Harrison running back David Roberts (6) looks for an opening in Creekview's defense during the second half of the teams’ regular-season finale. (Daniel Varnado/Special)

Class AAAAAA blog: A preview of the semifinals

For the first time since 2015, the champion in the state’s second-highest classification will come from a region other than 1-AAAAAA. 

Region 1 put all four of its playoff teams in the quarterfinals again this year, but two-time defending champion Lee County, 2016 champ Valdosta, Coffee and Houston County were eliminated last week. 

This year, the semifinals consist of top-ranked Dacula, unranked Richmond Hill and two Cobb County teams from Region 6, No. 2 Harrison and No. 7 Allatoona. Of the four, only Allatoona has won a state championship. That 2015 title was the most recent one by a team from outside of Region 1. 

Here’s a look at this week’s Class AAAAAA semifinals: 

Allatoona at Richmond Hill 

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Wildcat Stadium, Richmond Hill 

Records, rankings: Allatoona is 10-2-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA and No. 7; Richmond Hill is 9-3, the No. 1 seed from 2-AAAAAA and unranked. 

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting. 

Things to know: Richmond Hill (began varsity football in 1986) is in the semifinals for the first time. Allatoona (opened in 2008) is in the final four for the first time since its 2015 state championship season and the third time overall. Allatoona rushed for 258 yards and held Coffee to 106 total yards in a 24-0 win last week. Marcus Taylor had a season-high 88 yards and a touchdown. The leading rusher is Alex Wilson, who had 77 against the Trojans and has 1,227 for the season. Allatoona completed just one pass, a 38-yard touchdown from Dante Marshall to Asante Das. Marshall has 1,668 passing yards and Das has 1,039 receiving yards for the season. Richmond Hill had not beaten a top-10 team from its classification since 1996 until knocking off No. 8 Lanier 48-34 and No. 4 Valdosta 16-14 the past two weeks. The Wildcats get two-thirds of their offense from a running game led by Jalen Rouse, who had for 84 yards against Valdosta last week and has 1,754 yards for the season, including 488 yards and eight TDs in three playoff games. Tyler Coleman (986 passing yards for the season) threw a 13-yard TD pass to Isaiah Allen for the winning score against Valdosta with 2:42 left in the third quarter. 

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Allatoona by 7 

Harrison at Dacula 

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Barron Field, Dacula 

Records, rankings: Harrison is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA and No. 2; Dacula is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAAA and No. 1. 

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting. 

Things to know: This game matches the two top-rated teams and the only unbeaten teams in Class AAAAAA. These are also the two highest-scoring teams in the classification. Dacula has scored 532 points (40.92 per game), one more than the Hoyas (531, 40.85). Harrison ranks No. 2 in scoring defense (11.00 points per game allowed), while Dacula is No. 4 (13.77). Both teams also set school records with their 13th victories of the season last week. Dacula, a semifinalist last season, put up 725 yards of offense (522 rushing, 203 passing) in a 56-21 victory over two-time defending state champion Lee County last week. Kyle Efford ran for 272 yards on 15 carries, and Kaleb Edwards had 219 yards and three TDs on nine carries. Efford needs 96 yards this week to become Dacula’s third 1,000-yard rusher this season, along with Edwards (1,032) and team leader Trenton Jones (1,174). Harrison got TD passes of 46 and 56 yards from Gavin Hall to Marques Owens in a 28-7 victory over Houston County last week to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2000 and second time overall. Hall (1,771 yards passing), Owens (725) and David Roberts (1,388 rushing) are the Hoyas’ offensive leaders. 

Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Dacula by 8

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