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PLAYOFF PIGSKIN PREVIEW: Three are Elite - SCPS, Calvary & Benedictine in Elite 8 games

By Travis Jaudon/For Prep Sports Report | November 22, 2022

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Three Savannah teams still have state championship aspirations in the Georgia High School Association state playoffs. Benedictine is still alive in Class 4A while Calvary and Savannah Christian are two of the eight teams still alive in Class 3A. Calvary and BC will hit the road Friday (Nov. 25) while the Raiders host at Pooler Stadium.

Here’s a closer look at each matchup.

SANDY CREEK (10-2) at SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN (11-1)

Two of the state’s top scoring offenses will meet at Pooler Stadium with a spot in the state’s Final Four on the line. The No. 3 ranked Patriots average 37.4 points per game while the Raiders, unranked in Class 3A all season, average 42.8. The Raiders won 23-7 over No. 5 Peach County in the second round and Sandy Creek knocked off Stephens County, 20-7.

Sandy Creek is the 2-seed from region 5-3A and Savannah Christian the 2-seed from 3-3A. SCPS fifth year head coach Baker Woodward is 45-15 leading the Raiders. He says the Patriots will present a huge challenge for his team this week. “(Sandy Creek) will be by far the best team we have played all season,” Woodward told Georgia High School Football Daily on Monday.

The Patriots are led offensively by senior quarterback Geimere Latimer. He is a true dual-threat, with 2,231 yards and 28 touchdowns passing as well as 571 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. Freshman Amari Latimer leads the team with 607 rushing yards and seven scores on 103 carries. Cameron Watts has 34 receptions for 681 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Savannah Christian’s senior quarterback Paulus Zittrauer has thrown for 1,722 yards and 15 touchdowns (two interceptions) while rushing for 376 and nine. Sophomore Zo Smalls is the best offensive weapon for Woodward’s club. He has 1,389 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 190 carries. Defensively, SCPS is paced by Austin Saylor (111 tackles), Elijah Griffin (76 tackles, 27 TFL’s, 12.5 sacks) and Logan Brooking (60 tackles, 15 TFL’s, 12 sacks).

CALVARY DAY (11-0) at CEDAR GROVE (9-2)

The marquee matchup of the quarterfinals, Class 3A No. 2 Calvary Day travels north to take on No. 1 Cedar Grove in Ellenwood. The Cavs have won 23 of their last 24 games dating back to last season, but throughout that stretch, they have not played a team as highly regarded as the Saints are.

Cedar Grove is ranked No. 33 in the country by High School Football America and its only two losses this season have come against Class 7A No. 2 Colquitt County and Class 7A No. 3 Mill Creek. The 1-seed from region 5, Cedar Grove averages 38 points per game while allowing 20 to opponents. Calvary is the region 3-3A champ and the Cavs score 46 points per game while allowing 13.4 on average.

Eight of Cedar Grove’s 11 games this season have been played on the road. The Saints knocked off Hebron Christian Academy by a score of 70-33 in the second round.

The Cavs are led by junior quarterback Jake Merklinger, junior running back AJ Butts and a stable of capable playmakers at skill positions. Merklinger has thrown for 32 touchdowns and rushed for four more. Butts has 15 rushing touchdowns, including four last week in a 54-41 victory over No. 7 Dougherty. Sophomore athlete Doopah Coleman has 15 total touchdowns (eight receiving, four rushing, two kick returns and one passing) and tight end Michael Smith has caught 23 passes for 595 yards and 12 scores.

BENEDICTINE (10-2) at STOCKBRIDGE (10-2)

This one matches up two of the hottest teams in Class 4A as the No. 4 Cadets have won eight straight games while the unranked Tigers have won nine consecutive. Benedictine is the region 3-4A champion while Stockbridge is the top seed from region 5.

BC arrived in the quarterfinals after beating No. 9 Whitewater 34-10 in round one before knocking off Spalding 45-6 last week. Stockbridge beat Hapeville Charter 28-14 in the first round and beat Walnut Grove 38-6 last week. The Cadets average 34 points per game and allow just 8.9 while Stockbridge scores 33.6 and allows 10.8 on average.

The Tigers have not lost since September 2. Their run-based offense is led by junior running back Jordyn Mack (89 carries, 864 yards, 11 touchdowns) and senior Diontre Stone (68, 533, 5). Stockbridge has thrown for just 995 yards (82.9 per game) while rushing for 2,829 (235.8).

Benedictine’s defense has been dominant since the calendar turned to October, and the Cadet offense is pass-heavy. Junior quarterback Luke Kromenhoek has passed for 2,087 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 359 and seven. Senior Za’quan Bryan had a huge game in the Sweet 16, returning two punts for touchdowns while also logging a pick-six interception return for the Cadets.

Stockbridge is 6-1 at home this season while the Cadets are 3-2 on the road.

FOLLOW Travis Jaudon on Twitter/Instagram @JaudonSports. Email him at travisLjaudon@gmail.com.

PHOTO CREDIT - RDP Productions/Kyunnie Shuman

Optim Orthopedics supports Benedictine Military School, Calvary Day School, Richmond Hill High School, Savannah Country Day, South Effingham High School, and St. Vincent's athletics. Benedictine Military School's team doctor is Dr. David Sedory. Dr. David Palmer is the team doctor for Calvary Day School, South Effingham, and Richmond Hill. Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's team doctor is Dr. Thomas Alexander. Remember, Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game!

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The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!


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