The Gainesville Red Elephants will take to the road next week for the first time in almost a month when they meet Carver-Columbus in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state football playoffs. Since both teams are their regions No. 1 seeds, the site was determined by a coin flip Saturday.
Fourth-ranked Gainesville (12-0) advanced with a 42-28 win over Cartersville on Friday, while No. 5 Carver (10-2) defeated Woodward Academy, 21-6.
Both teams have been highly ranked throughout the season. Gainesville made a steady ascent up the polls throughout the year, dominating most of its games and claiming the Region 7-AAA championship with a 27-13 win over Flowery Branch - another Hall County quarterfinalist - in the final week of the regular season.
Carver took a dip in the rankings after back-to-back losses to Northside-Warner Robins and Baldwin (No. 2 in Class AAA) early in the season. Since then, the Tigers have reeled off eight straight wins, never allowing more than eight points in a game since the 22-0 loss to Baldwin.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Columbus Memorial Stadium.
Flowery Branch (10-2) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2005 with a 21-14 win over Region 6-AAA champion Ridgeland on Friday.
The Falcons will travel to take on Baldwin (12-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Braves Stadium in Milledgeville.
The coin flip had a more positive result for Class AA’s top-ranked Buford. The Wolves (12-0) earned the right to play host to Dublin (11-1) next Friday night at Tom Riden Field.
Buford’s matchup against Dublin is a rematch of last year’s state semifinal game which the Wolves won 48-0. The Wolves haven’t wavered from the top spot in the polls since Week 1, due in large part to the continuation of their 48-game regular season winning streak.
Dublin’s only loss in the regular season was 21-11 to Laney in Week 2. The Fighting Irish have a rich history in recent seasons, including a tie for the 2006 state title with Charlton County. Buford also defeated Dublin in the 2004 state semifinals.