Stratford Academy at Pinecrest Academy
When, where: Today, 7:30 p.m., at Pinecrest Academy Stadium in Cumming.
Records, rankings: Stratford Academy is 8-3, unranked in Class A and the No. 10 seed in the Class A private school playoffs; Pinecrest is 10-1, ranked No. 6 and the No. 2 seed.
Series history: First meeting.
Last meeting: N/A
What to know: Pinecrest Academy made big plans before the Class A private school playoffs began – specifically, the school installed new bleachers behind an end zone to increase its stadium capacity by 1,300 so it could meet GHSA requirements to host a state semifinal game. Now the Paladins just need to defeat Stratford Academy to make all the hard work pay off.
Stratford was a storied program in the Georgia Independent Schools Association, winning eight state titles until it joined the Georgia High School Association last season. The Eagles are in the GHSA state quarterfinals for the first time. They average 285.5 rushing yards a game, led by O’Showen Williams who has 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, but Stratford can throw when it has to and has the playmakers to be dangerous in the air. Quarterback Sim Patrick has thrown 17 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, and his top target is Wisconsin commit Quintez Cephus, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior with 40 catches for 844 yards and 12 touchdowns.
This is also Pinecrest’s first time in the GHSA state quarterfinals after a gutsy 20-7 victory against Athens Christian last Friday, and the Paladins did it despite trailing 7-0 for two-and-a-half quarters. But Pinecrest’s stars made plays: Ryan McCarthy returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown, ran for a 4-yard touchdown after a long interception return by Mitchell Ojeda and threw a 40-yard touchdown pass.
What’s next: Winner will play the Aquinas-Christian Heritage winner.