B.J. Ojulari and the Marietta defense will try to slow down Mill Creek, which is averaging more than 42 points a game over its last five, tonight in the Class AAAAAAA state quarterfinals at Northcutt Stadium.

Game: Mill Creek (10-2) at Marietta (10-2), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: Marietta 41, Mill Creek 30

This is becoming a special occasion for Marietta.

The last time the Blue Devils played a post-Thanksgiving game at Northcutt Stadium was 1996.

The Blue Devils were 11-1 that season with its quarterback being current receivers coach Labron Mitchell, the program’s winningest quarterback with a 35-5 record as a starter.

Playing his home games at Northcutt was a special experience for Mitchell.

“I just remember the stadium being packed,” Mitchell said. “Your fans and family were so close to you and on top of you. Just your family being so close to you makes Northcutt so special. There is no track between you and the stands so the fans are right there on top of you.”

Now, entering his 14th season as Marietta’s receivers coach, he is working with some of the best wideouts in the state. Having played quarterback has helped that cause.

Mitchell has been getting the best out of his current receiving corps, which makes his job more simple. The Blue Devils are averaging 36 points a game.

In Marietta’s impressive 38-24 win at Class AAAAAAA defending state champion Milton, quarterback Harrison Bailey was 20-of-26 passing against the Eagles for 321 yards. Mitchell’s dynamic receivers were right in the middle of everything. Ricky White had 110 yards on eight catches, Arik Gilbert finished with 98 yards on six grabs and Taji Johnson had four catches for 92 yards.

“It’s special to work with Harrison and to give him advice on the quarterback side of things,” Mitchell said. “It helps me understand what a quarterback is looking for, and since I played quarterback, I understand what a receiver is looking for.”

Marietta’s explosive offense could have a challenge on its hands against Mill Creek. In the past five games, the Hawks have not given up more than 17 points in a game.

The Hawks are coming off a one-sided 41-17 victory at Region 4AAAAAAA

champion Roswell. Their defense did not allow Roswell to score until late in the fourth quarter.

“(Mill Creek) is going to play man-to-man and bring six to seven guys to the quarterback,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “We have to be ready to win the 1-on-1 matchups and do a good job creating space for (running back) Kimani (Vidal).”

Defensively, Marietta will have to contain a Mill Creek offense that has gotten hot. For the year, it is averaging 35.3 points per game, but over the last five games, that has jumped to 42.8.

Marietta will likely be addressing special teams play after the Blue Devils allowed Milton to recover three onside kicks, which led to 21 unanswered Milton points late in the game.

Mill creek running back Chancellor Lee-Parker rushed for 207 yards against Roswell on 15 carries and a touchdown.


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