The Sweet 16 round of the GHSA high school football state playoffs is set for Friday night with three DeKalb County teams vying for a berth in the state quarterfinals.
The No. 1 ranked Tucker Tigers (11-0) are in the second round of the state playoffs for the seventh consecutive year (2007-2013) as they host Region 5 No. 3 seed East Paulding (8-3) in the Class AAAAA playoffs at Adams Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Tucker improved to 41-32 overall in the state playoffs with a 35-14 victory over Heritage-Conyers last Friday night giving the Tigers 11 first round wins since the 2000 season. East Paulding won its opening round game 34-33 over Creekview.
The Tigers are 3-0 in the state playoffs versus teams from Paulding County with wins over Paulding County (2-0) and North Paulding (1-0).
The Tigers offense which is averaging 50 points a game is led by running backs Elijah Sullivan (11 touchdowns rushing, 2 receiving) and Dominick Sanders (11 touchdowns rushing, 2 punt return touchdowns and 1 interception return for a touchdown) and quarterback Joseph Farrar (11 passing touchdowns and 6 rushing).
Yaquis Shelley has added 9 touchdowns of his own including two receiving, four kickoff returns (87, 78, 68 and 99 yards), one punt return (53 yards) and two interception returns (35 and 30 yards).
Tucker senior kicker Eric Webber has been a big factor in the Tigers 11-0 record this season and has climbed the DeKalb County points by kicking in a season list into a tie for fourth with Redan’s Chris Gardocki at 74 points on the season. Webber is three points away from tying former Tucker kicker Ricky Peacock’s school record of 77 points (2008) after hitting five extra points against Heritage to improve to 59-62 on the season on point after touchdown tries and is 5-5 on field goals with a long of 34 yards on the season.
The linebacker trio of Detric Dukes, Elijah Sullivan and Justin Hughes has combined for 18 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss on the season while defensive lineman Maurice Williams had 8 sacks and 9 tackles for a loss.
The Stephenson Jaguars (9-2) advanced to the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs for the second consecutive season with a 27-7 victory over Flowery Branch last Friday at Flowery Branch.
The win gives the Jaguars a 16-13 overall record in state playoff play and a second round appearance for the ninth time in 14 consecutive playoff appearances.
The Jaguars will go on the road in the second round to Paulding County for the second consecutive season as they take on North Paulding (10-1) in a 7:30 p.m. game on Friday. Stephenson defeated East Paulding on the road a year ago to advance to the state quarterfinals. North Paulding defeated Riverwood 50-14 in the opening round to advance and host Stephenson.
Stephenson’s offense is led by two-time 1,000 yard rusher Dallas Rivers who has 22 rushing touchdowns this season and receiver Dexter Neal with six touchdowns receiving while averaging 18 yards per reception. Place kicker Wisdom Nzidee has been a stalwart on special teams for the Jaguars this season as he added nine points (three extra points and two field goals) in the win against Flowery Branch to break his own school record of 61 points a year ago with 65 this season while climbing to 14th on the DeKalb County points by kicking in a season list.
The Jaguar defense is allowing just 9 points a game led by junior defensive end Chauncey Rivers (14 sacks, 24 tackles for a loss)
The Cedar Grove Saints (7-4) travel to Ringgold (9-2) on Friday night in the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs in a game set for 7:30 p.m. Ringgold won its first ever playoff game a week ago with a 55-54 win over North Hall to advance to the second round.
The Saints won their first playoff game since 2010 with a 22-14 four overtime victory on the road against Elbert County last Friday night at the Granite Bowl. Cedar Grove is 7-10 overall in the state playoffs and looking to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since that 2010 season when the Saints picked up playoff wins over Cartersville and Gainesville to reach the third round.
Cedar Grove is led offensively by 1,000 yard rusher Deion Sellers (over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games), quarterback James Hartsfield (over 1,600 yards passing and 15 touchdowns) and receiver Brandon Norwood (over 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns) who averages
5.5 receptions per game.
The defense is led by linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams with over 100 tackles (2 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss) and defensive lineman Antwaun Jackson (15 tackles for a loss).
State Playoff Schedule
Friday, Nov. 22
East Paulding (8-3) vs. Tucker (11-0), Adams, 7:30 p.m.
Stephenson (9-2) at North Paulding (10-1), 7:30 p.m.
Cedar Grove (7-4) at Ringgold (9-2), 7:30 p.m.