CLARKSTON - Gainesville stood toe to toe with Tucker for most of the night in the Class AAAAA state semifinals on Friday at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston. What kept it close was the Red Elephants' remarkable defense for most of the night against the Tigers' vaunted running game.
Deshaun Watson couldn't help but smile.
Gainesville High quarterback Deshaun Watson was named the 2013-2014 Gatorade Georgia Football Player of the Year, according to an announcement made Thursday by The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports.
BUFORD - Buford coach Jess Simpson might have the best backup quarterback in Georgia.
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).
CLEVELAND - The Chestatee War Eagles couldn't have scripted a better start, but the White County Warriors used an opportunistic defense and a pair of quick strikes on offense to secure a decisive comeback victory Friday.
Commerce rolled past Towns County 58-0 on Friday to stay in the region playoff hunt.
BOGART - North Oconee knew what it was up against when Buford made the trip to Bogart.
Habersham Central fell at Johns Creek 42-14 on Friday in Alpharetta.
Greene County held off Riverside Military Academy 24-7 on Friday at Maginnis Field in Gainesville.
Jackson County bested county rival East Jackson 35-15 on Friday in Commerce.
Athens Christian shut out Lakeview Academy 40-0 on Friday at Eagle Field in Athens.
Flowery Branch spoiled homecoming Friday for the Apalachee with a 52-28 victory.
East Hall quarterback Devin Watson said he slept for 14 hours Thursday night to stave off a migraine in order to play in Friday night's rivalry game against Johnson.
Gainesville got rid of a bitter taste in its mouth with a sharp performance Friday against Clarke Central when it needed it most.
Chestatee fell at home to Stephens County on Friday, losing 55-27 to Toccoa.
Fourth-ranked Jefferson rolled to a big 63-0 win over East Jackson on Friday at Memorial Stadium.
Lakeview Academy notched four scores, a missed extra point and a safety and came away with a 29-28 win against Athens Academy on Friday in Gainesville.
Xavier Gantt powered the top-ranked Buford offense with a trio of touchdowns in a 51-12 victory over Monroe Area on Friday in Monroe.
Riverside Military Academy scored its second win of the season Friday, beating Oglethorpe County 21-0 in Lexington.