North Cobb at Lovejoy
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Twelve Oaks Stadium, Hampton
Records, rankings: North Cobb is 11-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAAAA and unranked; Lovejoy is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAAAAA and ranked No. 7.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. North Cobb QB Tyler Queen is close to a couple of season milestones with his 2,421 yards passing and 918 yards rushing. WR Xavier Borishade went over 1,000 yards receiving in the quarterfinals, when he had eight catches for 151 yards. He has 51 catches for 1,009 yards on the season. North Cobb has scored 42 points in each of its three playoff games. 2. Lovejoy's defense didn't allow a significant drive in the 21-6 victory over North Gwinnett in the quarterfinals. The defensive leader is undersized NG Nathaniel Norwood (6 feet, 190 pounds), who had 33 tackles for losses and 13.5 sacks before last week's defensive stats were confirmed. RB Travis Custis has rushed for 1,866 yards and scored 32 touchdowns, and QB Alejandro Bennifield has thrown for 2,172 yards and 26 touchdowns. 3. Both head coaches are working in their native counties. North Cobb's Shane Queen was head coach at his alma mater, South Cobb, before coming to North Cobb in 2006. He's 82-58 in 14 seasons overall. Al Hughes was head coach at his alma mater, Jonesboro, before coming to Lovejoy in 2001. He's 108-80 in 18 seasons overall.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Lovejoy by 12
Colquitt County at Norcross
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Norcross Community Stadium, Norcross
Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 10-3, the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and ranked No. 9; Norcross is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAAAAA and ranked No. 3.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. RB Alvin Kamara, a blue-chip recruit, has averaged 174 yards rushing in Norcross' three playoff victories. He has 1,959 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns on the season. Norcross' defense, which has held eight of 13 opponents to seven points or less, is led by LB Tommy Tate (33 solo tackles in three playoff games), three-year-starting CB Shon Akins and DE Lorenzo Carter (18 sacks). 2. Colquitt County QB Cole Segraves surpassed 2,000 yards passing (2,099) and WR Bobby Hill went over 1,000 yards in receiving (1,046) in a quarterfinal victory over Parkview. OL Octavius Jackson has allowed only one sack (it came last week), and junior DL Jamiyius Pittman has 15 tackles for losses. 3. Norcross can reach the state finals for the first time with a victory. Colquitt has been there in 1991, 1994 and 2010. Colquitt can become the first team in the highest classification to win four road games (no neutral sites) in the state playoffs.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Norcross by 18
Northside (Warner Robins) at Ware County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Waycross
Records, rankings: Northside is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAAAA and ranked No. 1; Ware County is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 3-AAAAA and ranked No. 6.
Last meeting: Northside won 20-14 in the 2007 Class AAAA championship game.
Three things to know: 1. Northside is averaging 262 yards per game rushing in the playoffs. Curtis Martin ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in a 23-20 victory over Tucker last week and has 299 yards in three playoff games. Keshun Hill ran for 111 and QB Glenn Smith had 110 the previous week against Thomas County Central. 2. Ware County's defense is among the state's best. The Gators have allowed 7.9 points per game this season. Of the remaining playoff teams, only AAAAAA Lovejoy (7.2) and AA Buford (7.3) have allowed less. Ware County forced six three-and-outs and allowed only 63 yards of total offense in a 14-0 victory over Stephenson last week. It was Ware's fifth shutout, tied for most in the state. Team leaders are TB/LB Xavier Tolbert (1,496 yards rushing, 104 tackles) and DL/TE Jimal McBride (126 tackles, 24 for losses). 3. In the teams' only previous meeting, Ware County led 14-10 with less than six minutes to play until Northside RB Tijuan Green threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nick Bass for the game-winning points in the 2007 AAAA final. The victory gave Northside its second consecutive state championship.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Northside by 9
Gainesville at Whitewater
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Wildcat Stadium, Fayetteville
Records, rankings: Gainesville is 10-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAAA and unranked; Whitewater is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAAAA and unranked.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson is GHSF Daily's top candidate for all-classification player of the year. The junior has 4,742 yards passing and rushing and had a hand in 67 touchdowns this season. In three playoff games, during which the Red Elephants have averaged 55 points, Watson has passed for 882 yards and 12 TDs and rushed for 387 yards and eight scores. 2. Whitewater's top offensive weapon is RB Kendall Conley, who has rushed for 2,041 yards and 36 touchdowns this season. He runs behind 6-9, 368-pound RT Pat Dalton, whom coach Amos McCreary calls ''the most dominant lineman I've seen all season.'' 3. Gainesville is making its 19th appearance in the semifinals, which ranks fourth all-time behind Valdosta (29), Lincoln County (25) and Carrollton (22). It is the only school with 10 or more trips to the final four that has not won a GHSA state championship. Whitewater is making its first semifinal appearance in the nine-year history of the program.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Gainesville by 1
Monroe Area at Sandy Creek
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Battlefield, Tyrone
Records, rankings: Monroe Area is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAA and unranked; Sandy Creek is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAAA and ranked No. 1.
Last meeting: Sandy Creek won 41-0 in the 2010 Class AAA quarterfinals.
Three things to know: 1. Monroe Area RB Kwan Brooks rushed for 135 yards in a 47-8 victory over South Effingham in the quarterfinals to increase his rushing total to 1,894 on the season. QB Stanton Truitt has rushed for 1,388 yards despite missing four games with injuries. 2. Sandy Creek's three biggest yardage-gainers on offense are underclassmen. Junior QB Cole Segraves has thrown for 2,288 yards. Sophomore RB Eric Swinney has rushed for 1,318 yards. Junior WR Demarre Kitt has 60 receptions for 1,034 yards. 3. Sandy Creek won a coin toss to host this game, as both teams are No. 1 seeds and region champions. Sandy Creek has won 32 consecutive home games, 11 in the playoffs.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Sandy Creek by 28
Marist at Ridgeland
When, where:7:30 p.m. Friday, Bowers and Painter Field, Rossville
Records, rankings: Marist is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAA and ranked No. 2; Ridgeland is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 7-AAAA and ranked No. 9.
Last meeting: Marist won 30-0 in the first round of the 2006 Class AAAA playoffs.
Three things to know: 1. Ridgeland has a 2,000-yard rusher in Darrell Bridges (2,127, 37 TDs) and a 1,000-yard rusher in Vonn Bell (1,008, 20 TDs, plus 131 tackles on defense). The best lineman is OL/DL Gannon Hampton. 2. Three players to watch for Marist are QB Myles Willis, DL Greg Taboada and ATH Gray King. Willis has rushed for 1,097 yards. King is more explosive. A two-way starter, he has rushed for only 611 yards but with 11 touchdowns and an 8.7 per-carry average and is dangerous in the return game. Taboada has five sacks in three playoff games and 20 tackles for losses on the season. 3. Ridgeland won a coin toss to host this game, as both teams are No. 1 seeds and region champions. That was good news for Ridgeland, which has never won a playoff game on the road while Marist is 48-3 in home playoff games under coach Alan Chadwick.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Ridgeland by 1
Buford at Cartersville
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville
Records, rankings: Buford is 10-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 7-AAA and ranked No. 3; Cartersville is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAA and ranked No. 6.
Last meeting: Buford won 40-0 in the 2007 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. Buford's run-heavy offense is led by Dontravious Wilson, who had 134 yards and a touchdown in the Wolves' 31-7 victory over Carver of Columbus last week to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Buford also gets big contributions from Zavior Hoxie and Joshua Thomas, who each has been the team's leading rusher in a playoff game. 2. Cartersville QB Brooks Barden threw his 37th and 38th TD passes in a 21-13 victory over No. 1 Thomson last week. He is 166-of-295 passing for 2,672 yards with only two interceptions. He spreads the ball to leading rushers Brandon Long (589 yards) and Kalin Heath (517) and receivers Hayes Linn (38 catches, 568 yards, eight touchdowns), T.L. Ford (29-537-9) and Mark Quattlebaum (29-415-6). 3. Buford is in the semifinals for the sixth consecutive time, and a victory would put the Wolves in the state championship game for the 11th time in 13 seasons. Cartersville is making its seventh semifinal appearance. The Purple Hurricanes haven't advanced this far since 2004, when they went 6-4 in the regular season but won three playoff games before being eliminated by Washington County.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Buford by 3
North Hall at St. Pius
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, George B. Maloof Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: North Hall is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA and unranked; St. Pius is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAA and ranked No. 7.
Last meeting: St. Pius won 38-13 in the 2011 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. North Hall gets most of its offense from the running game, which averages 343.9 yards per game. The Trojans have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in T.J. Tate (142 carries, 1,059 yards and 13 TDs) and Kevin Christmas (113-1,038-8). QB Brad Brown has rushed for 728 yards and 15 touchdowns and passed for 585 yards and eight scores. 2. St. Pius leading rusher Ryan Braswell and QB Jack Spear combined for 2,067 yards on the ground in the first 12 games, but it was Branden Mitchell who had the big night in a 40-35 victory over Washington County last week. Mitchell rushed for a season-high 164 yards and had two catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. The Golden Lions average 309.8 yards rushing for the season. 3. North Hall had never won more than seven games in a season before coach Bob Christmas arrived in 2001. Since then, the Trojans have had nine winning seasons and will be in the semifinals for the second time (the other was in 2007). St. Pius is in the semifinals for the first time since 2006 and the fifth time overall. The first three trips came in a four-year stretch beginning in 1965.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: St. Pius by 4
Greater Atlanta Christian at Jefferson
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
Records, rankings: Greater Atlanta Christian is 10-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AA and ranked No. 9; Jefferson is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from 8-AA and ranked No. 7.
Last meeting: Greater Atlanta Christian won 34-19 in the 1999 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. The three headline-makers on GAC's offense are RB Kyle Scales (1,311 yards rushing, 21 touchdowns), WR Peter Whiteneck (53 catches, 906 yards, 12 TD) and QB Rafe Chapple (144-236 passing, 2,279 yards, 25 TD). GAC is outstanding in the kicking game with punter Ross Wood (42.0 average) and place-kicker Brandon Holzgrefe (10-for-10 on field goals, including the game-winner in the quarterfinals against Early County). 2. Jefferson QB Bryant Shirreffs went over 2,000 yards passing on the season in a 53-51 victory over Fitzgerald in the quarterfinals. There were many stars in that game. FB Tristen Jackson caught the winning TD pass and the two-point conversion in the third overtime. Wesley Simonton blocked a field with 19 seconds left in regulation and helped make the tackle to stop Fitzgerald's two-point attempt in the last overtime. CB Hanon Price had 16 solo tackles. 3. Jefferson is trying to reach the state finals for the third time. The Dragons lost Class A finals in 1975 and 1977. GAC has made one final and lost to Buford in 2002.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Jefferson by 12
Lamar County at Calhoun
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Phil Reeve Stadium, Calhoun
Records, rankings: Lamar County is 12-0-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 4-AA and ranked No. 5; Calhoun is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AA and ranked No. 1.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Calhoun QB Taylor Lamb (3,166 yards passing) is the Gatorade state player of the year, but he's got plenty of weapons at his disposal. WR Josh Barnes has 81 catches for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns. WR Tydus Curtis has 54 catches for 875 yards and 11 touchdowns. RB Alex Urbano has rushed for 1,119 yards and scored 21 touchdowns and also has 31 catches for 313 yards. 2. Lamar County QB Lance Austin's best skill typicallyis disturbing the ball in the Wing-T, but he had the best game of his season in a 34-28 victory over Lovett in the quarterfinals, rushing for 96 yards and completing all six passes for 141 yards. He has 676 rushing yards and 629 passing yards on the season. RB Lawrence Austin has rushed for 1,135 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. RB Jeremy Fletcher has 598 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. 3. Both are regions champions that have flipped coins in the quarterfinals and semifinals to determine which No. 1 seed would be the home team. Calhoun is 2-0 in coin flips. Lamar is 0-2. Calhoun has won 41 consecutive home games, its most recent loss to Cartersville in 2008. Calhoun has won 17 straight home playoff games dating to 2007.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Calhoun by 24
Dooly County at Lincoln County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buddy Bufford Field, Lincolnton
Records, rankings: Dooly County is 10-2, the No. 5 seed and unranked; Lincoln County is 11-1, the No. 1 seed and ranked No. 4.
Last meeting: Lincoln County won 34-8 in the 1998 Class A quarterfinals.
Three things to know: 1. Lincoln County RB Mike McIntire is the focus of his team's offense with 1,315 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns, the most for a Red Devil since 2008, but QB Ben Jones had a big game in the quarterfinal victory over Wilkinson County, passing for 232 yards. He has thrown for 1,348 yards on the season. WR Jalen Franklin caught eight passes for 128 yards against Wilkinson. 2. Dooly County QB A.J. Smith threw for a season-high 291 yards and four touchdowns in the 34-27 victory over Seminole County last week. Smith has thrown for 1,920 yards on the season. Other players to watch are sophomore RB Chanin Hamilton (1,288 yards rushing), junior WR Cortney Clark (38 catches, 783 yards, 11 touchdowns) and DL Montravius Adams (team-leading 78 solo tackles, 5.5 sacks). 3. This will be Lincoln County's 26th semifinal game under coach Larry Campbell, first since 2008. Lincoln County is 18-7 in those games. This is Dooly County's third semifinal and first since 2002. Dooly is the last school to beat Lincoln County on the road in a semifinal (1983). Lincoln County won its next seven home semifinals until the semis were moved to the Georgia Dome for more than a decade.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Lincoln County by 15
Emanuel County Institute at Wilcox County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Donnie Clack Stadium, Rochelle
Records, rankings: Emanuel County Institute is 11-1, the No. 3 seed and ranked No. 2; Wilcox County is 10-2, the No. 2 seed and ranked No. 5.
Last meeting: Emanuel County Institute won 41-21 in the 2007 Class A final.
Three things to know: 1. ECI's leading rushers are Gregory Purcell (910 yards) and James Brown (880). Each has 11 touchdowns. They also are ECI's leading receivers. Purcell has 13 catches - seven for touchdowns - and 343 yards. Brown has 16 receptions for 271 yards and four touchdowns. 2. The monster seasons from Wilcox County's Makail Grace and Jonathan Howard continue. QB Grace threw for 352 yards and rushed for 125 in the quarterfinals against Marion County. He has thrown for 3,054 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed or 861 yards and 13 touchdowns in only 11 games. WR Howard tied a season high with 13 receptions last week and has 99 catches for 1,421 yards and 17 touchdowns. 3. Both schools became state contenders again in 2006 and have averaged 11 wins since. ECI's last playoff victory had been in 1998. Wilcox County's last playoff win had been in 1993. Beginning in 2006, ECI is 79-10 with one state championship (2007). Wilcox is 78-13 with one state championship (2009). Only Lincoln County (84-12) and Savannah Christian (78-14) in Class A have comparable records in that time.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Emanuel County Institute by 5
Landmark Christian at Prince Avenue
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Brad Akins Field, Bogart
Records, rankings: Landmark Christian is 9-3, the No. 12 seed and unranked; Prince Avenue Christian is 10-2, the No. 9 seed and unranked.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Landmark Christian, the lowest remaining seed in either of the Class A brackets, rushes for 264.1 yards per game, and the majority of it comes from junior Jeremiah Kirkland, who has 1,980 yards on 248 carries. Kirkland rushed for 226 yards in a 38-24 victory against First Presbyterian last week and had a season-high 284 against Holy Innocents' on Nov. 2 in the regular season. 2. Prince Avenue has two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in its seven-year history of varsity football. They are WB Carl Mattox (1,294 yards, 17 TDs) and WB/FB Bryce Huff (1,092, nine TDs). Key players on defense are all-state DE Tyler Parrish (eight sacks), LB Sam Kennon (103 tackles) and TE/LB Christian Payne (108 tackles). 3. Landmark and Prince Avenue are both playing in the semifinals for the second consecutive season and second time in school history. Prince Avenue lost to Savannah Christian 27-0 in the semifinals last year. Landmark beat Eagle's Landing Christian 14-7 in the 2011 semifinals before losing to Savannah Christian 20-3 in the championship game.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Prince Avenue Christian by 6
George Walton Academy at ELCA
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Commitment Field, McDonough
Records, rankings: George Walton Academy is 9-3, the No. 11 seed and unranked; Eagle's Landing Christian is 11-1, the No. 2 seed and ranked No. 1.
Last meeting: Eagle's Landing Christian won 35-21 in the second round of the 2010 Class A playoffs.
Three things to know: 1. George Walton Academy averages 263 yards per game rushing, led by Stanley Williams, a junior who has committed to Georgia. Williams has rushed for 1,796 yards and 22 touchdowns and has 448 yards and six touchdowns in two playoff games. 2. Eagle's Landing Christian QB Dalton Etheridge missed the regular-season finale with a sprained ankle, but he has accounted for more than 550 yards of offense, including 252 rushing, in two playoff games. ELCA has averaged 46.5 points per game this season, tied with Calhoun (AA) for the most among the remaining playoff teams. 3. George Walton won four Georgia Independent School Association championships, most recently in 2009. It is making its first semifinal appearance since joining the GHSA in 2010. Eagle's Landing Christian won a GISA title in 1996 and reached the final in 1997, but it has not played in a championship game since joining the GHSA in 2004. This will be ELCA's second consecutive semifinal appearance.
Maxwell Ratings' projection: Eagle's Landing Christian by 17