High school football playoff preview: Christian Heritage plays at home, but draws tough opponent in Macon County

Nov. 9—Christian Heritage School may get the benefit of starting the Class A Division II playoffs with a home game, but the Lions certainly aren't hosting a pushover when they open the postseason.

The Lions play the third seed in Region 6-A DII, but that third seed also happens to be the third-ranked team in the classification, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's top 10.

Christian Heritage (5-5) hosts third-seeded and third-ranked Macon County (8-2) Friday night at 7:30 in the first round of the Class A DII playoffs.

Macon County finished the season 8-2, and those two losses for the third-ranked team came against the first and second ranked squads. Schley County won the region and is undefeated, and Manchester, ranked No. 2, took second in Region 6-A DII with a win over Macon County.

Macon County lost 34-7 to Schley and 18-7 to Manchester, then closed their season with four straight lopsided wins, scoring at least 42 in each game. Macon County deploys a multi-pronged rushing attack that has seen five separate players rush for at least 230 yards this season. Sophomore running back Tyler Stephens leads with 542 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Christian Heritage plays in a Region 7-A DII with just three teams, so the Lions were destined for the postseason before the year began, but Christian Heritage defeated region opponent Mount Zion to earn the second seed in the region and a home playoff game.

After an 0-3 start, new head coach Frank Barden led the Lions to a 5-2 record since, including a forfeit by St. Francis.

The Lions' region includes another top-ranked team in the classification, fifth-ranked Bowdon, the defending state champion. The Lions played competitively early with Bowdon before the defending champs pulled away for a 48-17 victory.

After struggling to put together points early in the season, Christian Heritage has found more offense of late behind the dual talents of quarterback Carter Triplett. Triplett has powered the ground game with running back Jaylon Gay out and found a strong connection with receiver Charlie Idom late in the year, resulting in the three highest-scoring games of the year for Christian Heritage coming in the last four games, though the 35 points scored by the Lions in the last game of the regular season was aided by two overtime touchdowns.

Triplett has 1,657 passing yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year and has added 840 rushing yards. Idom leads Lion receivers with 811 yards on 55 catches.

Last year's Christian Heritage team entered the postseason at 4-6 and went on the road to start, but soundly defeated Greene County 37-6 to advance. The Lions have been in the second round of the playoffs in three out of the last four seasons, and Christian Heritage will aim for the upset and try to do it again this season.

It's the first ever meeting between the two programs, but Macon County is a familiar opponent for those that played on the Lions' basketball team last year, like Triplett, Idom and receiver Dontae Crowder. Macon County ended the Lions' basketball season in the Class A DII Sweet 16 last season.

If Christian Heritage gets a win over Macon County, the Lions would face either Glascock County or Aquinas in the second round.