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Wednesday June 3rd, 2015 5:48AM

FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS WEEK 3: Contrast in styles highlights quarterfinal matchups

By Jeff Hart and Morgan Lee
If we thought challenges abounded last week for area teams in the playoffs, this week could be even more dangerous.

Four area teams fell last week and the four area teams still alive can expect a fight in the football playoffs this week.

This week will feature several contrast in style matchups and should make for an exciting night of action. At this point in the playoffs, everyone is considered dangerous and every team is certainly capable of falling. But, defending state champions Buford (AAA), Gainesville (AAAAA), and Jefferson (AA) know how to finish.

In Buford we will have the latest installment of a recent rivalry when Carver, Columbus heads to Tom Riden Stadium. This will be the fifth meeting between the powerhouse programs in the last four seasons. The Tigers will be looking for some revenge after being knocked out of the playoffs the past two seasons by the Wolves.

In Gainesville, the Red Elephants will play host to a Mundy's Mill team that is coming off an upset win on the road and is making some noise in its first-ever trip to the playoffs.

Jefferson will travel to Barnesville to take on No. 1-ranked Lamar County. The Dragons will throw the ball early and often while the Trojans average less than five passes a game.

North Gwinnett also will hit the road traveling to Hillgrove to face a Hawks team that shocked No. 2 Camden County last week on the road. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA for most of the season.

For a look at all of the night's contests involving area teams, simply scroll down. And be sure to check back with Access North Georgia and our Friday Game Night page throughout the night for score updates and game stories and video highlights. You can also check for scores and highlights on our Twitter feed @FridayGameNight

CLASS AAAAAA

NORTH GWINNETT at HILLGROVE
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Cobb Energy Hillgrove Stadium, Powder Springs
-- NORTH GWINNETT (11-1, No. 3 Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Archer 34-32 last week in second round
-- HILLGROVE (11-1, No. 2 seed Region 4-AAAAAA): Defeated Camden County 34-21 last week in second round
-- NOTABLE: Hillgrove's stunning win over second-ranked Camden County last week was the Hawks' second time in four seasons. They are the only team that has won two road games at Camden since 2000. . .Hawks' RB Richardre Bagley has 1,514 yards rushing on the season. . .North Gwinnett's win over Archer ended the season of the classification's only unbeaten team. . .C.J. Leggett rushed for 181 yards, giving him 1,208 in the season. QB Hayden Sphire was 17-of-29 passing for 219 yards, giving him 2,205 on the season despite missing time this season. . . This will be North Gwinnett's sixth quarterfinal appearance since 2006, the most among AAAAAA schools in that time. Camden County, Colquitt County and Grayson have gone five times each. . .The quarterfinals, however, has not been kind to the Bulldogs, who are 1-4 in those games.
-- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools
-- WINNER PLAYS: Collins Hill vs. McEachern winner in the semifinals

CLASS AAAAA

MUNDY'S MILL at GAINESVILLE
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: City Park Stadium, Gainesville
-- MUNDY'S MILL (8-4, No. 2 seed Region 4-AAAAA): Defeated Lee County 41-35 last week in the second round
-- GAINESVILLE (11-1, No. 1 seed Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated South Paulding 51-12 last week in the second round
-- NOTABLE: Deshaun Watson continues to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. The Gainesville QB and Clemson-commit has amassed 4,198 total yards and 55 total touchdowns so far this season. The last two games proved just how versatile he is. He had just 20 yards passing in a first-round win but churned out over 200 yards on the ground. Last week he reversed that with a 432-yard passing effort in the second round. Mundy's Mill will have to find a way to stop him if the Tigers are to have any chance. . .But, the Tigers counter with RB Rodney Smith, who has piled up 2,045 yards and 25 TDs on the ground. . .Mundy's Mill is as hot as anyone in the playoffs with eight straight wins. The Tigers defense has allowed just 13.3 ppg in that span. Gainesville is averaging 49.9 ppg on offense and has eclipsed the 50-point mark eight times this season. . .
-- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools
-- WINNER PLAYS: Ware County vs. Tucker winner in the semifinals

CLASS AAA

CARVER-COLUMBUS at BUFORD
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
-- RADIO: AM 550
-- CARVER (11-1, No. 1 seed Region 2-AAA): Defeated Jefferson County 19-0 in the second round
-- BUFORD (12-0, No. 1 seed Region 7-AAA): Defeated Woodward Academy 40-7 in the second round
-- NOTABLE: The two teams are no strangers to each other, especially in big games. This will be fifth meeting in the last four seasons, four coming in the playoffs. Buford is making its 14th straight quarterfinal appearance and the Tigers are making their eighth straight trip to the quarterfinals. . .Carver is certainly looking for some revenge after being knocked out of the playoffs the past two seasons by Buford. . .On paper, both teams put up big numbers on offense and have been stingy on defense so it could be a high-scoring game just as easily as low scoring. Bet on the defenses. . .Buford is allowing just 6.0 ppg and less than 135 yards per game while Carver is yielding just 16.3 ppg on defense. . .On offense Buford is paced by a slew of rushers, led by SR Thomas Wilson with 632 yards and 15 TDs on the season. Joshua Thomas has 669 yards and 11 TDs and nine other backs have at least 100 yards on the season and 14 different players have scored rushing touchdowns. . .Carver is led by senior FB Noah Hickey and SO QB Jawon Pass, who is a dual-threat and already has several FBS offers, including Clemson.
-- HISTORY: Buford leads the series 3-1. The Wolves beat Carver 31-7 last year in the quarterfinals.
-- WINNER PLAYS: St. Pius vs. Callaway winner in the semifinals

CLASS AA

JEFFERSON at LAMAR COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- WHERE: Trojan Field, Barnesville
-- JEFFERSON (10-2, No. 2 seed Region 8-AA): Defeated Heard County 61-57 in the second round
-- LAMAR COUNTY (12-0, No. 1 seed Region 4-AA): Defeated Thomasville 38-30 in the second round
-- NOTABLE: This is by far the toughest challenge of the season for the Dragons. Lamar County has won 14 straight at home going back to the 2011 quarterfinals and the Trojans are 21-1 in their last 22 home games. . .Jefferson is no stranger to big road games going 10-1 in its last 11 games away from Memorial Stadium. . .This will be a major contrast in styles as the Dragons will be balanced while Lamar County will run the ball 95 percent of the time. . .Lamar County RB Lawrence Austin is the real deal on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 250 yards and 3 TDs last week and intercepted a pass. He has rushed for 1,195 yards and has 24 total touchdowns on the season. He is second on the team in tackles. . .His QB brother Lance has rushed for 853 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Trojans average only about five passes per game. . .Jefferson QB Evan Shirreffs made a dramatic return to the lineup last week coming off the bench to throw three TD passes in Jefferson win. Injured in October, Shirreffs threw one TD pass to his temporary replacement at quarterback, T.J. Skelton, on a 9-yarder that was the game-winning score. Shirreffs also ran for a touchdown and caught a TD pass in what was the third-highest-scoring game in state playoff history. Shirreffs is 75-of-125 passing for 1,084 yards on the season. . .This is a matchup between the No. 1-ranked team (Lamar County) and the defending champion (Jefferson). Both made the semifinals last season. Lamar County lost to Calhoun, Jefferson's opponent in the final. . .
-- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools
-- WINNER PLAYS: Benedictine vs. Calhoun winner in the semifinals
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