This is the most fun time of year to play high school football for those still in the running.
Just like last season, Gainesville's football team will have to find a way to win in enemy territory in order to reach the Class AAAAA state championship game in The Georgia Dome. Buford, meanwhile, can punch its ticket to the Class AAA title contest in the friendly confines of Tom Riden Stadium.
Not even a tender left shoulder on quarterback Deshaun Watson or a potent Mundy's Mill running game could keep Gainesville from earning a win in the state quarterfinals on Friday at City Park Stadium.
The Gainesville Red Elephants are starting to become very comfortable at playing football when the weather turns cold.
BARNESVILLE - Despite being in unfamiliar territory on Friday against Jefferson, Lamar County didn't panic.
BUFORD - It wasn't pretty, but Buford's quarterfinal matchup with fellow state power Carver-Columbus finished in usual fashion - with the Wolves on top.
This isn't uncharted territory for the Gainesville Red Elephants. If anything, the members of Gainesville's football team expected to be here, practicing the week of Thanksgiving and playing in a high-profile quarterfinal matchup on Black Friday.
JEFFERSON - Trailing by three points in the closing minutes of last week's second-round playoff matchup at Heard County, Jefferson's defense was able to do something it hadn't been able to do all game long: Make a stop.
BUFORD - Lately it's almost a given that top-ranked Buford will face Carver-Columbus in the playoffs.
Tickets for Gainesville's Class AAAAA state quarterfinal game Friday against Mundy's Mill will be on sale from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the school's lobby.
One of the few uncertain moments for top-ranked Buford (12-0) came early Saturday morning with a coin flip to determine home field for Friday's state quarterfinal game against No. 4 Carver-Columbus (11-1).
Out of all the impressive things Gainesville did in its second-round playoff win against South Paulding, it was a brilliant third quarter that stood out the most. The Red Elephants (11-1) scored touchdowns on all four offensive possessions in the third period, while stifling the Spartans' offense, to secure a 51-12 win at City Park Stadium.
TYRONE - Chestatee made major strides during its 2013 season, building a campaign that reached historic levels in the program's short history.
BUFORD - Thomas Wilson scored two touchdowns in just over a minute and Tyler Winslow returned a blocked punt 14 yards as the Buford Wolves blew open what was a close second-round playoff matchup against Woodward Academy on Friday night at Tom Riden Stadium to win 40-7.
ROSWELL - The No. 1-seed Blessed Trinity Titans defeated the No. 2-seed White County Warriors 38-0 in the second round of the AAA state playoffs, Friday night at Titan Field.
Momentum is a precious commodity in high school football.
Gainesville's senior quarterback Mikey Gonzalez was electric all night in Friday's 46-6 win against Winder-Barrow - before and after a 70-minute weather delay due to lightning around City Park Stadium in Gainesville.
SUGAR HILL - The Flowery Branch Falcons couldn't build on an early lead Friday night and the Lanier Longhorns wore them down and pulled away late to win 27-12.
Tray Bryant paced Chestatee with 154 rushing yards in a 24-19 win over Pepperell on Friday in Lindale.
JEFFERSON-When it comes to the Battle of the Bridge rivalry between the Jefferson Dragons and Commerce Tigers, Jefferson head coach Ben Hall said you could throw both teams' undefeated records out the window.
DAHLONEGA - In a battle of teams going for their first victory, Lumpkin County scored a 14-3 nonregion win over Johnson at The Burial Grounds on Friday night.
It would be hard to blame West Hall head coach Tony Lotti if he felt a little conflicted after the Spartans' 38-0 handling of county rival North Hall on Friday night.
Dawson County lost a tight contest Friday to Heritage-Ringgold, 10-6 in Ringgold
White County defeated Pace Academy 31-17 on Friday night in Cleveland
Union County defeated Andrews, N.C., m 49-20 on Friday night in Blairsville.
Towns County defeated Lakeview Academy 14-6 on Friday night in Hiawassee.
Rabun County rode a strong offensive night to a 34-21 victory Friday over Jackson County in Tiger.
Hapeville Charter defeated Riverside Military Academy 15-14 on Friday in Hapeville.
Demetrious Walker rushed for 115 yards on 15 carries and scored three touchdowns in Banks County's 43-0 dominating victory Friday night over East Jackson in Homer.