Two of DeKalb County’s perennial playoff teams face off for just the eighth time as the Tucker Tigers host the Stephenson Jaguars looking to even the series in a 7:30 high school football matchup on Friday night at Adams Stadium to headline the slate of five games at DeKalb Stadiums.
Tucker (54-41) and Stephenson (20-21) are a combined 74-62 in a combined 61 state playoff appearances with both having long playoff strings ended last season as both teams missing the playoffs in the same year for the first time since 1997. This year also marks the first time that neither team has been ranked coming into the rivalry.
Stephenson’s streak of 21 consecutive playoff berths ended as injuries and youth led to a 5-5 season in 2021. Tucker had not missed the playoffs since the 2006 season (16 years) and won state titles in 2008 and 2011.
Stephenson holds a 4-3 edge in the series winning the last three games, including a hard-fought 20-14 victory a year ago. The last three games were all one score victories by Stephenson (2018, 30-24; 2019, 13-7) following a pair of consecutive blowout wins by the Tigers in 2016 (38-0) and 2017 (31-0).
Stephenson head coach Marcus Jelks is going for his second consecutive victory over the Tigers while Tucker’s Lonnie Jones gets his first taste of the rivalry.
Tucker got a 223-yard rushing and one touchdown performance from Jordan McCoy in last week’s 51-20 loss at McEachern to fall to 2-2 on the season. Stephenson is 1-2 and looking to rebound from a tough 32-27 loss to Carver (Atlanta) at Lakewood Stadium two weeks ago. Running back Devin Ingram had 107 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in the loss.
Lakeside vs. Dunwoody
In another all-DeKalb matchup on Friday night, the Dunwoody Wildcats (3-1) host the Lakeside Vikings (3-1) at 7:30 in the 27th meeting between the two DeKalb football programs.
Lakeside leads the series 15-10-1 over the Wildcats with Dunwoody having won the last meeting in 2017 by a score of 38-21.
Coach Morris Starr’s Vikings started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2003 before falling to a surprising Osborne team two weeks ago. Receiver Asher Linn leads the Vikings with 219 yards receiving on 9 receptions with four touchdowns in the first four game. Senior linebacker Luke Chilton leads the defense with 50 tackles (37 solo, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss).
The Wildcats 3-1 record is the best since the 2008 team went 10-0 in the regular season. Quarterback Porter LaDoyen has four passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns in accounting for 912 yards of total offense to lead the Wildcats offense along with running back Jordan Wade (100 yards rushing and a touchdown, 20-yard touchdown reception against Northview).
Dunwoody’s defense has shutout its past two opponents and is led by defensive lineman Luke Cole with 33 tackles (4 sacks, 6 tackles for loss) along with two fumbles caused, one recovered and a blocked punt for a safety.
McNair vs. Columbia
The No. 8 ranked Columbia Eagles open the Region 5-3A slate for 2022 by hosting the McNair Mustangs at Avondale Stadium on Friday at 7:30.
Both teams are coming off a bye week as they enter region play. McNair (2-2) is riding its first back-to-back wins since the opening two games in 2018. The Mustangs are led by versatile athlete Malachi Jackson who has six touchdown receptions, and two kickoff returns for scores on the season.
He also has 20 tackles playing in the defensive backfield for McNair. Junior defensive lineman Malik Jackson has six sacks on the season. Freshmen defensive backs Keyontae Phillips and Shyree Graham both have four interceptions on the season.
Columbia (3-1) had reeled off three consecutive wins to open the season including a big road upset of Class 7A Camden County in the season opener. The Eagles lost to No. 1 ranked Cartersville in their last outing before the bye and are regrouping to make a run in the Region 5-2A race. Senior Royce Tolbert’s 290 yards rushing, and two touchdowns leads a group of backs that have combined for almost 900 yards on the season and seven touchdowns.
The defense is led by junior linebacker Lamaze Williams with 40 tackles (1 sack, 3 tackles for loss) and an interception. Fellow linebacker senior Kadarius has 30 tackles (1 sack, 8 for loss) and junior defensive lineman Edwin Moore has six tackles in the opposing backfield.
In other games in DeKalb stadiums on Friday, the Martin Luther King Jr. Lions (1-3) host the Cass Colonels (1-3) at Godfrey Stadium and Lithonia (0-4) hosts Douglass (2-3). Both games are set for 7:30 pm starts.
Arabia Mountain (1-3), Cedar Grove (3-1), Clarkston (1-3), Druid Hills (1-2) and Redan (1-3) all load up the buses and head out of DeKalb for games this weekend. The Class 3A No. 1 ranked Cedar Grove Saints go on the road to face their fourth consecutive ranked Class 7A team as they take on the No. 3 ranked Colquitt County Packers (4-0).
Thursday Night Games
There are two DeKalb teams playing away games on Thursday night this week.
Stone Mountain (0-4) heads to Southern Crescent Stadium in Riverdale to take on Clayton County foe Drew (0-4) at 7:30 pm. Cross Keys (0-4) travels to Henderson Stadium in Atlanta to take on Midtown (2-2) at 7:00 pm.
Chamblee (3-1), Miller Grove (2-3), Southwest DeKalb (2-3) and Towers (0-3-1) are all off this week.
DCSD FOOTBALL SCHEDULE – WEEK 6
Thursday, Sept. 22
Stone Mountain (0-4) vs. Drew (0-4), 7:30 pm, Southern Crescent
Cross Keys (0-4) vs. Midtown (2-2), 7:00 pm, Henderson
Friday, Sept. 23
Stephenson (1-2) vs. Tucker (2-2), 7:30 pm
McNair (2-2) vs. Columbia (3-1)*, 7:30 pm
Cass (1-3) vs. M.L. King (1-3), 7:30 pm
Douglass (2-3) vs. Lithonia (0-4), 7:30 pm
NORTH DEKALB STADIUM
Lakeside (3-1) vs. Dunwoody (3-1), 7:30 pm
Arabia Mountain (1-3) at Locust Grove (0-4), 7:30 pm
Cedar Grove (3-1) at Colquitt Co. (4-0), 7:30 pm
Clarkston (1-3) at Heard Co. (1-3), 7:30 pm
Druid Hills (1-2) at Southeast Whitfield, (3-1), 7:30 pm
Redan (1-3) at Callaway (1-3)*, 7:30 pm
OPEN: Chamblee (3-1), Miller Grove (2-3), SW DeKalb (2-3), Towers (0-3-1)