There may have been a minor upset or two along the way, but the Class AAAAA playoffs have gone according to form in that the top four teams in the final regular-season poll are the four teams still standing for next weekend’s semifinals.
Top-ranked Tucker reached the semifinals for the fifth time in seven years with a 29-0 victory over Ware County. No. 2 Kell set a school record for victories in a season and advanced to the first semifinal in the program’s 11-year history by knocking off Warner Robins 52-28. No. 3 Gainesville is one step closer to defending its 2012 state title after beating Mundy’s Mill 42-28. And No. 4 Creekside advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2000 by beating North Paulding 41-14. All four were region champions.
Tucker, Kell and Creekside are 13-0. The only other classification with three undefeated semifinalists is the Class A private-school bracket, where Aquinas and Mount Pisgah Christian are 12-0 and Eagle’s Landing Christian is 11-0. The only AAAAA semifinalist with a loss is Gainesville, which was beaten by Class AAA No. 1 Buford 38-14 on Sept. 6.
Here are some of the other story lines from the Class AAAAA quarterfinals:
- Winning with defense: Tucker held Ware County to three first downs in its quarterfinal victory. It was just the second shutout of the year for the Tigers, although they have held 11 of 13 opponents to two touchdowns or less. … Creekside allowed 14 points in its victory over North Paulding, but it was the first time this season the Wolfpack had been held to fewer than 27 points. North Paulding scored 50 or more points five times this year.
- Winning with offense: Kell’s 52 points against Warner Robins were the most the Longhorns have ever scored in a playoff game. Jay Moxey ran for three touchdowns and Julian Burris scored on a 6-yard run and a 97-yard kickoff return for Kell, which led 31-0 in the third quarter. … Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson suffered a slight shoulder injury but passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two scores against Mundy’s Mill. Gainesville has scored 28 or more points in 10 consecutive playoff games dating to 2011.
- Battle of champions: Tucker and Gainesville will meet in one semifinal next weekend in what will be a matchup of the past two champions in the state’s second-largest classification. Tucker beat Lovejoy 22-7 in 2011 to win the title in AAAA (the second-largest classification before the move to six classes last year), and Gainesville beat Ware County 49-13 last year to win AAAAA. Although both schools are longtime powerhouses, they’ve never played each other.