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Week 4: High school football previews

POSTED: September 15, 2011 8:52 p.m.

Cedar Shoals at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch
Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Cedar Shoals, Dreco Thomas; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

Records: Cedar Shoals (2-1, 2-1 8-AAAA); Flowery Branch (3-0, 3-0)

Key players: Cedar Shoals, RB Rodney Willingham (5-5, 155 Jr.), DE/TE Brandon Whitehead (6-3, 210 Jr.), DL Ricky Clarke (6-3, 308 Sr.), Flowery Branch, QB Kanler Coker (6-4, 210 Sr.), RB Jeremy Haley (5-8, 210 Sr.), LB Jacob Allen (6-1, 220 Jr.).

Outlook: The Falcons were met with their toughest test yet this season last Friday at Apalachee, a consistent Region 8-AAAA contender. Flowery Branch still won by 22 points.
Tonight the Falcons host Cedar Shoals, a team that has the talent and potential to pose another very tough test. The Jaguars are coming off of a 4-6 season, but one that ended with three-straight wins. Entering tonight's game, the team from Athens has won five of its past six games, the exception an opening week loss to defending region champs Clarke Central.
Since that 49-13 defeat, Cedar Shoals, under first-year coach Dreco Thomas, has won two straight at home. The Jaguars rallied from a 34-7 deficit at halftime to stun Habersham Central (2-1) and then held off Rockdale County 28-14.
In their two wins, two different running backs have led the Wing-T offense. Adrian Washington was key in the rally to top Habersham Central, and junior Willingham paced the offense against Rockdale County with 124 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.
The question is, can Cedar Shoals win on the road? Of its past six wins, five of them were home games. Although they are 2-1 this season, the Jaguars have averaged 27 points scored per game and while allowing an average of 32 points.
And Flowery Branch can pose challenges for the Jaguars on offense and defense that most other teams can't. The offense, led by a group of seniors in Coker (641 yards passing, 151 yards rushing, 10 total touchdowns), Haley (386 yards rushing and seven touchdowns) and wide receivers Casey Osborne (287 yards receiving, three touchdowns) and C.J. Curry (167 yards receiving, three touchdowns), has averaged 54 points per game. The defense, led by Allen (33 tackles, one interception, one sack) has allowed just 11 points per game.
Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH: The Falcons return to the Branch and give the home crowd an offensive and defensive showcase.

Dawson County at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagles Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell
Records: Dawson County (1-2, 0-0 8-AA North); Chestatee (2-0, 0-0 8-AAA North)

Key players: Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-5, 185 Jr.), RB/LB Zack Martin (5-10, 190 Jr.), WR Bruce Clark (6-4, 190 Jr.). Chestatee, QB Jordan Degraff (6-2, 170 Jr.), DE Garrett Bennett (5-10, 205 Sr.), RB Quan Clark (5-10, 180 Jr.)

Outlook: Through the early stages of the 2011 high school football season, few teams have started as strong as the Chestatee War Eagles.
In their first two games, the War Eagles have outscored opponents by a combined 87-27, including a 41-14 victory over West Hall, a team they lost to in 2010.
Chestatee has been led by a strong running attack and great play along the defensive line. Already, the team has three players with more than 150 rushing yards on the season, and one, quarterback Degraff, has rushed for more than 100.
Stopping the multi-threat War Eagle offense will be Dawson County's task. Although Degraff has shown an ability to throw the ball when necessary (three touchdown passes in Chestatee's win over Johnson), the team's success comes when it is running the ball successfully.
On the other sideline, Dawson County is led by junior quarterback Dominy. In three games, Dominy has passed for a total of 622 yards and eight touchdowns, the bulk of which have gone to Clark, his big wide receiver.
The Dawson County passing game will be the biggest test yet for a defense that lost eight starters from a year ago.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. Dominy will find success, but look for the War Eagles to control the line of scrimmage and, ultimately, win the game.

East Hall at Adairsville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Valley, Adairsville

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Adairsville, Jim Kremer
Records: East Hall (2-1, 0-0 8-AA North); Adairsville (3-0, 0-0 7A-AA)

Key players: East Hall, RB/DB Jamond Witt (5-10, 173 Sr.), FB/OLB Carlos Negron (5-9, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Austin Mahaffey (5-8, 175 Jr.). Adairsville, QB/RB Andrew Ward (5-9, 170 Jr.), TB Mike Upshaw (5-9, 190 Sr.), RB/FS Trey Gulledge (5-11, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: This is the final non-region game before East Hall dives into the 8-AA North schedule. And, like Elbert County last week, it's another tough road trip.
Adairsville is off to a 3-0 start this season after crushing Sonoraville 38-14 last week. The defense has been key for the Tigers, allowing just 11 points per game this season while the offense averages 27 points.
They posted their third win of the season with backup quarterback Andrew Ward leading the way, posting 150 yards of total offense and a score. Starting quarterback Cody Kremer is recovering from an injury but is expected to be in shape to play Friday. Whichever quarterback is under center, the Adairsville option-based offense looks to be tough to beat.
For the Vikings, this game is a chance to move on from the 48-0 loss at No. 10 Elbert County. It was a 180-degree turn from the first two weeks for an offense that had scored 88 points, led by running back Jamond Witt's 192 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Adairsville's defense may not be as stingy as the Blue Devils', but the Vikings offense will once again be put to the test.

Prediction: ADAIRSVILLE. Last year the Tigers won 49-28 when the two teams met. Both teams look to be improved from last year, but the final score could look very similar.

Stephens County at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Stephens County, Travis Noland; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: Stephens County (2-1, 8-AAA North); West Hall (0-3, 8-AAA South)

Key players: Stephens County, RB Chaz Thornton (5-8, 180 Jr.), QB Dionte Mayfield (6-0, 180 Jr.), WR Tomas Colbert (6-1, 180 Jr.). West Hall, RB/LB Anthony Strickland (6-0, 215 Sr.), QB Chandler Newton (6-1, 190 So.), RB/DB Isaiah Murphy (5-8, 170 Jr.).

Outlook: Tonight is West Hall's final chance to pick up a win before jumping into subregion play, and it might be the toughest challenge the Spartans have faced.
Stephens County has a high-powered ground game led by Thornton, who has 500 rushing yards through three games. He led the team with 243 yards against Hart County, then followed that up with 178 yards in a 38-0 win against Oconee County last Friday.
Aaron Trotter is a viable No. 2 back for Stephens County. He had 79 yards and two touchdowns against Oconee County.
What makes Stephens County even stronger than last season is a strong defense. The Indians shut out Hart County 39-0 in Week 2, then posted another shutout win against Oconee County. Last season, Stephens County was vulnerable on defense. The Indians allowed 63 points in a first-round playoff loss to Carrollton in 2010.
The Spartans have struggled on both sides of the ball so far this season, scoring 11.7 points per game, while yielding 38.0.

Prediction: STEPHENS COUNTY. The Indians will ride their running game to a big win against West Hall.

Therrell at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Therrell, Tony Rambo; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Therrell (0-2, 0-0 6B-AA); Buford (4-0, 0-0 6A-AA)

Key players: Buford, RB/LB Andre Johnson (5-11, 220 Sr.), LB Dillon Lee (6-5, 240 Sr.), RB/LB Nathan Staub (6-3, 230 Sr.).

Outlook: Summer hasn't even officially ended, and Buford is already halfway through its fall season.
By the time September ends, the Wolves will only have three games left in the regular season, but the early-season slant to the schedule is only a small part of Buford's fast start.
The top-ranked Wolves have torn through their first four games against well-respected opponents by an aggregate score of 175-14, and both touchdowns allowed have come on long runs late in the fourth quarter.
Given that the third-ranked team in Class AA (Carver-Columbus) and one of the nation's top junior running backs (Yulee, Florida's Derrick Harvey) couldn't put a scare into the big, bad Wolves, there's little reason to believe Therrell poses much of a threat either.
The Panthers have scored a total of 12 points in two losses against teams that are otherwise winless. They'll have their hands full against a Buford defense loaded with Division-I college talent.
Offensively, the Wolves spread the wealth in the running game. Nine different Buford ball carriers have scored touchdowns this year, led by Johnson (305 yards, seven touchdowns), and the Wolves are averaging 280 yards per game and 7.1 yards per carry.
Wolves quarterback Sam Clay has been efficient when called upon, completing 27 of 37 passes for 376 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves will prove once again why some outlets have them ranked among the best teams in the nation.

Hart County at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Hart County, Joby Scroggs; Jefferson, T. McFerrin
Records: Hart County (2-1, 0-0 8-AA South); Jefferson (3-0, 0-0)

Key players: Hart County, RB/LB Stephon Eades (6-0, 200 Sr.), RB/LB Deonte Allen (Sr.), QB Chris Ayers (Sr.). Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-3, 200 Jr.), LB Wesley Simonton (6-2, 205 Jr.), WR Cole Givens (6-0, 185 Sr.).
Outlook: A three-game win streak to open the season has served notice that the Dragons are eyeing a return to the postseason. Tonight they can start proving that they belong.
Jefferson hosts Hart County in the 8-AA South opener for both teams and a matchup between two postseason contenders.
Both teams come in off of big wins, Hart County over Union County 36-7 and Jefferson over Dawson County 42-14, but it is the Dragons who are as hot as any team in the area right now.
The offense, led by Shirreffs (546 yards passing, 116 rushing, eight total touchdowns), is averaging 40 points per game and has 1,008 total yards of offense in three victories, while the defense has allowed less than 20 points per game.
Hart County might not be able to win in a shootout over Jefferson, with the Bulldogs averaging just 22 points per game on offense, but the defense has been suffocating. Hart County has allowed just 15 points per game, and held Union Countyto just 71 yards on the ground. The offense is led by senior quarterback Ayers, who threw for 142 yards against Union County.
Last season the Bulldogs held off Jefferson 27-17 in Hartwell.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons are back home and Shirreffs shows no signs of holding back in what has been a high-flying offense this season.

Banks County at Athens Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Eagle Field, Athens

Coaches: Banks County, Philip Jones; Athens Christian, Steve Brooks

Records: Banks County (2-1); Athens Christian (1-2)
Key players: Banks County, QB Tyler Hubbard (5-9, 150 Jr.) TB Dean Ewing (6-1, 200 Sr.), OL/DL Joe Denton (6-2, 210 Sr.), Athens Christian, QB Zack Resop (6-1, 175 Sr.), LB Adrian London (6-1, 190 Sr.), OL/DL Jordan Pickrel (5-10, 250 Jr.)

Outlook: Last year, in the first meeting between these two teams, the Leopards had to claw their way back into the game after heading into the locker room down 14-6 at the half. Banks County finished strong and won the game 28-20.
Though the teams seem to be evenly matched, the difference may come down to coaching. Both schools have coaches, which have sparked a new energy.
This season, the Leopards have not proven the same ability to climb out of a hole. Last week Banks County went down early in their first road test and did not recover, leaving East Jackson with a 35-7 defeat.
As with any close game the battle in the trenches is one of the most important, and the Leopards will look to the leadership of Denton, a team captain and one of two returning offensive linemen.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY: The Leopards win the battle on the line

Washington-Wilkes at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Washington-Wilkes, Robby Robinson; Commerce, Marvin Justice

Records: Washington-Wilkes (0-2, 0-0 7-A), Commerce, (1-2, 0-0 8-A)

Key players: Washington-Wilkes, WR/DB Brandon Dill (5-10, 160 Sr.), LB Brian Hardigree (6-0, 180 Jr.), OL Alex Hackney (6-1, 220 Jr.). Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-0, 200 Sr.), TE/DE Jake Vaughn (6-2, 200 Sr.), LB/FB Chance McClure (6-0, 215 So.).
Outlook: The Tigers' record may not be what they'd like at this point, but their three games against teams from higher classifications have been a good primer. This week, Commerce faces its first Class A opponent of the season, but doesn't open Region 8-A play until it plays host to Athens Christian on Sept. 30.
Last year, Commerce held off Washington-Wilkes 41-34, thanks to a 265-yard and five-touchdown rushing effort from Streetman. Robinson expects Streetman to be just as hard to stop this season.
"We have to stop their quarterback," Robinson said. "He's a beast."
Meanwhile, Washington-Wilkes is off to a rocky start under first-year coach Robinson, who has an impressive track record. He coached on the coast at McIntosh County Academy the previous seven seasons, leading the Buccaneers to the state playoffs six of those seasons. He missed the playoffs in 2006 at McIntosh County with an 8-2 record.
Commerce has its bye week on Sept. 23 before opening region play.

Prediction: COMMERCE. The Tigers win with another solid outing from Streetman, and get back to .500 before beginning region play.

Lumpkin County at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Legion Field, Monroe

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Monroe Area, Matt Fligg

Records: Lumpkin County (2-0, 0-0 8-AAA North); Monroe Area (1-1, 0-0 8-AAA South)

Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/WR/CB Ian McIntosh (5-10, 185 Sr.), QB Logan Moye (6-1, 180 Sr.), FB/DT Lee Cagle (5-11, 185 Sr.). Monroe Area, QB Floyd McCoy (5-9, 175 Sr.), LB C.J. Byrd (5-9, 195 Sr.), DB Darius Blackwell (5-11, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The 2011 season has begun much like 2010 for Lumpkin County. In two games, against Riverside Military and Union County, the Indians have outscored their opponents 79-13. Through the same two games a year ago, the team was 2-0 and had outscored its two opponents 72-14.

In its third game last year, Lumpkin County fell to Monroe Area, scoring just three points, on its way to a 4-4 record in the final eight games, including another loss to the Purple Hurricanes in the region playoff - a loss which kept the Indians out of the state playoffs.
Tonight, the Indians will try to continue their progression with a win in Monroe. To do that, the Indians will have to play opportunistic football. Monroe Area finished 11-2 last season, including a trip to the state quarterfinals, but has not yet experienced the same success in 2011.
After losing a number of key players to graduation, Monroe Area has been plagued by turnovers. Despite its win against Riverwood, Monroe Area turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the game. Its defense, however, proved to be more than sufficient, allowing just nine points in the game.
Playing against that stingy defense, it will be important for Lumpkin County to take advantage of any mistakes by the Monroe Area offense.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Purple Hurricanes proved a year ago how dominant its defense could be. Despite the Indians' early-season success, look for Monroe Area to prove it again in another low-scoring affair.

Habersham Central at Clarke Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Henderson Stadium, Athens

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; Clarke Central, Leroy Ryals

Records: Habersham Central (2-1, 2-1 8-AAAA); Clarke Central (1-1, 1-1)

Key players: Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-1, 180 Sr.), LB Drew Ferguson (5-10, 190 Sr.), RB/DE Patrick Burns (6-1, 190 Sr.). Clarke Central, RB Quenshaun Watson (5-10, 175 Sr.), QB Cameron Johnson (6-3, 165 So.), LB Alex Harris (5-11, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: After three straight weeks of nail-biting football, including a big lead blown and a big deficit overcome, Habersham Central could probably use a break. No such luck.
A week after rallying past Salem for a 43-39 win, the Raiders will head to Athens to take on the defending Region 8-AAAA champions, Clarke Central.
Led by Ellison's 500-plus rushing yards, Habersham Central has had no trouble moving the football, averaging 38.3 points per game. What problems the Raiders have encountered have been primarily due to a defense that also surrenders 38.3 points per game.
Tonight they'll face a Gladiators team led by Watson, who set the school record with 23 rushing touchdowns last season, and Cameron Johnson, who threw for 181 yards and four touchdowns in his first varsity start in a Week 1 win over Cedar Shoals.
Clarke Central was off last week after giving up a 14-0 halftime lead in a loss to Heritage on Sept. 2 that snapped the Gladiators' 15-game winning streak in the region.

Prediction: CLARKE CENTRAL. The Gladiators have had two weeks to stew on a rare region loss and prepare for the Raiders' triple-option offense.

East Jackson at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: East Jackson, Brian Smith; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: East Jackson (2-1, 0-0 8-AA South); Jackson County (1-2, 0-0)

Key players: East Jackson, RB C.J. Allen (5-8, 170 Sr.), RB Tyler Collins (5-11, 165 Sr.), QB Taylor Saulters (5-11, 180 Jr.) Jackson County, QB Kyle Daniel (6-2, 195 Jr.) DL (6-2, 240 Jr.) Chris Foster (5-9, 185 Jr.), WR Ben Brissey (6-2, 195 So.)

Outlook: Panther quarterback Kyle Daniel has already thrown for more yards and as many touchdowns as he did all of last season thanks to last week's performance.
He will need another big performace if he wants to lead Jackson County to victory in their inter-county clash with the Eagles in the subregion opener for both teams.
This year East Jackson will rely heavily on their running back duo of C.J. Allen and Tyler Collins. Coming off of a concussion the week before, Allen combined with Collins for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
Jackson County will need to at least slow down the running game. Much of that burden will be placed on defensive lineman Chris Foster, who leads the team in tackles.

Prediction: EAST JACKSON: The Eagle's tandem at running back will be too much for Jackson County to handle.

Oconee County at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: White County Stadium, Cleveland

Coaches: Oconee County, Mitch Olson; White County, Bill Ballard

Records: Oconee County (1-1, 0-0 8-AAA South); White County (1-2, 0-0 8-AAA North)

Key players: Oconee County, RB/DB Davis Aiken (5-9, 180 Sr.), QB Connor White (6-4, 195 Jr.), WR/DB Sean Berry (5-9, 180 Jr.), White County, RB/LB Dalton Whitfield (6-1, 220 So.), RB Ryan Kenndy (5-11, 180 Sr.), OL/DL Dannan Sanderson (6-3, 265 Sr.)

Outlook: After a 9-3 season and a trip to the second round of the playoffs, the Warriors got their first win of the season in week three of 2011 with a 26-7 victory over West Hall.
White County had a rough start to this season, its opener to East Jackson on a botched extra point and the second game to a quick Gainesville team.
Week four should give the Warriors another chance to pick up a win. White County is hosting a team that has averaged four wins a year over the last nine seasons.
Look for another strong game from Warrior running back Ryan Kenndy, who leads the team in rushing and is second in receiving yards.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY, A more talented Warrior team gets to .500 as they continue their fight to get back to the playoffs.

 



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