Class AAAAA: Creekside, Tucker could be looking in mirrors

It’s doubtful that any two teams matched up this weekend in the high school football state championship games are more alike than Class AAAAA finalists Creekside and Tucker.

Both teams are 14-0 and have rosters loaded with speed and college prospects. Both run the ball well and play outstanding defense. And both have young coaches who are seeking their first title as head coach but have championship experience as assistants. Even their team colors are virtually the same.

“That’s exactly how it is,” Tucker coach Bryan Lamar said of the teams’ resemblance to each other. “Both teams run the ball, fly around on defense and have got young coaches that were on championship staffs as defensive coordinators. It’s just very, very similar.”

The teams will meet for the title at 8:30 p.m. on Friday at the Georgia Dome.

Lamar is in his second season as head coach at his alma mater. He was an assistant on the Tigers’ first state championship team in 2008. His counterpart, Olten Downs, is in his first season at Creekside after spending the past two years at Riverdale. Downs was on the staff at Carver-Columbus when the Tigers won the 2007 Class AAA title.

Creekside runs for 214.4 yards per game, primarily coming from 1,000-yard rushers Dexter Knox and Bricen Terry, who have a combined 2,557 yards and 38 touchdowns on 387 carries this season. Tucker averages more yards rushing (232.0) but spreads the carries around more evenly. Quarterback Joseph Farrar is the leading rusher with 716 yards, and 19 Tigers have at least one carry.

Creekside and Tucker also rank among the top five teams in Class AAAAA in scoring defense for the season, including the playoffs, giving up fewer than 13 points per game.

If there is a difference between the teams, it’s that Creekside is much more likely to pass. The Seminoles’ Felix Harper is 161-for-239 passing for 2,358 yards with 35 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Tucker’s Farrar has thrown for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns and attempts fewer than seven passes per game.

“We’re very balanced,” Downs said. “We pride ourselves on being multiple. We’re just going to take whatever the defense gives us. If they’re going to allow us to run it, then we’re definitely going to take advantage of it. If they’re going to force us to throw the football, then we’re going to take advantage of that as well.”

Tucker is seeking its third state title in six years, while Creekside is playing in a state final for the first time.

“It should be one of those old-school battles,” Lamar said. “I don’t see a lot of points being put up, so hopefully we can slow them down a little bit. That’s going to be a tall task.”