COLQUITT COUNTY AT NORCROSS
When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Norcross High School (From I-85, go west on Beaver Ruin Road to Buford Highway and turn right. At the next light, turn left on Langford Drive. Cross Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and turn left on Spalding Drive. School is on the left)
Coaches: Rush Propst, Colquitt County; Keith Maloof, Norcross
Records: Colquitt County 10-3; Norcross 13-0
Last week: Colquitt County defeated Parkview 31-15; Norcross defeated Camden County 34-20
Winner plays: Lovejoy-North Cobb winner
Colquitt County leaders:
• Rushing: John Boatright, 649 yards
• Passing: Cole Seagraves, 2,099 yards
• Receiving: Bobby Hill, 1,046 tards
• Tackles: Brandon Key, 94
• Interceptions: Tim Sanders, 3
• Sacks: Johnny Ward, 6
• Rushing: Alvin Kamara, 1,959 yards
• Passing: Joseph Wilber, 2,131 yards
• Receiving: Clinton Lynch, 733 yards
Myles Autry, 611 yards
• Tackles: Tommy Tate, 152
Kevin Mouhon, 124
• Interceptions: Jordan Noil, 5
• Sacks: Lorenzo Carter, 17
Colquitt County Packers (10-3)
North Gwinnett* L 17-14
at Thomas Co. C. W 35-33
Lovejoy W 14-7
Carver-Columbus W 33-0
Lowndes L 17-14
at Tift County W 49-7
at Brunswick W 44-26
at Valdosta L 38-36
Coffee W 27-9
Camden County W 13-12
at McEachern W 30-28
at Newnan W 26-23
at Parkview W 31-15
*at Georgia Dome
Norcross Blue Devils (13-0)
at South W 35-20
Parkview W 20-0
at North W 31-21
Duluth W 36-7
at Mill Creek W 49-41
Hab. Central W 55-0
at Collins Hill W 35-23
Mountain View W 48-6
at P’tree Ridge W 36-3
Meadowcreek W 56-6
Chattahoochee W 34-7
South Gwinnett W 27-7
Camden County W 34-20
When Norcross head coach Keith Maloof set up a preseason game at Colquitt County, he did it to prepare his team for a possible long playoff road trip.
It worked as the Blue Devils traveled six hours to beat Camden County last week. Maloof never imagined that preseason game would mean much more than some experience. It turns it was a preview of tonight's Class AAAAAA semifinal game.
Norcross (13-0) will host Colquitt County (10-3) this time with the stakes much higher. A trip to the Georgia Dome to play either Lovejoy or North Cobb in the state championship game is on the line.
"When I did it, I thought it would be a good trip in case we had to go to South Georgia," Maloof said. "I thought it could possibly happen. When you play good people you're more than likely to play them down the road."
Colquitt has become one the state's best road teams. The Packers are the only No. 4 seed left in the playoffs and have had to travel more than 650 miles one way the last three weeks for playoff games. Over the last four seasons, they are 11-2 on the road. Colquitt traveled to Gwinnett last week to beat Parkview 31-15. Norcross defeated the Panthers 20-0 in Week 2.
"When you've got a good program, a good football team, it doesn't matter if you're playing on the road or at home," Maloof said.
Norcross showed that in its preseason game in August at Colquitt. It was only a three-quarter game with the starters, but the end had that fourth-quarter feel. Joseph Wilber guided a last-minute drive to set up Myles Autry's two-yard go-ahead score on the game's final play for a 33-31 victory.
Wilber, Autry and running back Alvin Kamara have been Norcross' main offensive weapons this season. Wilber has thrown for 2,131 yards, 25 touchdown and five interceptions. Autry leads the team in receiving with 43 catches for 611 yards and nine scores, while Kamara is the team's leading rusher with 1,959 yards and 24 TDs.
Colquitt opened the season with a 16-14 loss to North Gwinnett, who Norcross defeated 31-21, but does have a 14-7 victory over semifinalist Lovejoy. Of the Packers' three losses this year, they've been by three points or less.
"They're better. They are a little more sure about what they're doing just like we are. I think we're better defensively," Maloof said. "I think they've turned the corner in the playoffs. They are playing with a lot of confidence on the road and we're going to have to manage that and be able to match that intensity they're going to bring in."
Colquitt runs a high-paced spread offense led by quarterback Cole Seagraves, who has thrown for 2,099 yards and nine touchdowns.
Ole Miss commitment Bobby Hill is the team's leading receiver with 78 catches for 1,046 yards. The next best on the team is Todd Boyd with 40 receptions for 772 yards. John Boatright is the team's leading rusher with 649 yards.
"They spread the ball around, have two or three really good receivers," Maloof said. "The quarterback is good and they have a couple of little scat backs that can run it pretty good. We've got to be able to manage that."
Norcross defensive end Lorenzo Carter leads the team in sacks with 17, while Jahmal Jones and Michael Marshall have nine each. Safety Jordan Noil has five of the team's 15 interceptions this year.
"We've got to put pressure on the quarterback and keep him from tucking and running," Maloof said. "If we can manage that we should be OK."
Norcross is in the semifinals for the first time in the program's 56-year history, while Colquitt is in the semis for the fourth straight year. No other team has done that since Valdosta from 1968-71. The Packers' season has ended with a Gwinnett team the last two years. Grayson beat them in the semis a year ago before winning state and Brookwood defeated them in the state finals in 2010. Norcross will try to continue that trend tonight with a berth to the state championship game on the line.
"Anytime you can get a group to play for a state title, it's a huge accomplishment," Maloof said. "I'm real proud of how they've managed the success."