Coffee, the only No. 2 seed remaining in the semifinals, advanced with a 14-3 victory over top-ranked Tucker, the 2016 state runner-up. Coffee quarterback Wade Sumner had a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 27-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Dawson in the fourth as the Trojans improved to 10-3. Tucker came into the game averaging 270.7 yards per game rushing but managed just 150 against Coffee. Also, the Trojans put up 262 yards of total offense against a Tucker defense that was allowing only 127 per game.
Region 1 champion Lee County rallied from an early 31-6 deficit to shock Glynn Academy 42-38 in the other semifinal. Lee County scored the winning points when Dashawn King returned a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown with less than three minutes to play. Lee County recovered another fumble at its 6-yard line with 1:12 remaining to secure the victory. Glynn Academy committed four turnovers in the second half.
Here are some historical stories that will play out next Friday night:
*This will be the first time that two teams from the same region have met in the championship game of the second-highest classification since 2008, when Tucker faced off with DeKalb County rival Marist. Tucker won the championship game 15-3 after losing to the War Eagles 38-0 in the regular season. Lee County beat Coffee 23-7 when they met in the regular season this year.
*Lee County or Coffee will become the sixth first-time state champion in the classification in the past nine years. Others included Allatoona (2015), Creekside (2013), Gainesville (2012), Chattahoochee (2010) and Sandy Creek (2009). Of those five, only Sandy Creek has added to its championship total since winning its first.
*Lee County and Coffee will both be appearing in the championship game for the first time. Lee County, which began its program in 1971, had never advanced beyond the second round before this season. Coffee had made one semifinal appearance – the 1981 team led by all-state players Andre “Pulpwood” Smith and George Smith – but lost to eventual champion Warner Robins 31-6. Coffee began its program in 1970.
*Lee County or Coffee will become the third team in four seasons from south of the metro Atlanta area to win the championship in the classification, joining 2016 Valdosta and 2014 Northside-Warner Robins. Before that stretch, six consecutive champions hailed from northern Georgia – 2013 Creekside, 2012 Gainesville, 2011 Tucker, 2010 Chattahoochee, 2009 Sandy Creek and 2008 Tucker.