For the first time since 1985 all DeKalb County playoff teams go on the road in the first round of the GHSA high school football state playoffs.
Four of the games are on Friday after the GHSA moved all Class 4A state playoff games (Stephenson and Arabia Mountain) to Saturday due to a shortage of playoff certified referees.
The two-time defending state champions Cedar Grove Saints (2-4) are still ranked No. 1 in Class 3A despite forfeiting four games due to one ineligible player, but will have to go on the road in the playoffs as a No. 3 seed opening at No. 2 seed Monroe Area (7-2) at 7:30 pm on Friday night. It is the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Senior quarterback Austin Smith leads the Saints offense with 985 yards passing (8 TDs) and is second in rushing with 206 yards. Bernard Mack leads the receiving corps with 320 yards and three touchdowns with four others all over 100 yards receiving.
Junior defensive end Joshua White (6.5 sacks, 13 TFL) and senior defensive lineman Demarius Jackson (4.5 sacks, 7 TFL) lead a defense that has given up only 7 points a game in the shortened season. Kayin Lee (3 interceptions) and Antonio Taylor (2 interceptions) lead the back end of the defense.
Miguel Patrick is in his second year as head coach of the Saints having won the 2019 state title in his first season.
Tucker (3-4) is the No. 4 seed from Region 4-6A and travels to No. 1 ranked Lee County (8-1) in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs. Both teams have two state championships and are meeting for the first time. Tucker won state championships in 2008 and 2011 while Lee County captured back-to-back titles in 2017-18. Bryan Lamar has led the Tigers to two state finals appearances in his nine seasons at the helm.
In Class 5A two more DeKalb playoff teams are meeting opponents for the first time in games set for 7:30 pm on Friday.
Southwest DeKalb, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-5A, travels to Region 8 No. 2 seed Eastside (8-2) as the Panthers make their fourth consecutive state playoff appearance under the direction of Head Coach Damien Wimes. Southwest also went in 2016 and has state titles in 1972 and 1995.
Eastside is making a fifth consecutive state playoff appearance with its best playoff run coming in 2009 (semifinals).
Region 5-5A No. 4 seed Martin Luther King Jr. (3-5) and Region 8 No. 1 seed and No. 9 ranked Clarke Central (7-2) meet for the first time as well on Friday. The Lions are making a second consecutive state playoff appearance under the leadership of Deante Lamar while Clarke Central is making its fifth consecutive appearance while having state titles in 1977, 1979 and 1985.
The No. 10 ranked Stephenson Jaguars (4-2), the No. 3 seed from Region 6-4A, load up the buses for a trip to Northwest Whitfield (8-2) for a 3:30 pm Class 4A state playoff game. The two teams meet on the field of play for the first time. The Jaguars are making their 20th consecutive state playoff under Head Coach Ron Gartrell. Northwest Whitfield is making a sixth consecutive state playoff appearance.
Region 6-4A No. 4 seed Arabia Mountain (3-4) makes its fifth consecutive playoff appearance led by Head Coach Stanley Pritchett with a road trip to No. 7 ranked Cedartown (7-2) at 3:00 pm on Saturday.
GHSA STATE PLAYOFFS
Friday, Nov. 27
Tucker (3-4) at Lee County (8-1), 7:30 pm
Southwest DeKalb (4-3) at Eastside (8-2), 7:30 pm
M.L. King (3-5) at Clarke Central (7-2), 7:30 pm
Cedar Grove (2-4) at Monroe Area (7-2), 7:30 pm
Saturday, Nov. 28
Stephenson (4-2) at Northwest Whitfield (8-2), 3:30 pm
Arabia Mountain (3-4) at Cedartown (7-2), 3:00 pm