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High school football previews: Week 11

POSTED: October 31, 2013 10:42 p.m.

White County at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Field, Oakwood

Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; West Hall, Tony Lotti

Records: White County (6-2, 4-1 Region 7-AAA); West Hall (5-3, 3-2)

Key players: White County, RB/LB Dalton Whitfield (6-3, 230 Sr.); DB/WR Will Flowers (5-11, 180 Sr.); QB A.J. Vandiver (6-0, 165 So.). West Hall, West Hall, QB Zach English (5-10, 180 Sr.); TE/DE Hunter Atkinson (6-6, 250 Sr.); RB/DB Kwon Williams (6-0, 185 So.).

Outlook: The logjam atop Region 7-AAA will get at least some clarity with tonight’s game between White County and West Hall.

White County continues to control its own destiny in getting home field advantage for the state playoffs, as its win over North Hall on Oct. 18 serves as the current tiebreaker between the two teams with 4-1 region records.

Should the Warriors and Trojans finish the regular season with identical region records with no three-way tie, and current region leader Buford remains unbeaten, White County will clinch home-field advantage for the first time since 2010.

West Hall can change that with a win, while helping its own playoff hopes. The Spartans can jump into third by beating White County, but can also fall into a tie for fourth alongside Dawson County with a loss and a Tigers win. The two teams would then play for the final playoff spot on Nov. 8 in Dawsonville.

The Spartans can still clinch home field advantage if they win out and North Hall loses its final two games. If three competing teams end the season in a three-way tie, the region will turn to tiebreaking scenarios to determine playoff seeding.

Jefferson at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Jefferson, Ben Hall; Riverside Military, Gary Downs

Records: Jefferson (6-2, 4-1 Region 8-AA); Riverside Military (4-4, 2-3)

Key players: Jefferson, QB T.J. Skelton (6-0, 180 Jr.); RB Tristen Jackson (5-9, 190 Sr.); DL Tyler Bowen (5-10, 220 Sr.). Riverside Military, QB Collin Pettell (6-4, 215 Sr.); WR Raleigh Beougher (5-9, 170 Jr.); WR/DB C.J. Howard (6-2, 185 Jr.)

Outlook: Tonight’s game is big for both programs. The Dragons are in control of their own destiny to earn the No. 2 spot in the region and a home playoff game to open the postseason.

For Riverside Military, it’s a crack at taking down the defending Class AA state champion following consecutive blowout wins over Social Circle and Glascock Co.

No. 10 Jefferson is likely already out of the running for a repeat region title after losing to No. 4 Washington-Wilkes (8-0, 5-0) early in October. The Tigers finish the season with a game tonight against Oglethorpe County and Nov. 8 against Social Circle: programs with a combined 1-9 region mark.

Meanwhile, Riverside Military has already doubled its win total from last season, but would have to earn a win tonight to remain in playoff contention. The Eagles wrap up the season against Greene County in Greensboro on Nov. 8.

For the Eagles, Pettell is leading the offense with 1,365 passing yards and 15 touchdowns.

Beougher has become his go-to receiver with 738 yards and five touchdowns, followed by C.J. Howard with 344 yards and four scores receiving.

Gainesville at Loganville

When: 8 tonight

Where: Red Devil Stadium, Loganville

TV: ESPNU

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Loganville, Eric Godfree

Records: Gainesville (7-1, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA); Loganville (4-4, 3-3)

Key players: Gainesville, QB Deshaun Watson (6-3, 195 Sr.); RB Michael Byrd (5-5, 150 Jr.); LB JD Sosebee (5-11, 225 Jr.). Loganville, QB Royce Harrison (5-8, 185 Sr.); WR/DB Taylor Boss (6-1, 195 Sr.); WR/LB Genesis Oji (6-2, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: It’s unlikely Gainesville will be looking ahead to its region title game against Flowery Branch on Nov. 8 at City Park Stadium after losing to the Red Devils 46-41 in 2012 in Gainesville. Last season, Loganville outscored Gainesville 26-0 in the second half and scored the winning touchdown on a run from Bernard Merriweather from the 1 with 26 seconds left in the game.

Of course, losing that game didn’t hurt the Red Elephants in the long run as they rallied from a loss the following week to Flowery Branch to sweep through the playoffs and win the Class AAAAA state championship.

Coming off a bye week, Gainesville is again led by Watson, who has thrown for 2,358 yards and 29 touchdowns, to go with 413 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Byrd is Gainesville’s leading rusher (636 yards, nine touchdowns) and in all-purpose yards (1,065).

The Red Elephants defense is paced by Sosebee with a team-high 101 stops, followed by linebacker Devan Stringer with 83.

Loganville is locked in a three-way battle with Clarke Central and Heritage for the final two playoff spots from 8-AAAAA, but lost head-to-head meetings against both programs earlier in the year. It wraps up the regular season at Salem on Nov. 8 in Conyers.

North Hall at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Leopards Stadium, Homer

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Banks County, Biff Parson

Records: North Hall (7-1, 4-1 Region 7-AAA); Banks County (0-8, 0-5)

Key players: North Hall, QB/DB Andrew Smith (5-7, 150 Sr.); RB/LB Zac Little (5-9, 187 Sr.); OL/DL Thomas Marchman (6-4, 260 Sr.). Banks County, RB/DB Wes Faulkner (5-9, 165 Sr.); WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell (5-11, 165 Jr.); RB/LB Matt Dilbeck (6-1, 210 Jr.).

Outlook: North Hall can’t overlook the importance of tonight’s game. 

The Trojans must win to keep alive their hopes of opening the postseason at home on Nov. 15. The Trojans’ hardest game of the regular season comes Nov. 8 against region favorite, and the state’s top-ranked team, Buford (8-0, 5-0). For North Hall, it’s been a steady ground game that has led it to this point, led by Little (939 yards, nine touchdowns), Smith (847 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Brannon Dyer (477 yards).

Last Friday, Smith had three second half rushing touchdowns to secure a 35-21 win against West Hall.

Banks County is looking for its first victory of the season after falling to 0-8 with a 33-7 loss against East Hall last week. The Leopards have been held to 10 points or less five times this season.

East Hall at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: East Hall (4-4, 1-4 Region 7-AAA); Buford (8-0, 5-0)

Key players: East Hall, QB Devin Watson (5-10, 170 Jr.); WR/DB Milton Whelchel (5-9, 170 Sr.); LB Corey Reece (5-10, 185 Sr.). Buford, LB Korie Rogers (6-2, 215 Sr.); DB/RB Thomas Wilson (5-11, 185 Sr.); RB/LB Joshua Thomas (6-0, 200 Jr.).

Outlook: Fresh off a 45-8 win over Fannin County on Friday, Buford is pushing closer to a region title week by week.

The Wolves simply need a win over East Hall this week and another North Hall loss to secure the crown. They could be the ones to hand the Trojans that loss when they visit The Brickyard on Nov. 8.

Buford showcased its depth in last week’s win, particularly at running back. The Wolves started two sophomores at running back, Xavier Gantt and Martin Mangram, and they combined for four touchdowns.

The Wolves will need to count more on their starters this week against an East Hall offense that has demonstrated the ability to produce quality yards with its balanced attack. The Vikings snapped a three-game losing streak last week when they defeated Banks County 33-7, led by quarterback Devin Watson’s 256 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and 79 rushing yards.

East Hall is out of the playoff race, but can still record a winning record with a pair of victories to close out the season.

Dawson County vs. Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tigers Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Fannin County, Greg Chambers

Records: Dawson County (4-4, 2-3 Region 7-AAA); Fannin County (2-6, 1-4)

Key players: Dawson County, WR/DB Jackson Putnam (6-1, 180 Sr.); WR Chris Sayler (5-9, 171 Sr.); LB Keaton Toal (6-1, 225 Sr.). 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: Dawson County is currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but the team still controls its own destiny.

The Tigers simply need to win their final two games, including a Nov. 8 meeting with West Hall, to leapfrog the Spartans for the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAA. Even if the Tigers lose tonight, they could still remain in contention for a postseason spot if West Hall loses to White County.

Dawson County currently sits in fifth place in Region 7-AAA, and is unable to jump the top three in the region (Buford, North Hall and White County) for playoff consideration. The Tigers are coming off a costly 17-10 loss against White County on Oct. 25.

Fannin County is eliminated from the playoff race.

Lakeview Academy at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn; Towns County, Blair Harrison

Records: Lakeview Academy (2-6); Towns County (2-6)

Key players: Lakeview Academy, QB Jackson Strickland (5-10, 160 Sr.); RB Drake Hollander (5-10, 170 Sr.); TE/DE J.T. McClung (6-0, 200 Sr.). Towns County, QB Jackson Noblet (5-10, 205 Sr.); OL/DL Jaryd Gurley (6-2, 303 Sr.); RB/DB Zach Sewell (5-7, 165 Jr.).

Outlook: Lakeview Academy looks to cap off its 2013 season with a continuation of the success it has found in recent weeks. The Lions have won two of their last three games, outscoring opponents 91-21 over that span.

Their next opponent is a Towns County team that was also making strides with a two-game winning streak before last Friday’s 30-3 loss St. Francis, a team Lakeview Academy took down to the wire before falling 14-7.

The Lions saw arguably their best individual performance of the season from quarterback Jackson Strickland last Friday. The senior rushed for 277 yards and four touchdowns to lead his team’s offense.

A Towns County victory would give the Indians a chance to win its fourth game next Friday against Hebron Christian. It would be a mark the team has not reached since 2008.

Lanier at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: Lanier, Billy Wells; Lumpkin County, Brad Waggoner

Records: Lanier (6-2, 3-2 Region 8-AAAA); Lumpkin County (1-7, 1-4)

Key players: Lanier, RB Tario Fuller (6-0, 180 Jr.); QB Canyon Cook (6-0, 170 Jr.); LB Michael Shaw (6-4, 204 Sr.). Lumpkin County, RB/DB Gunner Wood (5-10, 170 Jr.); OL Caleb Stepp (6-1, 280 Sr.); WR/DB Johnathan Gilreath (6-2, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: Lanier remained in the hunt for the school’s first-ever playoff berth last Friday night, rallying to beat Stephens County 31-14 in Sugar Hill. 

Tonight, the Longhorns can clinch the playoff berth with a win over the struggling Indians, who are just trying to finish their season on a high note with a victory tonight and next week.

Lanier closes out the regular season against Walnut Grove next Friday night, while Lumpkin County finishes its season at Stephens County.

Jackson County at Elbert County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Granite Bowl, Elberton

Coaches: Jackson County, Benji Harrison; Elbert County, Sid Fritts, Elbert County

Records: Jackson County (3-5, 3-2 Region 8-AAA); Elbert County (6-2, 5-0)

Key players: Jackson County, WR Xavier Harper (6-0, 185 Sr.); QB Jacob Lewis (6-1, 173 Jr.); WR Ben Brissey (6-3, 195 Sr.). Elbert County, RB/FS Marquice Dye (5-11, 170 Sr.), QB Mecole Hardman (5-11, 165 So.), RB/LB Dee Newman (5-8, 160 Sr.)

Outlook: Jackson County did its best at remaining in the Region 8 playoff picture last week, routing Oconee County 56-27 in Jefferson.

Tonight, the Panthers head to Elberton to face a Blue Devil team that sits atop the Region 8 standings and is in position to win its second region championship since 2010. Following tonight’s game with Jackson County, the Blue Devils close out their season against winless Franklin County on Nov. 8.

An upset win over Elbert County tonight, though, will keep the Panthers in playoff contention. Currently, the Panthers are the No. 4 seed in the region, with a game remaining against Morgan County, the current No. 5 seed, on Nov. 8.


Mill Creek at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mt. Airy

Coaches: Mill Creek, Shannon Jarvis; Habersham Central, Michael Pollock

Records: Mill Creek (5-3, 3-3 Region 7-AAAAAA); Habersham Central (0-9, 0-7)

Key players: Mill Creek, QB Daniel David (6’1, 185, Jr.); RB Carter Governale (6’0, 200 Sr.); RB/CB Devozea Felton (5-7, 160 Sr.). Habersham Central, RB Sydnee Mulligan (5-9, 192 Sr.); WR Gunner Hedden (6-0, 156 Sr.); QB Logan Gosnell (5-11, 200).

Outlook: Habersham Central puts an end to one of the school’s worst seasons tonight when it hosts Mill Creek, a school on the outside of the Region 7 playoff picture.

The Hawks enter tonight as the current No. 5 seed in Region 7 and need to win out and receive help, in the form of a pair of Peachtree Ridge losses, in order to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Habersham Central, meanwhile, has yet to record a win and gave away another winning chance last week, when the Raiders blew a lead against Duluth, which earned its first region victory of the season.

Union County at Social Circle

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Redskin Stadium at Stephens Park, Social Circle

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Social Circle, Ron Sebree

Records: Union County (5-3, 3-2 Region 8-AA); Social Circle (0-8, 0-5).

Key Players: Union County, WR/DB Robert Prunier (5-9, 175 Jr.); LB/RB Chase Barnett (5-11, 190 Jr.); OL/DL Luther Jones (6-0, 290 Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s matchup against winless Social Circle could bring the end of Union County’s 12-year postseason drought.

The Panthers can secure a spot in the Class AA state playoffs with a victory tonight.
Prunier and Barnett have begun to find a groove on the Panthers’ offense, with Prunier and fellow wide receiver Jacob Rogers appearing frequently on the score sheet.

Both scored in Union County’s 42-0 win against Greene County two weeks ago. Nick Whittle has also become key to the Panthers’ running game along with Barnett, and quarterback Joseph Mancuso is getting stronger as the weeks progress.

Compiled by Jared Putnam, Mitch Blomert, Bill Murphy, Ed Hooper and Kelsey Williamson

 


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