Top 10 games of Round 1


Etowah at Archer

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Archer Community Stadium, Lawrenceville

Records, rankings: Etowah is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAAA and unranked; Archer is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 8-AAAAAA and No. 4.

Last meeting: Archer won 52-7 in the 2014 Class AAAAAA semifinals.

Three things to know: 1. In last year's semifinal meeting between the two, Archer led 34-7 at halftime, although it was 14-0 midway through the second quarter when an Etowah turnover opened the flood gates. It was the first state football semifinal for either school. 2. Archer's offense is almost perfectly balanced in yardage. Jamyest Williams, who has rushed for 1,158 yards and 21 touchdowns, is the feature back. No other back has more than 225 yards. Archer passes only 16 times per game but is very effective when it does. QB Will Bearden is 107-of-158 for 1,925 yards and 19 TDs. AJC Super 11 DB/WR Dylan Singleton leads the team with 46 solo tackles. 3. Etowah RB Tyray Devezin, who rushed for 96 yards against Archer last season, is the focus of the offense. He has rushed for 1,254 yards. QB Patrick Ferris (78-of-139 passing, 1,374 yards, 13 TDs) is a promising sophomore. The defense is led by preseason all-state DB Stuart Head, who has offers from Duke, Cal, Georgia Tech and others.

Winner plays: Lowndes/McEachern winner

Hillgrove at Camden County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Chris Gilman Stadium, Kingsland

Records, rankings: Hillgrove is 6-4, the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAAAAA and unranked; Camden County is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 1-AAAAAA and No. 8.

Last meeting: Hillgrove won 34-21 in the second round of the 2013 Class AAAAAA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. This will be the fourth playoff meeting for these teams in the six years that Hillgrove has played in the highest classification. Camden County was the home team and heavily favored in all three of the previous games, but Hillgrove won twice. Camden is a 27-point favorite this time, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings. 2. Hillgrove struggled with injuries at quarterback early in the season but has found its stride since the return of starter Matt Wilson, averaging 39.8 points over the final four games. Wilson is 75-of-124 passing for 1,036 yards. Sophomore Hunter Arters has passed for 1,023 yards. Freshman Jaylen McCollough is the leading rusher (764 yards), and Jeremiah Bridges is the top receiver (44 catches, 745 yards). Hillgrove averages 225.1 yards passing and 152.5 rushing. 3. Camden County averages 243.4 yards rushing while attempting about nine passes per game. Most of the workload is shared by Brandon McMaster (108 carries, 646 yards, eight TDs), Harrison Poole (79-619-8) and Mikey Packard (78-491-3). Dondre Winn (96 total tackles, seven for losses) and DeAndre Gardenhire (13 sacks) lead a defense that allows 16.5 points per game.

Winner plays: Parkview/Roswell winner

Lowndes at McEachern

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Walter H. Cantrell Stadium, Powder Springs

Records, rankings: Lowndes is 6-4, the No. 4 seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and unranked; McEachern is 9-1, the No. 1 seed from 4-AAAAAA and No. 7.

Last meeting: McEachern won 20-13 in 2011.

Watch the game: On television on GPB.

Three things to know: 1. McEachern has the toughest draw of any No. 1 seed and the third-toughest of any Class AAAAAA team, trailing only Lowndes, which has the toughest draw, and Etowah. The winner of this game potentially faces a road that includes No. 1 Colquitt County, No. 2 Grayson, No. 4 Archer and No. 5 Mill Creek. 2. A year ago, McEachern lost an all-state running back early and became more of a passing team. This season, McEachern lost an all-state wide receiver and graduated another one. RB Sam Jackson (1,290 yards rushing) has emerged as a major force, while star QB Bailey Hockman's numbers have declined. Hockman, who is committed to Georgia, is 118-of-216 passing for 1,722 yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions. The leading tacklers are defensive tackles Julian Rochester, an AJC Super 11 pick, and Andrew Tarver. 3. Lowndes' offense, which dominated much of the previous decade with its wing-T approach, is truly balanced for the first time in coach Randy McPherson's 14 seasons. Dual-threat QB Austin Dixon has has thrown for 1,635 yards and rushed for a team-leading 641.

Winner plays: Etowah/Archer winner

Norcross at South Forsyth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, War Eagle Stadium, Cumming

Records, rankings: Norcross is 7-3, the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA and unranked; South Forsyth is 9-1, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAAAAA and unranked.

Last meeting: Norcross won 27-3 in 2007.

Three things to know: 1. South Forsyth is a region champion for the first time since 1997, when the Cumming school was still in Class AA, and is playing host to its first playoff game since 2001. Norcross has made the playoffs 10 of the past 11 seasons and won state titles in 2012 and 2013. 2. South Forsyth clinched Region 6 last week with a 31-6 victory over Lambert in a winner-take-all game. South Forsyth held Lambert to 181 yards of total offense and 5-of-17 passing. LB Max Slott had 10 solo tackles. For the season, Davis Shanley has thrown for 1,890 yards and 22 touchdowns, and Sam Outlaw has rushed for a team-leading 889 yards in a balanced offense. 3. Norcross is on a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2003. Norcross has scored only one touchdown during the skid. The defense remains solid. The 14.8 points allowed per game ranks 10th in AAAAAA. South Forsyth's scoring offense (39.3) ranks sixth.

Winner plays: Hughes/Tucker winner


East Paulding at Lanier

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Longhorns Stadium, Sugar Hill

Records, rankings: East Paulding is 8-2, the No. 4 seed from Region 5-AAAAA and unranked; Lanier is 10-0, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAA and No. 3.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. East Paulding finished in a three-way for second place in 5-AAAAA but took the No. 4 seed because it lost to the other tied teams (South Paulding and Alexander). The Raiders beat region champion Allatoona, which finished one game ahead. Lanier posted its second consecutive 10-0 regular season but hopes to avoid the playoff fate it suffered in 2014, when it lost to Sequoyah 24-21 in the first round. 2. East Paulding averages 403.1 yards per game, about two-third of which comes from the running game. RB Cody Long (963 yards) and QB Dylan Prater (925) could both surpass the 1,000-yard mark this week. Prater is 90-of-151 passing for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. He passed for 203 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 118 yards and a TD in a 35-13 win against Villa Rica last week. 3. Lanier also relies on the running game (222.5 yards rushing, 108.6 passing). Brothers Marcko (925 yards) and Marcella Baity (687) are the leading rushers. The Longhorns' defense ranks No. 2 in AAAAA, giving up 7.9 points per game. DT Derrick Brown, the nation's consensus No. 8 recruit, has 86 total tackles (37 for losses), 12 sacks and 24 QB hurries.

Winner plays: Shaw/Northgate winner

Ware County at Northside (Warner Robins)

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday, McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Warner Robins

Records, rankings: Ware County is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 3-AAAAA and unranked; Northside is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 2-AAAAA and No. 6.

Last meeting: Ware County won 35-7 in the second round of the 2013 Class AAAAA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Ware County and Northside have met three times, all in the playoffs in the past eight years. Northside beat the Gators 20-14 to win the Class AAAA championship in 2007. Ware County has eliminated the Eagles the past two times, in 2012 (semifinals) and 2013 (second round). Northside is the defending state champion. 2. Ware County, which had a streak of three consecutive region titles broken this season, runs for 246.7 yards and attempts less than nine passes per game. Dedrick Mills (86 carries, 730 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Jaquez Bolds (72-631-10) get most of the carries. QB Jemar Lincoln is 39-of-76 passing for 540 yards and six touchdowns and has rushed for 187 yards. 3. Northside averages more than 350 yards of offense per game (269.7 rushing, 83.6 passing). QB Tobias Oliver is 61-of-119 passing for 807 yards and nine touchdowns and is the second-leading rusher with 130 carries for 793 yards and 10 TDs, trailing only Desean Dinkins (143-953-18). Trayvon Willis (18 catches, 241 yards, one TD) is the leading receiver.

Winner plays: Rome/Stephenson winner

Class AAAA

Griffin at Bainbridge

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Centennial Field, Bainbridge

Records, rankings: Griffin is 6-4, the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAAA and unranked; Bainbridge is 10-0, the No. 1 seed from 1-AAAA and No. 5.

Last meeting: Griffin won 38-12 in the first round of the 2006 Class AAAA playoffs.

Three things to know: 1. Griffin, which started its season 2-4, extended its streak of making the playoffs to 15 seasons with an emotional 20-14 overtime victory over Eastside in a Region 4 play-in game. Eastside had first-and-goal at the Griffin 6 in the final two minutes of regulation but was turned away, and Dedrick Tyus scored on an 11-yard run in overtime to win it. Griffin had lost to Eastside 37-12 on Sept. 11. 2. Griffin QB Tylan Mortan has thrown for 1,850 yards and 12 touchdowns. Isaiah Spruill (589 yards) and Tyus (426) are the leading rushers. 3. Bainbridge RB Dameon Pierce leads Class AAAA in rushing with 1,514 yards, and WR Tyler Storey is second in receiving yards with 1,129. Bainbridge has 10 victories for the first time since 1993 (10-3) and is 10-0 for the first time since 1960. The Bearcats haven't won a playoff game since 2007.

Winner plays: North Hall/Sandy Creek winner

Class AAA

Elbert County at Central (Carrollton)

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Roy Richards Memorial Stadium, Carrollton

Records, rankings: Elbert County is 8-2, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAA and unranked; Central is 9-1, the No. 2 seed from 5-AAA and No. 7.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Central had gone seven seasons without a winning record until hiring Rico Zackery in 2013. His teams are 30-5. The Lions lost to Westminster in the second round last year and finished 11-1. Elbert County also has flourished under sixth-year coach Sid Fritts, whose Elbert record is 50-18 (vs. 22-40 the previous six seasons). Elbert made the quarterfinals last season. 2. Elbert averages 262.2 yards rushing and only 47.9 passing per game. QB Mecole Hardman has rushed for 1,425 yards but completed just 10 passes. RB Tra Barnett has rushed for 731 yards. Both players average more than seven yards per carry. 3. Central gets 83 percent of its yardage on the ground behind 1,000-yard rusher Damarious Owensby and wins by controlling the ball and playing good defense. Central is fourth in AAA in scoring defense (10.2 points allowed per game) and 24th in scoring offense (27.3).

Winner plays: Jackson-Atlanta/Dodge County winner

Pierce County at Cedar Grove

When, where: 5 p.m. Saturday, James R. Hallford Stadium, Clarkston

Records, rankings: Pierce County is 7-3, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAA and unranked; Cedar Grove is 8-1-1, the No. 2 seed from 4-AAA and No. 3.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Pierce County has reached the playoffs in each of coach Sean Pender's five seasons in Blackshear. The Bears played in the postseason only twice in the 15 years before his arrival. Cedar Grove is in the playoffs for a school-record sixth consecutive season. The Saints tied Blessed Trinity 13-13 in the weather-shortened 4-AAA championship game last week and won a coin flip for seeding, and took the No. 2 seed instead of the No. 1. Cedar Grove is the only ranked team that faces no other ranked team in its quarter of the draw. 2. Pierce County QB Stetson Bennett was the leading passer in Class AAA in the regular season, completing 201 of 310 attempts for 2,718 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also is the leading rusher (589 yards) for a team that averages 198.1 yards on the ground. Three receivers had at least 30 catches and 446 yards, led by Chase Royer (66 catches, 954 yards). 3. Cedar Grove runs the ball about 70 percent of the time. RB Labron Morris is the leading rusher in DeKalb County by a wide margin with 1,379 yards on 165 carries. The Saints allow just 10.6 points per game and have held seven opponents to nine points or less. DT Antwuan Jackson, an AJC Super 11 selection, leads DeKalb in tackles for losses with 40.

Winner plays: Cedartown/Oconee County winner

Class AA

Pace Academy at Darlington

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Chris Hunter Stadium, Rome

Records, rankings: Pace Academy is 8-2, the No. 4 seed from Region 6-AA and No. 9; Darlington is 10-0, the No. 1 seed from 7-AA and No. 4.

Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Pace Academy, which started football in 2008, tied a school record with eight regular-season victories. The Knights tied for second place in 6-AA with Wesleyan and Lovett but lost out in coin flips and slid to the No. 4 seed. Darlington won its fifth region title in seven seasons and finished the regular season 10-0 for the first time since 1998, when the Tigers went 15-0 and won the Class A championship. 2. Pace Academy has two four-star players who are rated among the top 30 juniors in the state by Rivals. Andrew Thomas is a 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive tackle who has a reported 22 offers. WR Trey Blount, a transfer from Hillgrove, is the team's leading receiver. 3. Sophomore RB Tijai Whatley accounted for about half of Darlington's offense (1,190 yards rushing, 191 receiving) before suffering an injury three weeks ago. He has been replaced in the starting lineup the past two weeks by junior Elijah McKoy, who rushed for 108 yards and had a crucial interception in a 14-6 victory against Chattooga last week that clinched the region title.

Winner plays: Bryan County/Screven County winner

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