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Sunday February 14th, 2016 6:25PM

Two big semifinal showdowns set for broadcast

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Four is a magic number, and for three area teams the state semifinals are moving quickly onto the horizon. Two of those contests will be broadcast live on Friday by the Jacobs Media family of radio stations, as the hunt for No. 1 continues.

For Gainesville and Buford, the task ahead is steep -- certainly so for the Red Elephants, who will battle in one of THE marquee match-ups of the postseason.

Gainesville (12-1) ended the regular season ranked No. 3 and will bring its high-octane style to bear against a Tucker team that is 13-0, ended the regular season at No. 1 and features one of the best defenses left in the playoffs.

The Red Elephants will travel for the first time this postseason to face the Tigers, heading to Clarkston's Hallford Stadium for a game broadcast live on 1240 AM. (Click here for a map of Hallford Stadium)

The defending Class AAAAA champ Gainesville enters its third straight semifinal contest against a Tucker program that won the 2011 and 2008 Class AAAA championships.

Both teams feature plenty of talent, though most eyes will be on the battle between the Tigers' defense -- which is allowing just 12.7 points per game -- and the Red Elephants' spread offense -- which is averaging 49.3 points.

Tucker has upped its defensive game this postseason, allowing just 17 points through three games -- including a 29-0 shutout of last season's Class AAAAA runner-up Ware County in the quarterfinals in which the Tigers racked up nine tackles for loss.

Tucker is loaded with collegiate recruits -- and the vast majority on defense, including defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (6-foot-6, 299 pounds), who holds offers from every major program in the nation, linebacker Detric Dukes (Georgia commit) and defensive back Kirk Tucker (Stanford commit). Junior defensive back Duke Shelley also holds an offer from Clemson.

The unit should prove the toughest playoff test yet for the Red Elephants' multi-faceted offense and quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Tucker's offense, meanwhile, leans on the run first and quarterback Joseph Farrar is a playmaker that can hurt any opposing defense. The Tigers are averaging 45 points per game -- though just 26.6 through the postseason.

Callaway, meanwhile, has been all about offense in this season's Class AAA playoffs. The Cavaliers have reached their first ever state semifinal thanks in large part to an option attack that is averaging 41 points per game -- 48.6 through three postseason wins.

Callaway (12-1) will face its toughest test so far when they take on a Buford defense that is allowing just 6 points per game and has dominated in the playoffs, allowing 13 total points in three victories. Friday's showdown at Buford's Tom Riden Stadium will air live on AM 550.

Callaway, which has made eight straight state playoff appearances, features running back Eddie Culpepper, fullback Devon Rosser and quarterback Tez Parks behind an imposing offensive line.

The Cavaliers' defense, meanwhile, is yielding 14.8 points per game -- 23.3 through the postseason and is led by linebacker KeShun Freeman (Georgia Tech commit) and junior defenisve back Terry Godwin.

Buford, meanwhile, will be making its seventh straight state "Final Four" appearance. The Wolves have played 11 semifinal contests since 2000 and have not lost once in that time.

The area's other remaining team, North Gwinnett, will travel to face McEachern in a Class AAAAAA showdown. The Bulldogs (12-1) are in the semifinals for the first time since 2007. McEachern (11-2) is in its first semifinal contest since 1998.

STATE SEMIFINAL MATCH-UPS FOR AREA TEAMS

CLASS AAAAAA
North Gwinnett at McEachern

CLASS AAAAA
Gainesville at Tucker -- Radio: 1240 AM

CLASS AAA
Callaway at Buford -- Radio: 550 AM
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