Tucker at Northside (Warner Robins)
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Warner Robins
Records, rankings: Tucker is 10-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 6-AAAAA and ranked No. 5; Northside is 12-0, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAAAA and ranked No. 1.
Last meeting: Tucker won 17-16 in the 2011 Class AAAA semifinals.
Three things to know: 1. Keshun Hill (111) and Glenn Smith (110) each had more than 100 yards rushing in a 45-17 victory over Thomas County Central in the second round. Hill is Northside’s leading rusher. He has 1,132 yards and 17 touchdowns on 91 carries (12.4 ypc) and also has 22 catches for 323 yards and seven touchdowns. 2. Tucker had more than 500 yards rushing in a 40-21 victory over North Paulding in the second round. QB Juwaan Williams scored three touchdowns and rushed for 140 yards. Dallas Rivers scored on a 90-yard run and went over 1,000 yards rushing on the season. 3. In their semifinal game last year, Northside led 16-10 and had the ball on the Tucker 2-yard line with about 5 minutes left. Tucker forced a fumble and returned it from one end zone to the other for a touchdown in the 17-16 win. Tucker and Northside also played in the 2007 semifinals. Northside won 31-28 after Tucker failed to hold a 28-7 halftime lead. The winner of those games went on to win state titles.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Northside by 12
Winner plays: Stephenson/Ware County winner
Stephenson at Ware County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Waycross
Records, rankings: Stephenson is 9-2, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAAAA and ranked No. 9; Ware County is 11-1, the No. 1 seed from 3-AAAAA and ranked No. 6.
Last meeting: Stephenson won 34-13 in the 2009 regular season.
Three things to know: 1. Ware County TB/LB Xavier Tobler is a two-way starter with 1,488 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns on offense and 95 tackles on defense. Ware’s other all-state candidate is also is a two-way starter. DL/TE Jimal McBride has 118 tackles, 22 for losses, and has 108 knockdown blocks on offense. 2. Stephenson DL Khari Waithe Alexander, who is committed to Southern Miss, has 15 tackles for losses and is one of three Stephenson defensive linemen with more than 20 tackles for losses. The others are Ryan George and Jonathan Wynn. In the 35-6 victory over East Paulding in the second round, Stephenson held East to 150 yards in total offense – 244 below East’s average. 3. Stephenson’s victory over East Paulding was the school’s first playoff win on the road. Stephenson now must break a slump in the quarterfinals, where the Jaguars are 1-4 all-time, last winning in 2005. Ware County is 3-3 in the quarters, winning in 1976, 2004 and 2007.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Stephenson by 4
Winner plays: Tucker/Northside winner
Gainesville at Harris County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tiger Stadium, Hamilton
Records, rankings: Gainesville is 9-3, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-AAAAA and unranked; Harris County is 8-4, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAAA and unranked.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Harris County started the season 0-4, then struggled to beat Douglas County (which finished 2-8) in four overtimes to start an eight-game winning streak. In the 31-21 victory over Warner Robins last week, Harris County led 31-7, and Esaias Chapman rushed for 199 yards and three touchdowns. He has rushed for 2,033 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. He has never been held to fewer than 97 yards rushing in a game. 2. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson, a junior who has committed to Clemson, either passed or ran 61 times in Gainesville’s 61-42 victory over Kell in the second round. He finished with 222 yards passing and 159 rushing. For the season, Watson has thrown for 3,035 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for 1,102 yards and 19 touchdowns. 3. Neither school has won a state championship in football, but their football histories couldn’t be more different otherwise. Harris County, which opened in 1956, was 0-6 in the postseason until this year. This will be the Tigers’ third home playoff game this year. Those are the only home playoff games in school history. Gainesville has played 107 postseason games since 1948. The Red Elephants are trying to reach the semifinals for the 19th time.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Gainesville by 16
Winner plays: Allatoona/Whitewater winner
Allatoona at Whitewater
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Wildcat Stadium, Fayetteville
Records, rankings: Allatoona is 11-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-AAAAA and ranked No. 10; Whitewater is 11-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAAAA and unranked.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to know: 1. Allatoona drove 73 yards in the final four minutes for the winning touchdown in a 20-19 victory over M.L. King in the second round. Allatoona RB T.J. Herron rushed for 116 yards in the win. Allatoona has two running backs with more than 1,000 yards rushing in Herron (1,250) and sophomore Joshua Bettistea. 2. Whitewater RB Kendall Conley rushed for 290 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 34-27 victory over Glynn Academy in the second round. Whitewater trailed by one point until Conley’s 12-yard TD run with 22 seconds left. For the season, Conley has rushed for 1,906 yards on 205 carries and scored 34 touchdowns. 3. Whitewater opened in 2004 and broke through to the quarterfinals this season after second-round losses in 2007 and 2010. The school is 70-26 under coach Amos McCreary, who started the program. Allatoona opened in 2008 and reached the AAA quarterfinals last season, losing to eventual champion Burke County 32-28.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Allatoona by 6
Winner plays: Gainesville/Harris County winner
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