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Sunday July 5th, 2015 9:00PM

Football: Three big second round battles set for broadcast on Friday

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Seven area high school football teams remain alive in the state playoffs, and each of those seven programs knows it will be put to the test this weekend, as the second round gets underway in Classes AA-AAAAAA, while the first round kicks off for Class A.

Three of the postseason showdowns will be broadcast live on Friday by the Jacobs Media family of radio stations, including Westminster at Jefferson, Morgan County at North Hall and Gainesville at Kell.

In Class AA, Jefferson is looking to make history this week, as the Dragons aim to progress into the quarterfinal round for the first time since 1977.

Jefferson (11-1) will play host to Westminster (5-6) in a game that will play out on 550 AM, and should the Dragons prove victorious it would prove their deepest playoff charge since losing to Lincoln County in the 1977 Class B title game.

The Wildcats may own a losing record, but Westminster cruised through the first round, 34-0 over Pepperell, and all six of the Wildcats' defeats came to playoff teams, including four to Class AAA playoff programs -- three of which are also still alive in the state championship hunt.

Jefferson had little trouble with first round foe Kendrick, winning 42-8, but will face a stout Westminster defense that allowed just 182 yards and returned two interceptions for scores in its first round win.

North Hall too will expect a battle from Region 8-AAA No. 2 seed Morgan County when the Bulldogs travel to The Brickyard on Friday in a game broadcast live on 102.9 FM.

The Trojans (9-2) outfought Woodward Academy in the first half before cruising down the stretch in a 38-7 first round win last week, while Morgan County nipped Gordon Central 24-21 in Madison.

The Bulldogs (9-2) enter the second round averaging 33.9 points per game on offense behind a rushing attack that features a number of dangerous ball carriers, including Marquis Benton, Michael Gray, Melvin Davis and Andrew Couch -- North Hall, meanwhile, is yielding just 102.8 yards on the ground. Morgan's defense is allowing 17.7 points per contest on defense and will face a Trojans offense that is scoring 42.1 points per game while averaging just under 350 yards rushing.

The Trojans are gunning for their first state quarterfinal berth since reaching the Class AAA semifinals in 2007. Morgan County has not reached the third round of the postseason since 1990.

Gainesville is coming off a Class AAA semifinal berth and, on Friday night, will gun for the program's first-ever Class AAAAA quarterfinal spot in a face-off at Kell in a game that will be broadcast live on 1240 AM.

The Red Elephants (8-3) bounced back from a two-game losing skid in emphatic fashion last week, hammering Rome 41-14 at City Park -- marking the fifth straight season Gainesville has advanced past the first round. The Red Elephants will look to make it five straight quarterfinal trips this week, but that won't be easy against the Longhorns (10-1).

Region 7-AAAAA champs Kell battled past Southwest DeKalb 19-14 last week, using a last-minute, 32-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew McGuigan to Julian Burris to secure the victory.

The Longhorns enter the contest averaging 31.2 points per game on offense -- which includes standout running backs Jamari Moore and Khalil Bell. Kell also features a number of FBS recruits, including defensive backs Brendan Langley and Quincy Mauger (both Georgia commits).

Gainesville's spread attack has put up points all season (43.4 ppg), but the key could be the Red Elephants' defense, which clamped down on Rome's wing-T attack for its lowest scoring total allowed since a 49-6 defeat of Salem on Oct. 12.

Kell is looking for its second ever quarterfinal berth after reaching the third round in 2010 courtesy a 21-13 defeat of Flowery Branch.

The trio of contests represent just part of a big night for area squads, as Buford also looks to keep rolling in the postseason.

The third-ranked Wolves (8-3) stormed past Cedar Grove 41-27 last week and will travel to take on North Oconee (10-1) this Friday.

The Titans have won back-to-back region titles (8-AA in 2011, 8-AAA in 2012) and will be battling Buford for their first ever state quarterfinal berth. The Wolves have not fallen short of the third round since 1999.

Both teams lean on stingy defenses, with Buford allowing just 8 points per game (last week's 27 points was the first time the Wolves gave up more than 19 in a game in 2012) and the Titans yielding 13.7, including three shutouts.

In Class AAAAAA, Mill Creek will play host to Brookwood (7-4) in a rematch of a 31-21 Broncos win from Sept. 7. The Hawks (8-3) defeated Alpharetta 41-39 in the first round, putting up 562 yards of offense. Meanwhile, in a top 10 showdown, No. 3 Grayson will play host to No. 5 North Gwinnett. The Bulldogs (10-1) hammered Johns Creek 49-19 in the first round, while Grayson (10-1) smacked Wheeler 49-9.

Meanwhile, in Class A, the new public/private postseason will get underway this week, and Commerce will travel almost 300 miles to face Seminole County. The Tigers (5-5) will try to win a playoff game for the first time since 2009. The Indians (8-2) reached the Class A quarterfinals last season.


FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS FOR AREA TEAMS, Nov. 16

Blessed Trinity 35, White County 14

Buford 41, Cedar Grove 27

Carrollton 40, Stephens County 7

Cartersville 56, Jackson County 21

Gainesville 41, Rome 14

Heard County 56, Rabun County 29

Jefferson 42, Kendrick 8

LaGrange 59, Chestatee 46

Mill Creek 41, Alpharetta 39

North Gwinnett 49, Johns Creek 19

North Hall 38, Woodward Academy 7

North Paulding 63, Flowery Branch 43

St. Pius X 72, Dawson County 28


SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF MATCH-UPS FOR AREA TEAMS

Class AAAAAA
North Gwinnett at Grayson
Brookwood at Mill Creek

Class AAAAA
Gainesville at Kell -- Radio: 1240 AM

Class AAA
Morgan County at North Hall -- Radio: 102.9 FM
Buford at North Oconee

Class AA
Westminster at Jefferson -- Radio: 550 AM

Class A Public (First Round)
Commerce at Seminole County
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