Pepperell's Ramiro Alanis (right) gets by Therrell's Asala Hephzibah (left) and Hassimiou Bah during Friday's Class AA state playoff game at Dragon Stadium in Lindale. The Dragons won 4-0.

The Pepperell boys’ soccer team used a strong defense to keep Therrell out of the net while its offensive weapons powered the team to its 12th straight victory.

The No. 2-seeded Dragons earned their 11th shutout of the season Friday with a 4-0 win against No. 3 seed Therrell at Dragon Stadium in Lindale in the first round of the GHSA Class AA playoffs. 

Pepperell will be joined in the Sweet 16 by Armuchee and Gordon Central who also posted wins Friday night. The No. 4-seeded Indians defeated top-seeded Hapeville 4-2 on the road, and No. 3 seed Gordon Central ran away with an 11-1 win against No. 2-seeded South Atlanta. Top-seeded Coosa rounds out Region 7-AA teams advancing to the second round with its 10-0 win against KIPP on Thursday.

The Panthers (7-6) tried to contain Pepperell’s Ramiro Alanis, but the senior still managed to score two goals and pass for one assist. Jimmy Rivera scored a goal and had three assists, and Landon Camp scored a goal. Pepperell goalkeeper Andrew Wilder had four saves in the shutout.

Pepperell coach Jacob Camp said Alanis is invaluable to the team as they try to continue their run in the playoffs.

“Ramiro’s the creator,” Camp said. “He’s the engine. He’s one of the guys I have to have for this to function. We’re going to miss him next year, but I’m going to try to enjoy it as long as I can while I have him.”

While the Dragons shut out their opponent, Camp and Alanis agreed there was a lot for the team to improve on as they come in to the second round.

“It’s the first playoff game so you have jitters,” Camp said. “It’s probably our ugliest game of the year, but they don’t ask you how you won, they just want to know if you won or not. We definitely have to play better. If we play like that next week we’re going to get our head handed to us.”

The Dragons (15-2-1) will face top-seeded Social Circle on the road Thursday in the Sweet 16.

“It doesn’t matter who we play or where we play,” Camp said. “It’s all about us. We’ve got things to fix and we’ve got fine-tuning to do. If we get back to mid-season form I feel confident, but if we play we did tonight, it’s not going to matter.”

“We’ve got a couple of things to work on,” Alanis added. “We just have to keep our heads up. We’ve got to travel so we just have to keep working this week and just continue to do what we do.”

In other Class AA matchups, Coosa will host Spencer or Putnam County on Thursday, while Armuchee will be on the road again facing either second-seeded Bremen or No. 3 seed Rabun County. Gordon Central will face either Union County or Lamar County.