The two DeKalb state football powerhouses get together for the first time as they face in a crucial Region 6AAAAA battle on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston.
It will be a showdown between a couple of teams in the top-five of the Class AAAAA state rankings, with Tucker the top-ranked team and Stephenson at the No. 4 spot.
For Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell, it is a crucial game.
“It’s an important region game,” Gartrell said. “We’re playing the No. 1 team in the state and we’re No. 4 in the state, so it’s a big game. It’s also a county game, so that makes it important, too. We’re looking forward to it.”
Tucker coach Bryan Lamar was unavailable for comment.
Making the matchup even more intriguing is the fact that it will be the first time they will go up against each other in a regular-season contest, though they have faced one another in pre-season scrimmages on a couple of occasions.
“For the coaching staff, it’s another big game,” Gartrell said. “We’re not really into the rivalry, but I’m sure the community is looking forward to it and the school is looking forward to it. It is what it is. Tucker is a good program and it should be a good game.”
Both Tucker (5-0, 4-0) and Stephenson (4-0, 4-0), who both are coming off of bye weeks, enter the game after having gone through the first half of their schedules in dominant fashion.
In their last games before their bye weeks on Sept. 28, Tucker defeated Lakeside 67-7 and Stephenson beat county and state powerhouse Southwest DeKalb 32-0.
Both teams are averaging over 40 points a game (Tucker 47, Stephenson 40), while their average number of points given up per game is in the single digits (Stephenson 6, Tucker 8).
Quarterback Justin Holman leads the Stephenson offensive attack, while running back Tevin Austin and wide receivers Taylor Henry and Dexter Neal are the other key players on offense for the Jaguars.
The Stephenson defense features four Division I commitments — senior defensive end Jonathan Wynn (Vanderbilt), senior outside linebacker Kight Dallas and senior cornerback Ali Groves (both with South Carolina) and senior defensive end Khari Alexander (Southern Miss).
Quarterback Juwaan Williams, also a major Division I prospect, leads the Tucker offensive attack, along with senior running backs Yusef Minor and Dallas Rivers.
Williams, at safety, is also a key player on a formidable Tiger defensive unit that also includes junior defensive tackle Elisha Shaw and junior middle linebacker Detric Dukes.
“Tucker is very talented,” Gartrell said. “They hit you from so many different directions. They run the Wing-T that is so hard to stop. We just have to go out and play consistent and not turn the ball over.”