Class AAAAA semifinal preview

Photo by Terrance Johnson

Mays vs. Stockbridge

Mays joins Class AAA’s Westminster as the only No. 3 seeds to advance to the semifinals and the Raiders have used impressive wins over South Paulding, Ware County and Jones County to get there. Mays has the ability to produce big plays at anytime and the Raiders ended both halves in the quarterfinals with huge scoring plays. Asahnia Aderhold threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Julius Whitehead on the final play of the game to give Mays a 44-41 victory over Jones County. Aderhold finished with three scoring strikes and also threw a Hail Mary to Tayshawn Brown that resulted in a touchdown right before the half. In the same victory over Jones County, Deparis Carter hauled in a reception and added a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Trying to avoid giving up the big play will be a focus of Stockbridge, which has been a fantastic defensive football team this season. In the playoffs, Stockbridge has averaged 35 points per game, while allowing just 11.7 points per game. Stockbridge has proved its dominance by eliminating Brunswick, Stephenson and Houston County in consecutive weeks and in convincing fashion. The Tigers finished 11-2 in both 2012 and 2013 and sit one win away from the school’s first-ever state title appearance and 12-win season. Artemus Mitchell leads a Stockbridge backfield that averages more than 220 rushing yards per game and the Tigers will look to put the ball in the hands of their 5-foot-11, 202-pound ball carrier. In the quarterfinals, Stockbridge scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to stamp a 42-22 win over Houston County. A 73-yard touchdown run by Jajuan Jackson in the second quarter and Mitchell’s 44-yard and 74-yard touchdown runs in the second half, showcased the Tigers’ explosive run game.

Allatoona vs. Northside-Warner Robins

Class AAAAA has seen arguably the most dramatic postseason of any classification. Shocking upsets filled the first two rounds and out of the four remaining teams, only Northside-Warner Robins has ever reached the semifinals before. Northside has posted at least 10 wins in every season since 1998 and claimed back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007 with perfect 15-0 seasons. The Eagles fell 45-37 to region-rival Jones County on Sept. 9, but have won nine straight games including a 31-7 win over Glynn Academy in the quarterfinals. Northside won a crucial coin toss to determine the site of its matchup with top-seeded Allatoona and will host the Bucs riding a 24-game home win streak. However, conditions to the field have moved the game to nearby Mercer University’s stadium. The Eagles have averaged 37 points per game in the postseason and have shown balance within this year’s offense.

Quarterback Tobias Oliver feeds a receiving corps led by T.J. Anderson and this connection helped the Eagles build an early lead in the quarterfinals and ice the game with Willie Jordan’s running ability. Jordan racked up 161 yards on 17 carries in the second half and Oliver attempted just one pass. Allatoona is the only undefeated team left in Class AAAAA and has been dominant this postseason with wins over Carver-Atlanta, Coffee and Gainesville. The Bucs will matchup with Northside running back Willie Jordan with the explosive tandem of Richard Halimon and Josh Bettistea. Halimon leads Allatoona with 338 carries for 2,215 yards and 24 touchdowns and Bettistea has chipped in 813 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. While Bettistea and Halimon attack the defense, wide receiver Zach Nichols produces big plays. Nichols has 10 receiving scores this season and can make teams pay when yhey decide to key in on stopping the run.


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