Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross linebacker Kevin Mouhon (48) celebrates his sack of Colquitt County quarterback Cole Segraves (13) with teammate Lorenzo Carter (25) during the semifinal Class AAAAAA state playoff game in Norcross on Friday.
Norcross defeated Colquitt County 41-27 in the Class AAAAAA semifinals on Friday and did it without two of its best players.
Defensive end Jahmal Jones, who was injured in the quarterfinals, did not play and running back/receiver Myles Autry was injured on Friday.
"Jahmal could have gone tonight, but we kept having a two or three score lead so I told him I didn't want him unless it got closer," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "He should be ready to go next week and Myles will be ready to go."
Autry was hurt on his only carry of the game, an 11-yard gain out of the Wildcat formation, in the first quarter. He threw a block on Joseph Wilber's 65-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara, but was hurt again when he tried to field a punt in the second quarter.
"This time of year everyone gets banged up. We just have to work through it," Maloof said.
With Autry out, Kamara carried most of the load on the ground. The senior rushed for 135 yards on 25 carries. Masseiah Francis and Darian Dennis come up with big catches in his absence at receiver.
"I told Myles, 'I got you, man,'" Kamara said. "He's not used to getting to hurt. He's not a real fragile guy. He'll be fine."
Mahfood's leg comes through for Blue Devils
Norcross kicker Joseph Mahfood hasn't had many chances to kick field goals this season.
The senior has been relied on mostly for PATs. Mahfood got his chance on Friday in the Blue Devils' 41-27 semifinal win over Colquitt County.
Mahfood kicked field goals from 24 and 20 yards. It was the first time he hit two field goals in one game.
"He's done well and deserved it," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "We're really proud of him."
Mahfood went into the game 2 of 3 on field goals this season, including kicks of 24 and 32 yards.
'Bitter' end only part of Spartans run
There weren't many smiles around GAC's post-game huddle Friday night at Jefferson.
There were regrets of missed chances, the "what ifs" of every loss, but losing far from defines this year's Spartans.
"A night like tonight it's bitter and it should be because we had high goals, but we'll look back with great memories of this season," head coach Tim Hardy said.
Eventually, those memories will rise to the surface, and in a brief smile they began Friday night. After all, this state semifinal run for the Spartans was as shocking as it was fun.
"No one would have thought with three returning starters at the start of the season we would be playing Dec. 7. Here we are, we are one of the final four teams in AA," Hardy said. "That's a testament to our team and our guys have played hard. We have 11 seniors, it's small class, but it's a group of guys who poured themselves into what we are doing. I am just really proud of our young men and they way the competed all year and what we accomplished this season."
Paying tribute to T.
Current Jefferson coach T. McFerrin may have spent only seven of his 40-year coaching career throughout Georgia and Tennessee in Gwinnett County.
However, the former South Gwinnett and current Jefferson coach T. McFerrin had a major impact on the coaching community here, judging from the current and former county coaches who reached out to him in the week leading up to the Dragons' 42-14 win over GAC on Friday.
"I had calls all week long," said McFerrin, who is now 316-84-4 in 35 seasons at eight different Georgia schools. "I had calls all day (Friday) from people from all over that it's good to hear from. That makes it worth it."
And it didn't stop with phone calls.
Among a number of friends and former coaching colleagues seen saying hello to the 70-year-old coach on the field at Memorial Stadium after Friday's game were current South head coach John Small and Mill Creek assistants Tommy Scott and Josh Lovelady -- all of whom were assistants on the Comets' staff under McFerrin -- as well as retired Brookwood assistant Ray Allen, who was on McFerrin's staff while at DeKalb County's Peachtree High School in the 1970s and '80s.
McFerrin, who had a 54-27 mark with five postseason appearances (including two trips to the state quarterfinals) in five seasons at South, will be taking his fourth different team to the finals when Jefferson takes on defending champion Calhoun in this year's title game Saturday at the Georgia Dome.
He guided Elbert County to the Class AA title in 1995, and also took Peachtree (Class AAAA in 1982) and Lithonia (1969) to state runner-up finishes.
-- Staff Writers Ben Beitzel, Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander contributed to this report