Class 2A Blog: Part 2 Preview
Rockmart is a three-touchdown favorite over North Cobb Christian. Last week, NCC beat Columbia 14-6 as the 3-point favorite. The Jackets are back in 2A after two seasons in 3A, and with a win they will return to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2018, when they went 14-1 and finished second in 2A.
The Jackets will be looking to dominate the field, where they’ve carried the ball 351 times for 3,231 yards and 47 touchdowns. Five players have at least five rushing touchdowns, led by senior Cam Ferguson, who has 10 to go with 726 yards on 67 carries. Junior Brent Washington has nine touchdowns and 430 yards on 55 carries, and junior JD Davis and senior JoJo Haynes each have seven rushing touchdowns.
NCC is led by senior quarterback Matty Go, who has 58 of 102 passes for 988 yards and 10 touchdowns for three interceptions. Senior Jacob Cruz is his leading receiver with 24 catches for 481 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Jaden Coates is the team’s leading rusher with 724 yards and five touchdowns on 87 carries. Cruz also leads the defense with 90 tackles, 14.5 for loss. Sam Ayegunle has 8.5 sacks. NCC reached the quarterfinals another time, in 2018 as a member of 1A.
Fitzgerald and Putnam County both reached the quarterfinals last year. Highly favorite Cane will return for the fourth time in five years, seventh in the last nine and 12th in the last 15. You get the idea – they’re used to making the playoffs deep. Prior to last season, the War Eagles had not reached the quarter-finals since 1996.
At the bottom left
The most relevant scenario in this quadrant is ELCA putting their streak of 12 straight quarter-finals on the line. All of the Eagles’ deep playoffs during the streak have come in Class 1A. Standing in their way is another 1A transplant at the Paladins with a four-way quarter-final streak.
Both teams reached the semi-finals last year, with FCS losing to Prince Avenue and ELCA losing to Trinity Christian. ELCA has plenty of upper-level talent – the Eagles have seven seniors signed to DI schools – but are adjusting to a first-year coach, while FCS are in their second year under four-time Championship coach Tim McFarlin of state, and could be more advanced as a program.
Berrien will look to continue his unlikely run as the tournament’s only No. 4 seed, but will face big chances against the Bears, who are a hiccup loss to Appling County, which came in a game moved from his date originally planned, 11 years. -0. While the Rebels won their first playoff game in over 30 years, the Bears have progressed every year since 2016, reaching the semifinals last year and winning 3A the year before. Since their founding in 1954, the Rebels have reached the quarter-finals once, in 1991, and have never been further.
The Raiders are seeking back-to-back quarterfinals after never having gone this far in the program’s 52-year history. The Pirates would make three straight quarter-finals with a win after reaching the semi-finals last year in manager Jordan Mullis’ first season and the quarter-finals in 2020. Don’t be surprised if this game is much closer than expected as the Raiders are 1-1 against ranked teams this year, beating 3A’s No. 2 Carver 26-8 and losing to top-ranked Fitzgerald 28-27.
The Raiders must slow a Pirates offense averaging 53.5 points in their last two games, including 65 scored in the first round against Washington County.
Although Fannin County is a double-digit underdog, they have proven over the past three years under coach Chad Cheatham that they will be competitive in the playoffs. This is the third straight season the Rebels have improved. Additionally, Callaway has shown a tendency to downplay the level of competition in some instances where it is the more talented team. This game could be close
There are other instances, however, where the Cavs are rolling the competition, no matter how good. They started 0-3 and haven’t lost since. It would be the seventh straight quarterfinal appearance for the Cavs, who reached the semifinals last year following their 2020 championship.
The Rebels are looking for their third quarter-final appearance, the others coming in 1995 and 2020. They have never been further.
At the bottom right
The Hornets and Panthers meet in a rematch of the first round of the 2019 2A playoffs, which the Panthers won 19-15 for their first-ever playoff win. This prevented the Hornets from winning their first-ever playoff game. The Hornets would progress the following year and they reached the quarter-finals last season, making it the third consecutive season they have progressed.
The Hornets have scored at least 30 points in all of their games this season, averaging 44.3 points, while their defense is only allowing an average of 14.5 points. The good news for the Panthers is that they can score points too, averaging 30 points. Whether they can stop Keyjuan Brown is another story, as well as a riddle that no other team has solved.
Although the Panthers have won only one playoff victory since their founding in 1957, they reached the quarter-finals twice, in 1972 and 1973, winning regional games.
Thomson and Cook should deliver the marquee game in Round 2. Both teams can score – Thomson is averaging 42 points, Cook is averaging 36 – but Thomson’s defense is what stands out and should be the difference. The Bulldogs are allowing just 7.27 points per game and have won their last three games against Glenn Hills, Westside and first-round opponent Tattnall County, a combined 139-0.
It would be Thomson’s second consecutive quarter-final appearance after reaching the 3A quarters last year. Cook is looking for his first quarter-final appearance since 2010.