West Hall won its first game of the season Friday, and in the opening week of subregion play, it couldn't have come at a better time for the Spartans.
After struggling on offense in its first four games, West Hall (1-4, 1-0 8-AAA South) broke loose with a 38-9 win over Walnut Grove, led by a pair of dual-threat skill players.
Sophomore quarterback Chandler Newton had his best game of the season, rushing for 59 yards and completing 7 of 12 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns.
A.J. Stephens, caught two of those scores for a total of 107 yards through the air, to go along with 80 yards rushing.
Despite its lackluster start, the Spartans are still positioned well to play for a postseason bid in the final week of the regular season. West Hall hosts Johnson (0-5, 0-1) on Friday, then travels to Oconee County (2-3, 0-1). A win in both games could land the Spartans in third place in the subregion, at worst.
And the top three is where teams need to be to earn a spot in the region play-in games on Nov. 5, when state playoff berths are decided.
RIVERSIDE ENDS ITS SLIDE: Riverside also earned its first win victory of the season, 21-0 over Social Circle, thanks to a big boost from defense and special teams.
The Eagles (1-5, 1-1 Region 8-A), now under the direction of interim coach Sheldon Ward, field a young team with inexperienced starters at most positions.
Not surprisingly, they've struggled to find any offensive continuity due to turnovers and the lack of an effective running game.
While the ground game struggled again, quarterback Collin Pettell threw a pair of touchdowns to give Riverside some breathing room. They were the first touchdowns scored by the Riverside offense in four games.
But the Eagle defense - which smothered the Redskins running game and special teams - which blocked a field goal that Quentin Young returned 85 yards for a touchdown - deserve a fair share of the credit.
Riverside will need to be sharp in all phases this week when it hosts Commerce (2-3, 1-0). The Tigers have struggled at points in their first year under coach Marvin Justice due to a difficult early-season schedule, but they made a statement Friday with a 41-0 win over Athens Christian in their region opener.
BIG-PLAY BACKS: Few players in the area have shown a penchant for the explosive play like Lumpkin County's Ian McIntosh and East Hall's Jamond Witt.
Both slender speedsters have already scored offensive, defensive and special teams touchdowns this season and reminded opponents again Friday why they're threats to score each time they touch the ball.
McIntosh scored on an 84-yard run and a 44-yard pass in a 31-7 win over White County Friday. For the season, the senior running back/wide receiver is averaging 14.1 yards per carry (44 rushes, 622 yards) and 16 yards per reception (11 catches, 176 yards) with nine total touchdowns.
Season totals weren't available for Witt, but the senior showed his skills in a win against Rabun County on Friday, spearheaded a rushing attack that topped 400 yards.
Witt accounted for 148 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. His only carry of less than 10 yards was a 2-yard touchdown run.
MILESTONES: Habersham Central quarterback Kevin Ellison topped 1,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the season Friday night, leading the Raiders (4-2, 4-2 Region 8-AAAA) to a 54-10 win over Winder-Barrow.
Ellison, who already owns the school's career rushing record, is now up to 1,117 rushing yards on 111 carries (10.1 yards per carry).
After rushing for 280 yards in Friday win over Chestatee, North Hall's Imani Cross is closing in on 1,000. The Tennessee commit is at 961 through just five games.