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.
In typical Buford fashion, seven different names appeared on the scoring sheet during Friday night's 56-0 win over Berkmar at Tom Riden Stadium.
Riverside Military Academy's defense stole the show on Friday night in Roswell as J.J. McCalston, Tarik Holmes and Chris Howard combined to lead the Eagles to a 20-10 victory over Fellowship Christian.
West Hall coach Tony Lotti had his team vote last week to decide who would be the team's top 10 leaders in the locker room for the upcoming season.
A stifling defense and a freshman quarterback led Flowery Branch to a decisive victory against Chestatee on Friday night in the Hall County rivals' first matchup since 2009.
LOGANVILLE – Gainesville has two weeks to find some continuity on both sides of the ball before the region schedule begins. The season opener was far less than what coach Bruce Miller hoped for.
Rabun County held off Habersham Central 23-14 in the season-opener on Friday in Tiger.
Union County stormed past Towns County 57-14 win in the season opener on Friday in Hiawassee.
Commerce defeated Banks County 28-21 on Friday in the season opener for both teams in Commerce.
Pickens outlasted White County 42-34 in a wild offensive shootout Friday in Cleveland.
East Hall battled its way to a 20-13 win over Wesleyan in the season opener on Friday in Peachtree Corners.