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High school football previews: Week 5
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Gainesville at Apalachee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: R. Harold Harrison Stadium, Winder

Records: Gainesville (2-1, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAA); Apalachee (0-2)

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Apalachee, Shane Davis

Key players: Gainesville, QB Deshaun Watson (6-3, 190 Sr.); RB Michael Byrd (5-5, 150 Jr.); LB Devan Stringer (5-11, 195 Sr.). Apalachee, RB/DB Jody Mathis (Sr.); OL/DL Roosevelt Crum (Jr.); RB/LB Alante Billings (Sr.).

Outlook: After a tough loss against Buford, Gainesville looks like it’s starting to click on all cylinders with its 68-0 win against Winder-Barrow last Friday to open Region 8-AAAAA play at City Park Stadium. For Apalachee, a loser by lopsided scores to Lanier and Greater Atlanta Christian, this is its first region game of the season.

Last week for the Red Elephants, Watson became the first 10,000-yard passer in state history. He’s now completed 67 of 109 passes in the young season for 883 yards and nine passing scores. Watson has spread his passes around quite well with Jay Gaudlock (22 catches, 340 yards), Rodney Lackey (17 catches, 222 yards) and Chris Williamson (7 catches, 148 yards), some of his favorite targets.

Gainesville running back Michael Byrd can do a little bit of everything with the ball in his hands, catching passes for 191 yards and rushing for 217 more.

On defense, JD Sosebee is leading the way with 38 stops, while safety Chandler Newton is second on the team with 29.


East Hall at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Johnson, Jason Roquemore

Records: East Hall (2-1, 0-1 Region 7-AAA); Johnson (1-3)

Key players: East Hall, OL/LB Abraham Sepulveda (5-8, 175 Jr.); QB Devin Watson (5-11, 170 Jr.); LB Corey Reece (5-10, 185 Sr.). Johnson, OL/DL Devan McClay (6-3, 245 Sr.); RB/DB Luis Hernandez (6-1, 185 Sr.); QB/DB Kavin Hopkins (Jr.).

Outlook: The Vikings have rebounded splendidly since an opening-night Region 7-AAA loss against Dawson County. East Hall has won its last two non-region games by at least 30 points, including a 67-37 win against East Jackson last Friday.

This is the Vikings’ last tune up before jumping back into region competition with a home game against White County on Sept. 27 in Gainesville.

The bread and butter of East Hall’s offense is the precise passing of Watson, who has completed 72 of 105 throws for 886 yards and 11 touchdown passes. Milton Whelchel is his leading receiver with 10 catches and averages 22 yards per reception. On defense, Abraham Sepulveda has stepped up with a team-high 25 stops, seven in the backfield.

Meanwhile, the Knights have struggled since winning against Oglethorpe County on Aug. 30, losing against North Hall and North Murray.


Chestatee at Eastside

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Sharp Stadium, Covington

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Eastside, Rick Hurst

Records: Chestatee (1-1); Eastside (2-1)

Key players: Chestatee, TE/DL Khalil Cantrell (5-10, 260 Sr.); DE/TE Rob Minor (6-1, 250 Sr.); QB Wyatt Burgess (5-11, 155 Sr.). Eastside, QB/DB Demario Terrell (Sr.); RB/LB Jomandi Smith (Sr.); RB/LB Anthony Henderson (Sr.).

Outlook: When Chestatee is moving the ball proficiently, it’s thanks to solid blocking up front and shifty running from a few different running backs.

Senior Zac Cheshire has been the War Eagles’ main ball carrier with 144 yards this season, but their running game has also seen production in two games, primarily from Blake Buffington, Burgess and William Fayson.

Through its first two games, Chestatee has gained 463 rushing yards.

Eastside so far this season has played better on the road, winning its first two at Newton and Jackson. Last Friday, the Eagles lost their home opener to Alcovy, 20-10. Henderson (197 yards, three touchdowns) and (Smith 156 yards, three touchdowns) have accounted for most of Eastside’s rushing yards.

Terrell has completed 50 percent of his throws for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

For Chestatee, tonight’s game signals the start of Region 8-AAAA play and a rematch of a great 57-56 win in double overtime against Eastside last year in Gainesville.


Pinecrest Academy at Lakeview Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field

Coaches: Pinecrest Academy, Todd Winter; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Pinecrest Academy (2-1); Lakeview Academy (0-2)

Key players: Pinecrest Academy, OLB/RB Adam Guard (6-0, 180 Jr.); WR Logan Hamilton (Jr.); P Christopher Bizores (6-0, 185 Sr.). Lakeview Academy, RB Drake Hollander (5-10, 170 Sr.); QB/S Jackson Strickland (5-10, 160 Sr.); LB Patrick Avery (6-1, 210 Sr.).

Outlook: Lakeview Academy hasn’t played in two weeks, giving the young and thin roster that is trying to overcome the graduation of 17 seniors last year some extra time to rest and heal up from the first two games.

The Lions opened the season with losses to Fellowship Christian and Hebron Christian, scoring just a total of 21 points between the two games. Pinecrest Academy is 2-1, riding a two-game winning streak with wins over Cross Keys and Mount Vernon Presbyterian.

For the Lions, the experience level will continue to rise week-to-week. In the loss to Hebron two weeks ago, Hollander led the way with a team-high 89 yards rushing, while Strickland finished with 79 yards rushing.

Defense was an issue for the Lions two weeks ago, as Hebron was able to rack up 336 yards of total offense in the win, including 220 on the ground. Between the two games, Lakeview Academy has surrendered 64 combined points.

Lakeview plays a non-region schedule again this year and will likely join a region in 2014, after the Georgia High School Association reclassifies. Lakeview and Pinecrest might end up in the same region again, as both are currently classified as Region 8-A members.


Washington-Wilkes at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Washington-Wilkes, Robby Robinson; Riverside Military, Gary Downs

Records: Washington-Wilkes (3-0); Riverisde Military (1-1)

Key players: Washington-Wilkes, RB/WR/CB Jalen Turner (5-11, 201 Sr.); QB DeAndre Harris (6-4, 192 So); OLB/RB Tomarkus Young (5-11, 181 Sr.). Riverside Military, MLB John-Mark MacFarlane (5-10, 190 Sr.); RB/CB Raleigh Beougher (5-9, 165 Jr.); FB Joseph Garuba (5-10, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: Coming off a 23-14 victory over Georgia Military College last week, Riverside Military faces the undefeated and sixth-ranked Washington-Wilkes Tigers tonight in Gainesville.

The Tigers hold a 3-0 record and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 33 points per game this season. Last week, the Tigers beat Warren County 41-14.

Riverside is looking to avenge a 60-6 loss to Washington-Wilkes a season ago, a loss that occurred prior to the Eagles switching to a spread offense. Since making the switch before the fifth game last year, the Eagles are averaging 24.2 points per game and now feature an offense capable of putting up big yards. This season, the Riverside defense also seems improved from a unit that surrendered over 33 points a game a season ago. So far this year, Riveside Military is allowing 20 points per game and it forced five turnovers in last week’s win over Georgia Military.

Riverside could be forced to play without starting quarterback Avery Cagle tonight. The senior left last week’s game with an injured shoulder and was replaced by two-year starting quarterback Collin Pettel. In relief last week, Pettell converted a critical third-and-9 on the Eagles’ final drive, setting up his game-winning touchdown run with 1:46 remaining.

Washington-Wilkes features a talented team that has multiple scoring options. Last week, the Tigers led 41-6 at halftime and saw scoring contributions from six different players, including two scores that came on defense. Offensively, the Tigers are a run-first team, racking up 235 yards rushing in their win over rival Lincoln County two weeks ago.


Jackson County at East Jackson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Eagles Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Jackson County, Benji Harrison; East Jackson, Gary Hughes

Records: Jackson County (0-3); East Jackson (1-2)

Key players: Jackson County, WR Xavier Harper 6-0, 185 Sr.); QB Jacob Lewis (6-1, 175 Jr.); WR Ben Brissey (6-3, 195 Sr.). East Jackson, QB Cody Harwick (5-7, 126); RB/LB Tyrek Shelton (5-9, 190 Jr.); OL Justin Akin (6-1, 260 Sr.).

Outlook: Coming off the school’s first playoff appearance since 1992, the expectations were high entering the season for Jackson County. Following an 0-3 start for the Panthers, the school is in jeopardy of losing all the buzz that quickly surrounded the program.

Tonight, the Panthers can get back on track with a win over region and in-county foe East Jackson. Since East Jackson opened, taking students from Jackson County, the Panthers are 1-2 against the Eagles, including a 47-7 win a season ago.

The teams meet in the Region 8-AAA opener for both squads tonight.

Jackson County features an offense that can be explosive. After being shut out by Jefferson two weeks ago, the Panthers bounced back to score 39 in their three-point loss to Athens Christian last week. Lewis threw five touchdowns in the loss, four to Harper.

East Jackson is a program looking to rebuild, after entering this past summer without a coaching staff in place. Despite the late start with its coaching staff, East Jackson started the season with a 14-10 win over Banks County, snapping the school’s 16-game losing sreak, before falling to Commerce (19-7) and East Hall (67-37).


Monroe Area at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: Monroe Area, Matt Fligg; Lumpkin County, Brad Waggoner

Records: Monroe Area (3-0); Lumpkin County (3-0)

Key players: Monroe Area, WR Michael Gallup (6-3, 205 Sr.); QB Stanton Truitt (5-10, 180 Sr.); RB Kwan Brooks (5-9, 175 Sr.). Lumpkin County, RB/S Gunner Wood (5-10, 180 Jr.); QB/P Daniel McCrary (6-1, 175 Sr.); WR/DB Jonathan Gilreath (6-2, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: Brad Waggoner’s era at Lumpkin County hasn’t started as planned. The Indians are 0-3 and are being outscored by their opponents 107-34, and it won’t get any easier tonight when undefeated Monroe Area visits Dahlonega.

The reigning Region 8-AAAA champion Purple Hurricanes are explosive as ever, averaging 47 points per game this season while allowing just 11.6. Monroe Area started the year with wins over Loganville, Winder-Barrow and Oconee County, while Lumpkin County started with losses against Dawson County, White County and West Hall.

Tonight will serve as the region opener for both teams. It is an important game in regards to playoff implications for both teams, as the losing team will have an uphill climb to make the playoffs.


Blessed Trinity at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: White County Stadium, Cleveland

Coaches: Blessed Trinity, Tim McFarlin; White County, Bill Ballard

Records: Blessed Trinity (1-2); White County (3-0)

Key players: Blessed Trinity, QB/FS Chris Keegan (6-3, 200 Sr.); RB/LB Carter McManes (5-11, 195); G/NG Austin Werkheiser (6-1, 150 Sr.). White County, RB/LB Dalton Whitfield (6-3, 230 Sr.); FS/CB/WR Coley Loudermilk (5-11, 180 Sr.); S/WR Will Flowers (5-11, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: White County fell to Blessed Trinity twice in 2012. The Warriors lost to the Titans in the regular season and in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs. Tonight, the Warriors will look to avenge those two losses from last season, while remaining undefeated this season.

If the first three games of the season are any indication, White County should be fine. The Warriors are outscoring their opponents 114-27 this season, including a 48-13 win over Fannin County in the Region 7 opener last week.

Offensively, White County features a potent run attack that racked up 472 yards on 52 carries with seven touchdowns last week. Along with Whitfield and Loudermilk, A.J. Vandiver is a go-to threat for the Warriors. Vandiver finished with 124 yards on 10 carries a week ago.

Tonight’s game for White County will be its final non-region contest of the season and has no playoff implications, but the Warriors are looking to set a precedent moving forward in the season.

Blessed Trinity enters with a 1-2 record and riding a two-game losing streak.


Flowery Branch at Loganville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Red Devil Stadium, Loganville

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Chris Griffin; Loganville, Eric Godfree

Records: Flowery Branch (1-2, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAA), Loganville (1-2, 0-1)

Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Jackson McDonald (6-0, 180 Sr.); OL Andrew Miles (6-5, 280 Sr.); WR/KR A’lencio Graham (5-11, 175 Sr.). Loganville, OL/DL Robert Stanfield (6-3, 285 Sr.); TE/DE Brandon Moncrief (6-2, 210 Sr.); WR/FS Taylor Boss (6-1, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: Flowery Branch has a chance to bounce back from a 0-2 start and reach the .500 plateau, while getting a jump start in the region standings with a win tonight.

The Falcons relied on their running game to beat Cedar Shoals 39-25 in last Friday’s region opener, a new step for their typically pass-heavy offense. Even with starting running back Jeremiah Goss limited to four carries after an injury sidelined him for the majority of the game, gaining ground was not an issue. Jemon Randolph stepped in and rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, Jackson McDonald passed for two scores in the fourth quarter and Flowery Branch totaled a season-best 521 yards of offense.

Loganville looks to rebound from last week’s 27-17 loss to Clarke Central. The Red Devils remained within three until the 3:50 mark of the fourth quarter, when they gave up a touchdown that put a win out of reach.


Commerce at Rabun County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger

Coaches: Commerce, Michael Brown; Rabun County, Lee Shaw

Records: Commerce (2-1), Rabun County (2-0)

Key players: Commerce, QB Drew Whitfield (5-9, 175 Sr.); RB/LB Chance McClure (6-1, 215 Sr.); TE/DL Tony Patman (6-3, 255 Sr.). Rabun County, QB Wes Holcombe (Sr.); WR Alden Wright (6-3, 195 So.); WR/DB Charlie Woerner (6-4, 205 So.).

Outlook: Commerce is faced with the challenge of slowing down a Rabun County team that has outscored opponents 110-20 through its first two games of the season.

Tonight’s game will feature two teams with virtually opposite approaches to offense. The Tigers rely on a triple-option running game that produces long drives and eats up lots of clock time, while the Wildcats prefer a spread-based passing game brought to Rabun County by former Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw.

Both teams enter the game on a two-game winning streak. Commerce picked up a 28-16 road victory against Banks County last week.

Rabun County’s primary passing targets a pair of towering wideouts in Charlie Woerner and Alden Wright.


Towns County at Rabun Gap

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, Rabun Gap

Coaches: Towns County, Blair Harrison; Rabun Gap, Dale Earnhardt

Records: Towns County (0-4); Rabun Gap (2-2)

Key players: Towns County, QB Jackson Noblet (5-10, 205 Sr.); OL/DL Jaryd Gurley (6-2, 303 Sr.); WR/DB Cruz Shook (5-7, 165 Jr.). Rabun Gap, WR/CB Lance Edwards (Sr.); RB/OLB Gerrio Rahming (Sr.); QB Dallas Earnhardt.

Outlook: Towns County enters tonight’s game riding a four-game losing streak to start the season. In the four games, the Indians have been outscored 165-41.

The Indians, who run a Wing-T offense, will look to run the ball at a Rabun Gap defense that allowed 66 points in a season-opening loss to Robbinsville.

Since the loss to start the season, Rabun Gap, which runs a spread offense and has its players competing on both sides of the ball due to small numbers, hasn’t allowed more than 21 points in a game. Last week, Rabun Gap followed up a 38-20 win over Andrews with a 48-0 win over Cherokee.


Mountain View at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Coaches: Habersham Central, Michael Pollock; Mountain View, Doug Giacone

Records: Habersham Central (0-3, 0-1 Region 7-AAAAAA), Mountain View (0-3, 0-1)

Key players: RB Sydnee Mulligan (5-9, 192 Sr.); WR Gunner Hedden (6-0, 156 Sr.); QB Logan Gosnell (5-11, 200 Sr.). Mountain View, QB/DB Crew Peery (6-2, 200 Sr.); WR/CB Kielan Whitner (6-0, 175 Jr.); TE/LB Andrew Mozingo (5-11, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: A pair of 0-3 teams get a chance to notch their first win of the season after troublesome starts.
Both teams are coming off their worst losses of the year last Friday. Habersham Central opened region play with a 55-3 loss to Collins Hill, while Mountain View struggled with Mill Creek in a 42-3 rout.
This week’s matchup has an opportunity to be more evenly-matched, much like it was last year. While the Raiders reached double figures in scoring just three times throughout several lopsided contests a season ago, they managed to put up a fight in a 24-14 loss to the Bears. Habersham Central has already reached the double-digit mark twice this year, but is still chasing down its first win.

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