The quarterback showcase of the week will take place at Grady Stadium, where No. 7 Woodland and No. 8 Grady meet in a second-round elimination game.
Grady features Caylin Newton, who has thrown for 3,096 yards and 32 and rushed for 904 yards and 12 touchdowns. Woodland is led by Reid Larsen, who has thrown for 2,434 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Woodland (9-2) appeared in its first playoff game last week and easily defeated New Hampstead 39-6. The Wolfpack made the playoffs in their third season under coach Steve Davenport, whose first two teams went 7-3 and just missed it. Woodland has lost only to No. 2 Stockbridge and Valdosta, the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA. The Wolfpack have won four straight games and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Region 4.
Grady (10-1) has won eight straight games since its loss at No. 6 Ware County. After finishing the season with close wins over Riverwood and Banneker, the Region 6 champions hammered Walnut Grove 42-8 in the opening round. The win ensured Grady of its first double-digit win total since 2010.
The winner plays the Kell-Starr’s Mill winner.
Here’s a look at the other second-round games. None of these teams have played each other.
Kell at Starr’s Mill: No. 5 Kell (9-2) comes at you on the ground behind Josiah Futral (845 yards, seven TDs) and through the air with John Lampley (1,669 yards, 15 TDs). Starr’s Mill (7-4) brings a strong running attack into the game. The Panthers feature Cole Gilley (1,555 yards, 24 TDs) and Nick Brown (912 yards, nine TDs) and average 335 yards on the ground. Gilley has been hard to hold; he’s rushed for 100 yards in 10 games.
The winner plays the Woodland-Grady winner.
Carrollton at Thomas County Central: No. 3 Carrollton (10-1) has won six straight since its loss to Rome. The Trojans are really clicking on offense and have scored 42 or more points in four of their last six games. Quarterback Mark Wright has thrown for 1,622 yards and rushed for 503. Freshman Mecose Todd has rushed for 751 yards and 12 TDs and Jaylan Thomas has rushed for 683 yards. Thomas County Central (8-3) has won three straight and has survived the loss of quarterback Kelias Williams.
The winner plays the Jones County-Buford winner.
Jones County at Buford: Jones County (7-4) will bring a gunslinger mentality to this one behind quarterback Brad Hunnicutt, who has thrown for 2,502 yards and 18 touchdowns. Nick Singleton is a rare 1,000-yard receiver. When the Greyhounds have struggled, it has been against physical defensive teams like Stockbridge and Woodland.
No. 1 Buford (10-1) is expected to get linebacker T.D. Roof back from an MCL sprain. The Wolves are led offensively by Anthony Grant, who went over the 1,000-yard mark last week and now has 1,065 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
The winner plays the Carrollton-Thomas County Central winner.
Clarke Central at Stockbridge: Clarke Central (7-4) has made great progress this season under first-year coach David Perno, but there’s no question the Gladiators face perhaps the toughest second-round match. No. 2 Stockbridge (11-0) has been banged up, but is expected to get quarterback Kenderick Duncan back from a hip injury.
The winner plays the Griffin-Arabia Mountain winner.
Griffin at Arabia Mountain: A classic matchup between the offensive punch of No. 10 Griffin (10-1) and the defensive skills of Arabia Mountain (9-2). Griffin quarterback Tylan Morton (3,996 yards passing) will be the best player the Rams have seen all season, with running back Santo Dunn and receiver Malik Route also among the best in class. Arabia Mountain hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in a game this year but will need all it skills against a Griffin team that averages 39 points.
The winner plays the Clarke Central-Stockbridge winner.
Loganville at Ware County: No. 9 Loganville (9-2) won its first playoff game in 25 years last week. The combination of quarterback Cameron Perkins-McLeod (1,445 yards passing, 15 TDs) and receiver Shy Kim (40 catches, six TDs) has been very productive. Kim is fast and deceptive, tough to catch on kick returns and an occasional run. Running back Darryl Giles Jr. has rushed for 1,112 yards and 17 touchdowns.
No. 6 Ware County (7-3) bears the traits of a typical Franklin Stephens-coached team – tough, disciplined and fundamentally strong. The Gators have a two-way threat in quarterback Jemar Lincoln, a senior who has thrown for 710 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 921 yards and 13 touchdowns. But Ware has a stable of competent backs, four others who have rushed for 200-plus yards, so the Gators aren’t a one-man show.
The winner plays the Bainbridge-Rome winner.
Bainbridge at Rome: Bainbridge is the winner of this week’s prize for making the longest road trip. It’s about 270 miles from the Southwestern tip of Georgia to the largest city in Northwest Georgia.
The Bearcats (5-5) played a challenging non-region schedule and had one game cancelled because of bad weather. Bainbridge has won three straight and four of its last five, losing only to Region 1 champion Thomas County Central. Bainbridge is built around the running skills of Dameon Pierce, who has 1,667 yards and 20 touchdowns. Quarterback Brett McLaughlin offers some balance and has thrown for 871 yards and seven touchdowns.
No. 4 Rome (9-2) is on a seven-game losing streak since its loss to No. 5 Kell. The Wolves have limited the opposition to seven or fewer points in the last six games. Quarterback Knox Kedum has thrown for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns and the Wolves have two 1,000-yard rushers – Jalynn Sykes (1,092 yards, 16 TDs) and Jamious Griffin (1,006 yards, 19 TDs).
The winner plays the Loganville-Ware County winner.