Class 6A blog: Five region titles, all but four playoff berths secured

Buford players warm up before Friday's home game against Dacula.
Buford players warm up before Friday's home game against Dacula.

Credit: Jason Getz/Special to the AJC

Credit: Jason Getz/Special to the AJC

The five remaining region championships and all but four of the Class 6A playoff berths were determined on the final Friday of the high school football regular season.

Buford and Evans clinched their titles in de facto championship games.

Buford ended Dacula’s four-year championship reign and 25-game region winning streak with a 35-0 victory in Region 8. Buford, the 2019 state champion in Class 5A, got 94 yards rushing, 48 yards receiving and three touchdowns from Gabe Ervin Jr., a Nebraska commit. Buford led 21-0 late in the first quarter and never looked back.

“It was a great week of practice,” Buford coach Bryant Appling told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “Our kids were amped up for this game and they have been since the they saw the schedule. They were on an even keel, they’ve been concentrating all week and they did a great job at handling their job and playing through the whistle every play.”

Evans claimed its second consecutive Region 3 title, and third in four years with a 40-30 victory over Alcovy, which was seeking its first region championship. Evans trailed 16-0 in the first quarter and 30-27 with less than three minutes remaining but got a touchdown pass from Kaleb Jackson to Reid Adkins to take the lead. Jofranstar Graham then returned an interception for a score to put the game away.

Elsewhere, Glynn Academy beat Statesboro 28-0 to clinch the Region 2 championship. The Red Terrors finished in a tie for first place with Richmond Hill and Brunswick but emerged as the No. 1 by the region’s tiebreakers. Richmond Hill won the region in 2019, ending Glynn’s three-year hold on the title. Glynn Academy quarterback T.J. Lewis, who has committed to Louisville, passed for 141 yards, ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and had 88 yards and a touchdown receiving.

Carrollton trailed Douglas County 7-3 at halftime but scored 20 unanswered points in the second half for a 23-7 victory that clinched the Region 5 championship. Keshawn Ridley ran for 97 yards and a touchdown, and Jared Need ran for 44 yards and two touchdowns on five carries. The region title was the second straight for Carrollton, which won Region 7-5A last year before moving up during reclassification.

River Ridge, which had made just one playoff appearance and finished with a winning record just one time since it opened in 2009, clinched its first region title when Creekview knocked off Johns Creek 19-14 in Region 7. River Ridge concludes its season Saturday night against Cambridge, but the worst the Knights could do would be to finish in a virtual tie with Creekview, which it beat earlier in the season. Johns Creek, which won region titles three of the past four seasons, will be the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, depending on Saturday’s games.

- Kennesaw Mountain, which opened in 2000, will make its first playoff appearance in school history, thanks to its 60-7 victory over Osborne and Allatoona’s 30-14 win over Pope that knocked the Greyhounds out of contention. Kennesaw Mountain started the season 0-4, which included region losses to playoff teams Allatoona and Sprayberry, but has won four of five games since and will enter the postseason as the No. 4 seed. The Mustangs have traditionally played in the highest class, in a region that included some of Cobb County’s strongest teams – McEachern, Marietta, Harrison, Hillgrove and North Cobb – but were moved into Class 6A this season.

- Kennesaw Mountain is one of at least nine schools that will be in the playoffs after missing out in 2019. Five made it in 2018. The most notable of those is Northside-Warner Robins, which had a streak of 28 consecutive appearances end last year. The others are Grovetown, Lovejoy, Douglas County and Creekview. River Ridge will make its first appearance since 2012, and Alcovy is in for the first time since 2013. Hughes is back after a two-year absence that followed six straight berths. Two teams can join the list Saturday, as Habersham Central (2018) can clinch a spot in Region 8, and Sequoyah (2018) or Cambridge (2016) will go from Region 7.

- The final four playoff berths will be determined Saturday after the final three games of the Class 6A regular season. The Habersham Central-Shiloh game will help settle third and fourth place in Region 8. Habersham Central can clinch the No. 3 seed with a victory, which would give Winder-Barrow the No. 4 seed and eliminate Shiloh. A Shiloh victory would create a three-way tie for the final two spots. In Region 7, the Centennial-Sequoyah and Cambridge-River Ridge games will determine the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Johns Creek has secured one of those spots, and either Cambridge or Sequoyah will get the other one.

- According to the GHSA Web site late Friday night (and other games that have not been officially sent in), here are the first-round matchups that have been settled:

First-round pairings

R4 #3 Lovejoy at R1 #2 Valdosta

R2 #4 Statesboro at R3 #1 Evans

R6 #3 Sprayberry at R7 #2 Creekview

R8 #4 TBD at R5 #1 Carrollton

R7 #3 TBD at R6 #2 Kell

R5 #4 Douglas County at R8 #1 Buford

R1 #3 Northside-Warner Robins at R4 #2 Hughes

R3 #4 Grovetown at R2 #1 Glynn Academy

R8 #3 TBD at R5 #2 Rome

R6 #4 Kennesaw Mountain at R7 #1 River Ridge

R2 #3 Brunswick at R3 #2 Alcovy

R4 #4 Tucker at R1 #1 Lee County

R3 #3 Lakeside-Evans at R2 #2 Richmond Hill

R1 #4 Houston County at R4 #1 Westlake

R5 #3 Alexander at R8 #2 Dacula

R7 #4 TBD at R6 #1 Allatoona

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