Middle Georgia football playoff capsules
Bleckley County (8-2)
Head coach: Tracy White.
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Region seed: No. 2 in Region 4-AA.
Playoff opponent: vs. Early County (7-3).
Key wins: Macon County, Northeast.
Key players: QB Tavon Ross, Jr. (488 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns; 579 passing yards, six touchdowns); RB/LB Ken Hughes, Sr. (503 yards, 11 touchdowns); RB/DB Derrick Farrow, Sr. (461 yards, 11 touchdowns)
Scouting report: The Royals run an efficient version of the wing-T, very much like the offense White ran while at Dublin. Ross leads the way under center, and he has moved from a spread attack passer to a runner in this new offense. The Royals spread the ball around a ton, getting big games out of all four of their primary ballcarriers in different spots this season. They also seem to be pretty unselfish considering how much the skill players are required to share the ball. The Royals are solid on offense, but they are coming off a sub-par game for the pass defense. The Northeast quarterback had a lot of time to work and passed for nearly 250 yards last week, although the opportunistic secondary did force four turnovers. Unfortunately for Bleckley County, the Royals aren't facing a normal three seed in Early County, which comes from the loaded Region 1-AA.
East Laurens (6-4)
Head coach: Gary Morton.
Region seed: No. 3 in Region 3-AA.
Playoff opponent: at McIntosh County Academy (8-2).
Key wins: Dublin, Westside-Augusta.
Key players: RB Taye Brantley, Sr.; OL-DL Zeke George, Sr. (55 tackles, 2 sacks); RB-LB Kato Manner, Sr. (76 tackles, 3 sacks); QB-DB Terrell Roberson, Sr. (49 tackles, 3 interceptions; LB Antonio Pringle, Sr. (81 tackles).
Scouting report: East Laurens’ most impressive game might have been a loss, 15-14 to region champ Screven County. The Falcons were also quite competitive with No. 2 seed Laney. East Laurens doesn’t necessarily have any quality wins, but what it did in losses to Aquinas (33-13), Hancock Central (26-21), Laney (26-12) and Screven County indicate a level of quality this season that shows the Falcons might have serious upset potential. Four losses by a total of 38 points to teams that are 29-11 and the ability to avoid losing to a team with a losing record is also a sign of the program’s progress. This is a senior-oriented group that is 4-2 on the road this season.
Head coach: Jason Strickland.
Region seed: No. 2 in Region 1-AA.
Playoff opponent: vs. Northeast (8-2).
Key wins: Jefferson County, Charlton County, Cook, Early County.
Key players: FB Ron Swain, Sr. (633 yards, 8 touchdowns rushing); LB Don Hill, Sr. (34 tackles, 3 sacks); CB D.J. Smith, Sr. (39 tackles, 7 interceptions); QB Romarius Gaulden (754 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns rushing, 299 yards passing).
Scouting report: Fitzgerald is another team that might have shown more in the losses than the wins. The Purple Hurricane were stopped short of the end zone by less than a foot in an overtime loss to Monroe and then surrendered a punt return for a touchdown late in losing to undefeated Brooks County. Other than that, Fitzgerald took care of business, sometimes with ease and sometimes with a struggle. The Purple Hurricane could easily be 10-0 or 6-4. Looking past Northeast toward a showdown against undefeated Vidalia could be an issue, or it could be motivation toward a statement-making performance.
Lamar County (9-0-1)
Head coach: Franklin Stephens.
Region seed: No. 1 in Region 4-AA.
Playoff opponent: vs. Cook (7-3).
Key wins: Bleckley County, Northeast, Pike County.
Key players: RB Lawrence Austin, Jr. (970 yards, 10 touchdowns); QB Lance Austin, Jr. (434 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns; 475 passing yards, five touchdowns); WR/DB Quay Searcy, Jr. (314 receiving yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions); LB Trey Evans, Sr.; K Tyler Scandrett, Jr.
Scouting report: Stephens brought his version of the wing-T offense to Barnesville, and the Trojans have been really explosive on offense since scoring just three points in a tie against Spalding to open the season. The Trojans have scored fewer than 35 points in a game just once since the season opener. All of the Lamar County standouts on offense also play in the secondary on defense and are especially good at forcing turnovers.
Macon County (4-6)
Head coach: Larry Harold.
Region seed: No. 4 in Region 4-AA.
Playoff opponent: at Brooks County (10-0).
Key wins: Putnam County, Monticello, Taylor County.
Key players: RB/PR/WR Karltez Hooks, Sr. (285 rushing, 349 receiving, 6 touchdowns overall); MLB Roquan Smith, So. (60-plus tackles, 3 interceptions for touchdowns); DT Justin Clark, Sr. (35-plus tackles); QB Detrick Clark, Jr. (633, 11 touchdowns rushing. 1,173 yards, 9 touchdowns passing).
Scouting report: The Bulldogs were without quarterback Detrick Clark in a huge loss to Bleckley County, and he wasn’t close to 100 percent a week later in a loss to Northeast. Then, with him back but eight starters out for not taking care of academic business, Macon County hammered Monticello by 41. Losing record aside, this is a tested team that played a tough non-region schedule. The offense has cracked 40 points three times, and the defense has held the opposition to single digits four times. The 2012 Bulldogs aren’t the early-1990s Bulldogs, but this group is making progress. The reward is facing the No. 2 team, and the dividends will pay off next year.
Head coach: Bruce Mullen.
Region seed: No. 3 in Region 4-AA.
Playoff opponent: at Fitzgerald (8-2).
Key wins: Macon County, Taylor County.
Key players: QB Davion Anderson, Jr. (1,473 yards, 21 touchdowns); RB Darius Jackson, Sr. (732 yards, nine touchdowns); WR Drake White, Sr. (794 yards, 10 touchdowns); LB Allen Moss, Sr.; WR Jerry Butler, Sr.
Scouting report: Few rookie starters have impressed as much this season as Anderson. The southpaw throws a good ball and also has the athleticism to make plays with his feet. He seems to prefer to get the job done from the pocket. White and Kory Denson make a lot of plays after the catch. The defense has benefited from the return of Moss, who missed the first part of the year with an injury.
Head coach: Lee Chomskis.
Region seed: No. 1 in Region 1-AA.
Playoff opponent: vs. Westside-Augusta (5-5).
Key wins: West Laurens, Benedictine, Bacon County, McIntosh County Academy.
Key players: RB Juan Foster (1,338 yards, 10 touchdowns); QB D.J. Mincey; WR Will Chomskis; LB Nic McBride
Scouting report: While Foster has been outstanding in the backfield, the Indians are at this point because of a punishing defense. Vidalia has allowed a touchdown or less in seven or its 10 games.