Yet another big week of games looms for the 8-AAA North subregion on Friday; such is life when all six teams in the division have a realistic shot at playing for a postseason berth.
After two weeks in subregion play, all six teams in 8A-AAA share one of three records — White County and Stephens County are 2-0, North Hall and Lumpkin County are 1-1, and Chestatee and Franklin County are 0-2.
As coincidence would have it, each pair squares off this week.
Suddenly, White County’s game on Friday against Stephens County is one of the season’s most pivotal, while everybody else is scrambling to remain viable playoff contenders.
A by-product of GHSA realignment is a region playoff system consisting of an 8-AAA championship game and two other play-in games.
The top three from each subregion qualify for these games. And due to the 8-AAA North parity, after Friday, we’ll be two weeks from the end of the regular season, and five teams will still be in the hunt for a top-three spot.
STAGE SET IN THE SOUTH: The preseason favorites in 8B-AAA are living up to the billing, as Gainesville and Monroe Area have proven themselves the teams to beat.
The Red Elephants (5-1, 2-0) and Purple Hurricanes (6-0, 2-0) will meet Friday in Monroe with a spot in the region championship game potentially at stake. Other than Gainesville’s opening-week loss to Buford, both teams have been dominant.
The Red Elephants are averaging better than 400 yards of offense and 33.5 points per game, while the Purple Hurricanes are scoring 38.5 per game and yielding just 4.8. Both cracked the state’s top 10 last week: Gainesville at No. 9, Monroe Area at No. 10.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE: White County brought an end to a few streaks with its 18-12 win over North Hall on Friday night; it also snapped some droughts.
In addition to handing the Trojans their first subregion loss in five years, it was also the Warriors’ first win over North Hall since 1987. And it’s the first time a White County team has started the season 5-1 since 1981, according to the Georgia High School Football Historian’s Association.
WITT-ERRIFIC: Jamond Witt’s stats continue to be ridiculous. The East Hall junior running back has seemingly come out of nowhere to be one of the most explosive offensive players in this part of the state this season. He leads the area with close to 1,100 yards rushing — more than 300 yards better than anybody else — and he’s got 714 yards on 40 carries (17.9 avg.) in his last three games alone. To put that in better perspective, only three players in northeast Georgia have rushed for 700 yards all season.
All that has come after only 27 carries for 242 yards last year (half of which was on 11 rushes in the last two weeks of the season).
Witt and the Vikings’ 300-yard per game running attack will be at Fannin County (3-3, 1-1) next week. The Rebels were considered one of the subregion’s favorites prior to the season.
Banks County (5-1, 2-0), which shares the 8A-AA lead with the Vikings (3-3, 2-0), plays at last-place Rabun County.
150 AND COUNTING: Flowery Branch quarterback Austin Brown leads the area in pass attempts, yards and touchdowns. Perhaps most impressively, he still hasn’t through an interception in any of his 154 passes.
That ball security has helped the Falcons (6-0, 6-0 8-AAAA) score more than 40 points per game during their first year of Class AAAA competition.
Logan Conley, Brown’s favorite target in Friday night’s 42-7 win over Habersham Central, now leads the area in receiving yards after seven grabs for more than 200 yards against the Raiders.
JOHNSON PLAYERS FINE: Knights running back Cedric Harris was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure after being landed on by a West Hall player Friday, but was released soon thereafter.
Johnson’s Brandon Buncy was also taken out of the game with a sore neck due to a late hit out of bounds against the Spartans. Both players will be re-evaluated before returning to practice next week, said Johnson coach Paul Friel.