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Week 7 High School Football Previews

POSTED: October 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

East Hall
at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bobby Gruhn Field

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: Gainesville (6-0, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA), East Hall (1-4, 0-1)

Key players: WR Kiante Young (6-1, 190 Sr.), OL Christian Romero (5-11, 235 Sr.), WR Andrew Ivester (6-1, 170 Sr.). Gainesville, LB Phillip Gaines (5-11, 205 Sr.), DL Josh Jackson (6-2, 260 Sr.), QB Blake Sims (6-0, 175 Jr.).

Outlook: Since 2001, Gainesville has dominated this series winning by an average of 43.6 points, and looks to continue its winning streak tonight.

Quarterback Blake Sims has been the catalyst for a Red Elephants’ offense that comes in averaging 34 points per game.

Sims has a 9.2-yard rushing average and 11 touchdowns and has passed for 1,177 yards and 10 touchdowns. His favorite targets, Teryan Rucker and T.J. Jones, are each averaging more than 10 yards per catch.

East Hall’s defense is giving up 30 points per game, and will have a tough time containing a Gainesville team that can run and pass efficiently an effectively.

The one thing working in East Hall’s favor defensively will be its overall team speed. However, covering Gainesville’s receivers while trying to catch the speedy and elusive Sims could prove to be too much.

Offensively, East Hall is averaging just less than two touchdowns a game, and with Gainesville’s defense giving up a miserly five points per game, that average could take a hit.

A.J. Johnson (78 tackles) and Phillip Gaines (66 tackles) lead a Red Elephants’ defense that held two of the best running attacks (Chestatee and North Hall) and one of the best passing attacks (West Hall) to zero points.

Not to mention, Gainesville’s Josh Jackson and Shammond Stringer are at the top and near the top in the area with nine and four sacks respectively.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. Big Red has dominated in all aspects thus far and this week will be no different.

West Hall
at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: West Hall (3-3, 0-2 Region 7B-AAA); Johnson (1-5, 0-1)

Key players: West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 248 So.), WR/DB Rodney Gibson (6-3, 180 Sr.), RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 210 Sr.). Johnson, LB Gilberto Espinoza (5-11, 220 Jr.), QB Anthony Prophet (5-10, 180 Jr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-1, 200 So.).

Outlook: When West Hall and Johnson play, records can be thrown out the window. The annual Battle of Oakwood is all about bragging rights.

West Hall brings a high-powered offense to the field. The Spartans are looking to rebound after a lopsided loss to Flowery Branch last week. West Hall sophomore quarterback Shunquez Stephens is the area’s leading passer with 1,540 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last week, he completed 67 percent of his throws for 364 yards.

Terrell Penland, Rodney Gibson, Marquise Stephens and Kyle Weatherly are all favorite targets for Stephens’ passes.

Marquise Stephens, Shunquez’s older brother, is West Hall’s leading rusher with 371 yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson has seen its struggles on offense with only a touchdown in each of the last two games. Anthony Prophet, a junior, is the Knights’ leading rusher with 570 yards and eight touchdowns. He has 477 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Gilberto Espinoza (52 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss) and Josh Owens (37 tackles, 4 TFL) are leading the Knights on defense.

Prediction: WEST HALL. The Spartans have too many offensive weapons for the Knights to stop.

Gilmer at
Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagle Stadium

Coaches: Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: Gilmer (0-5, 0-2 Region 7A-AAA); Chestatee (3-2, 2-0)

Key players: Gilmer, RB/LB Jacob Teague (5-11, 175 So.), RB Evan Pankey (6-0, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-1, 220 Jr.). Chestatee, Chase Vasser (6-4, 211 Sr.), RB Ben Souther (6-1, 200 Jr.), QB Ethan Souther (5-9, 155 Sr.)

Outlook: Riding a two-game winning streak, the War Eagles hope to make it three in a row tonight against winless Gilmer.

The Bobcats are off to a rough start this season, giving up more than 30 points per game, while scoring only 10.

That’s good news for the War Eagles, who will put themselves in the subregion driver’s seat with a win.

At 3-0, Chestatee could have as much as a two-game lead over every other team in the subregion not named North Hall.

After a difficult start to the season, the War Eagles appear to have figured out how to win. In the past two games — against Lumpkin County and Pickens — Chestatee is averaging nearly 35 points per game, with running back Ben Souther leading the way with 271 yards and three rushing touchdowns. For the year, the junior has 723 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground and could start closing in on the 1,000-yard mark tonight.

Not only is the Chestatee offense clicking, but the defense is stepping up as well. Senior linebacker and University of Georgia verbal commit Chase Vasser is second in the area with 77 tackles on the year, and Jonathon Cain is also having a solid year with 56 tackles this season.

Those two, combined with a struggling Gilmer offense, should make it tough for the Bobcats to score points.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles have a solid offense, Gilmer does not. Chestatee should have no problem improving to 3-0 in the subregion.

Social Circle
at Lakeview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Social Circle, Troy Morris; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Social Circle (3-3, 1-1 Region 8-A); Lakeview Academy (1-2, 0-1 Region 8-A)

Key players: Social Circle, RB Jamahl Street (6-1, 215 Sr.), DT Tytus Baynes (5-11, 270 Sr.), QB Damian Partee (5-10, 170 So.). Lakeview Academy, RB/LB Tom Drury (5-10, 185 Jr.), QB/DB Haughton Carswell (5-10, 155 Sr.), DL Patrick McCormac (5-11, 185 Jr.).

Outlook: Having never faced each other before, the only thing these region opponents have in common is that they’re both coming off losses to Wesleyan.

Social Circle lost to the Wolves 38-13 last Friday, while Lakeview was shut out by Wesleyan 38-0 two weeks ago.

The Lions have enjoyed an extra week to prepare for Social Circle, but that doesn’t mean the Redskins will be an easy opponent.

They have talent on both sides of the ball, with college prospect Jamahl Street and quarterback Damian Partee managing the offense.

Massive defensive tackle Tytus Baynes, who was a member of the Georgia Sports Writers Association Class A All-State team a year ago, leads Social Circle on defense.

Lakeview Academy will counter with offensive leaders Tom Drury and Haughton Carswell to move the ball.

Their defensive unit is led by tackle Patrick
McCormac, linebacker Lex Little and Austin White in the secondary.

Prediction: SOCIAL CIRCLE. The Redskins are faster, more experienced in the region and far bigger than Lakeview Academy.

White County
at Creekview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Grizzlies Stadium, Canton

Coaches: White County, Gregg Segraves; Creekview, Al Morrell

Records: White County (2-3, 0-1 Region 7A-AAA), Creekview (1-4, 0-1)

Key players: White County, DL/OL Tasi Suaava (6-0, 285 Sr.), OL/DL C.J. McDonald (6-2, 255 Sr.), RB Ashely Lowery (6-1, 175 So.). Creekview, QB Collins Wold (5-10, 170 Sr.), DE Seth Holmes (6-1, 205 Sr.), WR/DB Josh Reyes (5-10, 165 Sr.).

Outlook: Last Friday was a historic one for Creekview as it won against its first 7-AAA opponent defeating Johnson 43-7.

Taking the glory home with them, the Grizzlies look to go back into subregion play on a positive note when they play host to White County.

Like Creekview, White County is still looking for its first subregion win after an interception kept them from a touchdown at the end of a very close 13-10 loss to North Hall.

Although the Grizzlies have already played three tough region opponents, what awaits them today is arguably one of the largest defensive lines they have faced.

The Warriors are led by Tasi Suaava and C.J. McDonald in the middle, while Tyler Hamilton and Dylan Lewis anchor each end. Together, the group has limited opponents to 4 yards per carry this season.

Creekview uses a wing-T offensive scheme, the same scheme White County faced last week against North Hall. Seeing the same type of offense two weeks in a row gives the Warriors a chance to correct mistakes they made last Friday.

The Grizzlies have proven they can pass, as shown by the tandem of senior quarterback Collins Wold and receiver Josh Reyes.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors have the size and strength to push around the Creekview offense. The Grizzlies have an aggressive running game, but if White County can take advantage of their size, it can leave Canton with a close win.

Habersham Central
at Apalachee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: W. Clair Harris Stadium, Bethlehem

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart; Apalachee, Shane Davis

Records: Habersham Central (3-3, 3-3 Region 8-AAAA); Apalachee (4-1, 4-1)

Key players: Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-0, 185 So.), RB D.J. Griffin (5-10, 175 Fr.), WR/DB Zach Mayfield (5-9, 165 Sr.). Apalachee, LB Chaun Gresham (6-3, 205 Sr.), RB/CB John Ansley (6-1, 185 Jr.), RB Jon Lee (5-10, 175 Jr.).

Outlook: Sitting one game back of a six-team logjam at the top of the Region 8-AAAA standings, the young Raiders can scarcely afford another loss if they hope to continue their run of three straight trips to the postseason.

After struggling to find offensive consistency in the opening weeks of the season, Habersham Central has scored 74 points in the last two weeks, notching wins over Winder-Barrow and Madison County in the process.

They’ve done it with offensive balance. Sophomore quarterback Austin Brown passed for 165 yards last week against Madison County, while the Raiders rushed for nearly 200 yards as a team. They needed every bit of it to overcome more than 160 penalty yards.

The Raiders’ defense has done its part, yielding just two scores in the last two weeks, and holding Madison County to 55 yards rushing.

The defense will need to be strong again this week, as the Wildcats feature a multi-faceted wing-T offense that produced more than 300 rushing yards last week in a 51-6 rout of Winder-Barrow.

The Wildcats, one of three one-loss teams at the top of Region 8-AAAA, are led on defense by linebacker Chaun Gresham, who has verbally committed to the University of South Carolina.

Prediction: APALACHEE. There seems to be very little separation among the top-tier teams in 8-AAAA this year, but the Wildcats look to be a step ahead of the Raiders.

Franklin County
at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Franklin County (3-2, 1-1 Region 8-AAA); Jackson County (1-3-1, 0-2)

Key players: Franklin County, RB Jay Moon (5-10, 165 Sr.), LB Ryan King (Sr.). Jackson County, WR Marquise Gillespie (5-9, 145 Jr.), RB Rodderick Burks (5-8, 160 Jr.), LB Matt Robinson (6-0, 210 Sr.)

Outlook: After starting the year 1-1-1, things have gone down hill quickly for the Panthers. After losing the region opener 34-6 to Morgan County, the Panthers gave up 41 points and were shut out last week against Hart County. Things don’t get any easier this week, as Jackson County plays host to Franklin County. The Lions are coming off a 14-0 win against Morgan County last week, continuing their streak of losing one game but winning the next. Despite the inability to put a winning streak together, Franklin County has played every opponent close, except Gainesville, which beat them 34-6 in Week 2. The Lions rebounded nicely after the loss to the Red Elephants, with shut outs of Commerce and Morgan County sandwiching a one-point loss to Morgan County. A win tonight will give Franklin County its first two-game winning streak and keep it in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Prediction: FRANKLIN COUNTY. Lions are the top cats in the wild, and tonight they will be on the football field, as well.

Athens Christian
at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Athens Christian, Van Beacham; Commerce, Steve Savage

Records: Athens Christian (3-3, 1-1 Region 8-A); Commerce (1-4, 0-1)

Key players: Athens Christian, QB Tyson Beacham (6-3, 195 Sr.) WR Raymond Higgs (6-2, Sr.), WR/DB Forrest Shealy (6-0, 160 Sr.). Commerce, LB Josh Streetman (6-0, 195 Jr.), RB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Jr.), RB/CB Deon Orsborne (5-9, 155, Jr.).

Outlook: The Tigers can start to wipe away the bad feelings brought on by a slow start tonight.

Commerce, which hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1996, struggled through a tough non-region schedule early this year, but showed flashes of potential last week, pushing No. 3 Athens Academy to the brink before falling, 19-13.

The Tigers need a win tonight to even their region record and seize a favorable position in the hunt for one of 8-A’s four playoff spots.

Tonight’s game is similarly crucial for Athens Christian, which is coming off a 41-34 overtime win against Prince Avenue Christian. The Eagles led 34-14 before allowing Prince Avenue to score three unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

Athens Christian is led by senior quarterback Tyson Beacham. Last week, he passed for four touchdowns and ran for another. Shealy is the team’s leading returning receiver from last year, but Higgs could be the team’s most dangerous weapon. An exchange student from the Bahamas, Higgs is a world class track athlete who narrowly missed an opportunity to represent his country in the Beijing Olympics. He’s excelled on an international stage in the high jump, triple jump and long jump, and has emerged as a deep threat for the Eagles in his first season of football.

Prediction: COMMERCE. The Eagles have been ripped by strong running teams this season, and the Tigers may have found a new rushing threat in Orsborne, who pierced Athens Academy for 164 yards on the ground last week.

Lumpkin County
at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jasper

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Pickens, Steve Sewell

Records: Lumpkin County (2-3, 1-1 Region 7A-AAA), Pickens (1-4, 1-1)

Key players: Lumpkin County, QB Daniel Abercrombie (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 190 Jr.), RB Haden Rider (5-8, 175 Jr.). Pickens, QB/DB Alex Willingham (5-11, 180 Sr.), RB/LB Brett Larson (5-9, 200 Sr.), Raymond Bennett (6-1, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: Pickens is coming off its first win of the season, a 50-11 rout of subregion opponent Gilmer.

Lumpkin County, on the other hand, comes into tonight’s game looking to rebound from a 24-7 loss to Chestatee.

Both teams are averaging just a little more than two touchdowns a game with the Indians holding the advantage on defense, giving up 21 points to Pickens’ 30 per game.

The two teams have faced two of the same opponents in Gilmer and Chestatee. Pickens gave up 45 to the War Eagles while the Indians only allowed 24, both of which lost. On the flip side, in its win over Gilmer, Lumpkin County scored only 14 points while Pickens amassed 50 in its win.

The Indians have a good running game and Pickens has struggled against the run as evidenced by the game against Chestatee and Johnson (33-14 loss).

If Haden Rider (261 yards, three touchdowns), Jake McClure (221 yards one touchdown) and Daniel Abercrombie (433 yards passing and one touchdown) come to play, the Indians could make it out of Jasper with a win.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY: This time a game that would have been won on paper is also won on the field.

Last week’s record: 11-1
Season record: 56-11-1



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