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High school football previews: Week 3

POSTED: September 5, 2013 7:16 p.m.

North Hall at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Johnson, Jason Roquemore

Records: North Hall (1-0); Johnson (1-1)
Key players: North Hall, QB/DB Andrew Smith (5-7, 150 Sr.); OL/DL Thomas Marchman (6-4, 260 Sr.); RB/DB Will Cape (5-10, 190 Sr.). Johnson, RB/S Luis Hernandez (6-1, 185 Sr.); OL/DL Devan McClay (6-3, 245 Sr.); DL Jesse Griggs (5-9, 210 Jr.).

Outlook: North Hall hits the road after a tough home opener against Chestatee, which ended with the Trojans on top 33-15 after a physical battle with the War Eagles.

The win offered up some breakout performances by a few North Hall players, most notably in the running game. Isaac Seid racked up 121 total offensive yards, including 106 rushing yards and a 74-yard touchdown scamper. Brannon Dyer and Zac Little combined for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

Johnson comes into the game with a little more momentum than it did before last week’s 34-8 win over Oglethorpe County in Lexington. The Knights were forced to bounce back from a 35-0 loss to West Hall two weeks ago, and did so successfully on the road in blowout fashion.

For Johnson, tonight’s game is arguably it’s toughest of the season after losing to North Hall 55-7 a year ago. On the Trojans’ end, they have an opportunity in this game to evaluate where they stand before next week’s showdown with defending Class AA state champion Jefferson, which stunned them in come-from-behind fashion 27-21 a year ago.

Riverside Military at Whitefield Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Whitefield Academy, Mableton

Coaches: Riverside Military, Gary Downs; Whitefield Academy Jimmy Fields

Records: Riverside Military 0-0; Whitefield Academy 0-1

Key players: Riverside Military, FB Joseph Garuba (5-10, 180 Jr.), LB John-Mark MacFarlane (5-10, 190 Sr.), RB/CB Raleigh Beougher (5-9, 165 Jr.). Whitefield Academy, QB/MLB Sky Dupree (5-11, 185 Sr.), WR/CB Braelen Phillips (6-2, 185 Sr.), DE Everett Pollard (6-4, 210 Sr.)

Outlook: Whitefield Academy lost its season opener a week ago, while Riverside Military was idle.

Tonight, the Eagles start their second season under Downs, a former Atlanta Falcons running back during his playing days who led the school to a 2-8 record a year ago.

Downs said he feels the Eagles will be more competitive this season, especially after a more productive offseason and summer. Riverside Military will run its spread offense it established midway through the season in 2012, giving the Eagles multiple options to gain yards.

Last season, Riverside Military was shutout by Whitefield Academy 41-0 in Gainesville. The loss was a string of six straight to start the season. A win for Riverside Military tonight can give the Eagles a lot of momentum heading into next week’s game against Georgia Military College in Gainesville.

Dawson County at North Forsyth

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Valley, Cumming

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; North Forsyth, Jason Galt

Records: Dawson County (2-0, 1-0 Region 7-AAA); North Forsyth (1-0)

Key players: Dawson County, DB/WR Jackson Putnam (6-1, 180 Sr.); WR Chris Sayler (5-9, 171 Sr.); RB/LB Cody Lamar (Sr.). North Forsyth, QB Harris Roberts (6-2, 170 Jr.); RB/DL Jamal Davenport (Jr.); RB/DB Luke Slaton (Sr.)

Outlook: Dawson County is looking to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2001.

If the Tigers’ offense has anything to say about it, they’re well on their way. In last Friday’s 27-13 win over Lumpkin County, Dawson County racked up more than 500 yards of offense, highlighted by a 227-yard performance by Lamar. The previous week against East Hall, quarterback Zach Buchan passed for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

Standing in the Tigers’ way of a third consecutive win is Class AAAAAA neighbor North Forsyth, which opened up its season with a 31-0 romping of Forsyth Central last Friday. The Raiders, which have only recorded three winning season in the past decade, run a rare double-wing offense under the first-year coach Galt.

Tonight’s game has the makings of a shootout, but Dawson County has proven thus far that offensive-minded outings are no problem for the Tigers.

West Forsyth at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Coaches: West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; Flowery Branch, Chris Griffin

Records: West Forsyth (0-1); Flowery Branch (0-1)

Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Jackson McDonald (6-0, 180 Sr.); OL Andrew Miles (6-5, 280 Sr.); WR/KR A’lencio Graham (5-11, 175 Sr.). West Forsyth, OL Andrew Marshall (6-5, 270 Sr.), RB Trevor O’Brien (Jr.), QB Hampton McConnell (6-5, 200 Jr.).

Outlook: One of these teams will earn the opportunity to rebound after losing to Class AAAAA’s two top-ranked teams last Friday, while another one is forced to open the year 0-2.

The Falcons made the long trip down to No. 2 Northside-Warner Robins and struggled against the Eagles’ size, falling 28-6 in their season opener. Meanwhile in Cumming, the Wolverines, a Class AAAAAA team, saw an early lead against No. 1 Gainesville turn sour, as they struggled to contain quarterback Deshaun Watson and the dynamic Red Elephant offense in a 58-28 loss.

West Forsyth will see a similar type of offense to the one it saw in Gainesville: A fast-paced, pass-heavy Flowery Branch team that thrives on big plays. The Falcons’ defense is up against a run-based Wolverines team that has plenty of size up front to fend off tacklers and free up running room.

West Forsyth won last year’s meeting 21-14, on its way to a 10-2 record and a second-round appearance in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs. Flowery Branch holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series after a pair of wins in 2008 and 2009 when the two teams were region opponents in 7-AAA.

Hebron Christian Academy at Lakeview Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Hebron Christian Academy, Kevin Shaffer; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Hebron Christian Academy (0-0); Lakeview (0-1)

Key players: Lakeview Academy, QB/S Jackson Strickland (5-10, 160 Sr.); OL/DL J.T. McClung (6-0, 195 Sr.); RB/LB Drake Hollander (5-10, 170 Sr.). Hebron Christian Academy, QB Connor Holliday (6-1, 150 So.), WR/DB Matthew Glisson (5-7, 150 Sr.), OL/DL Joe Bova (5-10, 220 Sr.)

Outlook: Lakeview Academy has a solid opportunity to get a win this week, as Hebron Christian Academy makes its debut under new coach and former Atlanta Falcons lineman Kevin Shaffer.

The Lions’ own season opener last week was a rough one, as they took a 41-14 loss against Fellowship Christian in Roswell. They’re back in the friendlier confines of their own home this week against an opponent they haven’t lost to since 2010.

Lakeview quarterback Jackson Strickland enjoyed a solid first outing as a starter last Friday, rushing for two touchdowns in the loss. His counterpart on the Hebron roster, sophomore Connor Holliday, leads a Lions offense that features a new no-huddle spread scheme with plenty of opportunities for big plays.

White County at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; Lumpkin County Brad Waggoner

Records: White County 1-0; Lumpkin County 0-1

Key players: White County, LB/RB Dalton Whitfield (6-3, 230 Sr.); Rover/WR Will Flowers (5-11, 180 Sr.); DB/WR Coley Loudermilk (5-11, 180 Sr.). Lumpkin County, RB/S Gunner Wood (5-10, 170 Jr.); QB/P Daniel McCrary (6-1, 175 Sr.); WR/DB Jonathan Gilreath (6-2, 190 Sr.)

Outlook: White County is considered a legitimate playoff contender in Region 7-AAA this season and started the year with a 35-14 win over Habersham Central. Lumpkin County is entering its second game under coach Brad Waggoner, who is looking to bring a winning mindset to Lumpkin County, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2003.

Tonight, the team that wins will take a major step in building a solid foundation heading into region play. For White County, a win would put the Warriors with an undefeated record, while Lumpkin County is looking to avoid an 0-2 start.

White County leads the all-time series 33-11-1 and has won six of the last seven meetings, including last season when the Warriors beat the Indians 34-7.

Both teams run the option, so passing attempts should be limited tonight. Both teams have playmakers on both sides of the ball. Lumpkin County is led by Wood, a safety and running back, while White County is led by Flowers, a senior.

Jefferson at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Jefferson, Ben Hall; Jackson County, Benji Harrison

Records: Jefferson 1-0; Jackson County 0-

Key players: Jefferson, QB Evan Shireffs (6-4, 175 Jr.), DB Hanon Price (5-11, 180 Sr.), FS Austin Mixon (6-2, 180 Sr.). Jackson County, WR Xavier Harper (6-0, 185 Sr.), WR Ben Brissey (6-3, 190 Sr.), LB Evan Breakspear (6-0, 210 Sr.)

Outlook: The rivalry within the city of Jefferson continues tonight when Jefferson, the reigning Class AA champion, visits Jackson County, a program that finished 6-5 and made a playoff appearance last season.

Jackson County entered this season with a lot of optimism and in hopes of another trip to the playoffs. That optimism took a setback, at least for the time being, last week when the Panthers were upset by Winder-Barrow, 26-21. Jefferson is looking to go 2-0 for the second time in the past three seasons with a win tonight, after dominating Commerce 40-0 a week ago.

Both teams are filled with talent. Jefferson is led by quarterback Evan Shirreffs, the younger brother of 2012 Dragons QB Bryant Shirreffs, the reigning Class AA Player of the Year. Evan completed 21 of 35 passes for 258 yards with four passing touchdowns last week against Commerce.

On the other sideline, Jackson County is loaded at wide receiver. Led by all-state receiver Harper, who finished with 82 catches last season, the Panthers are deep outside, but lack depth on the inside.

Jefferson is 5-0 all-time against Jackson County, which includes wins over the last three seasons. Last season, the Dragons beat the Panthers 28-6.

Commerce vs. East Jackson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Field at Ray Lamb Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Commerce, Michael Brown; East Jackson, Gary Hughes

Records: Commerce (0-1); East Jackson (1-0)

Key players: Commerce, QB Drew Whitfield (5-9, 175 Sr.); FB/LB Chance McClure (6-1, 215 Sr.); WR/DB Jamir Walton (5-10, 175 Sr.). East Jackson, QB Cody Hardwick (Sr.), RB Deangeleo Moore (Jr.), LB Austin Beauchamp (Sr.).

Outlook: The Tigers are in need of a win after suffering its worst loss to Jefferson in school history last Friday. Commerce struggled all night in its season opener, surrendering 450 yards of offense in the 40-0 loss.

Meanwhile, East Jackson is coming off a narrow win against Banks County, 14-10, in its opener. It snapped a 16-game losing streak and winless 2012 for the Eagles.

Last year, Commerce beat East Jackson 28-14.

Union County at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge

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

Records: Union County (1-0), Fannin County (0-1)

Key players: Union County, OL/DL Luther Jones (6-0, 290 Sr.), WR/DB Chase Barnett (5-11, 190 Jr.), WR/DB Robert Prunier (5-9, 175 Jr.). Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (6-0, 205 Sr.), RB/CB Jacob Greer (5-8, 160 Jr.), WR Dominik Leben (6-0, 150 So.)

Outlook: Union County started last season with three-straight wins, and the Panthers are well on their way to beginning 2013 in the same fashion. After a commanding 41-14 win against Towns County in Week 1, Union County appears even stronger than last season and plans to use the veteran presences of Jones, Barnett, Prunier and Jacob Rogers to attempt another rout in Week 2.

Prunier and Rogers both scored for Union County last Friday night, along with Nick Whittle. The Panthers’ versatility will be an advantage against a Fannin County team that went 1-9 last year and has yet to score a point in 2013. If Union County continues to get scoring from a number of different players, the Panthers can keep rolling and see even more success than last season.

Fellowship Christian at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Fellowship Christian, Al Morrell; Towns County, Blair Harrison

Records: Fellowship Christian (1-0); Towns County (0-2)

Key players: Fellowship Christian, RB Travis Kinney (Sr.), QB Hunter Bryant (6-4, 210 Sr.), RB/LB James Wilson (5-8, 150 Sr.). Towns County, RB/LB Zach Sewell (5-7, 165 Jr.), QB Jackson Noblet (5-10, 205 Sr.), OL/DL Jaryd Gurley (6-2, 303 Sr.).

Outlook: The Indians may have a pair of losses to their name, but they finally get a chance to compete against a smaller team with similar depth.

Fellowship Christian, which went 2-8 last year, started the season by avenging a loss to Lakeview Academy in last season’s season opener with a 41-14 win. Under new coach Al Morrell, the Paladins are already seeing success against teams of similar size, so they should pose a challenge to Towns County.

Towns County, however, has been gaining momentum each week, scoring a pair of touchdowns last Friday night against a strong Union County team. Noblet, Sewell and wide receiver Cruz Shook will have to step up even more to help the Indians continue adapting to the changes Harrison made to the program over the summer.

If they can continue to find ways to score, tonight’s game can be a good marker for the coaching staff to evaluate the team and help make improvements to reach the “turning point” that Harrison believes is coming.

Habersham Central vs. Stephens County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raiders Stadium, Mount Airy

Coaches: Habersham Central, Michael Pollock; Stephens County, Travis Noland

Records: Habersham Central (0-1), Stephens County (1-0)

Key players: Habersham Central, RB Sydnee Mulligan (5-9, 192 Sr.); WR Gunner Hedden (6-0, 155 Sr.); QB/WR Logan Gosnell (5-11, 200 Sr.). Stephens County, OL Ben Cleveland (Jr.); QB Mason Long (Sr.); RB Sapario Reese (Jr.).

Outlook: Mulligan’s 90 yards rushing was one of the lone bright spots in a tough 35-14 loss to open the season last Friday against White County in Cleveland. The Raiders defense is looking to improve after allowing more than 300 yards on the ground against the Warriors.

Habersham Central has dropped 11 of its last 12 games since a first-round playoff loss to Chattahoochee in 2011.

Stephens County is reloading after graduating a great senior class from 2012, led by all-state running back Chaz Thornton, but managed to win its opener against Franklin County 21-13 last Friday.

Last year, Stephens County beat Habersham Central 44-8.

Banks County vs. Athens Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Leopards Stadium, Homer

Coaches: Banks County, Biff Parson; Athens Christian, Steve Brooks

Records: Banks County (0-1); Athens Christian (0-1)

Key players: Banks County, RB/DB Wes Faulkner (5-9, 165 Sr.); WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell (5-10, 155 Jr.); OL/DL Trent Cape (5-10, 200 Jr.). Athens Christian, RB Taylor Hardigree (Sr.); QB Brett Branton (Sr.); OL Caleb Stephenson (Sr.).

Outlook: The Leopards need to get things turned around fast for some momentum heading into the difficult Region 7-AAA schedule. With two non-region games remaining, Banks County wants to move past a tough 14-10 opening-night loss against East Jackson last Friday.

Athens Christian had an equally difficult loss, falling to Landmark Christian 26-7 in Week 1. Tonight’s is one of four nonregion games the Eagles play before opening region play at Prince Avenue Christian on Sept. 27.


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