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Lamar Co.-Benedictine preview

By Ken K. Green Lamar County (13-0) will host Region 2-AA champion Benedictine (13-0) this week in the semifinal round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs. The winner advances to the state title game Saturday December 14 to play Brooks County or Lovett at 2:30. When and Where: Friday 7:30 p.m. at Trojan Field. Tickets: Admission for this week’s game is $15 per the Georgia High School Association. There will be no discounted admission but advance tickets are available at Lamar County High School and at Slice’s Pizzeria on Main Street through Friday at one o’clock. Only card carrying GHSA members and babies in arms will be admitted free of charge. Weather: Cloudy with a 20% chance of rain and temperatures in the upper 60s at kickoff. The clouds and chance for rain will increase throughout the game as the temps lower to the mid-60s. Strong Thunder will be prevalent throughout the evening. Last week: The Trojans trailed Jefferson 17-14 at halftime but scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half to win 35-24. Benedictine forced six turnovers and controlled the second half after taking a 21-14 lead into the break to beat Calhoun 35-14. About Benedictine: Benedictine is a private, 400 student, all-male, Catholic, military school 208 miles away from Barnesville in south Savannah. The school was established in 1902 and the Cadets have been playing football since 1908 and have a 105 year record of 518-389-32. This is Benedictine’s 24th appearance in the post-season where they have posted a record of 13-23. Their best finish was in 1978 when they lost to Valdosta in the semi-finals and closed with a record of 11-2. They also made the final four in 1957 losing to Columbus 27-7 to finish 8-4. Benedictine claimed its eighth region title in school history this year winning 2-AA. The Cadets boast 22 All-State players over the years as well as three NFL players including Josh Mallard, Andrew Provence and Bill Searcy. Series, etc.: This is the second meeting in as many years. Last year the Trojans and Cadets squared off in a second round match up and Lamar overcame three first half turnovers and a 21-7 halftime deficit to escape with a 24-21 win on a school record 47 yard field goal by Tyler Scandrett as time expired. The Trojans and Cadets have played two common opponents this year. Benedictine beat Metter 42-7 during the regular season while Lamar clobbered the Tigers 58-0 in the first round of the playoffs. The Trojans beat Macon County 48-0 in regular season play and the Cadets eliminated the Bulldogs in the first round with a 63-12 win. Trojan offense vs. Benedictine defense: Lamar is scoring 44.7 points per game while the Cadets are yielding 6.2. Benedictine offense vs. Trojan defense: The Cadets are averaging 47.2 points per game while Lamar yields 11.8. Top Benedictine players: The Cadet offense is led by Jr. QB Stevie Powers who has completed nearly 70% of his passes for 1500 yards and 16 TDs while throwing six INTs. His favorite receiver is junior Brad Stewart (#11) who has 30 catches for 700 yards and 11 TDs. Senior RB JJ Gaines (#2) leads a power running game with 900 yards and 15 TDs rushing. The stout and stingy Cadet defense is spearheaded by Sr. LB Miles McGinty (#42), Sr. DL Matthew Provence (#73) and Jr. LB Phillip Burke (#52) who have combined for nearly 300 tackles including 18 for loss and six QB sacks. Cadet Coach: Danny Britt, a college teammate of Lamar Coach Franklin Stephens at Georgia Southern, is in his third season at Benedictine where his record is 26-10. He has led the Cadets to the post-season all three years. In his eighth season overall, Britt is 58-32 including five seasons at Calvary Day where he guided the Cavaliers to a 32-22 record from 2001 to 2005. Rankings: Lamar County was 2nd in Class AA in a final regular season composite ranking of six polls including a number one ranking by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Georgia Sports Writers Association and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Benedictine was 5th in the composite poll and is currently considered the top team in AA by Max Preps. Prediction: Lamar County 31 Benedictine 27. The Cadets are 10 point favorites per Maxwell Ratings.

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