Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The top matchups and what to watch for this week in 4A

Before I get into the top matchups this weekend, here is an overview of what the Class 4A slate looks like this weekend. Westover, Perry, Baldwin and Druid Hills will observe bye weeks, while the other 48 teams in the classification are playing. This will give Class 4A a total of 44 games this weekend because there are four games being played within the classification (Gilmer at Cedartown, North Clayton at Central-Carroll, Jefferson at Thomson, Upson-Lee at Columbus). The remaining 40 teams will be battling teams from other classifications except for Richmond Academy and Marist, who will be hosting out of state opponents this Friday.

Here are my top five matchups to watch for.


No. 6 Jefferson at No. 3 Thomson

This battle of top 10 teams is the matchup to watch this week in Class 4A. The Dragons and Bulldogs hadn’t met on the gridiron since 1963 before last season pinned the two programs together twice; first in the regular season and then exactly three months later in the state semifinals. Thomson took the regular season contest 42-20 and then scored a 27-6 win in the semifinals to take a 2-8-2 all-time series lead over Jefferson. Jefferson hasn’t beaten Thomson since a 46-19 win in 1958, but avenging last year’s sweep would mean more to the Dragons than snapping the six-decade-long drought in the series. Thomson held on for a 14-13 win over South Effingham last week, a solid Class 6A program that has posted five straight winning seasons. Jefferson has been very impressive in its first two games under new head coach Gene Cathcart. The Dragons blanked Class 7A Discovery 43-0 in the season opener and then scored a 50-13 victory at Riverwood last Friday. Senior running back Colby Wood has led a Jefferson ground game that has accumulated 687 rushing yards through its first two games (343.5 yards per game).


No. 2 Blessed Trinity at Marietta

Blessed Trinity was able to topple Class 7A Marietta 25-14 last season, but this is a much-different Marietta team waiting for the Titans this season. Marietta demolished Wheeler 52-0 in its season opener and feature a team that has been reassembled with new talent. Marietta’s sophomore quarterback Bailey Harrison is one of the top Class of 2020 prospects in the state and he has four-star junior receiver Ramel Keyton to throw to. Marietta’s explosive offense and stable of highly talented underclassmen will be paired against the Titans’ own high-powered attack. Junior quarterback Jake Smith and junior running back Steele Chambers led the Titans to a 28-0 victory over Westminster in the season opener and a 35-21 win over St. Pius this past Friday. This game will reveal a lot about both programs.


White County at Habersham Central

Tim Cokely’s first season as White County head coach has the Warriors off to an outstanding start. After posting just one win last season, White County has outscored its first two opponents 99-14 to surpass last year’s win total. A victory over Class 6A Habersham Central would give the Warriors their first 3-0 start since 2013.


St. Pius at Benedictine

St. Pius hasn’t won a non-region game since 2014. Blessed Trinity and Woodward Academy both defeated the Golden Lions in 2015 and St. Pius took a 0-5 record into region play last season. We can give credit to St. Pius for scheduling a difficult slate for its non-region play, but at some point St. Pius is going to have to prove that they can still out perform some of the state’s premier programs. This will be a difficult test as Benedictine is the top-ranked team in Class 2A with a regular season winning streak that currently sits at 24 games.


No. 1 Cartersville vs. Calhoun

Cartersville is good enough that we should watch them no matter who they are playing. That being said, the Purple Hurricanes host Class 3A No. 4 Calhoun this week and this game will help gauge the gap between Cartersville and one of Class 3A’s top teams. Cartersville stunned Calhoun 56-0 last year, so we should expect the 2017 Jackets to know just what they are up against on Friday.



Class 4A Schedule

Friday, Sept. 1

These are the four Class 4A matchups

R6 Gilmer at R5 Cedartown

R4 North Clayton at R5 Central-Carroll

R8 Jefferson at R3 Thomson

R2 Upson-Lee at R1 Columbus (K)(D)


Region 1

Americus-Sumter vs. Dooly County

Cairo at Thomas County Central

Carver-Columbus at Douglas County

Hardaway at Lee County

Northside-Columbus at Spencer (K) (Thursday)

Shaw vs. Kendrick

Westover (BYE)


Region 2

Howard vs. Central-Macon (ED)

Mary Persons vs. Washington

Spalding vs. Jonesboro

West Laurens at Dodge County

Perry (BYE)


Region 3

Burke County vs. Washington County

Cross Creek at Glenn Hills

Hephzibah at Westside-Augusta

Richmond Academy vs. Aiken, SC

Baldwin (BYE)


Region 4

Eastside vs. Alcovy (SH)

Henry County at McIntosh

Luella vs. Lithonia

Salem vs. Therrell

Woodward Academy vs. Westminster

Druid Hills (BYE)


Region 5

Cartersville vs. Calhoun

Chapel Hill at Lithia Springs

LaGrange vs. Griffin (Thursday) (C)

Sandy Creek vs. Allatoona

Troup at Bowdon


Region 6

Heritage-Catoosa vs. Coahulla Creek

LaFayette vs. Gordon Lee

Northwest Whitfield at Dalton

Pickens at Pepperell

Ridgeland at Darlington

Southeast Whitfield vs. Murray County


Region 7

Blessed Trinity at Marietta

Chestatee at Flowery Branch

Marist vs. Baylor, TN

West Hall vs. Washington Wilkes

White County at Habersham Central


Region 8

Madison County vs. Elbert County

North Oconee vs. Morgan County

Oconee County vs. Walnut Grove

St. Pius at Benedictine (SS)

Stephens County vs. Rabun County

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