Here are some observations from the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs, which cut the field down to the final eight teams:
- The eight region champions all won their first-round games, but only six made it through to the quarterfinals. Region 8 champion Dacula lost to Allatoona 14-13 in what probably was the most dramatic game of the night. Allatoona’s Rett Russell blocked a potential game-tying extra-point attempt with 1:38 remaining. “It is the best play I’ve made in my life. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Russell told Nubyjas Wilborn of the Marietta Daily Journal. Region 3 champion Evans also lost, 55-21 against Coffee. The six surviving region champs are Lee County (R1), Glynn Academy (R2), Tucker (R4), Mays (R5), Harrison (R6) and Alpharetta (R7).
- Region 3 had three teams in the second round – matching a feat accomplished by Region 1 – but all three were eliminated on Friday. In addition to Evans’ loss to Coffee, Heritage-Conyers lost to Glynn Academy 34-26 and Grovetown lost to Lee County 38-6. Still, that’s a dramatic improvement for the region from last season, when Evans, Heritage, Grovetown and Lakeside-Evans lost their first-round playoff games by a combined score of 218-38. Region 8 also lost its last surviving members when Dacula lost to Allatoona and Winder-Barrow lost to Harrison 45-17. The region’s other playoff teams – Gainesville and Lanier – lost in the first round.
- Only two regions still have two of their teams left. Region 1 will have champion Lee County and runner-up Coffee in the quarterfinals, and Region 6 will have champion Harrison and Allatoona. The other two playoff teams from Region 6 – Dalton and Sequoyah – were knocked out in the first round. The other Region 1 team that made it to the second round, Northside-Warner Robins, was eliminated by Tucker 28-7. Defending state champion Valdosta, the No. 4 seed from Region 1, lost to Glynn Academy in the first round. Four regions have one team remaining, and all are No. 1 seeds. They are Glynn Academy, Tucker, Mays and Alpharetta.
- Tucker reached the quarterfinals for the ninth time in 11 seasons with its victory over Northside. The Tigers lost in the second round the other two seasons. It’s a remarkable run of success that began in 2007 during Franklin Stephens’ first season. In his five seasons, Stephens won two state titles, reached the semifinals two other times and lost in the second round once. In six seasons under current coach Bryan Lamar, the Tigers have been the state runner-up twice, reached the quarterfinals three other times and lost in the second round once. The Tigers had reached the championship game only once (a 13-12 loss to Dublin in 1963) before Stephens’ arrival.
- It has been a good tournament for teams in the Top 10. Seven ranked teams remain, and the three that have been eliminated lost to other ranked teams. No. 8 Brunswick lost to No. 5 Northside in the first round. The second-round victims were No. 6 Douglas County, which lost to No. 9 Alpharetta 24-21, and Northside, which lost to top-ranked Tucker. The only unranked team to reach the quarterfinals was Allatoona, which was at No. 10 for two weeks midway through the regular season. Allatoona plays at Tucker next weekend.
- Here are the second-round scores and the matchups for the quarterfinals:
Alpharetta 24, Douglas County 21
Coffee 55, Evans 21
Allatoona 14, Dacula 13
Tucker 28, Northside-Warner Robins 7
Mays 48, Centennial 41
Lee County 38, Grovetown 6
Harrison 45, Winder-Barrow 17
Glynn Academy 34, Heritage-Conyers 26
(R1 #2) Coffee at (R7 #1) Alpharetta
(R6 #2) Allatoona at (R4 #1) Tucker
(R5 #1) Mays at (R1 #1) Lee County
(R6 #1) Harrison at (R2 #1) Glynn Academy