“There are no more 1-8 teams left in the playoffs,” he said Saturday morning on 1320-AM, WHIE’s Morning After radio show.
While Region 4-AAAA runner-up Griffin has won five in a row — including the aforementioned victories against Spalding (2-7-1) and Eagle’s Landing (1-9), respectively — the Bears (9-1) are fully aware Region 1-AAAA third-place Monroe (7-3) lost to Region 1-AAAA second-place Westover by only three points, 17-14, and Region 1-AAAA first-place and No. 7-state ranked Cairo by only eight points, 28-20, during a season where their only other loss was to Class AA No. 2-state ranked Brooks County 21-18 in the season opener.
“They have the best quarterback we’ve seen all year,” DeVoursney said of Tornadoes quarterback Charles Stafford. “He’s a thrower, a transfer from Miami. A big, tall kid who can throw it.”
The junior proved as much last week, completing 19 of 30 for 310 yards and three touchdowns while running for another as Monroe topped the Worth County Rams, 31-21, to win its fifth in the last six games.
“It’ll probably be the first team we’ve played all year that is faster than us,” DeVoursney said of the Tornadoes spread offense which also features running back Daryl Brown and receivers Devonntavius Campbell and Emmanuel Davis.
Campbell had touchdown receptions of 5 and 16 yards last week, while Davis had a team-high 80 yards on five receptions including a 27-yard touchdown catch. Brown ended the night with 71 yards on 17 carries.
DeVoursney estimated Monroe’s run-to-pass ratio is 50-to-50.
“They’re going to try to establish the run first, and if it is not working they’ll start slinging it,” Devoursney said. “They like to throw the ball.”
While Monroe is averaging 26 ppg, Devoursney added the number could be deceiving because Region 1-AAAA is noted for its stout defense.
Trying to keep them off the scoreboard will be a Griffin defense (14 ppg) coming off its best three-game stretch of the season. During the stretch the Bears defense has limited archrival Upson-Lee to two TDs in a 28-14 win three weeks ago, blanked crosstown rival Spalding two weeks ago and limited an Eagle’s Landing team, which had been averaging 26 ppg, to six points in last week’s playoff-berth clinching Region 4-AAAA play-in victory.
On the flip side of the ball, the Charles Truitt-coached Tornadoes are going to have to deal with a high-flying Griffin offense led by junior quarterback Jaquez Parks and his cast of a 1,000.
Led by Parks (18 TD passes and 3 TD runs), Freeman (10 TD runs and 3 TD receptions) and Malik Miller (9 TDs rushing), the Bears offense is averaging 35 ppg.
Back-up quarterback Anforne’ Stroud (6 TD passes and 2 TD runs) and Parks have formed a potent one-two punch for the Bears during a season where their favorite targets have been Quay Mangham (7 TDs), Trey Willis (4 TDs), Jordan Colbert (3 TDs), Keyston Fuller (2 TDs) and Christian Owens (1 TD).
Miller, who has missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain, is expected to return to the lineup this week. DeVoursney said he’s at about 85 percent.
Trying to stop them will be a Monroe defense yielding 16 ppg.
“They’re a lot like Stockbridge,” said DeVoursney, comparing the Monroe defense to No. 4 state-ranked Stockbridge’s defense. “They are solid at every position — a good defensive line, good at linebacker and good in the secondary — solid across the board.”
DeVoursney rated both teams about even on special teams and said turnovers and field position could be big factors in Friday’s game.
The winner advances to a second-round state playoff game against the winner of Region 2-AAAA fourth-place Perry (6-4) and Region 3-AAAA champion and No. 3 state-ranked Burke County (9-1).
CLASS AAAA STATE PLAYOFFS
Games in Griffin High's quadrant of the Class AAAA state playoff bracket:
Perry (9-1) at No. 3 Burke County (9-1)
Monroe (7-3) at No. 5 Griffin (9-1)
Eastside (7-3) at No. 1 Sandy Creek (10-0)
Dalton (7-3) at Carver-Atlanta (9-1)
Perry-Burke Co. winner vs. Monroe-Griffin winner
Eastside-Sandy Creek winner vs. Dalton-Carver winner