GHSA Football Semifinals Preview and Game of the Week - Cedar Grove vs Appling County
On Familiar Ground - That’s the case for the Cedar Grove Saints as they are in their sixth Georgia high School Association football state playoffs semifinals game in seven years and in three of those years, the Saints would go on to win state championships. What’s also impressive is the fact that Cedar Grove head coach, John Adams, who is in his first season as head coach, is the third consecutive coach to lead the Saints to the semifinals, as both his predecessors, Jimmy Smith and Miguel Patrick, each got them there.
“Coach Adams is a great coach. He stepped in and filled the role perfectly,” says Cedar Grove linebacker and University of Georgia commit, CJ Madden. Madden would add that as a team, the Saints wanted to help prove any doubters that Adams may have had wrong and that as far as they are concerned, Adams “is doing a great job.” The Saints will look to keep Adams first season as head coach going when they face Appling County, who only had one stumble this season, a 20-0 end of regular season loss to defending GHSA 3A champs, Pierce County.
“We need to stay physical, play fast, win big plays on defense, get the ball to our playmakers on offense and let them work,” is what Madden says he and his teammates will need to do in order to give them a chance to walk away winners on Friday night. The Saints have only given up a combined 16 points through the first three rounds of the playoffs, while scoring a total of 155, including 79 in their opening round match up with White County.
The Rematch – Collins Hill and Grayson round three goes down ono Friday as the Eagles look for some payback after losing twice to the Rams in 2020, a 28-7 regular season loss and a 38-14 loss in the GHSA 7A state title game. This year, the Eagles have been flying high all season, as they boast a 13-0 record, including three playoff wins, and have averaged nearly 39 ppg on the offensive end. Defensively, the Eagles only allowed more than 13 points to an opponent once, 22 to Greenville Christian out of Mississippi, and have held 10 opponents to 10 points or less, including five shutouts. Last week, the Eagles held Lowndes to seven points in a 49-7 win. The Rams got off to a tough start after falling to Creekside in their season opener. They responded with four straight wins but would stumble once again in a loss to Mill Creek. Although, not as dominant as they were a season ago, Grayson has weathered the storm and found themselves back in the semifinals for the second consecutive season.
We’re Back – The Creekside Seminoles are back in a GHSA semifinals game for the first time since the 2013 season in which they won the 5A state title and the irony of it all is that Creekside won last week’s quarterfinals match with Whitewater by a final of 20-13. The Seminoles have been impressive right out the gate this season as they opened up with a 19-14 win over defending 7A champs, Grayson and then the very next week, knocking off 6A’s Westlake, a 2020 semifinalist, 27-20. Although they fell to Cartersville in week three, the Seminoles took it to the Hurricanes, who narrowly escaped with a 17-14 win. Although Creekside is facing the defending 5A champs in Warner Robins, they have proven that they can go toe to toe with the best of them. They will have to slow down a Demons team that averages 53 ppg and even put up 70 twice this season.
Represent, Represent – The Carver-Atlanta Panthers are the only Atlanta Public Schools team still alive in the GHSA playoffs as they will face defensing 3A champs, Pierce County, who knocked them out in the quarterfinals last season. A step further than last season, the Panthers are in search of their first state title in program history, and with only two losses throughout the regular season, Carver has shown all season that they are more than equipped and coached well enough to get the job done this season. And with a chance to take down the champs, who ended their season last year, Coach Myles has his goes focused on going 1-0 this week.
This Is What We Do – The Buford Wolves continue to be one of Georgia’s top high school football programs. For the third consecutive season, the Wolves are back in a GHSA semifinals contest and a win on Friday will give them a chance to play for their 13th state title since 2001. This season, Buford’s defense has been one of the stingiest in the state as they only allowed double digit points three times this season, 27 to North Cobb in their season opening win, 17 in their win over Myers Park out of North Carolina, and 14 in their win over Kell in the opening round of the playoffs. Nine of the Wolves opponents this season have been held to seven points or less, including five shutouts. So, can a 23 year state title drought be enough to motivate Carrollton to victory on Friday? 1998 was the last time the Trojans held up state title hardware and with only one loss this season, in which they dominated nearly every opponent, Carrollton has shown all season that they should more than deserve to be in the conversation of winning the 6A title and now, they find themselves one win away from advancing to the championship game.