Class 6A blog: Previews of this week’s semifinal games

Buford High School's Tom Riden Stadium. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM
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Buford High School's Tom Riden Stadium. TYLER ESTEP / TYLER.ESTEP@AJC.COM

Two Gwinnett County teams, a first-time semifinalist and one of the state’s winningest programs are all that remain after three rounds of the Class 6A football playoffs.

Two-time defending state champion Buford will be at home Friday night to take on Carrollton, which ranks No. 7 in state history with 707 victories. Gwinnett’s other team, Dacula, will travel to Hughes, a south Fulton County school making its first appearance in the semifinals.

Here’s a look at this week’s semifinal games.

Dacula at Hughes

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Panther Stadium, Fairburn

Records, rankings: Dacula is 9-4, the No. 2 seed from Region 8-6A and unranked; Hughes is 12-1, the No 1 seed from 4-6A and No. 3.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Both teams are seeking their first appearance in the state finals. Dacula is in the semifinals for the third time in four seasons and sixth time overall. Hughes is in the semifinals for the first time since the program began in 2009. Dacula is the only unranked team still alive in 6A after a 35-0 victory over Johns Creek, which was the last remaining No. 4 seed. The Falcons scored all of their points in the game’s first 16 minutes. Kyle Efford, a three-star linebacker prospect committed to Georgia Tech, ran for three touchdowns and had an interception to set up another score. Will Green recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Hughes has won 12 consecutive games since a 7-6 loss to Newton in the opener. The 12 wins are a school record. The Panthers defeated Northside of Warner Robins 48-7 last week behind four rushing TDs by Antonio Martin, who is committed to Georgia Tech. Martin ran for 95 yards on 19 carries, giving him 786 yards for the season. Prentiss Noland passed for 171 yards and a touchdown, and Jakarri Martin scored on a 44-yard fumble return. Michael Collins recorded 16 total tackles.

Maxwell Ratings’ projected score: Hughes 25, Dacula 14

Carrollton at Buford

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Records, rankings: Carrollton is 12-1, the No. 2 seed from Region 5-6A and No. 7; Buford is 12-1, the No 1 seed from 8-6A and No. 1.

Last meeting: Buford won 24-21 in the 2019 Class 5A quarterfinals.

Things to know: Carrollton ended a five-year losing streak in quarterfinal games with a 37-32 win over Westlake that put the Trojans in the semifinals for the first time since 2013. Bryce Hicks scored the winning touchdown on a 33-yard pass from M.J. Morris with 41 seconds left. Hicks rushed for 141 yards (giving him 839 for the season) and three touchdowns. Morris (committed to N.C. State) also threw a touchdown pass to himself, catching a ball that was deflected at the line of scrimmage and running 25 yards for the score. Carrollton led 24-0 in the third quarter but was outscored 32-7 over the next 16 minutes. Carrollton averages 42.2 points per game but will be facing a Buford defense that allows just 6.5. The Wolves recorded their fifth shutout of the season when they beat No. 2 Lee County 27-0 last week. Ashton Daniels (committed to Stanford) passed for 174 yards and a touchdown and scored on an 11-yard run. Victor Venn (Colorado) ran for 195 yards. Buford, a two-time defending state champion, is in the semifinals for the 19th time in 22 seasons.

Maxwell Ratings’ projected score: Buford 34, Carrollton 12

Quarterfinals

Dacula 35, Johns Creek 0

Hughes 48, Northside-Warner Robins 7

Carrollton 37, Westlake 32

Buford 27, Lee County 0

Semifinals

(R8 #2) Dacula at (R4 #1) Hughes

(R5 #2) Carrollton at (R8 #1) Buford

Championship

7 p.m., Dec. 10

Center Parc Stadium, Atlanta

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