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Football Notebook: Defense highlights region title game
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GHSA state playoffs
Region 8-A vs. 7-A

No. 1 Wesleyan vs. No. 4 Warren County
No. 2 Athens Academy vs. No. 3 Wash.-Wilkes
No. 3 Commerce vs. No. 2 Wilkinson County
No. 4 Social Circle vs. No. 1 Lincoln County

Region 6-AA vs. 5-AA

No. 1 Buford vs. No. 4 Heard County
No. 2 Lovett vs. No. 3 Macon County
No. 3 Westminster vs. No. 2 Pike County
No. 4 Greater Atl. Christian vs. No. 1 Callaway

Region 8-AA vs. 7-AA

No. 1 Jefferson vs. No. 4 Chattooga
No. 2 North Oconee vs. No. 3 Rockmart
No. 3 Riverside vs. No. 2 Pepperell
No. 4 Banks County vs. No. 1 Calhoun

Region 7-AAA vs. 8-AAA

No. 1 Gainesville vs. No. 4 Oconee County
No. 2 North Hall vs. No. 3 Hart County
No. 3 Flowery Branch vs. No. 2 Stephens Co.
No. 4 Creekview vs. No. 1 Eastside

Playoffs begin Friday

The Region 7-AAA title game between Flowery Branch and Gainesville was billed as two high-powered offenses going head-to-head. It turns out the defenses were pretty stout too.

Flowery Branch and Gainesville combined for only 289 yards rushing yards and Gainesville quarterback Blake Sims was held to a season-low 78 rushing yards, 69 passing yards and was sacked four times. Flowery Branch scored first thanks to a blocked punt by Cory Sanderson, which set up a 37-yard Will Monday field goal. Passing yards were a little more easy to come by. Flowery Branch junior quarterback Connor Shaw threw for 238 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rodney Young.

Top dogs

Gainesville and North Hall seem to rotate years winning the Region 7-AAA title. And the Red Elephants (10-0) and Trojans (7-3) don’t look to have any plans of giving up their hold on region supremacy any time soon. With Gainesville’s region title win Friday, the Red Elephants own four region titles (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008) since 2002. North Hall won the region title the three seasons in between.

This season the Red Elephants and North Hall are the two top seeds from Region 7-AAA and will open the state playoffs at their respective home fields Friday. Gainesville will play host to Oconee County, while North Hall plays host to Hart County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Tickets for the Gainesville game go on sale at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the main office of Gainesville High. Admission for the playoff game costs $8. Season ticket holders can also pick up their tickets Wednesday.

Playoff streaks

The playoffs would just be bare without some of the area teams. Commerce (5-5) has the longest active playoff streak in the area with 12 consecutive seasons qualifying for postseason play. That run includes three trips to the state semifinals and a state title in 2000.

Buford (10-0) is headed back to the playoffs for the 10th straight season. The Wolves also have a 47 game regular-season winning streak thanks to Friday’s win against Greater Atlanta Christian.

The Region 7-AAA champion and fifth-ranked Red Elephants (10-0) are gearing up for their ninth consecutive trip to the playoffs.

Riverside Military is in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season combining trips to the GISA and GHSA state tournament. The Eagles (7-3) qualified for the GHSA state playoffs for the first time in school history with Friday’s 33-0 win against Dawson County.

Region 8-AA champion Jefferson (10-0) is in the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, but this is the Dragons’ first region title since the 1977 season.

Subregion perfection

With Friday’s win at Lumpkin County, North Hall extended its unbeaten streak in subregion play to 16 games since Region 7-AAA sub-divided in the 2006 season. That streak includes three wins against White County, Lumpkin County, Gilmer and Chestatee.

Turning over a new leaf

Banks County (6-4) qualified for its first trip to the playoffs since 1997, with a 34-13 win against Union County on Friday night. Leopards senior running back Justin Beasley kept up his frantic pace running the ball with 321 yards and three touchdowns, and now stands at 2,043 yards on the year.

Banks County’s defense also rose the challenge with six interceptions against the Panthers. Chase Armour and Clay Frink each returned picks for touchdowns.

Party crashers

Creekview (6-4) earned a playoff spot in Region 7-AAA in its first year of region competition in football. The Grizzlies qualified for the postseason with a 69-35 win against Chestatee on Friday night in Gainesville. Now the No. 4-seed Creekview prepares to visits Region 8-AAA champion Eastside (9-1) on Friday night in Covington.

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