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High school football: Week 5 Previews

POSTED: September 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Creekview
at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard

Coaches: Creekview Al Morrell; North Hall, Bob Christmas

Records: Creekview (0-3), North Hall (1-2)

Key players: Creekview, QB Collins Wold (5-8, 175 Sr.), WB/DB Josh Reyes (5-11, 165 Sr.), DE Seth Holmes (6-1, 200 Sr.). North Hall, LB Thomas Sprague (6-1, 200 Jr.), QB Blayne Gilmer (5-11, 170 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Blitch (6-5, 330 Jr.).

Outlook: This game carries some importance for both North Hall and Creekview as both teams look to get back on track in the Region 7A-AAA opener.

Both teams understand that it is going to be a wide-open race for the subregion’s two playoffs spots at season’s end. There’s no better way to forget about a slow start than a win tonight at The Brickyard.

North Hall’s record may be a little deceiving to this point. The Trojans’ losses are to Class AA’s No. 1-ranked Buford and Class AAA’s No. 6-ranked Gainesville. Those could be the toughest two games on North Hall’s schedule all season.

The Trojans are going to have to improve when it comes to capitalizing on their scoring opportunities. Last week, North Hall pushed the ball inside the Gainesville 20-yard line four times and came away without any points. Look for the Trojans to do a little better in that regard against Creekview.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. The Trojans have too much pride to lose twice in a row at The Brickyard.

Chestatee
at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jasper

Coaches: Pickens, Steve Sewell; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: Pickens (0-3); Chestatee (1-2)

Key players: Chestatee, LB Chase Vasser (6-4, 211 Sr.), RB Ben Souther (6-1, 200 Jr.), DL Thomas Norman (6-5, 205 Sr.). Pickens, QB/DB Alex Willingham (5-11, 180 Jr.), RB/LB Brett Larsen (5-9, 200 Sr.), WR Raymond Bennett (6-1, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: Entering tonight’s game, the War Eagles are 0-4 against Pickens, with the last meeting (in 2005) resulting in a 37-31 overtime loss. But this Chestatee squad is different and more experienced from the teams before, and it heads to Jasper with thoughts of opening subregion play with a win. Last week, the War Eagles went toe-to-toe with Flowery Branch, and if it was not for a few untimely turnovers, the War Eagles may have escaped Falcon Field with a win.

If last week’s games are any indication of what’s going to happen tonight, Chestatee should dominate the Dragons, who lost 33-14 to a Johnson team that Chestatee scored 56 points two weeks ago.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles offense soars to new heights, Chestatee gets its first win against Pickens, and opens subregion play with a victory.

Johnson
at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

Records: Johnson (1-3); Flowery Branch (3-1)

Key players: Johnson, QB Anthony Prophet (5-10, 180 Jr.), LB Gilberto Espinoza (5-11, 220 Jr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-1, 200 So.). Flowery Branch, DE Izaan Cross (6-4, 250 Sr.), FB/DE Daniel Drummond (6-3, 230 Sr.), LB David DeLeon (5-7, 150 Sr.)

Outlook: Flowery Branch has owned this series the last three years, beating Johnson by an average of 30 points.

Things could be tighter this year.

The Falcons, despite averaging 27 points per game, have struggled at times offensively.

Sans a Lumpkin County rout in which they rushed for 314 yards and threw for 188, the Falcons are averaging a middling 212 yards of total offense per game.

Darius Kimbrough (1.96 yards per carry), last year’s second leading rusher, hasn’t gotten going yet, and quarterback Connor Shaw has been flushed out of the pocket, leaving little room to improve upon his 484 yards passing.

A Johnson defense rushing Shaw could mean an offensive outcome consistent with the one against Creekview (155 yards rushing, 74 passing) and Chestatee (106 rushing, 39 passing).

On the other hand, if the Knights defense that played against Chestatee (Ben Souther rushed for 262 yards and the War Eagles put up 56 points) shows up, Flowery Branch could notch another Lumpkin County-esque offensive performance.

However, the reason that Flowery Branch has won its last three games is its defense.

Last week, Falcons senior linebacker David DeLeon and company were the primary reason Flowery Branch prevailed over Chestatee and its split back attack.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. The Falcons defense will pull them through once more.

East Jackson at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: East Jackson, Frank Caputo; Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster

Records: East Jackson (1-3, 1-2 Region 8-AA), Riverside Military (3-1, 2-1)

Key players: East Jackson, QB Evan Williamson (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB/DB Zach Gilbert (6-0, 202 Sr.), OL Zack Hornell (6-8, 328 Sr.). Riverside Military, QB Julian Suber (5-9, 170 Jr.), LB Diego Osegueda-Weiner (6-1, 215 Sr.), OL/DL Colton Keig (6-4, 250 Sr.).

Outlook: Riverside Military doesn’t want to get caught looking ahead.

Tonight’s game against East Jackson is just as important as any other game on the Region 8-AA schedule. But it’s hard for Riverside Military not to be thinking about next week’s game at Jefferson. On Oct. 3, the Eagles and Dragons (4-0) will play in a game that could have a big impact on deciding the Region 8-AA title.

But first things first, and that’s East Jackson.

Riverside Military is led by a pair of the best linebackers in the area with senior Diego Osegueda-Weiner (47 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks) and junior Aaron Gambrah (46 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks). The Eagles also have one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the area with junior Julian Suber. The first-year quarterback for Riverside Military has 49 carries for 460 yards and six touchdowns, and is 18-of-21 passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Suber’s backup is junior Lucas Bersin, who leads RMA with 468 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles stay undefeated at Maginnis Field this season.

West Forsyth
at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: West Forsyth (4-0), East Hall (1-3)

Key players: West Forsyth, RB Ethan Shirley (5-11, 170 So.), QB Lance Baker (6-1, 180 Sr.), RB Ben Emert (6-1, 220 Jr.). East Hall, WR Kiante Young (6-1, 190 Sr.), RB/CB Marcellous Moon (5-8. 165), OL Christian Romero (5-11, 235 Sr.).

Outlook: East Hall and West Forsyth come into the teams’ first meeting and first subregion contest for each on opposite ends of the spectrum.

The Wolverines are undefeated and averaging 41 points per game, beating teams by an average of 23 points.

East Hall is averaging only 15 points per game, due in large part to putting up a season-high 33 in Friday’s double-overtime win against Gilmer.

Desmon Gardner took over at quarterback in the second half and led the way to three scores. A similar performance this week, and the Vikings will be able to keep it close.

Prediction: WEST FORSYTH. The Wolverines high-powered offense will simply outscore East Hall.

Lakeview Academy
at Wesleyan

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Norcross

Coaches: Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn; Wesleyan, Franklin Pridgen

Records: Lakeview (1-1); Wesleyan (2-2)

Key players: Lakeview, RB/LB Tom Drury (5-10, 185 Jr.), QB/DB Haughton Carswell (5-10, 155 Sr.), RB/DL Patrick McCormac (5-11, 185 Jr.). Wesleyan, RB Kyle Karempelis (5-8, 165 So.), QB Connor Walton (6-0, 185 Jr.), OL/DL Andrew Patrick (6-2, 265, Sr.).

Outlook: The "preseason" ends tonight for the Lions and the Wolves. Both teams kick off their Region 8-A slate in Norcross, and for Lakeview, it’s the first region game in the program’s brief history.

The Lions won their first game as a full-fledged varsity team two weeks ago with a 35-6 rout over fellow newbie, Hebron Christian. Lakeview dominated with 361 rushing yards, led by Drury (130 on 19 carries) and McCormac (99 on 15 carries). Meanwhile, the Lions defense limited Hebron to minus 4 yards on the ground.

Prediction: WESLEYAN. The Wolves are tested and battle-ready, while the Lions probably need a few more games like these before they’re ready to knock off the upper crust of 8-A.

Jefferson
at Union County

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Blairsville

Coaches: Jefferson, Bill Navas; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Jefferson (4-0, 3-0 Region 8-AA); Union County (4-0, 3-0)

Key players: Jefferson, QB Darius Minor (6-0, 170 Sr.) WR/DB Tab Martin (5-8, 170 Sr.), RB Virgil Appleby (5-9, 180 Sr). Union County, QB Kolt Owenby (Jr.), WR Blake Gowder (Jr.), LB Justin Jarrett (Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s battle for control of Region 8-AA features two of league’s most prolific offenses, led by two of its most electrifying quarterbacks.

Union County’s Owenby and Jefferson’s Minor have led their teams to four easy wins, with each team posting more than 35 points per game.

Owenby already has 1,103 passing yards, 450 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns, while Minor has completed 40 of his 62 pass attempts for 476 yards, and has rushed for 405 yards on 14.5 yards per carry, while accounting for 12 of Jefferson’s touchdowns.

Fighting for the top spot in the region is somewhat unfamiliar territory for both teams. Jefferson had a shot at the Region 8-A crown last year, but fell short against Athens Academy. Prior to that, the Dragons hadn’t finished better than third since the 2003 season. Still, the Dragons were a postseason mainstay, advancing to the playoffs every year since 2000.

Prediction:

JEFFERSON. This should be the biggest test for both teams to this point, but Jefferson has proven more so far, mostly in its 41-6 win over defending region champ Fannin County. Both offenses can light up the scoreboard, but the Dragons’ defense has been the team’s unsung hero so far, and should provide the difference in this one.

North Oconee
at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Homer

Coaches: North Oconee, Terry Tuley; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Records: North Oconee (3-1, 2-1 Region 8-AA); Banks County (2-2, 2-1)

Key players: North Oconee, QB Jamie Fullington (6-3, 190 Sr.), RB Marcus Alford (5-9, 190 Jr.), RB Brandon Whitlock (5-7, 165 Jr.). Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Sr.), RB Demetric Dempson (5-11, 195 Sr.), QB Chris Porter (5-10, 175, Sr.).

Outlook: After a 35-6 win against the winless Rabun County last Friday, Banks County faces an opponent in North Oconee, who handed Riverside Military its first loss of the season in a 24-21 squeaker last Friday.

Prediction: NORTH OCONEE. The Titans aggressive rushing game was too much for the previously undefeated Riverside Military and will cause problems for the Banks County defense.

Commerce
at Lincoln County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Buddy Bufford Field, Lincolnton

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Lincoln County, Larry Campbell

Records: Commerce (1-2), Lincoln County (3-1)

Key players: Commerce, LB Josh Streetman (6-0, 195 Sr.), Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Jr.), RB Javon Womack (5-11, 175 Sr.). Lincoln County, RB A.G. Middlebrooks (5-11, 180 Jr.), WR Wilkes Goolsby (6-2, 175 Sr.), RB Jafabian Green (5-10, 165 Sr.).

Outlook: Commerce gets to go up against Class A’s second-ranked Lincoln County and coach Larry Campbell, who is the state’s all-time leader with 417 wins in his 36-year coaching career. Tigers coach Steve Savage hasn’t fared too bad himself with 165 wins in his 19-year tenure at Commerce.

Commerce’s off-week couldn’t have come at a better time. The Tigers had two weeks to prepare for what may be their toughest opponent this season.

Although Lincoln County is coming off a 28-17 loss to Abbeville (S.C.), the Red Devils shut out all three of their previous opponents and allowed only 3.2 yards per carry, which could slow down Commerce’s run-based offense.

Lincoln County isn’t much easier to handle on offense. The Red Devils have rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season and passed for more than 100 yards in three of four games. They are led by running back tandem A.G. Middlebrooks and Jafabian Green, who have combined for 411 yards on 68 carries.

Prediction: LINCOLN COUNTY. The Red Devils are among Class A’s elite and boast a stellar all-around game, including a solid run-stopping defense that will challenge Commerce.

Rabun County
at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Dawsonville

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

Records: Rabun County (0-4, 0-3 Region 8-AA); Dawson County (1-3, 0-3)

Key players: Rabun County, RB/DB Daniel Campbell (5-10, 160 Jr.) OL/DL Matthew Henry (6-1, 255 Sr.), QB Tanner Wright (So.). Dawson County, RB Eian Perry (5-7, 190 So.), QB Chase Gilreath (6-1, 190 Jr.), WR/DB Cody Tobias (6-0, 185, Sr.).

Outlook: Since an opening-week overtime win over Lumpkin County, it’s been a tough stretch of schedule for Dawson County.

In the ensuing three weeks, the Tigers have fallen to unbeaten Jefferson, the reigning defending champs (Fannin County), and Banks County, which features Justin Beasley, the area’s leading rusher.

The Tigers will be looking to break that losing trend when winless Rabun County comes to town tonight.

Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. While little has gone right for either team this year, the Tigers have been competitive each week. They should win this catfight and roll into Oglethorpe County next week with confidence on their side.

Winder-Barrow at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Winder-Barrow, Ben Corley; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart

Records: Winder-Barrow (0-3, 0-3 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (1-3, 1-3)

Key players: Winder-Barrow, QB Greg Dixon (6-0, 180 Sr.) RB/DB Chandlor Murphy (6-1, 195 Sr.), WR/DB Terrell Evans (5-7, 150 Sr.). Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-0, 185 Sr.), WR Dee Ellison (5-11, 175 Sr.), RB David Griffin (5-10, 175 So.).

Outlook: Habersham Central faces a similar scenario to last Friday as they face off against the winless opponent, Winder-Barrow.

The Raiders traveled to Loganville last week, who was also winless, but changed that by the end of the night as they defeated Habersham Central 19-6, and limited them to only 138 yards of offense.

Looking to avoid being another team’s first win, the Raiders will have home field advantage against a Bulldoggs team that is coming off a 51-13 loss to Heritage, which is Habersham Central’s only win so far this season.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. Winder-Barrow’s defense has struggled all year and won’t hold the Raiders’ offense, which can be tough to beat when its on its game.

Morgan County
at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Morgan County, Bill Malone; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Morgan County (0-3); Jackson County (1-1-1)

Key players: Morgan County, RB Ryan Glosson (5-8, 175 Sr.) QB Terence Harper (5-9, 165 Jr.), RB Domonique Hall (5-8, 180 Sr.). Jackson County, QB Alex Crawford (5-8, 185 So.), RB Rodderick Burks (5-8, 160 Jr.), WR Casey Mills (6-0, 150 Jr.).

Outlook: The Panthers enter region play fresh off the heels of a 12-12 tie to Class A Prince Avenue Christian last Friday, and welcome in a winless opponent that was shutout 45-0 two weeks ago against Washington County.

These two schools haven’t faced each other since 1993, and the series is tied 1-1. If the Panthers hope to make it 2-1, they will need to continue the same offensive and defensive strategies of the first three weeks.

Prediction: JACKSON COUNTY. It’s hard to get any sort of momentum off a tie, but it’s better than a loss, which is what the Panthers are used to. Morgan County will put up a fight, but the Panthers are playing at home, and that gives them the edge.

Lumpkin County
at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Ellijay

Radio: 104.3 FM

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley

Records: Lumpkin County (1-2); Gilmer (0-3)

Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 190 Jr.), QB Daniel Abercrombie (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB Haden Rider (5-8, 175 Jr.). Gilmer, RB/LB Jacob Teague (5-11, 175 So.), RB Evan Pankey (6-0, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-1, 220, Jr.).

Outlook: Things having been looking up for Lumpkin County the past two weeks. After earning their first win of the season, 24-7 against East Hall, the Indians had last Friday off to rest and prepare for a possible winning streak.

The majority of Lumpkin County’s offense this season has been collected through their rushing game. Not only have the Indians outrushed their opponents by 50 yards, six of their 10 touchdowns this year have been on carries.

Jake McClure leads all Lumpkin County rushers with 214 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries this season. Fullback Haden Rider has 126 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries for the Indians.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians’ rushing offense is too fast and too powerful for the Gilmer’s defense to hold.

Last week’s record: 6-3-1
Record this season: 33-9-1

Winder-Barrow, Ben Corley; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart
Rabun County, Danny Durham; Dawson County, Jeff Lee
Commerce, Steve Savage; Lincoln County, Larry Campbell
North Oconee, Terry Tuley; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

7:30 tonight Mike Cowell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville
Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; Wesleyan, Franklin Pridgen
West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; East Hall, Bryan Gray
East Jackson, Frank Caputo; Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster
550-AM
Creekview, Al Morrell; North Hall, Bob Christmas



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