BUFORD - The offense that moved with ease all year did so again. The defense that gave up yards grudgingly throughout the regular season was just as stingy in the first round of the state playoffs.
Union County ended its season with a 6-5 record after a 56-21 to Lovett, the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AA, in the first round of the state playoffs on Friday night.
Blessed Trinity defeated Jackson County 41-14 in their first-round Class AAA state playoff game Friday in Roswell.
Deshaun Watson was glad to get Thursday morning behind him. Gainesville's starting quarterback, and the state's all-time leading passer, was finally able to sign a financial aid award letter with Clemson University, officially making him a Tiger.
Last season, Hall County's two newest schools celebrated their 10-year anniversaries by both hosting first-round state playoff football games.
After enduring eight losing seasons in the past 10 years, West Hall will make its return to the playoffs tonight with a visit to second-ranked Cartersville.
M.L. King at Gainesville
At this time last season, Gainesville High appeared to be a football team in free fall.
The high school football state playoffs begin this Friday for the state's five largest classifications. The postseason will stretch across the next five weeks, with the state championship games being played Dec. 13-14 inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Quarterback Daniel McCrary and wide receiver Johnathan Gilreath ended their careers at Lumpkin County on a particularly high note on Friday in the regular season finale, even though making the playoffs was out of the question.
For the second straight year, Gainesville faced a surging Flowery Branch team in the fourth quarter with a region title on the line.
North Hall came into Friday night's game with chance to emerge as Region 7-AAA champs. But with a 42-14 win, top-ranked Buford showed why it's considered by many to be the frontrunner not only for the region, but for a second-straight state title as well.
DAWSONVILLE - Tony Lotti had an important phone call to make.
Lumpkin County ended its season with a 31-28 upset win over Stephens County, the No. 4 seed in Region 8-AAAA, on Friday in Toccoa.
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.
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.