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November 25, 2011

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Surprised that No. 6 Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County fell in the quarterfinal round of the Georgia AAAAA playoffs to No. 80 Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County?

Don't be.

Colquitt County coach Rush Propst certainly wasn't.

"There are probably 10 or 15 teams that could win this title at our level," he told RivalsHigh earlier this month.

Technically, there are now only four teams that could and Colquitt County is one of them after a last-minute touchdown - and successful two-point try - gave the school a 32-31 upset victory.

The victory sends Colquitt into the semifinals of arguably the nation's toughest postseason tourney.

The road doesn't get any easier for Colquitt County, which advances to take on current No. 12 Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, a 33-7 winner over Cumming (Ga.) West Forsyth.

On the other side of the Class AAAAA bracket, No. 38 Marietta (Ga.) Walton will meet Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter, which upset No. 78 Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King, 24-14.

For all participants, it has been a path that was earned.

Lassiter has won its three games on the road, which is just how coach Jep Irwin likes it.

"We love being in this position," Irwin told RivalsHigh in a phone interview following his team's victory. "Our defense has been outstanding, and if we can get the lead on the road, it puts more pressure on our opponents.

"We have had to get some big plays and our defense has answered the call."

It has been led largely by cornerback Niles Clark.

The three-star N.C. State commit has been locking down opposing receivers and freeing the rest of the defense to make plays.

Against Carlos Burse of Alpharetta (Ga.) High, Clark held the 6-foot-3 junior receiver with offers from Florida, N.C. State, UCF, and Vanderbilt to three catches.

He also blocked the extra point that led to the 17-16 win.

The next week against Maryland commit Amba Etta-Tawo, Clark limited the three-star to one catch. Clark had an interception as well.

Friday night, lined up against Blake Tibbs, a three-star Georgia commit, Clark held Tibbs to three receptions in addition to making a game-changing interception return for a touchdown.

"Why he doesn't have a stack of SEC offers, I don't know," Irwin said. "When you have a kid like that, it frees you up to do so much more with your safeties, you can focus on different schemes knowing he is over there."

Propst, like many coaches in the state, also acknowledges that Georgia is a defense-first state.

"Offense sells tickets," he said. "Defense wins championships and that may not be more true than in Georgia.

"That is what hurt us in the state finals last year. We could score with anyone, but we couldn't stop anyone."

Georgia football was named the No. 1 state for overall football in the 2011 RivalsHigh ranking of the states.

Colquitt, which advanced to the state final last season, feels it may be more prepared for a run to the title.

"This year I think we are more balanced and that will make us a tougher out," Probst said.

Colquitt will be tested by a Grayson team which has steadily improved and always has a stout defense.

The offensive luxury is something that head coach Mickey Conn has not been used to in his time at the school.

"It is still our philosophy to control the clock and control the ball," Conn said earlier this year. "But I have to tell you, I have never had this many weapons on offense. I have a lot of options here this year."

The Rams headlining player, 2013 defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, scored three touchdowns in the teams win over West Forsyth and will be a touch matchup for Colquitt's defense.

But at this point, it should be.

As Probst said, roughly a dozen teams had the talent to win the Georgia AAAAA tournament.

After Friday night, only four remain.

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