Game: Johns Creek Gladiators (9-1) vs. Alexander Cougars (6-4)
Date: Nov. 15
All-time series: First meeting
The prep football season has reached the state playoffs with several local programs vying for a championship with the first round taking place Nov. 15.
Johns Creek enters the Class 6A playoffs as the top seed from Region 7AAAAAA after earning a 49-14 home win against Dunwoody on Nov. 8. The win extended the Gladiators’ winning streak to eight games and gave them an undefeated region record on the season. Ben Whitlock threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. Dalton Pearson caught two of the TD throws while Johns Creek’s defense intercepted four passes.
The Gladiators open the postseason at home against Alexander which is the fourth seed from Region 5AAAAAA.
Alpharetta is also in the Class 6A state playoffs.The Raiders secured the second seed from Region 7AAAAAA with a 20-0 win at Cambridge Nov. 8. Bryce Troutt’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter was the lone score by both teams in the first half as Alpharetta took a 3-0 edge into halftime. Two second-half touchdown passes by Will Gerdes, one each to Cam Foster and Jaden Slocum, secured the win for Alpharetta. Defensively, Jared Rumph and Nick Haven each had an interception and Tomas Kurcikevicius posted two sacks for the Raiders.
“Our defense played great and kept us in the game while our offense struggled to get going early,” Alpharetta coach Jacob Nichols said. “Our offense was missing several key players due to injury, which was a big reason for the slow start. We were able to kick it into gear in the second half finding some running room and connecting on some key passes.
The Raiders open the playoffs at home against Creekside, the third seed from Region 5AAAAAA. It's the first lifetime meeting of the two programs.
“Creekside will definitely bring a big challenge for us in the first round. They are loaded with athleticism, and we will have to have an answer to stop their run game and control their high-pressure defense. Every game moving forward will be against a high-quality opponent, but we look forward to the challenge of preparing and executing.”
Rounding out the Class 6A playoffs will be Northview visiting Mays in the first round. The Titans defeated Centennial 49-28 at home Nov. 8 to secure their postseason spot. This will be the first lifetime meeting between Northview and Mays.
The Class 7A playoffs feature two local programs used to being in the postseason. Milton won its first state championship in program history in 2018 and begins defense of that title at home against Central Gwinnett.
The Eagles extended their winning streak to five games and secured the Region 5AAAAAAA title with a 33-9 home win against North Forsyth on Nov. 8. Trailing 3-0 entering the second quarter, Milton scored 18 consecutive points to take control of the contest. Devin Farrell rushed for a game-high 126 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles. Ahmed Junearick also found success on the ground with 108 yards and a TD. Jack Rhodes posted a team-high 12 tackles and Christian Armistead returned a fumble for a touchdown to lead Milton’s defense.
“Winning the region for a second year in a row is a huge step for our program as a whole,” Eagles coach Adam Clack said. “We realize that each season is a journey and in that journey you have to be both short and far-sighted. Short-sighted in the fact that we have to commit to our weekly process and take each day and each game one at a time, but far-sighted in the fact that we use the lessons from each week to reflect on the vision we have for our team so we can best position ourselves to be playing our best football when it matters most. Now we must take another step forward as we gear up for the playoffs.”
This will be the 13th lifetime meeting between Central Gwinnett and Milton with the Black Knights leading the series 9-2. It will be the first meeting since 1971. Central Gwinnett is the fourth seed from Region 7AAAAAAA.
“Right out of the gate we will get tested by a tremendously talented and explosive Central Gwinnett team,” Clack said. “We will have to be great in all three phases of offense, defense, and special teams. Defensively we will have to tackle well in space and eliminate explosive touchdowns. Offensively the key will be to avoid costly negative plays due to miss assignments or penalties and take advantage of explosive plays when those opportunities arise. We will look to flip the game by employing an aggressive mentality with our special teams units.”
Roswell enters the postseason as the top seed from Region 4AAAAAAA. The Hornets defeated region foe Etowah 48-14 Nov. 8 to secure the region title led by 161 passing yards and a touchdown from Ethan Roberts. John Copenhaver caught a 74-yard TD pass and Roswell rushed for four touchdowns as a team in the victory.
The Hornets have faced Wheeler 23 previous times and leads the lifetime series 13-10. The two teams faced each other earlier this season on Sept. 27 with Roswell earning the 28-0 victory.
Blessed Trinity begins defense of its Class 4A state title with a first-round home contest against Troup County. The Titans earned the Region 7AAAA title and a top seed in this season’s playoffs with a 35-6 win at White County Nov. 8, extending their winning streak to seven games. Elijah Green paced the Titans’ offense with 152 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Blessed Trinity and Troup have meet one previous time in the semifinals of the 2018 playoffs. The Titans emerged with a 51-35 home victory.
Denmark, a second-year program, is in the state playoffs for the first time. The Danes enter the Class 4A playoffs as the third seed from Region 7AAAA after concluding the regular season with a 34-14 home win against Flowery Branch Nov. 8. Aaron McLaughlin threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns with his main target being Teddy Davenport who had 121 receiving yards in the victory. The Danes open its postseason at Sandy Creek in the first lifetime meeting of the two programs.
The Class A Private State Playoff bracket hasn’t been announced before the publishing date but several programs have placed themselves in prime position for a spot.
Fellowship Christian won the Region 6A title with a 42-7 home win over Darlington Nov. 8. Josh Cole rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns on offense and a team-high 12 tackles on defense. Murphy Reeves posted a team-high 176 yards and a touchdown and Bryce Paul caught a 43-yard TD pass from Joey Archer.
Wesleyan defeated Trinity Christian 27-6 Nov. 8 led by J.C. French who threw for 164 yards and Griffin Caldwell’s 99 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Cooper Blauser had 95 receiving yards on offense and an interception on defense.