Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

What to watch for in the state quarterfinals

Every classification is packed with dream matchups this weekend. From Class 7A down to the split Class A brackets, undefeated teams, defending champions and some of the season's hottest teams are playing for a spot in the semifinals. Here is a breakdown of Class 4A's four must-see matchups.


Cartersville at Woodward Academy

Not only is this one of the top high school football games the country will see this year, but Cartersville and Woodward Academy are meeting for the first time in history to add to the intrigue. Woodward Academy’s five-star quarterback Ryan Glover and Cartersville’s five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence add another dimension to this star-studded matchup. Glover has tossed 35 touchdowns with just three interceptions this season, in addition to 2,804 passing yards. Lawrence has found the endzone 44 times through the air with nine interceptions to go with his 3,253 yards passing. Glover also has five rushing touchdowns, while Lawrence has four touchdowns on the ground. These two teams (Woodward-73, Cartersville-70) have scored a combined 143 touchdowns in 24 games. Defensively, Woodward Academy has held its last 10 opponents to single digits, while Cartersvsille has held 21 opponents to single digits during its current 27-game winning streak.

Jefferson at Cairo

Cairo has quietly dominated the competition this season. The Syrupmakers ride a 10-game winning streak into the quarterfinals and come off a 10-7 victory over Sandy Creek. Jefferson has won its last nine games and shutout West Laurens 21-0 in the second round. Cairo’s strength is ample defense and deep cast of playmakers on on the offensive side of the ball. Twelve different receivers have accounted for Cairo’s 23 receiving touchdowns this season and seven different running backs have found the endzone. This is nothing compared to the collective effort seen on the defensive side of the ball for Cairo where eight different players have interceptions and the unit has posted 29 sacks in 12 games. Jefferson relies on the two-headed rushing attack of Colby Wood and Zack Boobas. Wood has accounted for 19 rushing touchdowns this season, while Boobas has scored 14 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Colby Clark has also fueled the ground game with nine rushing touchdowns.

Spalding at Thomson

Spalding followed a 3-4 start to the season with five straight wins and has reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003. Thomson has cruised to a 12-0 start and is back in the quarterfinals for the second straight year and third time in six seasons. This will be a battle of two prolific running offenses. Spalding has pounded the ball for 234.3 yards per game, while Thomson has paced the state with 322.3 rushing yards per game. Spalding will have to try and stop Thomson’s Michael Thomas. The senior has already accounted for 1,950 rushing yards this season to go with 21 rushing touchdowns. Thomson averages 8.8 yards per carry and has a combined 50 rushing touchdowns this season. In the Bulldogs’ 57-23 first-round win over Americus-Sumter, Thomas needed just 10 carries to rack up a career-high 335 rushing yards and five touchdowns. This postseason, Thomas has taken 38 carries for 540 yards (14.2 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns, while also adding his first receiving touchdown of the season.

Blessed Trinity at Mary Persons

Blessed Trinity hasn’t lost to an instate opponent this season, while Mary Persons hasn’t lost to a Class AAAA school. That will change as the two 10-2 programs face for the first time in history this Friday. Mary Persons is led by senior running back Zach Harvey. The 6-foot-1 playmaker has rushed for 22 touchdowns this season, including 12 touchdowns in his last four games. Blessed Trinity is led by sophomore Steele Chambers. The 6-foot-2 running back has rushed for 21 touchdowns this season with 120.6 yards per game average.

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