The Georgia High School football semifinals are just one day away. Yesterday, we broke down each of the semifinal matchups for 4A-6A. Today, Team11 breaks down the remaining matchups from the 1As through 3A.
Blessed Trinity vs. Washington Co.
Blessed Trinity’s head coach Tim McFarlin last went to the semifinals when he coached Roswell High School back in 2009. McFarlin’s team ended up winning that game to tie for a share of the state title with Peachtree Ridge. This time McFarlin enters the semifinals with a Blessed Trinity team who is undefeated for the first time in program history. The Titans will go on the road to face Washington Co. who is also undefeated and looking for redemption after losing to Buford in the championship last season. With Buford now gone to AAAA, Washington County is the odds on favorite to win it this time around. Washington Co. beat Blessed Trinity in the quarterfinals last season 46-17. The key for Blessed Trinity is whether or not its strong defense can fare better against the high-scoring Golden Hawks this time around.
Westminster vs. Calhoun
It’s hard to remember a time when Calhoun was not in the playoffs. If you’re a high school football player now, the Yellow Jackets have been in the postseason every year since Kindergarten. You have to look back to 1999 to find the last time Calhoun’s season ended with the last game of the regular season. This year is no different with the undefeated Jackets averaging a relentless 44 points per game while allowing no more than 18 points to any of its opponents this season. Westminster hopes to change that, especially since Calhoun is coming off only a two-point win in its last game. Westminster’s defense has held its opponents’ offenses to single figures five times this season. If the defense is as strong as it was against teams like Decatur and Lovett, Westminster could be the team to finally knock off Calhoun. If not, get the cold packs ready to reduce the swelling from Calhoun’s sting.
Benedictine vs. Brooks Co.
This is the first meeting between these two schools, and both have had very similar seasons. Both kicked off their season by losing their opening game. They both then went on to struggle against and lose to one of the other two teams currently on the other side of the AA bracket. Benedictine lost to GAC 24-21, and Brooks Co. lost to Fitzgerald 57-29. The key to this game is who has more momentum coming off their quarterfinal victory. Benedictine beat the defending state champions, Lovett, 31-10, but Brooks Co. is coming off a thrilling 35-34 victory against Heard Co. Which scenario is more beneficial to carry a team to the finals? That’s for you to debate and us to find out Friday.
GAC vs. Fitzgerald
GAC has been to the semifinals a couple times, most recently in 2011. But they have never been 13-0 when playing in the semifinals. GAC was picked by many to be the favorite in AA this season. But they got a little bit of a wakeup call against Vidalia who made a little bit of a comeback in the second half. It was the second most allowed points this season by the Spartans in their 33-22 victory. They go on the road to face Fitzgerald who is 12-1. What is remarkable about Fitzgerald’s semifinal appearance is that this was a 6-5-1 team last season who struggled heavily in their region (1-AA). This time around, the region seemed like much less of a challenge finishing 5-1. GAC is the favorite, but they better prepare so not to be caught off guard by a team who has turned things around so quickly.
Commerce vs. Irwin Co.
Despite the fact that these teams have never met, they too have some similarities. Both teams are making their second straight playoff appearance following consecutive losing seasons. It’s remarkable when smaller programs are able to turn things around so quickly and is usually a sign of great coaching. Commerce’s head coach Michael Brown is in his second year coaching the Tigers, and Irwin County’s head coach Buddy Nobles is in his first year of coaching. It will be fun to see which of these young coaches will lead their team to a state final appearance.
Hawkinsville vs. Marion Co.
Marion Co. is undefeated this season and trying to defend last season’s state title. The Eagles have an explosive offense which has scored at least 30 points in all but two of its games. One of those games was in a close 13-6 victory against Hawkinsville. These two teams actually have a substantial recent history. They faced each twice last season, as well, once in the regular season and again in the semifinals. Hawkinsville won the regular season meeting only to then lose to Marion Co. 40-7 in the semifinals. Marion Co. leads the series 5-1. Will history repeat itself and the loser of the regular season contest come out as the victor when it matters, or will Marion Co. continue its dominance in the series?
Mt. Paran Christian vs. Aquinas
Mount Paran is undefeated up to this point in the season for the first time in history, but that achievement gets slightly overshadowed when compared to Aquinas’ 26-game winning streak. Aquinas won the A-Private state championship last season with a 14-0 record, and they are looking to do it again this season with star safety and Georgia Tech commit A.J. Grey leading the defense. Last season, they had to get past Mount Paran in the quarterfinals, and the Eagles kept it within a field goal. These two teams are arguably even closer this time around as both are without a loss.
ELCA vs. Calvary Day Christian
Eagles Landing Christian Academy could be going for quite the interesting statistic in the record book if it could win the title this season. The Eagles started the season 0-6 forcing themselves to play significantly larger schools in preparation for the playoffs. They then went on to win the region and cruise through the playoffs thus far. The Eagles are already the only team in Georgia history to start 0-6 and make it to the semifinals. Things have been going a lot more smoothly for Calvary Day Christian School who is undefeated this season and looking to win its first state title in program history after coming up just short in the final last season. Can this year’s Cinderella Story make it to the end? Or will Calvary Day finally raise the trophy?