Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross linebacker Tommy Tate (51) celebrates his sack with teammates defensive end Jahmal Jones (9) and and defensive tackle Michael Marshall (57) as Chattahoochee quarterback Travis Marshall (15) begins to get up during a playoff game.
Norcross at Camden County
Who: Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAAA) vs. Camden County Wildcats (1-AAAAAA)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Camden County High School (Take I-75 South into Macon and merge onto I-16 East towards Savannah. Merge onto I-95 South towards Brunswick/Jacksonville. Take Exit 6 (Laurel Island Parkway) and turn left. School is about a mile and a half ahead on the right )
Coaches: Keith Maloof, Norcross; Jeff Herron, Camden Co.
Records: Norcross, 12-0; Camden Co. 11-1
Last week: Norcross beat South Gwinnett 27-7; Camden Co. beat East Coweta 34-14
Winner plays: Parkview-Colquitt Co. winner
• Rushing: Alvin Kamara, 1,784 yards
• Passing: Joseph Wilber, 1,997 yards
• Receiving: Clinton Lynch, 673 yards
• Tackles: Tommy Tate, 137
• Interceptions: Jordan Noil, 4
• Sacks: Carter, 18
Camden Co. leaders:
• Rushing: J.J. Green, 876 yards
• Passing: Brice Ramsey, 1,358 yards
• Receiving: Conner Lockhart, 350 yards
• Tackles: Jarrad Davis, 97
• Interceptions: Kalvarez Bessent, 5
• Sacks: Anthony Johnson, 6
Norcross Blue Devils (12-0)
at South Gwinnett W 35-20
Parkview W 20-0
at North Gwinnett W 31-21
Duluth W 36-7
at Mill Creek W 49-41
Hab. Central W 55-0
at Collins Hill W 35-23
Mtn. 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 Co. Widcats (11-1)
P’tree Ridge* W 42-0
Vanguard (Fla.) W 53-7
Johnson-Savannah W 55-0
Beach W 48-12
at Valdosta W 43-6
Coffee W 39-12
Tift Co. W 47-0
Brunswick W 42-8
at Lowndes W 24-7
at Colquitt Co. L 13-12
Hillgrove W 52-17
East Coweta W 34-14
*at Georgia Dome
On the surface, Norcross couldn't have a more different opponent for its Class AAAAAA state quarterfinal game than Camden County.
The two teams have much different histories -- the No. 2 state-ranked Blue Devils (12-0) are making just their third trip to the round of eight, while the fourth-ranked Wildcats (11-1) are there for the ninth time in the last 11 years -- and offensive systems -- Norcross' pro-style set to Camden's Wing-T.
And then, there is the more than 300-mile distance between the two schools.
But it is the similarities the two teams share that concerns both coaches as they prepare to square off Friday at 7:30 at Chris Gilman Stadium in Kingsland.
"They're really good," Norcross coach Keith Maloof said of Camden. "They're an established program with some great players. ... It will be a big challenge for us, but I think our kids will be ready to meet it."
Both teams have playmakers on each side of the ball that should provide the other with a major challenge.
While the Blue Devils boast Division I college prospects -- both present and future -- like running back Alvin Kamara (217 car., 1,784 yards, 23 TDs), receiver Myles Autry (1,609 all-purpose yards, 18 total TDs) and defensive end Lorenzo Carter (106 tackles, Gwinnett-best 18 sacks), the Wildcats counter with a pair of Georgia-bound seniors in J.J. Green (1,255 all-purpose yards, 12 total TDs) and Brice Ramsey (70-128-1, 1,358 yards, 19 TDs).
"They remind me offensively of (Florida powerhouse) St. Thomas Aquinas, who we played a few years ago," Camden coach Jeff Herron said of Norcross. "But I think (Norcross is) better defensively. I don't think we've seen a team quite like them in our local area ever -- maybe Stephenson in 2002."
Mutual talent and respect aside, both sides know a number of different factors could have an impact on the outcome.
But two things both coaches agree won't have an impact is each team's history or the long drive Norcross will have to make down to coastal Georgia.
Maloof has been a strong road team this season, with wins at playoff opponents South Gwinnett, North Gwinnett , Mill Creek at Collins Hill, as well as a preseason scrimmage win at Colquitt County.
"All our big games have been on the road this year," Maloof said. "We've handled it well. We've just got to go out and play our best.
"History is history. All we can do is look to the future. It will all boil down to who makes the least mount of mistakes. Now's the time when a team has to play the best they can possibly play."
Herron concurs that Friday's outcome will depend less on the intangibles and more on the basics of football.
"It just comes down to which team is more focused, more prepared and who wants it more," Herron said.