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The Pebblebrook defense will try to slow down No. 1 Collins Hill when the Falcons travel to Gwinnett County on Friday..

Game: Pebblebrook (9-1-1) at Collins Hill (11-0), 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

All-time series: First meeting

Prediction: Collins Hill 35, Pebblebrook 20

Pebblebrook will face its toughest test of the season when it travels to Fahring Field to take on top-ranked Collins Hill in the second round of the Class AAAAAAA state playoffs Friday.

This is the Falcons first trip to the second round of the state playoffs since 2006, and it comes after the team outlasted Parkview 44-41 last week.

“This is the first time for these guys to be in the second round of the playoffs, so everybody’s excited,” Pebblebrook coach Leroy Hood said. “It’s an extra week of practice and being together on the field, and the guys are looking forward to it. We’re one of 16 teams in Class AAAAAAA still getting after it, and we’re excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

Hood said he saw good and bad last week. He and the coaching staff have been working hard to make corrections as well as improvements.

“Our third down defensive efficiency and focus is something we’re really working on,” he said. “The conversion rate for Parkview was too high. So, we’ve been practicing getting to the football, not allowing big plays and getting off the field on third down.”

Offensively, Hood was pleased with how balanced the unit was against Parkview. They had more than 200 yards rushing and 300 yards passing, which was a welcome sight after the Falcons struggled on the ground in their previous two games.

“Offensively, we couldn’t have done much better,” he said. “When you’re balanced that’s generally always a recipe for success. We need that to carry over into Friday. We also hope our return game is better this week.”

Pebblebrook, which is averaging 36.1 points and giving up 20.1 per game, will have its hands full against undefeated Collins Hill which is averaging 40.5 points and holding opponents to 6.2 per game.

Quarterback Sam Horn has thrown for 24 touchdowns, six interceptions and 2,647 yards on 227 of 326 completions. He’s also run 40 times for 408 yards and four scores. Spenser Anderson and Ryan Stephens have combined for 986 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, while four players, Anderson, Cam Pedro and Ethan Davis each have more than 350 receiving yards.

“This is a really good Collins Hill team,” Hood said. “A lot of people talk about their offense, but their defense is stout and their defensive front seven is probably the best I’ve seen on film all year. They have five shutouts and they’ve been a problem for everybody all season. We’re going to have to do our best to stay on the field and extend drives.

“Collins Hill doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. They play very well on both sides of the ball. We’ll have to play a near-perfect game to give ourselves a chance.”

Pebblebrook counters with Qamar Grant who has thrown for 2,425 yards and 30 touchdowns on 144 completions. Dwight Phillips Jr. has 58 carries for 770 yards and seven scores, while three players, Craig Adams Jr., Briyar Powers and Damion Thompson, each has more than 400 receiving yards. Adams has 905 yards and 11 touchdowns on 50 catches.


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