Lanier Longhorns (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Korey Mobbs
Record: 8-1, 3-1 region
Last week: Lost to Dacula 34-10
Gainesville Red Elephants (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Heath Webb
Record: 5-4, 3-1 region
Last week: Beat Apalachee 51-21
Lanier had a disappointing loss to Dacula last Friday, ending an unbeaten season and hopes of a region title. But its players and coaches were in the same spot last season. The Longhorns followed the Dacula loss up with a shaky, 6-2 win over Gainesville, then refocused and made a run to the state semifinals. A similar run this season — with a better effort against Gainesville — is the goal.
The Lanier-Gainesville winner gets a first-round playoff game at home.
“It’s about fighting for a home playoff game,” Lanier head coach Korey Mobbs said. “I think we saw what can happen last year when you put things behind you and move on. We didn’t play well against Gainesville last year and I think some of that was because of the previous week (with the loss to Dacula). I think we’ve taken that approach where we’ve cleared our mind and moved on."
Lanier battled No. 1 Dacula in a tight game for a half. It trailed just 7-3 late in the first half and had Dacula pinned back, nearly recording a safety twice. But a missed coverage on second down gave the Falcons a 99-yard touchdown pass and Lanier never recovered.
Lanier never got its running game going against Dacula, moving the ball best with the connection of Andrew Blackford (15 of 24 passing for 131 yards) and Nahil Perkins (seven catches, 74 yards). Playmaking wideout Cole Thornton left with an injury early in the Dacula game, which didn’t help. Kris Burress (eight tackles, two pass deflections), Rylan Serna (six tackles, one for loss) and Marcelo Trevino (six tackles, one for loss) were among the top defensive performers.
Gainesville, on a three-game winning streak since a loss to Dacula, has rebounded from a 2-3 start in a tough non-region schedule that featured losses to North Forsyth (6-3, playing for 5-AAAAAAA title on Friday), Jefferson (8-1, 8-AAA champ) and Flowery Branch (7-2). The Red Elephants are big and physical on the lines, led by offensive tackle Jordan Williams (6-6, 300, Georgia Tech commit) and defensive lineman Makius Scott (6-3, 300, South Carolina).
Last meeting: Lanier won 6-2 last year
Location: Bobby Gruhn Field, Gainesville