Game: Coffee (9-3) at Allatoona (9-2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Allatoona 45, Coffee 14 (Nov. 21, 2014)
All-time series: Allatoona leads 1-0
Prediction: Allatoona 28, Coffee 21
Allatoona will look to return to the Class AAAAAA semifinals for the first time since its state championship season in 2015 when Coffee visits tonight.
The Buccaneers (9-2-1) have cruised to the quarterfinals, beating Gainesville and Stephenson by double digits, but the Trojans (9-3) will visit having done the same to Heritage and Mays in the first two rounds.
“I think defensively we’ve been playing really well,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “Offense and special teams have been playing well too, but our defense has made the biggest difference for us late in the season.”
Things will get tougher this week, though.
Coffee’s offense has been the driving force during the playoff run with 119 points through the first two rounds.
Behind running back Jamal Paulk and quarterback A.J. Wilkerson, the Trojans have rushed for 588 yards this postseason, and Varner said limiting the damage on the ground will be the top priority.
“We have to stop the run, but they’re very multiple,” Varner said. “They have their power running game. They’ll use that, but they’ll spread you out on the next play and throw it. Not many teams that can spread it out like that can also be that physical on the line of scrimmage and run it at you.”
The Buccaneers have taken a similar path to the quarterfinals with 425 rushing yards through their first two playoff games.
Alex Wilson has gone over 100 yards in each of his last four games and has 1,150 yards on the season.
“Alex has been great for us,” Varner said. “We moved him into the backfield late last season, and he’s just gotten better every week. He has led our running game
all season as he just gets more comfortable.”
That formula has been similar to years past for Allatoona, but it does have other options this season in the passing game.
Quarterback Dante Marshall has thrown 20 touchdown passes and just four interceptions this season, and he has been particularly effective throwing the deep ball to Asante Das, who has 1,001 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches this season while averaging 30.3 yards per reception.
“Dante and Asante have been on the same page all season,” Varner said. “They’ve been playing together since middle school. They really have good chemistry. When they’re playing like that, it can move some defenders out of the box. A lot of teams still see us as a running team, though, and Asante can run right by them.”