South Georgia flexed its muscles Friday in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals, sending three teams to next weekend’s semifinals.
Lee County (Leesburg), Coffee (Douglas) and Glynn Academy (Brunswick) will be joined in the semifinals by Tucker, which lost to Valdosta in the state championship game last season. All four teams were among in the top seven of the AJC’s final regular-season rankings.
It is the first time since 2007 that three teams from south of the metro Atlanta area have reached the semifinals in the state’s second-largest classification. That year, Tucker was joined in the final four by Northside-Warner Robins, Ware County and Thomas County Central. Northside beat Ware County 20-14 in the championship game.
Here’s how this year’s semifinalists advanced Friday:
– Coffee overcame first-half injuries to its top two running backs (Jameon Gaskin, Marquavius Jefferson) to beat Alpharetta 28-14. Coffee built a 21-0 lead and held on. The victory puts the Trojans in the semifinals for the first time since 1981 and just the second time in school history.
– Tucker, which was projected as a 13-point favorite by the computer Maxwell Ratings, needed two big plays on special teams to beat Allatoona 20-12. It was the first time since the Tigers’ loss to Colquitt County on Sept. 1 that a team came within 21 points of Tucker. Tyler Hughey returned the second-half kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, and the Tigers blocked a punt that they turned into a field goal. Tucker is in the semifinals for the seventh time in 11 seasons.
– Lee County built a 20-point lead early in the third quarter and made it stand up in a 34-14 victory over Mays, avenging a 35-22 loss to the Raiders in last year’s second round. Lee County, which began playing football in 1971, is in the semifinals for the first time. The Trojans had never advanced beyond the second round until this season.
– Glynn Academy is in the semifinals for the second time in three seasons after its 31-7 victory over Harrison. Glynn was a state runner-up in 2015. Unofficially, Caine Crews ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, and the Red Terrors held Harrison to less than 20 yards rushing.
Tucker has won two state championships (2008 and 2011), and Glynn Academy has won one (1964). Coffee and Lee County are seeking their first trips to the championship game.
Here are the quarterfinal scores and the matchups for the semifinals:
Coffee 28, Alpharetta 14
Tucker 20, Allatoona 12
Lee County 34, Mays 14
Glynn Academy 31, Harrison 7
(R1 #2) Coffee at (R4 #1) Tucker
(R2 #1) Glynn Academy at (R1 #1) Lee County