Valdosta, Tucker roll into championship game
Dalton’s dreams of a perfect season came to an end Friday night in the Class AAAAAA semifinals. So did Northside-Warner Robins’ hopes of an all-Region 1 championship game.
The losses by the Catamounts and Eagles left top-ranked Valdosta and No. 4 Tucker as the only teams still standing. They will meet at 8 p.m. Friday in the Georgia Dome for the state championship.
Valdosta (13-1) advanced to the finals for the first time since 2003 with a 27-6 victory over No. 2 Dalton. The Wildcats are seeking their first state championship since 1998, making this the longest stretch without a title in program history.
Josh Belton was 14-of-20 passing for 187 yards and four touchdowns, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen. Valdosta led 7-0 at halftime and increased the lead to 21-0 late in the third quarter. The Wildcats’ first two touchdowns came after recovering muffed punts. Dalton’s Ahmaad Tanner, who ran for 243 yards in a victory over Coffee in the quarterfinals, was held to 11 carries for 57 yards, 23 of which came on a first-quarter run.
Region 6 champion Dalton finished the season 13-1, tying a school record for victories.
Tucker, the Region 4 champ, reached the finals for the fourth time in nine years with a 22-7 victory over No. 5 Northside, which was the runner-up in Region 1 behind Valdosta. Tucker won state titles in 2008 and 2011 under coach Franklin Stephens and lost to Creekside in 2013 under current coach Bryan Lamar.
Northside averaged 380 yards and 36.8 points in its first 13 games before being shut down by the Tigers. According to the Macon Telegraph, Tucker limited Northside to 191 yards of total offense. Northside quarterback Tobias Oliver, who committed to Georgia Tech earlier in the week, was held in check, finishing with 99 yards rushing and 69 passing.
Offensively, Tucker got a big night from receiver Josh Vann, who had six receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns, including a 26-yarder in the second quarter that gave Tucker the lead at 9-7.
Tucker and Valdosta have never played each other. They did, however, play three common opponents this season – Northside, Stephenson and Colquitt County. Here are the scores from those games:
Northside: Tucker won 22-7, Valdosta won 14-6
Stephenson: Tucker won 31-0, Valdosta won 31-21
Colquitt County: Tucker won 21-20, Valdosta lost 45-24