By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
East Hall, White County set to battle in key Region 7-AAA battle Friday
Vikings, Warriors bring vastly different offensive styles to the field
0926Eastjohnson 10
East Hall running back Juwon Merritt runs for a big gain around the grasping hands of Johnson defensive back Andre Ellison. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Friday's games

Banks County at Buford, 7:30 p.m.

Stephens County at Chestatee, 7:30 p.m.

Dawson County at North Hall, 7:30 p.m.

White County at East Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Salem at Flowery Branch, 7:30 p.m.

Gainesville at Heritage, 7:30 p.m.

Habersham Central at Peachtree Ridge, 7:30 p.m.

Jackson County at North Oconee, 7:30 p.m.

Greene County at Jefferson, 7:30 p.m.

Lakeview Academy at Athens Academy, 7:30 p.m.

Walnut Grove at Lumpkin County, 7:30 p.m.

Oglethorpe County at Riverside Military, 7:30 p.m.

Union County at Washington-Wilkes, 7:30 p.m.

West Hall at Fannin County, 7:30 p.m.

George Walton at Commerce, 8 p.m.

East Hall coach Bryan Gray feels like his program is mature enough to see the big picture. The Vikings (3-1, 0-1 Region 7-AAA) play in a difficult region, maybe the toughest in Northeast Georgia, but they aren’t looking at Friday’s game against White County as if they have to win to stay in the playoff picture.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Vikings Stadium in Gainesville.

“White County has an exceptional program and is another big game for us,” Gray said. “I don’t think it’s a must win because in this region there’s going to be some upsets that people don’t expect.

“It’s going to come down to Week 9 or 10 before we know.”

Gray has imparted that message on his Vikings players well. He said, in turn, they’ve shown sound focus by not looking ahead on the schedule at any point so far. White County’s specialty on offense is the power-run game, headed by senior Dalton Whitfield.

East Hall’s coach knows that there’s plenty of time still to think about games that are to come, including No. 4 North Hall on Oct. 4, an extremely impressive West Hall on Oct. 18 and top-ranked Buford on Nov. 1.

White County (3-1, 1-0), which already has a region win against Fannin County under its belt, enters Friday’s game after a 30-0 loss against Blessed Trinity in Cleveland. Gray said that, if anything, White County will come out stronger as a result of such a game.

“The Blessed Trinity game wasn’t any indication of how good White County is,” Gray said. “And I know with the coaches they have at White County, they’ll have all the mistakes from that game fixed by the time they play us.”

For East Hall, its success has come with a fast-paced, no-huddle offense. Vikings junior quarterback Devin Watson has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,208 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also rushing for 347 yards and another six scores.

Gray’s target on offense is to run 90 plays every Friday night. He knows that White County is going to slow it down with a smash-mouth ground attack.

“We have the speed, vertical game and are going to try to out run the other team,” Gray said. “White County is a very disciplined team and they’re not going to give us the big play.”

East Hall’s main receivers include Milton Whelchel (12 catches, 257 yards), Dre Brawner (19 catches, 220 yards), Junior Lee (13 catches, 183 yards) and Jordan Jackson (8 catches, 152 yards).

After a bye following the East Hall game, White County enters a stretch with games against Buford, North Hall, Dawson County and West Hall.

Regional events