Here are some of the stories to watch this weekend in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals:
*Don’t leave early: Tucker and Northside will be meeting in the playoffs for the third time in six seasons, and neither of the previous games ended up the way they appeared to be headed. Last year, Northside led 16-10 with less than five minutes to play and was driving for the potential game-clinching score, but Tucker returned a fumble 100 yards to win 17-16. In 2007, Tucker led 28-7 at halftime, but injured quarterback Marques Ivory came off the bench in the second half to rally the Eagles to a 31-28 victory. Tucker and Northside have won two state championships each since 2006.
*Clearing the hurdles: Stephenson has smashed through some big obstacles this postseason, winning a first-round game for the first time since 2009, a second-round game for the first time since 2006 and a road playoff game for the first time ever. To reach the semifinals for the first time since 2005, they have to win on the road against a Ware County team that has won 11 consecutive games since a 21-14 loss to AAAAAA Coffee in its opener. Ware is in the quarterfinals for the third straight season.
*Hot team vs. hot QB: Harris County enters its quarterfinal matchup with Gainesville on a school-record eight game winning streak after starting the season 0-4. The eight victories this season are the most in the program’s history. To keep that streak going, however, they’ll have to deal with Gainesville junior quarterback Deshaun Watson, the leading candidate for Class AAAAA player of the year. Watson has passed for 3,053 yards, rushed for 1,117 yards and had a hand in 60 touchdowns.
*The new guys: Allatoona and Whitewater, who meet on Friday in Fayetteville, have had similar success in their short histories, but one will make it to the semifinals for the first time. Allatoona, a fifth-year program from Cobb County, has won 73.1 percent of its games and is playing in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. Whitewater, a ninth-year program from Fayette County, has won 72.9 percent of its games but is playing in its first quarterfinal.