WILSON (9-3) AT STROM THURMOND (8-4)
LAST WEEK: Wilson advanced with a 26-15 win against Timberland; Strom Thurmond beat Marlboro County 17-14
KEY PLAYERS: Wilson-- Senior DB/WR Derek Belin; Junior QB Richard Cue, Junior WR Caleb Davis, Junior RB Anthony Green; Soph. QB Maliek McCall; Strom Thurmond-- Senior QB Aramis Hillary (6-2, 216); Senior RB Oquendo Curry (5-10, 200); Senior OG Theo Thurmond (6-0, 320); Senior DE Sam Broadwater (6-1, 205); Junior LB Tra'ves Bush (5-10, 175)
KEY MATCHUP: Wilson's ability to stop Hillary on the ground. Hillary is 59 yards shy of the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. Couple that with his 2,105 passing yards and he's clearly the most important player in tonight's game. He can hurt the Tigers with his arm or his legs, but his impact is diminished if he's kept from moving the chains on his own.
OUTLOOK: Common opponent theory says go with the Rebels since they took down Region 5-AAA champion Marlboro County last week. That's the squad that went on the road and beat Wilson 21-7 in region play this year. That said, expect the Tigers to play well. Wilson is 6-1 on the road, so they won't be fazed by the trip. But it will be Strom Thurmond's offensive balance and patience that turn the tide.
PREDICTION: Strom Thurmond 24, Wilson 17
RIDGE SPRING-MONETTA (7-5) AT GREAT FALLS (10-2)
LAST WEEK: The Trojans won 30-24 at Whitmire; Great Falls beat McBee 24-0
KEY PLAYERS: Ridge Spring-Monetta-- Senior DE/OL Justin Conaway (6-5, 225); Senior DL/OL Jason Conaway (6-0, 170); Senior DT/OT Marcus Green (6-3, 340); Senior LB/OL Terrell Ouzts (5-8, 190) Senior QB Cody Young (6-2, 175); Great Falls-- Junior QB Gaither Bumgardner; Junior FB Terrence Jeter, Senior DB/RB Jeremy Simpson; Senior RB Cedric Spence
KEY MATCHUP : Great Falls' ability to contain Young and the Trojan ground game. Ridge-Spring Monetta likes to fire off the ball and plow their opponents on the ground. That's their winning playoff formula. If the Trojans cannot move on the ground against a Great Falls team that has only given up 106 points in 12 games this year, it will be a long night.
OUTLOOK: Ridge Spring-Monetta shocked the state, coming back from a 16-point deficit to beat Whitmire (10-2) on the road. It will have to drum up more playoff theatrics to halt Great Falls. The Red Devils have more than 3,700 yards of total offense this year and are averaging 30 points per game. Simpson was selected to the North-South game. He was 14 touchdowns on offense and five interceptions on defense.
PREDICTION: Great Falls 21, Ridge Spring-Monetta 13
HAMMOND (11-1) VS. AUGUSTA CHRISTIAN (10-2)
LAST WEEK: Augusta Christian beat Wilson Hall 17-3; Hammond beat Heathwood Hall 34-17
KEY PLAYERS: Augusta Christian-- Senior QB Tyler Bourdo (5-9, 155); Senior LB Travis Cerasuolo (6-2, 210); Senior RB Jay Harmon (6-1, 215); Senior OL Zach Cooper (6-3, 230); Hammond-- Junior RB Brad Meredith (5-11, 170); Junior QB Cliff Ayers (6-2, 170); Senior Stone Pinckney (5-11, 200)
KEY MATCHUP: Augusta Christian's defensive line vs. Hammond's offensive line. In Hammond's region win at Augusta Christian three weeks ago, the Skyhawks won the battle in the trenches late in the game which allowed them to hold onto the ball and kill the clock. Each team boasts high-powered offenses, and time of possession will be critical.
OUTLOOK: The Lions have to be considered the underdog because they've lost the past three times they've faced Hammond. Lions head coach Bruce Lane called it "unfinished business". Augusta Christian discovered three weeks ago that a less-than-perfect effort won't be good enough to defeat the defending champs.
PREDICTION: Hammond 24, Augusta Christian 21
WORTH COUNTY (5-5) AT BURKE COUNTY (8-2)
LAST WEEK: Worth County beat Westover 57-31; Burke County beat Benedictine 21-14
KEY PLAYERS: Worth County-- Junior RB Buster Jackson; Senior RB Robert Span; Junior DB/QB Sam Youngblood, Junior DE/LB Meshak Williams; Burke County-- Senior DE Cornelius Washington (6-4, 225); Senior DL Tim Prophet (6-2, 190); Senior LB Arsenio Strong (5-10, 185); Junior SS/QB Bobby Burum (5-11, 175); Sophomore FS/WR Terrell Brigham (6-1, 180)
KEY MATCHUP: Burke County's defense vs. the Rams' Wing-T. The Bears' defense has held six of their past eight opponents to seven points or less after four quarters. The Rams have won three in a row with Jackson cracking the 1,000-yard mark. They might be the second-best team from Region 1-AAA right now. They led Westover 50-13 after three quarters last week despite throwing just three passes.
OUTLOOK: It's been a feel good year in Waynesboro. The momentum in the program should keep building after the Bears earn their first state playoff win since 2000 tonight. The combination of Tyler Hammett's arm and the legs of senior RB Brandon Brown should produce enough points to beat a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1999.
PREDICTION: Burke County 21, Worth County 7
LEE COUNTY (2-8) AT EVANS (8-2)
LAST WEEK: Lee County beat Americus-Sumter 19-15; Evans won 28-7 against Wayne County
KEY PLAYERS: Lee County-- RB Eddie Bell; WR Landon Carter; QB Brian Hagle; DB Deonte Stanley; Evans-- Senior QB Kevin Millward (6-0, 240); Senior WR/RB/DB Trey Henderson (5-10, 185); Senior DL/OL Mykel Green (6-0, 245); Senior LB Ben Rouse (5-9, 190); Junior WR/DB Brandon McCladdie (6-1, 170); Senior WR Jonathan Nicely (6-5, 200)
KEY MATCHUP: Evans keeping Bell from making big plays. Bell is the leading rusher and receiver. He's caught 13 passes for 200-plus yards this year and run for close to 700 yards. If he's contained, there goes most of the big-play potential of an offense that's only cracked the 10-point mark three times this year.
OUTLOOK: The Knights should roll against the third-place team from a four-team region that just broke an eight-game losing streak last week. Evans should ride its balanced rushing attack and ball-control passing offense to as easy a first-round win as it gets. The good times will be short-lived with defending Class AAAA champ and nationally-ranked Northside-Warner Robins looming on the horizon next week.
PREDICTION: Evans 27, Lee County 7