Gibbs has run for at least 214 yards in six of the Catamounts’ 10 games. One of those came against second-ranked Harrison, when he ran for 220 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries in a 42-21 loss.
“The idea was to try to keep [Gibbs] off the field and try to keep scoring points so that they had to get out of their comfort zone,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said after that game.
Dacula has held six of its opponents to 10 points or less, and three of the four teams that scored more were Class AAAAAAA playoff teams Mill Creek, Mountain View and Central Gwinnett.
The winner will advance to play Tucker or Glynn Academy next week in the second round.
Here are some of the other stories to watch in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs:
*Best draw: Harrison
Harrison hasn’t advanced beyond the quarterfinals since its 2000 team lost to Parkview in the Class AAAAA championship game, but the second-ranked Hoyas are in prime position for a deep postseason run this year. No other teams in Harrison’s quarter of the bracket are the top 10 of the GHSF Daily/AJC rankings, and only one – Houston County (No. 8) – is in the top 15 of the computer Maxwell Ratings. Houston County is a No. 4 seed and would need to win twice on the road to earn a trip to Harrison. The earliest that the Hoyas could run into a ranked opponent would be the semifinals, where either No. 1 Dacula or No. 3 Lee County could be waiting.
*Biggest surprises: Morrow, North Atlanta, South Paulding, Sprayberry
North Atlanta had not been to the playoffs since 1996 but clinched the No. 3 seed in Region 7 when it beat Chattahoochee last week. The Warriors are 7-3, their first season with a winning record since 2010. North Atlanta’s opponent this week is South Paulding, which had been 5-25 in the three seasons since its last playoff appearance in 2015. The Spartans were 2-8 last year but are 8-2 now. Morrow ended a long drought when it reached the playoffs for the first time since 1998, which also was the last time the Mustangs (6-4) finished with a winning record. Sprayberry is in for the first time since 2011 and will face eighth-ranked Lanier this week.
*Noticeable by their absence: Northside-Warner Robins
Northside had made 27 consecutive appearances in the postseason before coming up short this year. Northside, which lost to Lee County in the 2018 championship game, was ranked No. 4 at the start of the year and still hung on to the No. 10 spot despite a 3-2 start but went 0-5 down the stretch, including 0-4 in region play to finish last in five-team Region 1. The Eagles didn’t just make it to the playoffs in their 27-year run, they usually stuck around for a while, going 22-5 in their first-round games during that stretch. Two other teams that reached the quarterfinals last year – Creekview and Sequoyah of Region 6 – failed to make it back to the playoffs.
*Best game that could come too early: Lee County vs. Dacula
There are always those games on the bracket that you wish could come a little later in the playoffs because a top team will be going home early. That could be the case this year in the quarterfinals, where top-ranked Dacula would meet No. 3 Lee County. Dacula opens against Dalton and then would face the Tucker-Glynn Academy winner for a spot in the quarterfinals. Lee County, the two-time defending champion, opens against 2-8 Greenbrier and would face the Alpharetta-Creekview winner. Another high-profile matchup in the early going could come in the second round, where No. 4 Valdosta would take on No. 5 Johns Creek if both teams advance.
(R8 #3) Gainesville at (R6 #2) Allatoona
(R2 #4) Bradwell Institute at (R4 #1) Stephenson
(R1 #3) Coffee at (R3 #2) Heritage-Conyers
(R7 #4) Northview at (R5 #1) Mays
(R6 #3) Sprayberry at (R8 #2) Lanier
(R4 #4) M.L. King at (R2 #1) Richmond Hill
(R3 #3) Lakeside-Evans at (R1 #2) Valdosta
(R5 #4) Alexander at (R7 #1) Johns Creek
(R4 #3) Tucker at (R2 #2) Glynn Academy
(R6 #4) Dalton at (R8 #1) Dacula
(R5 #3) Creekside at (R7 #2) Alpharetta
(R3 #4) Greenbrier at (R1 #1) Lee County
(R2 #3) Brunswick at (R4 #2) Morrow
(R8 #4) Winder-Barrow at (R6 #1) Harrison
(R7 #3) North Atlanta at (R5 #2) South Paulding
(R1 #4) Houston County at (R3 #1) Evans