DeKalb playoff schedule loaded with big names and home games

Georgia High School Association’s (GHSA) 2023 state football playoffs begin Nov. 10-11, with 11 DeKalb teams in action in the opening round and six playoff games scheduled for stadiums in DeKalb.

Arabia Mountain, Cedar Grove, Tucker, Stephenson, Columbia, and Marist are the teams from DeKalb with home games in the opening round. Dunwoody, Chamblee, Redan, St. Pius X Catholic, and Decatur will hit the road for first-round games.

The 11 playoff teams from DeKalb mark the highest total the county has fielded since at least the 2017 season.

Several of the teams won region titles, including the Arabia Mountain Rams winning the school’s third-ever region title with a 24-23 overtime win against the Tucker Tigers.

CLASS 5A

Arabia earned a host role in the Class 5A state playoffs with the No. 1 seed and plays Jenkins (3-7), the No. 4 seed out of region 1-5A, at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Godfrey Stadium. The Rams are 2-6 in its previous playoff trips.

The Rams are led by a defense featuring seniors Daniel Turpin (73 tackles, 15.5 TFL, one sack, two interceptions), Malcolm Snipes (52 tackles, 2.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss), and Daniel Ndukwe (41 tackles, 10.5 TFL, one sack, two interceptions). The defense has allowed just 12.2 points per game and 152.1 yards per game of total offense.

Turpin also leads the offense in touchdowns with 12 on the season. Laron Jones (515 yards rushing, four touchdowns, two kickoff return touchdowns) leads the ground game; quarterback Julian Shanks (88-127, 1,021 yards passing) has 12 touchdown passes completed to five different receivers.

The Tucker Tigers (6-4) are making its 17th consecutive playoff appearance and vying to move on to the second round for the first time since a 12-2 season in 2017.

Tucker hosts Statesboro (3-7), the Region 1 No. 3 seed, on Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Adams Stadium.

Averaging 37.8 points per game on the season, the Tigers use a rushing attack led by senior Jordan McCoy (200 carries, 1,667 yards, 25 touchdowns). Tucker also looks to senior quarterback Jamar Graham (84-169 passing, 1,432 yards, 14 touchdowns) and receivers Christian Whitmore (26 receptions, 519 yards, six touchdowns) and Reshard Martin (17 receptions, 346 yards, three touchdowns).

Senior linebacker Dallas Kelly (59 tackles, 13 TFL, two sacks, one interception, three fumbles recovered) and senior defensive lineman Antez Starks (23 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks) led the defense.

The Chamblee Bulldogs (4-6) clinched a playoff spot on Nov. 10 with a 49-14 win over Lithonia. Chamblee will play at Region 1 champion Coffee (10-0) in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs – as one of two DeKalb teams playing an undefeated opponent in round one.

Chamblee is led by quarterback Ashton Bolston and receiver Tristian Sizemore. Bolston ran for four touchdowns and threw for another in the win over Lithonia while also collecting six tackles (one for loss) and a blocked punt. Sizemore sat out due to illness but has 49 catches for 641 yards and seven scores to go with 36 tackles and three interceptions on defense.

Decatur also hits the road in Class 5A action when the Bulldogs (5-5) travel to Ware County (7-3) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Decatur’s season has been up and down, but the Bulldogs reeled off three consecutive wins—including a triple-overtime win against Chamblee—to end the regular season at .500 with a playoff bid.

CLASS 3A

The Cedar Grove Saints (5-5) host the third game on Nov. 10 when they play Hebron Christian (6-4).

Cedar Grove won 24-14 over Carver-Atlanta on Nov. 3 to complete its region schedule undefeated at 3-0 to earn the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.

The Saints are led by the junior offensive duo of quarterback EJ Colson (125-204 passing, 1,764 yards, 23 touchdowns; 526 yards rushing, four touchdowns) and running back Bo Walker (167 carries, 909 yards, 16 touchdowns; 32 receptions for 375 yards, one touchdown). Colson is only six yards shy of 5,000 career passing yards and has 60 TD passes. Bolden is 42 yards shy of 2,000 career rushing yards and has 26 touchdowns.

Sophomore receiver Devin Carter has 37 receptions for 668 yards and 10 scores on the season as a key piece in the offense.

Defensively, the Saints are led by Javon Beckford (12 tackles, three sacks, three tackles for loss, 1 fumble caused) and Wesley Brown (13 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovered) in the win over Carver.

CLASS 6A

The No. 3 seeded Dunwoody Wildcats (8-2) have enjoyed the program’s best season since 2008 and are making its first appearance in the state playoffs since 2009 (14 seasons) at Region 1 No. 2 seed Lee County on Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Dunwoody’s passing attack is led by junior quarterback Matt Pearch (130-210 passing, 1,481 yards, 15 touchdowns) and the receiving junior duo of Danny Boden (58 receptions, 577 yards, four touchdowns) and Porter Allison (33 receptions, 453 yards, eight touchdowns). Malachi Cranshaw (119 carries, 796 yards, seven touchdowns) leads the ground attack.

Senior defensive lineman Luke Cole (88 tackles, 33 TFL, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles) leads the Dunwoody defense along with junior defensive lineman Noble Butler (34 tackles, 12 TFL, five sacks) and senior Jackson Wilcox (64 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack).

St. Pius X Catholic (2-8) will join Chamblee in playing an undefeated opponent when the St. Pius Golden Lions hit the road to play Thomas County Central (10-0) on Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. St. Pius’ last win came on Oct. 20 when the Golden Lions dominated Riverwood 35-0.

Marist (9-1) rounds out the 6A action for DeKalb when it puts a record tied with Arabia Mountain’s for DeKalb’s best record of the season on the line against Northside (6-4).

Marist’s only loss of the season came in week one against Gainesville—which is 10-0 in class 7A—by eight points. Since then, Marist has outscored the remainder of its schedule by a combined score of 280-61.

CLASS 2A

The Columbia Eagles (7-3) open the first of two Class 2A contests scheduled for Nov. 11 against Athens Academy (6-4), the No. 3 seed from Region 8, in a 2 p.m. game at Avondale Stadium.

Columbia, the Region 5-2A runner-up, features a strong running game led by seniors Jadan Baugh (81 carries, 1,024 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Lamaze Williams (132 carries, 947 yards, six touchdowns).

The defense is led by sophomore linebacker Charles Harris (85 tackles, four tackles for loss), senior defensive lineman Edwin Moore (57 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, six sacks) and junior defensive end Cain Jefferson (51 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 11 sacks).

In other Class 2A action, the Redan Raiders (4-6) are making its first appearance in the state playoffs in 16 seasons as they travel to Fellowship Christian (8-2) on Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Senior running back Jamir Brown (86 carries, 790 yards, 12 touchdowns) leads the Raiders offensive attack along with sophomore Tyheim Behling (54 carries, 339 yards, five touchdowns) and senior Jackie Bowdry (36 carries, 307 yards, four touchdowns).

Brown is also a force on defense with 82 tackles (64 solo, 10 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception). Junior linebacker Jatron Griffin has 44 tackles and nine sacks.

CLASS 4A

The Stephenson Jaguars (8-2) defeated the Southwest DeKalb Panthers 41-32 in an offensive display by senior running back Devin Ingram to clinch its first region title since the 2019 season.

Stephenson plays host to Northwest Whitfield (6-4), the Region 7 No. 4 seed, in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Hallford Stadium on Nov. 10.

Ingram (177 carries, 1,877 yards rushing, 26 touchdowns) rushed for 264 yards on 23 carries with five touchdowns (a school record) and returned a kickoff 80 yards for another score in the region clinching win.

Quarterback Marte Barton has thrown for 913 yards (78-117) and six touchdowns with Trent Fields (20 receptions, 345 yards, three touchdowns) and Tyler Bercy (25 catches, 253 yards, one touchdown) as his primary targets.

The Jaguar defense is led by senior linebacker Kaleb Bristow (86 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions), junior defensive lineman Romando Craddock (45 tackles, 5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries), senior defensive back Andrew Parry (45 tackles, four interceptions) and senior defensive end Kyris Hight (38 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks).

 

The Champion Editor Jay Phillips contributed to this article.

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