA); Habersham Central (10-1, No. 2 Region 8-AAAA)
Coaches: Cherokee, Brian Dameron; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart
When Cherokee has the ball: Veer vs. 4-3
The Warriors offense is run-based and can take on multiple looks. It is most conveniently described as a veer offense, but it also shares similarities with a power-run offense and pure option.
Cherokee has two backs that take up most of the carries: senior John Valentine and junior Matt Blaylock.
In the Warriors’ 21-19 upset of Dalton in the first round of the playoffs, Valentine ran for 112 yards on 15 carries, including a game-winning 6-yard touchdown run at the buzzer. Blaylock had 13 carries for 73 yards.
Cherokee can throw when forced to, but it isn’t the team’s strength. Against Dalton, quarterback Chris Pruitt was 4-for-8 for 83 yards.
Habersham Central’s defense is full of big hitters and that has yielded some impressive numbers through 11 games.
The Raiders give up an average of only 10.3 points per game.
When Habersham Central has the ball:
Spread vs. 4-4
The Raiders’ senior reciever Tavarres King gets all the attention, and it is well-deserved, but no defense can sleep on the rest of the team.
King has accounted for less than 50 percent of Habersham Central’s offense this year. That’s because quarterback Bo Hatchett has more options than he has ever had.
Running backs Robert Renshaw and Zach Chitwood keep teams honest against the run and a total of six receivers have at least 15 catches on the season for the Raiders.
But King is the go-to guy. His 1,433 receiving yard this year are 148 away from the state record. He has averaged 130 yards a game.
Cherokee’s defense has given up an average of 20.1 points per game this season and, during a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season, gave up 48, 38 and 28 points.
Prediction: Habersham Central. The Raiders are rolling right now and it is going to take more defense than Cherokee has to slow them down.
Players to watch
No. 23 John Valentine: Sr., RB, 112 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries in last week’s win over Dalton
No. 4 Matt Blaylock: Jr. RB, 73 yards on 13 carries in last week’s win over Dalton.
No. 6 Chris Pruitt: Sr. QB, 4-for-8 for 83 yards last week.
No. 2 Tavarres King: Sr., WR, (6-2 170), 1,422 receiving yards, 15 TDs
No. 8 Bo Hatchett: Sr., QB, (6-1 190), 61.7 percent completion, 24 TDs
No. 31 Daniel Franklin: Sr. LB, (6-3, 230)
Jefferson at Warren County
7:30 p.m., Warrenton
Radio (online): mirror.augusta.com
Directions: Leave Jefferson on Ga. 335 driving toward US 441. Turn right onto US 441. Turn left onto Athens Perimeter Hwy/Ga. 10 N/Ga. 15 S/Paul Broun Pkwy/US 129 S/US 441 S. Take exit 10C to merge onto Athens Perimeter Hwy/Ga. 10 S/US 129 S/US 441 S toward Lexington/US 78/Watkinsville. Take exit 8 for US 78/Ga. 10 toward Athens Airport/Downtown Athens/US 78. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Lexington and merge onto Ga. 10/Oconee St./US 78 for 18 miles. Turn slight right at Ga. 22 and follow for 28 miles. Turn left to merge onto Carl Sanders Hwy/Ga. 402 E/I-20 E and follow for 6 miles. Take exit 154 for US 278 toward Warrenton/Washington. Turn right at Atlanta Highway/US 278 and follow for 11 miles. Continue on Legion Drive/US 278 bypass. Turn left at South Gibson Street. School is at 509 South Gibson Street.
Records: Jefferson (8-3, No. 2 Region 8-A); Warren County (9-2, No. 1 Region 7-A)
Coaches: Jefferson, Bill Navas; Warren County, Lee Hutto
When Jefferson has the ball: Mulitple vs. 4-4
When these teams met in early in the season (a 40-28 Warren County win), Jefferson found plenty of success on the ground with Tyler Hill rushing for 222 yards. But the Dragons were unable to get their passing game on track and quarterback Josh Bohannon finished with one of his lowest outputs of the season (5-for-10, 51 yards).
Navas feels strongly that better balance will be imperative to Jefferson’s success tonight. He said the Screaming Devils locked the Dragons down in man-to-man coverage in the first meeting and simply had the better athletes.
Since then, Jefferson has operated out of the shotgun with increasing frequency. Navas said it’s the offense Bohannon is most comfortable with, and the Dragons have plenty of receivers to spread the field — five Dragons have at least 15 receptions this year.
Jefferson’s best chance for offensive success tonight could lie in its ability to create mismatches with Warren County linebackers matched up against receivers. That, and another big outing from Hill.
When Warren County has the ball:
Wing-T vs. 4-4
For the Screaming Devils, everything on offense begins with quarterback Tommy Seals. He powered Warren County to a 42-29 first round win over Eagles Landing with 210 rushing yards, 151 passing yards, and five total touchdowns last week. In the Devils’ win over Jefferson he led Warren County to 426 yards of total offense.
Navas said the best way to defend Seals is to control the ball on offense and keep him off the field, which is why another solid game from Hill will be important for the Dragons.
The Devils are scoring 37 points per game this season, and have been held to fewer than 30 points only twice.
Prediction: Warren County. The Dragons have improved throughout the season, but probably not enough match the Devils in a shootout.
Players to watch
No. 17 Tommy Seals: Sr., QB, (5-7 185), 101 carries, 895 rushing yards 11 TDs, 33-65 736 passing yards 6 TDs, 3 Ints
No. 23 Devon Walls: Sr. G/DE, (6-2 250), 42 tackles, 11 TFL, 5 forced fumbles
No. 51 Devarrus Reynolds: Sr. RB/DB, (5-8 190), 739 rushing yards, 6 TDs
No. 14 Josh Bohannon: Sr., QB, (5-9 180), 1,543 passing yards, 13 TDs, 65% comp.
No. 34 Tyler Hill: Sr., RB, (5-11 205), 1,126 rushing yards, 18 TDs
No. 3 Tab Martin: Jr. WR/DB, 36 tackles, 6 Ints