Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Playoff preview: Class AA quarterfinals

Brooks County at Heard County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Staples Stadium, Franklin

Records, rankings: Brooks County is 9-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 1-AA and No. 8; Heard County is 7-5, the No. 2 seed from 5-AA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Heard County's Tim Barron became head coach in 2002 and went from 0-11 to 10-2 in his first season. Heard had been 0-5 in second-round games under Barron until breaking through last week. Brooks County is in the quarterfinals for the seventh time in Maurice Freeman's 11 seasons as head coach, including his first run at his alma mater from 1994 to 1997. 2. Brooks County WR Exavius Medlock scored on a 22-yard reception and 80-yard run in a 21-14 victory over Washington-Wilkes last week. The preseason all-state pick has 44 catches for 898 yards and 13 touchdowns. QB Demontay Jones rushed for a season-high 120 yards on 20 carries. He has passed for 1,694 yards and rushed for 375. Ahmed Brown has rushed for 1,203 yards, but just 68 in the playoffs. 3. Heard County held Screven County to 116 total yards in a 28-6 victory last week. Duranta Dunson rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He has 1,648 on the season despite missing four games with an injured shoulder, which still prevents him from playing much if any on defense, where he also is valuable. Heard has a freshman quarterback, Emory Jones, who has thrown for 888 yards.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Brooks County by 20

Winner plays: Lovett/Benedictine winner

Lovett at Benedictine

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, T.A. Wright Stadium/Savannah State, Savannah

Records, rankings: Lovett is 9-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA and No. 3; Benedictine is 10-2, the No. 2 seed from 2-AA and No. 4.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Lovett, the defending AA champion, is in the quarterfinals for the eighth time in coach Mike Muschamp's 10 seasons. Benedictine, 13-1 last season, is in the quarterfinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1977-79. 2. Lovett led 42-0 in the third quarter of its surprisingly easy 42-8 road victory over sixth-ranked Macon County last week. Jay Harris rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Lovett had 439 yards in total offense. Murphy Lee rushed for 91 yards and intercepted two passes. Nathan Offutt had three tackles for losses totaling 30 yards and forced a fumble. 3. Sophomore RB John Kennedy rushed for 234 yards and two touchdowns in Benedictine's 42-9 second-round victory over Rabun County. Kennedy hadn't rushed for more than 100 yards in a game until then but is now the team's leading rusher with 857 yards. Stevie Powers has thrown for 2,669 yards and 26 touchdowns, and Brad Stewart has 59 receptions for 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Benedictine by 5

Winner plays: Brooks County/Heard County winner

Vidalia at Greater Atlanta Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross

Records, rankings: Vidalia is 12-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AA and No. 2; Greater Atlanta Christian is 12-0, the No. 1 seed from 6-AA and No. 1.

Last meeting: Vidalia won 20-14 in the 2003 Class AA quarterfinals.

Three things to know: 1. Vidalia is trying to make the semifinals for the first time since 2003, when it beat GAC in the quarterfinals in the only meeting between these schools. GAC is trying to make the semifinals for the first time since 2002, when GAC was the Class AA runner-up to Buford. Vidalia is 0-4 all-time against No. 1 teams (1978 Claxton, 1992 Mitchell-Baker, 1997 Washington County, 2005 Dublin). 2. Vidalia RB/LB Nathan McBride, rated as the No. 91 recruit nationally for the class of 2017 by 247Sports, has rushed for 112 and 127 yards in two playoff games. He had only 299 yards rushing in the regular season. QB Jordan Black has rushed for 1,152 yards and passed for 618. Vidalia has attempted only six passes in the playoffs, completing two. 3. GAC trailed Lamar County 20-14 at halftime but forced four turnovers in the second half and won 45-20 despite Juan Tucker's 266 yards rushing. Micah Abernathy (committed to Tennessee) has scored three touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards in both playoff games while also playing significantly in the secondary along with four-star recruit Darius Slayton, who intercepted two passes and had four catches for 100 yards. QB Davis Mills has passed for 1,896 yards.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Greater Atlanta Christian by 2

Winner plays: Pace Academy/Fitzgerald winner

Pace Academy at Fitzgerald

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jaycee Stadium, Fitzgerald

Records, rankings: Pace Academy is 7-5, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA and unranked; Fitzgerald is 11-1, the No. 1 seed from 1-AA and No. 5.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Pace Academy, which began football in 2008, is the only No. 4 seed remaining in any classification. The team had never won a playoff game until this season, the second under coach Chris Slade, a former NFL player from Virginia. Fitzgerald is back in the quarterfinals after its streak of five was broken last season. 2. Pace Academy QB Kevin Johnson (committed to James Madison) threw five TD passes in a 57-50 victory over Jefferson County, a week after throwing four against Bowdon. Johnson threw a 40-yard TD pass for a 50-43 lead before Jefferson County returned the kickoff for a tying touchdown. Johnson then threw a 25-yard TD pass to Deon Johnson with seven seconds left. Johnson had 396 yards passing in the game. Pace's offensive line and defense are made up almost entirely of underclassmen. 3. Fitzgerald's Gerald Morgan rushed for 204 yards and a touchdowns and J.D. King ran for 166 and four in a 48-14 victory over Model last week. Morgan has 1,953 yards rushing on the season. King has 1,306. They have scored 40 touchdowns between them. Fitzgerald is averaging 372.3 yards rushing per game, but has completed only six of 22 passes in the playoffs.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Fitzgerald by 21

Winner plays: Vidalia/Greater Atlanta Christian winner

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