Tucker marched 53 yards in 11 plays to score the winning touchdown with 2:22 left, and the Tiger defense held Gainesville to tie a season low with 14 points, as Class AAAAA No. 1 Tucker advanced to the state finals with a 20-14 win.
It wasn’t a flashy night for a Tucker offense that’s averaged close to 40 points during the season, and it was marred by penalties early.
But when the Tigers needed a score to avoid overtime against the defending state champs, they had enough in the tank.
The winning drive started on their own 47-yard line, after a Duke Shelley punt return set them up in good field position.
And, with the rain coming down hard, the Tigers (14-0) stuck to the ground game that got them to this point.
All 11 plays on the drive were runs, and Dominick Sanders took it the final 6 yards for the score that put Tucker in front for the first time.
After that, the defense just needed one more stop.
Stops haven’t been easy to come by for Gainesville opponents, against
By Ricky Dimon
Washington County scored all 37 points in the first half before coasting through the fourth quarter with a running clock. Melvin Hill scored four touchdowns for the host Golden Hawks, including one on a 99-yard punt return late in the second quarter. Hill opened the scoring with a 59-yard run and plunged in from two yards with 16 seconds left in the first half. D.J. Sanders hauled in a 68-yard touchdown pass from A.J. Gray.
By David Purdum / For the AJC
Defending champion Buford knocked off Callaway, 24-14, Friday to advance to the state championship game for the seventh straight year. But it wasn’t easy.
Joshua Thomas rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Wolves overcome their first halftime deficit of the season.
No. 1 Buford will play No. 3 Washington County in the AAA championship game at 5:30 p.m., Dec. 13 in the Georgia Dome.
Tez Parks and Eddie Culpepper ran for touchdowns in the first half for the Cavaliers (12-2), who set a school mark in wins this season.
Buford marched right down the field on the game’s opening possession, but Matthew Bonadies hooked a short field-goal attempt. Callaway responded with quick scoring drive, capped by a 22-yard touchdown run by Parks that put the Cavs ahead 7-0.
After a Thomas touchdown run tied the score, Culpepper plowed in from 1 yard out on 4th and goal to give Callaway the lead back. The Cavaliers ran off the field to a standing
After its defense got shredded on the game’s opening possession, Creekside solved the Kell offense and rolled into its first state finals appearance.
The Seminoles (14-0) got 219 yards and three touchdowns from senior Dexter Knox and junior Bricen Terry added 123 yards and three touchdowns of his own in a 55-10 win, the third time this year they’ve topped 50 points.
Creekside, which lost to Statesboro in its only previous semifinals appearance in 2000, left little doubt in this one.
The Seminoles rushed for 438 yards and out-gained Kell 462-301. They converted a pair of Longhorm mistakes into touchdowns to key a 21-point second quarter, then turned the game into a laugher with two more scores in the first five minutes of the second half.
Overall, Kell committed four turnovers, including three interceptions.
On the opening possession Kell (13-1) ran nine straight running plays for 75 yards, moving from its 24-yard line to the Creekside 1 before settling for Cameron Massung’s
By Ricky Dimon
Tyler Scandrett kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired to send Lamar County past Benedictine 10-7. The host Trojans trailed 7-0 at halftime but scored 10 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes. Benedictine opened the scoring late in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by J.J. Gaines. Lamar County finally answered late in the third quarter when Lance Austin hit Ray Lions with a 17-yard scoring strike on a fake field goal.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club this week announced its annual Early Season All-Metro Teams comprising 25 boys and 25 girls in the metro Atlanta area.
The teams were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors made up of area coaches within the metro Atlanta region.
The Tipoff Club will select metro players of the year and a Mr. and Miss Georgia Basketball at the end of the season. All honorees will be recognized at the season-ending Naismith Awards banquet in Atlanta.
COLLEGE OF CHOICE
The picks get tougher each week in the playoffs, and none have been more difficult than this week’s semifinals, particularly in AAAAAA and AAAAA. McEachern and North Gwinnett have escaped the past two weeks on the road, so look for McEachern to take advantage of being at home and knock off the top-ranked Bulldogs. It’s tempting to pick Colquitt County as well, but it’s hard to imagine a championship game in the highest classification without a Gwinnett County team involved, so I’m sticking with Norcross. I’ll take Creekside and Gainesville in the AAAAA games, although it makes me uneasy to pick against Tucker.
THE WEEKEND PREDICTIONS
Last week: 20-8 (.714); Playoffs: 130-34 (.793); Overall: 1,878-440 (.810)
It’s unusual for a No. 3 or a No. 4 seed to make it to the state finals, but it will happen tonight with the winner of the North Gwinnett-McEachern game. Here are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds that have made the semifinals since 1996, when the GHSA first allowed third- and fourth-place teams from a region to make the state playoffs.
3 – North Gwinnett (AAAAAA)
3 – McEachern (AAAAAA)
4 – Colquitt County (AAAAAA) lost
4 – Lassiter (AAAAA) lost
4 – Landmark Christian (A) won
3 – Colquitt County (AAAAA) won
3 – Grayson (AAAAA) lost
4 – Lovett (AA) lost
4 – Savannah Christian (A) won
3 – Colquitt Co. (AAAAA) lost
3 – Rockdale Co. (AAAA) lost
4 – Flowery Branch (AAA) lost
3 – Flowery Branch (AAA) won
3 – Fitzgerald (AA) lost
3 – Chamblee (AAA) lost
4 – Cook (AA) lost
4 – *Peachtree Ridge (AAAAA) won
3 – St. Pius (AAAA) lost
3 – Shaw (AAA) won
3 – Lovett (AA) lost
3 – LaGrange (AAA) lost
3 – M.L. King (AAA) lost
3 – Dublin (AA)
Four Georgia high school football teams won state championships for the first time in their histories in 2012. They were Norcross, Gainesville, Jefferson and Eagle’s Landing Christian.
The trend toward new might be building steam again in 2013 as the football playoffs reach the semifinals tonight with 14 games statewide.
Ten of the 28 semifinal teams are one victory from playing in their first state championship games. They are Kell and Creekside in AAAAA, Callaway and Ringgold in AAA, Lamar County and Benedictine in AA and Aquinas, Mount Pisgah Christian, Calvary Day and Marion County in A.
Two others – McEachern and North Gwinnett – have been in championship games but never won. Those Class AAAAAA teams play each other tonight at McEachern.
From 2001 through 2005, there were only three first-time state champions. Over the past five seasons, there have been 11.
Here are some other things worth knowing about tonight’s 14 semifinal games.
*Heads or tails: The home team is 32-22
By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here’s a quick look at the semifinals. In a huge contrast, the public side has two rematches from this season while the private side has two first-time matchups. Also, we have another installment of “Coach Speak” with Irwin County’s Jonathan Lindsey:
No. 9 Charlton County (8-4) at No. 4 Irwin County (10-1-1). Irwin County won the first meeting between the Region 2 rivals, 29-26, in the regular season finale on Nov. 8, thanks to a 33-yard field goal in the final seconds by Eric Contreras. The all-time series between the two schools is 17-17. Irwin County had won the first 15 meetings from 1966 to 1989. Then Rich McWhorter took over in Folkston and Charlton County won the next 17 games from 1990 to last season, when Irwin ended the run with a 55-34 win in the regular season. Irwin County, located about an hour east of Albany, has improved steadily during head coach Jonathan Lindsey’s three years in Ocilla, going
It’s rare for a No. 3 seed to make the championship game in the highest classification, but it’s a guarantee this season as North Gwinnett and McEachern – teams that were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 at one point before winding up third in their regions – play Friday at McEachern in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
Which of these running backs will shine brightest in the AAAAAA semifinals? Each has over 1,000 yards rushing this season.
Since 1996, when the GHSA first allowed four teams from each region to qualify, only four No. 3 seeds have won their semifinal games in the highest class. They are Colquitt County in 2010, Lowndes in 1999 and Parkview and Tift County in 1997. Lowndes and Parkview went on to win state titles. Only one No. 4 seed, 2006 co-champion Peachtree Ridge, has reached a championship game in the highest
By David Purdum / For the AJC
Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney says the football facilities have been a little cleaner this season. The language used by the team has been more respectful, and players have been more active in the community, often visiting local elementary schools and always handing out high fives to young Bears fans.
These are the things DeVoursney points to when asked why he believes his team was able to persevere through a bevy of early mistakes in a comeback road win over defending champion Sandy Creek. They are also the reasons DeVoursney believes his team has the ability to win the state championship.
“We’ve had talent in the past and do again this year, but what makes this team stand out is that we have a lot of high-character kids,” said DeVoursney. “I think the character of this team is the reason why we’re where we’re at.”
The team’s character and resiliency were on display in last week’s win at playoff-favorite Sandy Creek. Griffin
A victory by Tucker over Gainesville in the Class AAAAA semifinals on Friday will guarantee that the champion in the state’s second-highest classification will finish 15-0 for the sixth time in 10 seasons.
Tucker comes into this week’s game at 13-0. So do the teams in the other semifinal, Kell and Creekside. The only other classification with three undefeated semifinalists is the Class A private-school division, where Eagle’s Landing Christian, Aquinas and Mount Pisgah Christian are undefeated but have played fewer games.
Gainesville, which won the championship last season with a 12-3 record, is the only AAAAA semifinalist with a loss. The Red Elephants were beaten by Buford 38-14 in the second game of the season.
Gainesville may not be able to achieve perfection, but it has a different goal in mind. A victory would put the Red Elephants one win away from becoming the first repeat champion in the classification since Northside-Warner Robins in 2006 and 2007 and just the
Who’s got the highest-scoring team in Class AAA? Raise your hand and give yourself a gold star if you guessed Washington County. The Golden Hawks are on a torrid pace as they prepare for Friday’s semifinal game against Ringgold at the House of Pain in Sandersville.
Washington County has scored 612 points in 12 games, all victories. The Hawks got cheated out of a game when a massive electrical storm prevented the completion of the season opener against Eagle’s Landing Christian.
That’s an average of 51 points per game and includes games of 62 against Swainsboro and Dodge County. The Hawks have averaged 52.6 points in their three playoff games.
“It’s all because of the extreme unselfishness on the part of the kids,” coach Joel Ingram said.
Washington County is led by junior quarterback A.J. Gray, who has passed for 1,500 yards, rushed for 1,200 yards and accounted for 38 touchdowns. Senior Melvin Hill has rushed for 1,600 yards and senior Danyale Wicker has added
Griffin has played good football for decades, so it is surprising that the Bears have not played in a state championship game since 1980. That made GHSF Daily wonder which schools have won the most playoff games since 1980 without reaching the finals. Sure enough, it’s Griffin. That will change if the Bears beat Wayne County this week in the semifinals.
31 – Griffin
29 – Dacula
25 – Metter
22 – Bremen
22 – Vidalia
21 – Cook
21 – Miller County
21 – Woodward Academy
20 – Westminster
19 – Athens Academy
19 – Marietta
18 – Crisp County
17 – Rome
16 – Bradwell Institute
There are seven private schools in the semifinals, four in the Class A private division, plus Lovett and Benedictine in AA and Marist in AAAA. Which private school was the first to win a football state championship in the GHSA? Hint: It occurred in 1968. (Answer Friday)
Answer to Wednesday’s question: Camden County was the last team to lose its first game but still repeat as