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High school football previews: Week 10

POSTED: October 27, 2011 10:59 p.m.

Salem at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Salem, John Starr; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

Records: Salem (5-4, 5-4 Region 8-AAAA); Flowery Branch (8-0, 8-0)

Key players: Salem, RB Jahaad Coleman (5-9, 170 Sr.), DB Eric Crawford (5-6, 150 Sr.), Brandon Culler (5-9, 250 Sr.). Flowery Branch, QB Kanler Coker (6-4, 210 Sr.), WR C.J. Curry (6-3, 210 Sr.), RB Jeremy Haley (5-8, 210 Sr.).
Outlook: For the second consecutive week, Flowery Branch faces a team in the middle of the race for the fourth spot in Region 8-AAAA.

Salem looked good early in the season with back-to-back wins over Loganville and Apalachee, but the Seminoles have gone 2-2 since then, with wins over the two bottom teams in the region and losses to both Athens teams. Salem, which runs the wing-T, is coming off a 42-7 win over winless Winder-Barrow.

While Salem has allowed less than 20 points in each of its five wins, that won't be easy against Flowery Branch.

The Falcons lead the region with 48 points per game, led by Coker (1,812 yards, 20 touchdowns and two interceptions on 104 of 163 passing), Haley (935 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 101 carries) and the wide receiver duo of Curry (702 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns on 36 receptions) and Casey Osborne (535 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 31 receptions).

The Falcons defense has allowed 65 points in the last three games after allowing just 41 through the first five, but still leads the region with 13 points allowed per game.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. Salem doesn't have the defense to halt Flowery Branch or the offense to keep up with the Falcons.

Banks County at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: Banks County, Philip Jones; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: Banks County (7-1, 4-0 Region 8-AA North); East Hall (4-4, 2-2)

Key players: Banks County, QB Tyler Hubbard (5-9, 150 Jr.), TB Dean Ewing (6-1, 200 Sr.), WR/DB Greg Cannon (6-0, 160 Jr.). East Hall, RB/DB Jamond Witt (5-10, 173 Sr.), OL/DL Jeffery Howard (6-1, 235 Sr.), QB Cameron Davis (5-10, 175 So).

Outlook: For Banks County, a win would cap off a perfect Region 8-AA North season for a team that has already clinched the subregion title and a spot in the state playoffs. The Vikings need a win to assure themselves of a spot in a region play-in game next week.

A loss would not eliminate East Hall from contention, but the Vikings would need Union County (1-3 8-AA North) to defeat Fannin County (1-3). The Rebels defeated East Hall 35-19 and thus would take the third spot in the subregion if both teams finished 2-3. East Hall holds the tiebreaker over the Panthers thanks to a 33-3 Vikings win.

Both East Hall and Banks County come in with go-to running backs. Witt leads the Vikings with 918 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on just 98 attempts. Ewing rushed for 209 yards and two scores in last week's 42-21 win over Fannin County to clinch the subregion title.

East Hall was a strong contender for the subregion title along with Banks County early in the season as both teams opened subregion play 2-0. Then East Hall lost two straight, like last season, to fall into third in the North. Banks County, which hadn't scored more than 21 points in a game, erupted with 82 total points in its last two wins. The Leopards are averaging 22 points per game, while the Vikings average 23, but Banks County sports the best defense in the subregion with 14 points allowed per game, while the Vikings allow 25.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. The Leopards' defense can do what Fannin County and Dawson County did previously, contain Witt and Davis until the game is out of reach.

Gainesville at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood

Radio: 1240-AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: Gainesville (7-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAA South); West Hall (2-6, 2-2)

Key players: Gainesville, QB Deshaun Watson (6-3, 185 So.), DB Eli Nwefo (5-9, 170 Sr.), DL Jeremiah Ledbetter (6-3, 240 Sr.). West Hall, QB Chandler Newton (6-1, 190 So.), RB A.J. Stephens (5-11, 165 Sr.), FB/LB Turk Taylor (5-11, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: Even though there's nothing on the line in tonight's game for Gainesville, the Red Elephants don't want to take a step back heading into next Friday's Region 8-AAA championship game. Gainesville is already the South subregion champion and will host the North subregion champion next week at City Park. West Hall is still hanging on to hope for the third spot in the South subregion and a bid in a play-in game on Nov. 4.

Gainesville hasn't been challenged for four quarters in subregion play all year. The Red Elephants' closest game was a 41-21 win against Monroe Area at City Park earlier this month. The Red Elephants and their powerful spread offense are averaging 51 points per game in the subregion. Meanwhile, Gainesville's defense has only surrendered an average of seven per game in subregion play, including shutout wins against Johnson and Walnut Grove.

West Hall has stumbled since its 2-0 start to subregion play with consecutive losses to Oconee County and Monroe Area. The Spartans' only shot at getting the South's No. 3 seed is for a win against Gainesville, combined with an Oconee County (4-4, 2-2) loss at Walnut Grove (2-6, 1-3). If West Hall and Oconee County end tied in subregion play, the Warriors get the No. 3 seed due to a 35-31 head-to-head win on Oct. 14.

Monroe Area (6-2, 3-1) already owns the second seed in the subregion with head-to-head wins against West Hall and Oconee County.

West Hall has been hampered by inconsistent offensive play. After scoring more than 30 points against Walnut Grove, Johnson and Oconee County, the Spartans were shut out last week against the Purple Hurricanes. Chandler Newton leads West Hall's offense with 991 passing yards and eight touchdowns, while Taylor continues to be a force on defense with a team-high 74 tackles.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. Big Red rounds out subregion play with a squeaky clean 5-0 mark heading into the region title game.

Habersham Central at Loganville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Red Devil Stadium, Loganville

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; Loganville, Eric Godfree

Records: Habersham Central (4-4, 4-4 Region 8-AAAA); Loganville (4-4, 4-4)

Key players: Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-1, 180 Sr.), WR Zac Franks (5-11, 155 Sr.), DB Coleman Cunningham (5-11, 170 Sr.). Loganville, QB Garrett Ford (6-0, 175 Sr.), RB/DB Braxton Beck (5-9, 160 So.), RB Bernard Merriweather (5-10, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: The muddled race for fourth place in 8-AAAA should become clearer tonight.

Habersham Central and Loganville are tied for fifth in the region, but the winner of their game could be in the driver's seat by the end of the night, as fourth-place Salem is taking on frontrunner Flowery Branch.

Salem, which leads the race for fourth by half a game, finishes its season tonight. If it falls to Flowery Branch, the winner of the Loganville-Habersham Central game moves into the driver's seat with one week remaining in the regular season. Habersham Central closes out its slate against Rockdale County (1-7), while Loganville finishes at Apalachee (3-5).

The visiting Raiders are coming off a heartbreaking loss to second-place Heritage. After falling behind by three touchdowns, Habersham Central rallied to tie the game late in the fourth quarter before falling on a Heritage field goal, 45-42, with six seconds left.

Ellison (1,560 rushing yards, 25 TDs) is the catalyst in the Raiders' triple option offense, which leads the area in rushing yards (331 per game). Scoring hasn't been the problem for Habersham Central. The Raiders average 37.9 points per game, but surrender almost as much (35.5).

Loganville can relate. The Red Devils, who rushed for 370 yards in last week's 49-21 loss to Flowery Branch, score 28 points per game while giving up 27.3.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. The Raiders have proven they can score against the best defenses in the area. They should have at least as much success against Loganville and get just enough stops from their defense to win.

Dawson County at Rabun County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Rabun County, Danny Durham

Records: Dawson County (4-4, 3-1 Region 8-AA North); Rabun County (3-5, 1-3)

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.). Rabun County, RB Dyllon Crabtree (6-2, 215 Sr.), DL/WR Dillon Bleckley (6-1, 192 Sr.), QB Wes Holcombe (So.).

Outlook: The Tigers may have already wrapped up the No. 2 spot in the North subregion with last week's 49-7 win over East Hall, but they still have one more goal before the region play-in game - five regular season wins. The Tigers already have their best win total since a 7-3 campaign in 2005.

Led by Dominy, Clark and Martin on offense, Dawson County has a chance to reach that goal in Tiger.

Dominy is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,716 yards and 17 touchdowns with six interceptions. Clark, the area leader in receptions with 47 for 596 yards and 10 scores, is his favorite target. Martin leads the running attack with 872 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Other than a surprising, 35-21 win over Fannin County, the Wildcats haven't had much success in the subregion. They have, however, played teams close, losing 10-7 last week to Union County and 40-28 to subregion leader Banks County.

Rabun County has allowed 28 points per game this season while scoring just 15 points per game, while Dawson County leads the subregion with 29 points scored per game and has allowed 25.

Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. The Tigers have the offensive firepower to win their fifth game of the season.

Commerce at George Walton Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Keith Henderson Stadium, Monroe

Coaches: Commerce, Marvin Justice; George Walton Academy, Don Williams

Records: Commerce (3-5, 2-2 Region 8-A); George Walton Academy (6-2, 3-1)

Key players: Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-1, 200 Sr.), FB/LB Chance McClure (6-0, 215 So.), RB/DB Quay Little (5-8, 145 So.). George Walton Academy, RB Nick Waters (6-0, 175 So.), QB Hunter Rice (6-1, 180 Jr.), OL/DL Alex Ortega (6-3, 305 Sr.).

Outlook: Commerce is tied for third in Region 8-A with Athens Christian, a team the Tigers defeated head to head, and are just half a game ahead of Athens Academy. It's a tenuous position for Commerce, which can wrap up its 15th consecutive playoff berth with a win over George Walton Academy and an Athens Christian loss to Prince Avenue Christian.

The first half of that equation won't be easily earned as the Tigers visit the second-place Bulldogs, a team which has transitioned nicely into 8-A after a nearly 40-year run in the Georgia Independent Schools Association that produced four state titles, the most recent coming in 2009.

The Bulldogs, who finished second in 8-A and defeated Commerce 21-0 last season, clinched their playoff berth last week with a 34-14 win over Social Circle.

They have given up more than 14 points only once this season, a 21-10 loss to No. 7 Prince Avenue. They finish the season next week at Athens Christian.

Commerce has lost two straight, including a 35-13 loss to Prince Avenue last week. Even though a loss tonight won't eliminate the Tigers from the postseason, they need to win each of their final two games to avoid finishing with their first losing record in the regular season since 1992.

Prediction: GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY. The Tigers have shown flashes, but haven't been consistent enough on offense to go on the road and topple a strong defensive team like the Bulldogs.

Monroe Area at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Monroe Area, Matt Fligg; Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: Monroe Area (6-2, 3-1 Region 8-AAA South), Johnson (0-8, 0-4)

Key players: Monroe Area, QB Floyd McCoy (5-10, 175 Sr.), RB/DB Darius Blackwell (5-11, 175 Sr.), RB Monterian Smith (6-0, 190 Jr.). Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (6-1, 175 Jr.), RB A.J. Millwood (5-10, 155 Jr.), LB Jose Martinez (6-2, 230 Jr.).

Outlook: Both teams have a Week 11 fate already secured, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game. Monroe Area is the No. 2 seed from the South subregion and will host the No. 3 seed from the North subregion (either North Hall or Franklin County) Nov. 4 at the Purple Pit in Monroe for a playoff spot from Region 8-AAA.

Meanwhile, Johnson is already out of playoff contention and will be the No. 6 seed from the South for the final week of the regular season. The Knights will host Chestatee next Friday at Billy Ellis Memorial.

Johnson's offense has continued to move the ball steadily with the running game, averaging 5.6 yards per carry led by Harris (1,106 yards) and Millwood (714 yards). The Knights' 2,204 rushing yards has accounted for 92 percent of their offense.

Monroe Area already secured critical subregion wins against Oconee County and West Hall (2-2 in subregion play) to own a head-to-head advantage. The Purple Hurricanes are led on offense by the versatile McCoy at quarterback with 887 rushing and 10 touchdowns, and 397 passing yards and another six touchdowns. On defense, Monroe Area is led by Blackwell (65 tackles, three interceptions), Ronald Peters (43 tackles, three fumble recoveries) and Jordon Fretwell (41 tackles, three interceptions).

Monroe Area defeated Johnson 41-0 in 2010.

Prediction: MONROE AREA. The Purple Hurricanes want to stay sharp for their home play-in game next week.

Jackson County at Hart County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Pete Herndon Stadium, Hartwell

Coaches: Jackson County, Billy Kirk; Hart County, Joby Scroggs

Records: Jackson County (2-6, 1-4 Region 8-AA South); Hart County (4-4, 2-3)

Key players: Jackson County, QB Jalen Banks (Sr.), RB Dustin Scott (Sr.), LB Andy Williams (5-11, 210 Sr.). Hart County, RB/LB Stephon Eades (Sr.), RB/DB K.J. Moore (So.), LB/RB Deonte Allen (Sr.).

Outlook: Jackson County enters this game looking do something it has never done: beat the Bulldogs from Hartwell. The Panthers have been shut out four times in eight meetings and lost by an average score of 38-3.

Hart County will try to put together a winning streak, something it has not been able to accomplish all year long,
The Bulldogs are coming off a 44-26 win over Oglethorpe County in which they had 350 yards of total offense. Eades led the charge with 129 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Look for him to get the ball early and often, as the Bulldogs attack a Panther defense which has yielded 29 points per game.

Banks, who started the last six games in 2009, was called on to replace struggling sophomore quarterback Kyle Daniel after the fourth game.

Prediction: HART COUNTY. The Bulldogs extend their winning streak over Jackson County with a win to close out their season.

Jefferson at East Jackson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Eagle Field, Commerce

Coaches: Jefferson, T. McFerrin; East Jackson, Brian Smith

Records: Jefferson (6-2, 3-2 Region 8-AA South); East Jackson (3-5, 1-4)

Key players: Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-3, 200 Jr.), DE Carson Newman (6-0, 200 Sr.), RB Tristen Jackson (5-9, 190 So.). East Jackson, RB C.J. Allen (5-8, 170 Sr.), NG Lance Haley (6-2, 280 Sr.), OL/LB Caleb Hardy (5-9, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: This game doesn't have big implications on next week's play-in games - Jefferson has already clinched the South's No. 3 seed, and East Jackson is out of the playoff picture - but there's little East Jackson would like more than to earn the program's first win over county-rival Jefferson.

The Dragons have won all three previous meetings in the series, including last year's 49-15 victory.

Jefferson, which will play at Dawson County with a playoff berth on the line next week, boasts a balanced offense led by Shirreffs and Jackson. Shirreffs has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards, completing 62 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and just one interception in 158 attempts.

Jackson leads the ground game with 638 yards on 85 carries (7.5 yards per attempt).

Defensively, Newman has been on a tear for the Dragons, racking up 55 tackles, 16 for loss, three sacks and two fumble recoveries in the last three games alone. He has 91 tackles on the season, while junior linebacker Wesley Simonton leads the team with 93 stops.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons' multi-faceted offense has scarcely been slowed this season; don't expect it to happen tonight.

Riverside Military at Athens Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Slaughter Field, Athens

Coaches: Riverside Military, Sheldon Ward; Athens Academy, Michael Gunn

Records: Riverside Military (1-7, 1-3 Region 8-A), Athens Academy (5-3, 2-3)

Key players: Riverside Military, DL Marlan Edwards (6-2, 212 Sr.), K/P/DL Victor Salcido (5-11, 222 Sr.), OL/LB John-Mark MacFarlane (5-10, 176 So.). Athens Academy, QB Lake Lindsey (6-1, 170 Sr.), LB Blake Callaway (6-0, 205 Sr.), WR P.J. Blaesing (6-4, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: All year, it's been a struggle for Riverside Military to move the ball. The Eagles have averaged less than a yard per rush attempt and score 6 points per game. Riverside's passing game has been a little more productive with an 11-yard average per catch. With head-to-head losses already against Commerce (3-5, 2-2) and Athens Christian (2-6, 2-3), the Eagles are already out of playoff contention.

Meanwhile, Athens Academy is still in the playoff picture, currently sitting in fifth, a half game behind Athens Christian and Commerce. The Spartans have been a program with great consistency in recent seasons with six 10-win seasons since 2000. However, the offense has struggled at times this year with 10 points or less in three of five region contests. However, Athens Academy's defense has been stellar, allowing only 11 points per game.

Prediction: ATHENS ACADEMY. With a lot still to play for, the Spartans cruise to victory at home.

Chestatee at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: Chestatee (3-5, 0-4 Region 8-AAA North); Lumpkin County (4-4, 1-3)

Key players: Chestatee, RB Quan Clark (5-10, 180 Jr.), DE Garrett Bennett (5-10, 205 Sr.), QB Jordan Degraff (6-2, 170 Jr.). Lumpkin County, FB/DT Lee Cagle (5-10, 185 Sr.), RB/WR/CB Ian McIntosh (5-10, 185 Sr.), QB/DB Gunner Wood (5-10, 165 Fr.).

Outlook: Early-season hopes of contending for state playoff berths have been extinguished for both Chestatee and Lumpkin County. Losing three and four games in the subregion, respectively, has left the two teams, which started out a combined 6-2, on the outside looking in.

For the War Eagles, it isn't difficult to spot the shortcomings.

During its current five-game losing streak, Chestatee's offense has averaged just 229.8 yards per game and just 4.1 yards per play. It scored five touchdowns in a close 41-35 loss to Monroe Area, but has scored just two touchdowns in the four games since. The War Eagles have averaged just 3.5 points per game in those four games.

In comparison, the defense has allowed an average of 372.4 yards per game (8.1 per play) and 26 touchdowns in the last five games. Of the 26 touchdowns, 21 were scored on the ground.

Tonight, it will face an offense that features one of the more dynamic runners in the area. McIntosh has rushed for 783 yards and six touchdowns this season. Those numbers aren't exactly eye-popping, but when you consider that he averages 12.2 yards per carry, his value can definitely be realized.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The War Eagles' inability to keep rushers out of the end zone doesn't bode well against a dynamic runner like McIntosh.

Fannin County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Fannin County, Greg Chambers; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Fannin County (4-4, 1-3 Region 8-AA North); Union County (2-6, 1-3)

Key players: Fannin County, RB Peyton Satterfield (6-0, 180 So.), RB/DB Blake Henry (5-10, 160 Sr.), Wes Holcombe (So.). Union County, QB T Bentley (6-0, 190 Jr.). RB/LB Jonathan Hughes (5-10, 170 Jr.), LB Ian Petkevich (6-0, 195 Sr.)

Outlook: Union County snapped a six-game losing streak last week in a 10-7 win over Rabun County. The Panthers were up 10-0 thanks to a Bentley touchdown run and Hougrand field goal by halftime and held off a late Rabun County comeback to secure a 10-7 victory.

The win was the second of the season, and Union County will enter the game looking for its first winning streak since last season, which was snapped by the Rebels.

Fannin County started out 3-1 on the season before dropping three of its last four. It lost to visiting Banks County, 42-21, last week, a game in which more points were scored on the Rebel defense than any other this season.

Prediction: FANNIN COUNTY. The Rebels are 3-1 on the road this season and keep up their winning ways.

Lakeview Academy at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn; Towns County, Kyle Langford

Records: Lakeview Academy (3-4); Towns County (1-7)

Key players: Lakeview Academy, RB/S Matt Askounis (5-11, 175 Sr.), QB/DB Ted Reynolds (5-9, 140 Jr.), RB/LB Trevor Price (5-10, 160 Jr.). Towns County, QB Jackson Noblet (5-11, 185 So.), TB Noah Calhoun (5-10, 170 Sr.), OL/DL Wesley Bloodworth (Jr.).

Outlook: At 3-4, Lakeview is on the verge of tying the program record for wins in a season set a year ago.

The Lions, after a slow start, have picked up wins in three of their last four games, including a break-out offensive performance two weeks ago in a 49-21 win over North Cobb Christian.

For the most part, however, they have done it with strong defense.

They have allowed just 35 points in their three wins this season and have allowed more than 28 points just once. Currently, they sit at fourth in the area in scoring defense, allowing 17.7 points per game. That is a beneficial stat for Lakeview as they will play an offense that is averaging just 11.5 points per game. Towns County's offensive peak was in a 33-6 win over North Cobb Christian.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW ACADEMY. History favors the Lions in this matchup. Look for them to win and match the school record for victories in a season.

Franklin County at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warriors Stadium, Cleveland

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; White County, Bill Ballard.

Records: Franklin County (4-4, 3-1 Region 8-AAA North), White County (2-6, 1-3).

Key players: Franklin County, QB Kevin Harris (6-0, 190 Sr.), LB Austin Starrett (6-3, 220 Sr.), RB Shaun Pulliam (5-8, 175 Sr.)

Outlook: Franklin County will either be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed for the region play-in depending on tonight's outcome. Meanwhile, White County is already eliminated from playoff contention. With a win tonight and a Stephens County loss, Franklin County clinches the No. 2 from the North subregion. A loss, combined with a Stephens County win would also result in the No. 2 seed, while a loss coupled with a North Hall win would bump the Lions to No. 3 in the subregion.

Prediction: FRANKLIN COUNTY. The Lions pick up a crucial win behind their triple-option attack.

 



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