Here’s a look at some of the biggest stories from the second round in Class AAAAA on Friday:
*Advantage, Region 6: The two regions that were 3-1 in the first round went head to head on Friday, with Region 6 taking two of the three games against Region 5. The region champions lost to the second-place teams as Allatoona (Region 5 #2) beat M.L. King (Region 6 #1) and Stephenson (Region 6 #2) shut down East Paulding (Region 5 #1). Region 6’s other victory came from Tucker, the 2011 Class AAAA champion, which beat playoff newcomer North Paulding 40-21.
*Four region champs remain: M.L. King and East Paulding weren’t the only region champions that failed to make it to the final eight. Region 7 champion Kell, the only team from the region to survive the first round, lost to Gainesville 61-42 on Friday. Kell lost in the second round for the second consecutive season. Region 8 champion Flowery Branch was knocked out in the first round by North Paulding. Harris County, Northside-Warner Robins, Ware County and Whitewater are the remaining region champs.
*The new guys: Harris County collected its first playoff victory in the 57-year history of the program when it beat Northgate in the first round. On Friday, the Tigers continued their journey into the unknown when they beat Warner Robins 31-21 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time. Esaias Chapman rushed for 181 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Harris County, which led 31-7 in the fourth quarter, started the season 0-4 but has won eight consecutive games.
*Performances worth noting: Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson accounted for eight touchdowns in the victory over Kell. He passed for 230 yards and three TDs and rushed for 163 yards and five scores, according to the Gainesville Times. … East Paulding’s Miles Hemphill kicked field goals of 61 and 47 yards in the loss to Stephenson. … Allatoona’s Jeremy Uzee threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Clarence Soleberry with 1:37 remaining and Nathan Shaw kicked the game-winning extra point in the Bucs’ 20-19 victory over M.L. King.
*Looking ahead: Tucker will travel to Northside-Warner Robins next weekend for a rematch of last year’s semifinal game, won by Tucker 17-16. Northside led that game 16-10 and was about to go in for another score with less than five minutes to play, but Tucker’s Justin Rivers returned a fumble 100 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Tucker beat Lovejoy the next weekend to win the Class AAAA championship. The teams also met in the 2007 semifinals, with Northside rallying for a 31-28 win on its way to the state title.
Here are the third-round games:
Tucker (10-2) at Northside-Warner Robins (12-0)
Stephenson (9-2) at Ware County (11-1)
Gainesville (9-3) at Harris County (8-4)
Allatoona (11-1) at Whitewater (11-1)