When Sprayberry and Creekview met as region rivals, the game came down to the final quarter before the Yellow Jackets emerged victorious.
Now in separate regions, the teams’ rematch Friday night in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs could also provide the same fourth-quarter drama.
Sprayberry (5-4) is making its second straight trip to the playoffs and enters the game as the No. 3 seed out of Region 6AAAAAA, coming off a 54-7 win at South Cobb. Creekview (7-2) will be back in the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of Region 7AAAAAA, two years removed from a state quarterfinal appearance in 2018, and coming off a 19-14 win against Johns Creek.
Sprayberry came away with the 27-21 victory over Creekview last year, and coach Brett Vavra said establishing a similar game plan will again be a key to victory. The Yellow Jackets fell 15-14 in its first-round playoff game last year at Lanier, which has been another emphasis for the Yellow Jackets.
“A lot of kids remember that feeling of walking off the field last year against Lanier and we don’t want that again,” Vavra said. “We feel like we’ve taken the next step and the experience of going through that last year should help us.”
Creekview should feel confident as well. The Grizzlies are a handful of plays away from being undefeated as their two losses — to River Ridge and Cherokee — came by a combined eight points.
“I definitely feel like we’re trending in the right direction,” Creekview coach Trevor Williams said. “There’s familiarity with Sprayberry, and I think our kids are excited to get another opportunity to see that team. Our community and our kids are excited to be back in the playoffs again.”
Running back Tyler Stevens has been at the center of the Creekview offense, having totaled 1,124 yards this season (863 rushing, 261 receiving) with nine touchdowns. Quarterback Brody Rhodes has completed 58% of his passes during Creekview’s current three-game winning streak and has totaled 1,710 total yards (1,099 passing, 611 rushing).
Both teams’ defenses make a habit of meeting the opposition in the backfield.
Creekview is allowing 10.1 points per game and has three players (Grant Anderson, Isaac Hubert, Sam Minozzi) who each have at least 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Sprayberry’s defense is allowing 21 points per game but has totaled 28.5 sacks and 26 forced turnovers. Linebackers Dang Tran (75 tackles) and Donovan Brod (72 tackles) lead the Yellow Jackets’ defense, along with defensive lineman Christian Mergler.
Offensively, Sprayberry will be led by its senior class of running back Damarion Owens (1,032 yards, 15 touchdowns), quarterback Kyle Brown (1,463 passing yards, 13 touchdowns) and receivers Fatir Muhammed and Josh Bush, who have combined for 54 receptions, 1,009 yards and 10 touchdowns.