Hart County Bulldogs (8-AAA)
Coach: Rance Gillespie
Last week: Beat Pierce County 32-29
GAC Spartans (7-AAA)
Coach: Tim Hardy
Last week: Beat Cook 38-0
With no classes during the holiday week, Greater Atlanta Christian’s football team had a chance to practice earlier in the day. They also helped with another consequence of school being out — many kids go without lunches during the time. On Tuesday, the Spartans packed up meals and delivered them to a bunch of the children who live in extended stay hotels near the Norcross campus.
On Wednesday, GAC got right back to work scheming for the Bulldogs.
“This is an awesome time of year,” head coach Tim Hardy said. “It’s a privilege to be practicing and playing this week.”
Hardy picked up his 100th career victory (and 91st at GAC) when the Spartans shut out Cook in the second round.
“(Hart County is) really athletic,” Hardy said. “They have a tight end (Cane Berrong) that’s one of the top junior recruits in the country. They have a senior defensive end (Kaimon Rucker) going to North Carolina that is a game-changer. They have a running back (Malachi Thomas) with an offer from Georgia Tech, among others.
“They’ve got some really talented players and they’ve really improved as the season went on.”
Hart County lost a tight game to Jefferson and then fell to Monroe Area the following week, which dropped the Bulldogs out of the top 10 rankings. But they have rattled off five straight wins, including last week’s win over previously unbeaten Pierce County, to get to the quarterfinals.
“It’s the third round of playoffs — it’s real,” Hardy said. “On offense, they’re very multiple, somewhat similar to us. They commit to the run and can certainly spread out and throw it.
“On defense, you can tell they’re really well-coached. They have a variety of looks specific to their opponents. They’re able to change looks quickly and have a lot of flexibility.”
GAC is being led by senior quarterback Jackson Hardy, who bumped his season total to 2,369 with 254 yards on a handful of big plays last week against Cook. His receiving crew is widely varied, but Brooks Miller leads the team with 458 yards. Tyler Bride has rushed for 1,152 yards on 138 carries, but last week it was Tre Henry with more carries (nine) and the senior ran his season total to 418 yards. Montae Bailey has another 391 to augment the ground game.
Last meeting: Hart County won 55-21 in 2009
Location: Greater Atlanta Christian School