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High school football notebook: Region races starting to heat up
Region 8-AA's top two teams to play Friday in Tiger
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Region standings

Region 7-AAAAAA
    Region    Overall
Norcross    4-0    6-0
Collins Hill    3-0    4-1
Mill Creek    3-1    4-2
North Gwinnett    2-1    4-1
Peachtree Ridge    2-2    2-4
Duluth    1-3    2-4
Mountain View    1-3    2-4
Meadowcreek    0-3    0-5
Habersham Central    0-4    0-6

Region 8-AAAAA
Gainesville    4-0    5-1
Flowery Branch    4-0    4-2
Clarke Central    3-0    3-2
Heritage    3-1    5-1
Cedar Shoals    1-3    3-3
Salem    1-3    2-4
Apalachee    0-3    1-4
Loganville    0-3    1-4
Winder-Barrow    0-3    0-5

Region 8-AAAA
Monroe Area    2-0    5-0
Chestatee    2-0    4-1
Stephens County    1-1    4-1
Eastside    1-1    3-2
Lanier    1-1    3-2
Lumpkin County    1-1    1-4
Walnut Grove    0-2    1-4
Madison County    0-2    0-5

Region 7-AAA
White County    2-0    4-1
Buford    2-0    4-1
North Hall    2-0    4-1
Dawson County    3-1    4-2
Fannin County    1-1    1-4
West Hall    1-2    2-4
East Hall    0-3    2-4
Banks County    0-3    1-5

Region 8-AAA
North Oconee    2-0    4-1
Elbert County    2-0    2-3
Hart County    2-0    2-3
Jackson County    2-1    4-2
Morgan County    1-1    4-1
Franklin County    0-2    2-3
Oconee County    0-2    1-4
East Jackson    0-2    0-5

Region 8-AA
Jefferson    2-0    4-1
Rabun County    2-0    4-1
Washington-Wilkes    2-1    5-1
Union County    1-1    4-1
Oglethorpe County    1-1    3-2
Greene County    1-1    1-4
Social Circle    0-2    0-5
Riverside Military    0-3    0-5

Region 8-A
George Walton    2-0    5-1
Athens Academy    1-0    5-0
Pinecrest Academy    1-0    3-1
Prince Ave. Christian    1-1    5-1
Athens Christian    1-1    2-4
Commerce    0-2    4-2
Hebron Christian    0-2    1-4

Oct. 12
Buford at White County
Fannin County at North Hall
Gainesville at Salem
Jefferson at Rabun County
Lakeview at Cross Keys
Madison County at Lumpkin County
Meadowcreek at Habersham Central
Prince Avenue at Commerce
Riverside at Union County
Walnut Grove at Chestatee
Winder-Barrow at Flowery Branch
Oct. 13
Johnson at Clarkston
Oct. 19
Banks County at Fannin County
Clarke Central at Gainesville
Commerce at Athens Academy
Dawson County at Buford
Druid Hills at Johnson
Habersham at North Gwinnett
Heritage at Flowery Branch
Jackson County at Hart County
Lakeview at St. Francis
Lanier at Chestatee
Lumpkin County at Eastside
North Cobb Christian at Towns County
Riverside at Social Circle
Union County at Greene County
West Hall at East Hall
White County at North Hall

Oct. 26
Chestatee at Lumpkin County
Duluth at Habersham Central
East Hall at Banks County
Fannin County at Buford
Flowery Branch at Clarke Central
Glascock County at Riverside
Hebron Christian at Commerce
Jackson County at Oconee County
Jefferson at Social Circle
Johnson at Pickens
North Cobb Christian at Lakeview
North Hall at West Hall
St. Francis at Towns County
Union County at Rabun County
White County at Dawson County

Nov. 2
Banks County at North Hall
Buford at East Hall
Dawson County at Fannin County
Elbert County at Jackson County
Habersham Central at Mill Creek
Loganville at Gainesville
Lumpkin County at Lanier
Monroe Area at Chestatee
Riverside at Jefferson
Social Circle at Union County
Towns County at Lakeview
West Hall at White County

Nov. 9
Banks County at White County
Chestatee at Madison County
Commerce at Pinecrest Academy
Dawson County at West Hall
East Hall at Fannin County
Gainesville at Flowery Branch
Greene County at Riverside
Hebron Christian at Towns County
Jackson County at Morgan County
North Hall at Buford
Stephens County at Lumpkin County
Union County at Jefferson

Jefferson’s upset win over seventh-ranked Washington-Wilkes on Friday did more than send a message to the rest of the state — it also set up a showdown between Region 8-AA’s two frontrunners at the midway point of the season.

The Dragons, who used dominating defense and a balanced offense to pick apart Washington-Wilkes 31-0, will face upstart Rabun County on Friday in Tiger. Both teams are 2-0 in region and 4-1 overall.

Though Friday’s win was somewhat unexpected, Jefferson has been on a tear since its heartbreaking loss to rival Commerce in the opening week of the season. The Dragons have won four straight since then, dealing North Hall its only loss of the season and crushing Greene County last week, 62-26. Three of the four teams Jefferson has beaten have winning records on the season.

But competing near the top of the region isn’t new for the Dragons, who have missed the playoffs only once since 2000.

Rabun County, on the other hand, is entering unfamiliar territory. In their first year under former Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw, the Wildcats are off to their best start since 1999 and have already equaled their win total from the last two years combined.

Not surprisingly for a Shaw-coached team, Rabun County is finding success with it spread option offense, averaging 34.6 points per game.

The Wildcats can expect a stiff challenge from the Dragons, who held Washington-Wilkes’ high-powered attack to 109 yards of total offense. The Tigers entered the game averaging 42 points per game.

THREE TIED ATOP 7-AAA: Since losing to Jefferson, North Hall has looked nearly unstoppable, bulldozing its way to 107 points and 797 rushing yards in wins over Dawson County and East Hall.

Friday night’s 60-12 win over the Vikings was the Trojans’ highest offensive-output since 2007, when a similarly multi-faceted running game led North Hall to the state semifinals.

The Trojans’ 2-0 start in Region 7-AAA play leaves them tied atop the standings with White County and Buford, who will square off this week in Cleveland.

Both the Warriors and Wolves are battle-tested. Buford defeated Elbert County, a state quarterfinalist last season, in the opening week before falling to Gainesville (No. 7 in Class AAAAA), 19-15. Since that rare regular-season loss, the Wolves have won three straight by a combined score of 167-0, and Gainesville remains the only team to score a touchdown against Buford this season.

White County had Friday off to prepare for the Wolves’ visit and try to get healthy. The Warriors absorbed a hard-fought, 21-19 loss to 10th-ranked Blessed Trinity on Sept. 21, and played East Hall the following week without starting quarterback Will Brock or standout linebacker/running back Dalton Whitfield. Despite the injuries, the Warriors won, 41-12.

STILL ON PACE: When both Flowery Branch and Gainesville took losses in the opening week of the season, some of the luster was seemingly knocked off one of the most anticipated games of the season — the Falcons’ and Red Elephants’ date in the regular season finale.

A few weeks later, though, and the Hall County-based teams are alone atop the Region 8-AAAAA standings.

Gainesville has won five straight and is scoring almost 54 points per game in region play in its first season in Class AAAAA. Flowery Branch’s margins haven’t been quite as overwhelming, but the Falcons, who finished in a three-way for the Region 8-AAAA championship last season, have picked up where they left off, winning four in a row since region play began.

But there’s still a long way to go before the Hall County rivalry is renewed on Nov. 9.

Flowery Branch faces dates against Heritage (Oct. 19) and Clarke Central (Oct. 26) — the teams it split the region title with last year — while Gainesville’s game against Clarke Central looms large on Oct. 19.

Regional events