Class 6A blog: Previews of Friday’s quarterfinals

Buford head coach Bryant Appling holds his championship trophy after beating Lee County 34-31 in a Class 6A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)
Caption
Buford head coach Bryant Appling holds his championship trophy after beating Lee County 34-31 in a Class 6A state high school football final Tuesday, December 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

A matchup of the two highest-ranked teams will be the headliner Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A football playoffs.

No. 1 Buford and No. 2 Lee County will meet for the first time since Dec. 29, 2020, when the state championship was on the line. Buford won that game in overtime to claim its second consecutive title and 12th since 2001.

Here’s a look at this week’s four quarterfinal games.

*Johns Creek (9-3) at Dacula (8-4): This is the only Class 6A game this week between unranked teams. Johns Creek is the only No. 4 seed remaining in Class 6A and one of only two in the state (Class A Public Manchester is the other). The Gladiators’ playoff victories over Rome (31-27) and Evans (45-14) were the second and third in school history. Against Evans, Kyle Durham threw two touchdown passes to Joshua Thompson, who has more than 1,000 yards receiving and 20 TD receptions. Tylan Johnson, a 1,000-yard rusher, also had two rushing touchdowns. Dacula reached the quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons with a 29-21 victory over No. 4 Brunswick, which had been the only 6A team without a loss. Nichalous Nelson had two interceptions, one which he returned 64 yards for a touchdown and another at the Dacula 7-yard line in the closing seconds to seal the victory. Kyle Efford, a linebacker and running back committed to Georgia Tech, rushed for 187 yards (unofficially) and two touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass. This will be the first meeting between these teams.

*Northside-Warner Robins (9-3) at Hughes (11-1): This will be a rematch of last year’s first-round game, which Hughes won 27-0. Hughes QB Prentiss Noland, then a freshman, passed for 123 yards and a touchdown in that game. This season, Noland has thrown for 2,054 yards and 28 touchdowns, with a career-high 368 yards in a first-round victory over Glynn Academy and 100 in a 28-8 win against Shiloh last week. Antonio Martin, who is committed to Georgia Tech, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown last week, giving him a team-leading 691 yards for the season. Third-ranked Hughes, in the quarterfinals for the second straight season, is the Region 4 champion. Unranked Northside reached the quarterfinals nine times from 2005 to 2018 but went 8-13 the past two seasons. Now the Eagles are back after beating Douglas County 42-13 last week. Cameran Brown passed for 169 yards and a touchdown and ran for 104 yards and three scores. Brown has 867 yards passing and a team-high 506 yards rushing for the season. Centavious Lowe had a touchdown catch and went over 600 receiving yards for the season.

*Westlake (10-2) at Carrollton (11-1): Fifth-ranked Westlake’s streak of seven region titles was snapped this season with its second-place finish in Region 4, but the Lions have reached the quarterfinals for the fourth time in seven seasons. Westlake led Region 6 champion Kennesaw Mountain 14-10 at halftime last week but pulled away in the second half for a 45-10 victory. The Lions rushed for 434 yards on 40 carries. Jai’Den Thomas (255 yards rushing) and Zina Mulbah (133 rushing) each ran for two touchdowns. R.J. Johnson, who averages 200 yards per game passing, gave the Lions the lead for good with second-quarter touchdown pass to Travis Booker. No. 7 Carrollton, the Region 5 runner-up, advanced to its sixth consecutive quarterfinal with a 43-21 victory over Region 3 champion Alcovy. Carrollton led 9-7 at halftime but used a 21-point third quarter to break it open. M.J. Morris (committed to N.C. State) passed for 163 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 2,714 and 31 for the season. Jamun Evans (136) and Bryce (107) topped 100 yards rushing. Hicks has run for 698 yards and Evans has 450 for the season. Carrollton won two previous meetings with Westlake in 1992 and 1993.

*Buford (11-1) at Lee County (11-1): This is a rematch of the 2020 state championship game, which Buford won 34-31 in overtime, and matches this year’s No. 1 (Buford) and No. 2 (Lee County) teams in 6A. One or the other has won three of the past four championships in the second highest class, as Lee County won in 2017 and 2018. (Buford also won in 2019 while in Class 5A.) Buford beat Lovejoy 44-7 last week. Ashton Daniels threw two touchdown passes, K.J. Bolden had a 26-yard touchdown reception and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, and Victor Venn had a 57-yard TD run. The win put the Wolves in the quarterfinals for the 22nd consecutive season. Lee County outlasted Cambridge 42-39 last week to reach its fifth straight quarterfinal. The Trojans had 543 total yards, led by Ousmane Kromah’s 259 yards and two touchdowns rushing. The freshman has run for 1,663 yards and 20 TDs this season. Julius McClennan ran for 116 yards, and J.D. Fugerson had nine catches for 166 yards. Malcom Jones had an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and intercepted two passes.

Quarterfinals

(R7 #4) Johns Creek at (R8 #2) Dacula

(R1 #2) Northside-Warner Robins at (R4 #1) Hughes

(R4 #2) Westlake at (R5 #2) Carrollton

(R8 #1) Buford at (R1 #1) Lee County

Semifinals

Johns Creek/Dacula winner vs. Northside-Warner Robins/Hughes winner

Westlake/Carrollton winner vs. Buford/Lee County winner

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