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.
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.
Rabun County pulled away late to defeat Union County 45-31 on Friday in Blairsville.
Prince Avenue Christian defeated Towns County 40-7 on Friday.
Fannin County defeated Dawson County 36-28 on Friday in Dawsonville.
Cole Chancey's 130 yards on just three carries propelled Commerce to a 49-10 victory over Providence Christian Academy on Friday in Lilburn.
North Oconee defeated White County 31-6 on Friday in Cleveland.
Five different players scored for Banks County in a wild 49-46 win over Lumpkin County on Friday night in Dahlonega.
West Hall stayed unbeaten in Region 7-AAA play with a 27-12 victory over Franklin County on Friday in Carnesville.
HARTWELL - In what has been a disappointing and tough 2014 campaign, the Jackson County Panthers looked to turn their luck around Friday night and put a second "W" in the win column.
A special teams breakdown and a lost fumble Friday turned the tide quickly against North Hall.
A weather delay and various injury stoppages couldn't stop the Indians as they earned their third straight win on Friday in Blue Ridge, beating Fannin County 34-20.
Union County stayed undefeated, moving to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in Region 8-AA with Friday night's 42-27 win over Greene County in Greensboro.
Johnson shutout Osborne 13-0 Friday night in Oakwood, the Knights' second win in a row.