8-AA’s strong showing
Banks County 13, Social Circle 7
Dawson County 56, Pickens 35
East Hall 47, West Hall 14
East Jackson 28, White County 27
Elbert County 29, Stephens County 28
Gilmer 29, Fannin County 21
Hart County 31, Franklin County 0
Jackson County 20, Johnson 12
Jefferson 41, Commerce 14
North Oconee 32, Arabia Mountain 13
Oglethorpe County 23, Athens Christian 21
Rabun County 17, Hayesville (N.C.) 14
Union County 20, Towns County 0
It’s nearly a month before the games used to determine playoff seeding get under way, but if Friday’s results are any indication, scoreboard watching in Region 8-AA should be interesting until then.
The region’s 13 teams almost ran the table Friday, with 12 winning their season opener. That total includes a 7-0 mark against Class AAA schools and a pair of notable wins in the North subregion from teams with playoff aspirations.
Dawson County scored the first win over Pickens in program history with a decisive 56-35 victory, and East Hall thumped West Hall, 47-14, to start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2003.
Led by junior quarterback Tyler Dominy and senior running back Zach Martin, who topped 200 yards passing and rushing respectively Friday, Dawson County has now won three out of its last four, going back to 2010. Their 56 points against Pickens is the most any Tiger team has scored since 2004, coach Jeff Lee’s second with the team, and the last season Dawson County made the playoffs.
East Hall’s output was also noteworthy, though the Vikings didn’t need a ton of offense to hit their highest point total since 2005.
Senior Jamond Witt had TDs on two of his six carries, but he was outscored by the Vikings’ defense and special teams, which staked East Hall to a 21-0 with three first-quarter touchdowns.
Other eye-catching wins in 8-AA included: Defending champion Elbert County 29-28 over 8-AAA North contender Stephens County; Banks County 13-7 over Social Circle in coach Philip Jones’ head coaching debut; Jefferson smashing rival Commerce 41-14; and Hart County 31-0 over Franklin County.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME: Flowery Branch wide receiver Casey Osborne always seems to be overshadowed in the Falcons’ receiver corps — except on Friday nights.
Last year as a junior, Osborne was second on the team with more than 700 receiving yards, but it was leading receiver Logan Conley who snapped up All-State honors.
This preseason, much of the attention has been focused on move-in C.J. Curry, an Oklahoma State recruit.
But Osborne is still getting his share of the limelight come game time. The big, fast target had team-highs in catches (five) and receiving yards (91), in the Falcons’ 56-7 win over Madison County on Friday.
SHOWDOWN SET IN BUFORD: Buford is off to a dominating start in its quest for a fifth straight state title, outscoring Blessed Trinity and Gainesville 91-0 in the first two weeks. Now, a bigger challenge awaits.
The top-ranked Wolves will face No. 3 Carver-Columbus on Friday in a rematch of Buford’s only loss from last year. Carver defeated the Wolves 14-0 last season behind 190 rushing yards from Isaiah Crowell, who’s now at Georgia.
Despite the departure of a large and talented senior class, Carver seems to have reloaded well. The Tigers won 52-0 in their season opener against Spencer.
TROJANS, WAR EAGLES SITTING ON GO: The final two area teams to kick off their season, North Hall and Chestatee, will hit the field this week.
The Trojans travel to Jefferson to catch a Dragons team feeling good after a big win over Commerce. Expect a contrast in styles, as North Hall leans on its Wing-T power running game led by Tennessee recruit Imani Cross, and Jefferson spreads it out behind the arm of junior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs (13 of 16 passing, 248 yards, four total TDs against Commerce).
Meanwhile, Chestatee will play West Hall. The War Eagles are led by a stable of talented running backs, including Quan Clark and Montrai Tate, while the Spartans will try to get sophomore quarterback Chandler Newton on track after being held to 150 yards of offense against East Hall.