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The field of high school football teams grows smaller by the week as the playoffs wear on. If you’re still practicing the week of Thanksgiving, it usually means you’re a contender for state. Here’s where a few teams outside of Baldwin County stand heading into Friday night. 

Putnam pulls off another win

Shaun Pope’s Putnam County War Eagles (12-0) continued their magical season by beating Lovett 28-24 to advance in the GHSA AA state playoffs Friday. Putnam senior quarterback Gerald Kilgore completed 11-of-19 throws for 176 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 105 yards with a score versus the Atlanta private school. Cedrion Brundage ran for 70 yards and one TD on 17 carries while Jalon Kilgore caught six balls for 91 yards with one trip to the end zone. 

The win earned fifth-ranked Putnam its first quarterfinals berth since 1996 when the War Eagles finished as state runner-up behind Macon County. The team’s march through the 2021 postseason continues at home again this week versus Fitzgerald High School, who is ranked fourth in AA and is the second-seeded team from Region 1. The 10-2 Purple Hurricanes will be a tough out, but everyone should be this time of year. They defeated Dodge County (15-6) and Fannin County (28-14) to notch their sixth quarterfinal berth in the last eight years. 

Friday’s game between Putnam and Fitzgerald will kick off at 7:30 p.m. from Al Reaves Field in Eatonton. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through GoFan. Winner moves on to face either Northeast or Swainsboro in the semifinals.

Gators make it 6 straight semis

Despite a subpar regular season in 2021, the three-time defending GISA AA state champion Gatewood Gators are going to the state semifinals for the sixth straight year following their 35-6 win over Southwest Georgia Academy Friday. The bad thing about being seeded fourth in an eight-team playoff like Gatewood, though, is that means you have to go through the top-ranked team to get into the championship. The Gators this week travel to Sandersville to face the Brentwood War Eagles, the team they beat for the state title last year 34-14. The two teams squared off in the regular season finale Nov. 5 with Brentwood taking that bout 35-6. Prior to that game, Gatewood had won the last eight meetings in the series. The Brentwood-Gatewood winner earns a return trip to Mercer to play for the GISA AA state championship again versus either Edmund Burke or Terrell. 

Jones hosting defending state champs

Up in GHSA Class 5A, the Jones County Greyhounds (10-2) earned their third-consecutive quarterfinal berth when they beat Eastside in a 66-42 shootout. Jones County senior QB John Alan Richter threw for 347 yards and three TDs while junior running back Javious Bond ran for 207 yards and four scores to help the Greyhounds to victory. Speedy sophomore Zion Ragins caught 12 passes for 157 yards and one TD. The third quarter was the difference-maker as Jones won that period 28-14. 

A big test stands in front of Mike Chastain’s ‘Hounds as they now get set to face the Warner Robins Demons, the defending 5A state champs. The Demons enter toting a 13-1 record this season with their only loss coming against 6A quarterfinalist Lee County. The Jones County-Warner Robins matchup will be played Friday in Gray. Winner moves on to face either Creekside or Whitewater. 

Rebels' season ends in semis

The John Hancock Academy football team fared pretty well this season for a program that only had 14 players. The Rebels of Sparta had won their last three games prior to Friday’s GISA Class A semifinal contest against the now 11-1 Thomas Jefferson Academy Jaguars. TJ won 28-0 on its home field to take a spot in the Class A state championship game against Piedmont Academy. That game will be played at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 at Mercer University to kick off a day full of GISA state championship action. 

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