Class 6A blog: Preview of the eight second-round games

All eight region champions and every team ranked in the top 10 advanced to this week’s second round of the Class 6A football playoffs.

Here’s a look at the eight matchups, with how the teams got here and the players to keep an eye on Friday night.

*Valdosta (5-4) at Evans (9-2): Rush Propst, Valdosta’s first-year coach, collected his 300th career victory when his Wildcats beat Lovejoy 52-14 in the first round. Propst won the majority of his games at Colquitt County (119-35) and Hoover, Ala. (110-16). QB Amari Jones passed for 194 yards and ran for a team-high 49 in the first round. This will be the first meeting against Evans for both Propst and Valdosta. Evans, the Region 3 champion, advanced to the second round for the fourth time since the state playoffs were expanded to 32 team in 1996 with a 42-21 victory over Statesboro. The Knights led 21-0 early, and Statesboro never got closer than a touchdown. Jofranstar Graham had 188 of the Knights’ 330 rushing yards, putting him at 1,120 for the season.

*Sprayberry (6-4) at Carrollton (7-2): Sprayberry, a No. 3 seed, won a state playoff game for the first time in the program’s 65-year history when it beat Creekview 34-14 in the first round. Damarion Owens, who rushed for 1,032 yards during the regular season, scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter but later suffered what was reported as a significant leg injury, and his status for this week is unknown. Carrollton is in the second round for the sixth consecutive season after beating Winder-Barrow 55-7. The Trojans led 28-0 after one quarter and 55-0 at halftime. Keshawn Ridley rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns, and the Trojans scored on returns of a blocked punt (3 yards by Juan Nieves) and an interception (46 yards by David Johns).

*Cambridge (6-5) at Buford (9-1): Cambridge, which opened in 2012, is another No. 3 seed that won in the state playoffs for the first time, upsetting Kell 36-14. Phillip-Michael Collins rushed for 176 yards and scored on runs of 24, 5 and 2 yards. Cambridge led 20-0 in the third quarter, saw Kell get within 20-14, and then pulled away in the fourth. Second-ranked Buford, playing in Class 6A for the first time after winning the 5A title in 2019, beat Douglas County 48-0 last week for its 22nd consecutive first-round victory. It was the second straight shutout and fifth of the season for the Wolves, who allow just 5.8 points per game, best in 6A. Victor Venn and Gabe Ervin combined for 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

*Hughes (10-1) at Glynn Academy (8-3): Hughes, which missed the playoffs the past two seasons, beat Northside of Warner Robins 27-0 to reach the second round for the first time since 2016. QB Xavier Smith ran for two touchdowns and passed for another in the first half, and the Panthers had 427 yards of total offense while holding Northside to 68. Region 2 champion Glynn Academy beat Grovetown 42-3 for its seventh consecutive first-round victory. The Red Terrors have won six straight games after a 2-3 start, allowing a total of 11 points in the past five games. Glynn Academy rushed for 398 yards last week, according to the Brunswick News, and were led by Caden Hutchinson with 143 and QB T.J. Lewis (committed to Louisville) with 124.

*Rome (8-3) at River Ridge (10-0): Rome, which moved up from 5A this year, is in the second round for the sixth consecutive year after beating Habersham Central 35-14. E.J. Lackey rushed for 184 yards to go over 1,000 for the season and scored three touchdowns, including a 68-yarder on the first play from scrimmage. Freshman QB Reece Fountain was 14-of-17 passing for 206 yards and two scores. River Ridge won a playoff game for the first time in the school’s 12-year history when it beat Kennesaw Mountain 35-34 in overtime in the only first-round 6A game decided by fewer than 20 points. Amehre Morrison (1,717 yards rushing for the season) scored on a 15-yard run on the Knights’ first play in overtime, and River Ridge stopped a two-point conversion attempt to preserve the victory.

*Brunswick (8-3) at Lee County (9-1): Brunswick, which finished in a three-way tie for first place in Region 2 but ended up with the No. 3 seed, reached the eight-win mark for the first time since 2010 with a 41-6 victory over Alcovy. Ree Simmons and Chuckobe Hill both ran for 127 yards, and K.J. Lee passed for 151. Simmons has 1,157 yards rushing for the season, and Lee has 1,878 yards passing. Top-ranked Lee County used a 41-point second quarter to power past Tucker 49-17 in the first round. The second half was played with a running clock. Caleb McDowell scored five first-half touchdowns (four rushing, one on a punt return). Chauncey Magwood ran for 100 yards and threw a touchdown pass. Lee County had 284 yards rushing and 360 yards total in the first half.

*Richmond Hill (9-2) at Westlake (9-1): No. 9 Richmond Hill, a semifinalist last season, beat Lakeside of Evans 56-0 to reach the second round for the third consecutive year. Kenyan “Nuna” Hunter ran for a touchdown, returned an interception 57 yards for a score, recovered a fumble and had five tackles (two for losses). Ashaud Roberson ran for 56 yards on nine carries, giving him 1,463 yards for the season. No. 3 Westlake is averaging 479.8 yards per game and leads 6A with 40.7 points per game. The Lions reached the second round with a 42-10 victory over Houston County. R.J. Johnson was 14-of-15 passing for 330 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 2,664 yards and 20 TDs for the season. Westlake is the Region 4 champion after winning six straight region titles in the highest class.

*Dacula (7-3) at Allatoona (10-0): This game matches the 2019 Class 6A runner-up (No. 4 Allatoona) against a semifinalist the past two seasons (No. 8 Dacula). Dacula reached the second round for the fifth consecutive season with a 49-24 win over Alexander. Kaleb Edwards (committed to Georgia Tech) had 147 yards rushing and 153 receiving; Kyle Efford had 108 yards rushing; and Blaine Jenkins passed for 211 yards. Allatoona recorded its fourth shutout of the year in a 24-0 victory over Johns Creek last week. The Buccaneers are allowing 7.1 points per game, second-best in Class 6A, and have not allowed more than 17 points in any game. Brett Blomquist had two of his team’s three interceptions (he has a school-record 13 in his career) and blocked a punt against Johns Creek.