Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Second-round preview: Class AA

Heard County at Screven County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Kelly Memorial Stadium, Sylvania

Records, rankings: Heard County is 6-5, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AA and unranked; Screven County is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 3-AA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Heard County was ranked No. 5 in preseason but started 1-4 and lost star RB Duranta Dunson - who has 6,550 rushing yards and 89 touchdowns in his career - for four games to injury. Dunson is back, and Heard has made the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. Screven County has won 10 games in two of coach Ron Duncan's three season and seeks its first quarterfinal showing since the 2002 state-championship season. 2. Dunson rushed for 277 yards in the 28-21 first-round victory over Wesleyan. He has rushed for 1,499 yards in only seven games. Freshman QB Emory Jones has thrown for 832 yards. Levi Brown, a Marshall commit, leads the offensive line. DE Matt Brown (no relation to Levi) leads the team in tackles. 3. Malik Prescott rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown in the first-round 21-14 victory over Monticello Prescott has rushed for 810 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. Tavarius Johnson, who missed four games with a broken collarbone, ran for 81 against Monticello. He has three 100-yard rushing games and 561 yards total for the season. Screven averages fewer than seven passes per game. Donta Wilburn (38-of-72 passing, 566 yards) just began playing quarterback this year.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Screven County by 10

Winner plays: Washington-Wilkes/Brooks County winner

Washington-Wilkes at Brooks County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Veterans Stadium, Quitman

Records, rankings: Washington-Wilkes is 7-4, the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AA and unranked; Brooks County is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from 1-AA and No. 8.

Last meeting: Washington-Wilkes won 45-6 in the 1986 Class AA semifinals.

Three things to know: 1. Washington-Wilkes has been rather unpredictable for two seasons. The Tigers were 11-0 last season when stunned and embarrassed 48-14 in the second round by Bowdon Washington-Wilkes was ranked as high as No. 2 after a 2-0 start this year, but finished 6-4. Then the Tigers were one of only two No. 4 seeds in AA to win in the first round. The other was Pace Academy. 2. Washington-Wilkes held eighth-ranked Darlington to minus-1 yard rushing and 27 total yards in the 21-6 first-round victory. LB Kentonda Starks had six tackles for losses and three sacks. QB Deandre Harris has passed for 1,709 yards (124 of 204) and rushed for 601. JaQuavious Blackburn has rushed for 718 yards. Davarious Smith and Tyrique Pender have 12 TD receptions between them. 3. Brooks County QB Demontay Jones threw a 35-yard TD pass to Terrell Lamons with 1:48 left, breaking a 17-17 tie, in a 24-17 victory over Bacon County last week. Jones is 94-of-162 passing for 1,646 yards on the season. WR Exavius Medlock had eight catches for 177 yards, giving him 42 for 865 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. Ahmad Brown has rushed for 1,164 yards but was held to a season-low 29 against Bacon. He has returned two kickoffs for TDs.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Brooks County by 27

Winner plays: Heard County/Screven County winner

Lovett at Macon County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Adams-Maffett Field, Montezuma

Records, rankings: Lovett is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA and No. 3; Macon County is 9-2, the No. 1 seed from 4-AA and No. 6.

Last meeting: Lovett won 45-12 in the first round of the 2008 Class AA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Macon County coach Larry Harold took over a program that was 1-9 in 2011 and has shown steady improvement. The Bulldogs are having their best season since a 10-3 finish in 2005. Lovett knocked Macon County out of the playoffs in 2007 (second round) and 2008 (first). 2. Lovett led Bremen 42-7 midway in the third quarter of last week's 56-21 victory. QB Willie Candler was 9-of-9 passing for 172 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Candler is 106-of-170 for 1,433 yards. He also has scored 10 touchdowns. Jay Harris is the leading rusher with 692 yards. The top defenders are Sam Parry (team-leading 41 tackles) and Nathan Offutt (12 tackles for losses). 3. Macon County held Dublin to 114 yards of total offense - only 6 in the second half - in a 21-7 victory last week. Defensive linemen Joseph Journey and Robert Miller combined for seven tackles for losses. RB/WR/LB Roquan Smith, who rushed for 263 yards in the region-championship victory over Lamar County, was held to 16 on 11 carries, but scored all three touchdowns, one on a 55-yard punt return. Sophomore QB K'hari Lane has passed for 1,865 yards.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Lovett by 4

Winner plays: Benedictine/Rabun County winner

Benedictine at Rabun County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger

Records, rankings: Benedictine is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 2-AA and No. 4; Rabun County is 9-2, the No. 1 seed from 8-AA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Rabun County is looking for its first 10-win season and quarterfinal appearance since 1998. Benedictine, a semifinalist last season with a 13-1 record, is seeking its first back-to-back 10-win seasons since 1977-82. 2. Benedictine QB Stevie Powers is 138-of-201 passing for 2,542 yards and 24 touchdowns. WR Brad Stewart has 56 catches for 1,086 yards and 24 touchdowns. The leading rushers are Chance Jackson (669 yards) and sophomore John Kennedy (623). Benedictine averages 231.1 yards passing and 210.2 rushing per game. LB Tru'self Cooper had 13 solo tackles and 10 assists in a 35-0 victory over Thomasville in the first round. 3. Rabun County RB/WR/DB Charlie Woerner leads his team in rushing yards (1,169), receiving yards (566), touchdowns (21) and tackles (106). He was used more as a receiver in a 24-20 victory over Chattooga last week. He had 12 receptions for 81 yards while Eli Gipson was featured in the backfield with 136 yards on 18 carries. Gipson also is a two-way starter. He has 704 yards rushing and 82 tackles, 11.5 for losses totaling 58 yards.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Benedictine by 28

Winner plays: Lovett/Macon County winner

Lamar County at Greater Atlanta Christian

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

Records, rankings: Lamar County is 8-2-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AA and No. 10; Greater Atlanta Christian is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from 6-AA and No. 1.

Last meeting: Lamar County won 28-23 in the second round of the 2000 Class AA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Lamar County was the AA runner-up in 2013 and has remained a contender despite the graduation of three current Georgia Tech freshmen, Lawrence and Lance Austin and Qua Searcy. GAC has been ranked No. 1 since preseason but has never won a state title. 2. Micah Abernathy rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries in a 41-13 victory over Chattahoochee County in the first round. Abernathy, who is committed to Tennessee, has rushed for 749 yards on just 76 carries. QB Davis Mills is 114-of-177 passing for 1,764 yards. His main targets are Darius Slayton (40-638-10) and Justin Phan (39-670-7). LB Paul Crothers leads the team with 62 solo tackles. LB Tyler Cooksey is committed to Georgia Tech. 3. Juan Tucker rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in Lamar County's 28-14 victory over Swainsboro in the first round. Tucker, who has a team-leading 748 yards rushing on the season, ran for 168 and three touchdowns the week before against Macon County. Lamar County has completed only 16 passes this season, although four have gone for touchdowns. QB L.J. Smith is largely a game manager, although he has scored seven touchdowns and starts on defense, where he has three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Greater Atlanta Christian by 26

Winner plays: Coosa/Vidalia winner

Coosa at Vidalia

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Reservation, Vidalia

Records, rankings: Coosa is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AA and unranked; Vidalia is 11-0, the No. 1 seed from 2-AA and No. 2.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. In its second season under coach Todd Wheeler, Coosa is having its best season since a 10-3 finish in 2014. Vidalia has reached 10 wins for the third consecutive season but is trying to break a three-game losing streak in the second round. 2. Coosa RB Justin Ware rushed for 169 yards in a 14-7 victory over Greene County last week, but he was injured in the fourth quarter and replaced by Tristen Bryant, who scored the winning TD in overtime. Ware's status this week is uncertain. He has rushed for 1,499 yards this season. Coosa quickly stopped Greene in overtime, getting a 5-yard loss, then an interception. 3. Jordan Black scored five touchdowns and was one of three Vidalia backs with more than 100 yards rushing in a 56-35 first-round win over Berrien. Black ran for 200 yards on 16 carries. The others were Nathan McBride (9-112-1) and Dedrick Johnson (9-128-1). Black has 1,057 yards rushing and 613 passing on the season.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Vidalia by 38

Winner plays: Lamar County/Greater Atlanta Christian winner

Pace Academy at Jefferson County

When, where: 7:30 p.m., Warrior Field, Louisville

Records, rankings: Pace Academy is 6-5, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA and unranked; Jefferson County is 8-3, the No. 2 seed from 3-AA and unranked.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Pace Academy, which started varsity football in 2008, got its first playoff victory last week with a 49-28 win over Bowdon. The previous week, Pace had trailed 16-3 in the fourth quarter of a do-or-die game against B.E.S.T. Academy and survived 20-16. Jefferson County has made the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons but is seeking its first quarterfinal since 2009. 2. Jefferson County has scored 49 points or more in each of the past four games. QB Will Jordan has passed for 1,305 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kobe Jackson, Juwan McCall, Marquis Carter and D.J. Mills each have 20 or more receptions. Five backs have at least 200 yards rushing and five touchdowns. The defense is led by linebackers Daylan Williams and Jerry Lattimore, each with more than 100 tackles. 3. Pace Academy QB Kevin Johnson, who is committed to James Madison, threw four TD passes against Bowdon. Pace is a remarkably young team. Among 15 players with at least 10 tackles in the regular season, none were seniors. Leading rusher Realus George (477 yards regular season) is a freshman. Leading receiver Deon Jackson (411 yards, five TDs) is a sophomore. Backup QB Gunnor Faulk (460 yards passing) is a freshman.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Jefferson County by 5

Winner plays: Model/Fitzgerald winner

Model at Fitzgerald

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

Records, rankings: Model is 9-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AA and unranked; Fitzgerald is 10-1, the No. 1 seed from 1-AA and No. 5.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Model won its first playoff game last week since its 1979 state-championship season. The team has had a winning season in each of coach Gordon Powers' three seasons. It had not had a winning season since 1999. Fitzgerald is trying to make the quarterfinals for the 10th time since 2000. 2. Model RB Nakyle Watkins rushed for 360 yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries in a 50-36 victory over Union County in the first round. This gives him 1,862 yards on the season, the most in Class AA. All-state MLB Dax Bishop has 71 solo tackles, almost twice that of his closest teammate. 3. Fitzgerald will present a very different challenge than Union County, which put up 365 yards passing on Model. Gerald Morgan has scored 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,749 yards, the most of any quarterback in the state. He has thrown for 1,035 yards, passing about 10 times per game. RB J.D. King has rushed for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns. Also watch for WR Trey Graham, who has 16 TDs - seven rushing, nine receiving.

Maxwell Ratings' projection: Fitzgerald by 29

Winner plays: Pace Academy/Jefferson County winner


Coming Friday: Class A

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