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High school football: Week 11 previews
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Region title game finally here for Gainesville

Flowery Branch one win from first region title

North Hall at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Purple Pit, Monroe

Radio: 1330-AM, 102.9-FM

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Monroe Area, Matt Fligg

Records: North Hall (4-5, 3-2 Region 8-AAA North); Monroe Area (7-2, 3-1 Region 8-AAA South)

Key players: North Hall, RB/LB Imani Cross (6-2, 230 Sr.), FB Caleb Faulkner (5-9, 175 Jr.), WB/CB Eli Gilmer (5-11, 175 Sr.). Monroe Area, FS Darius Blackwell (5-11, 175 Sr.), QB Floyd McCoy (5-8, 180 Sr.), OL Gunter Hester (5-10, 205 Sr.).

Outlook: The Trojans began the season with three consecutive losses against difficult opponents before reeling off four wins to get back to a winning record. In their last two, however, they have lost to a surprising Franklin County team and Stephens County, both at home.
The winner of tonight's game between the No. 2 seed Monroe Area and third-seeded North Hall advances to the Class AAA state playoffs. No matter what happens in the other play-in games, North Hall will be a four-seed if it advances to the playoffs.
Seizing the opportunity, however, will require them to limit the costly errors that have played them in recent weeks.
Last week against Stephens County, North Hall lost three fumbles in the first half and dropped two interceptions that, according to Christmas, should have been touchdowns for his team.
The Trojans will also need to do a better job of establishing the line of scrimmage and getting their running game, which they rely so heavily on, going. Last week, top running backs Cross and Faulkner combined for just 136 yards on the ground, far below their season average of 232.
These will be keys to combatting a Monroe Area team that, while not prolific on offense, remains extremely consistent on a weekly basis. It has topped 40 points twice this season, but averages around 30 per game. It has shut out its last two opponents (West Hall and Johnson), but struggled early in both contests.
North Hall, which has faced a number of injuries all season, will see the return of Andrew Smith, a key to the North Hall secondary with three interceptions on the year, tied for the area lead with teammate Wade Phillips.
Prediction: NORTH HALL. Monroe Area has been the better team this year, but the Trojans' strong ground game will be the difference tonight.

Elbert County at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Elbert County, Sid Fritts; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: Elbert County (8-1, 5-1 Region 8-AA South); East Hall (5-4, 3-2 Region 8-AA North)

Key players: Elbert County, RB Tyshon Dye (6-2, 180 Jr.), FB Demetrious Sanders (5-11, 190 Sr.), QB/FS Hunter Blackmon (5-9, 160 So.). East Hall, RB/DB Jamond Witt (5-10, 173 Sr.), OL/DL Jeffery Howard (6-1, 235 Sr.), QB Cameron Davis (5-10, 175 So).

Outlook: This game pits the North's No. 3 seed East Hall against the South's No. 2 Elbert County in one of the two region play-in games. If East Hall advances to the state playoffs, it becomes a No. 4 seed, while Elbert County would be a third seed.
The teams already played once this season, with Elbert County handing the Vikings their worst loss of the season, 48-0 on Sept. 9 at The Granite Bowl in Elberton.
Momentum, however, favors East Hall, which is coming off of a 34-17 win over North champs Banks County last Friday. The Blue Devils are looking to recover from their first loss of the season, a 16-7 loss to South champs North Oconee.
This game features two 1,000-yard rushers. East Hall senior Jamond Witt has carried the ball 98 times and compiled 1,083 yards and 14 touchdowns. Elbert County senior Tyshon Dye has rushed for 1,275 yards and 17 touchdowns on 155 carries.
East Hall averages 24 points scored per game on offense, while Elbert County averages 31. The Blue Devils have averaged just over 281 yards rushing per game this season, and the Vikings have averaged just over 252.
The Elbert County defense has allowed just 97 yards rushing per game and 167 total.
Prediction: ELBERT COUNTY. The Vikings are improved from the last meeting, but not enough to defeat one of Class AA's top teams.

Chestatee at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: Chestatee (3-6, 0-5 Region 8-AAA North), Johnson (0-9, 0-5 Region 8-AAA South)

Key players: Chestatee, DE Garrett Bennett (5-10, 205 Sr.), RB Quan Clark (5-10, 180 Jr.), QB Jordan Degraff (6-2, 170 Jr.). Johnson, RB/LB Cedric Harris (6-1, 175 Jr.), OL/DL Adrian Madera (5-11, 310 Sr.), LB Jose Martinez (6-2, 230 Jr.).

Outlook: It's been a very frustrating season for both teams, but for very different reasons. Johnson has been hampered by its offense and hasn't scored more than 21 points in a game all year. Meanwhile, the War Eagles' defense has allowed an average of 39 points per game during its current six-game losing skid. Both are the sixth seed from their respective subregion and this will be the final game of the season.
Chestatee is now on a 12-game losing streak in subregion play, which will carry over to the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Johnson is looking to avoid its first winless season since 1998.
Despite the team struggles, there have been some strong individual efforts. Johnson's Harris is third in the area with 1,230 rushing yards and leads the Knights with 69 tackles, including two forced fumbles.
Bennett is Chestatee's leader on defense with 80 tackles and three sacks.
Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles' defense is strong enough to slow down Johnson's running game.

Lumpkin County at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: Lumpkin County (5-4, 2-3 Region 8-AAA North); West Hall (2-7, 2-3 Region 8-AAA South)

Key players: Lumpkin County, FB/DT Lee Cagle (5-10, 185 Sr.), RB/WR/CB Ian McIntosh (5-10, 185 Sr.), QB/DB Gunner Wood (5-10, 165 Fr.). West Hall, QB Chandler Newton (6-1, 190 So.), LB/FB Turk Taylor (5-11, 215 Sr.), OL/DL Blake Manning (6-5, 315 Jr.).

Outlook: Both teams had their playoff hopes dashed by three-game losing streaks down the stretch. Lumpkin County lost three straight in subregion play, including a head-to-head loss to North Hall, giving the Trojans the No. 3 slot for the region play-in. During that stretch, Lumpkin County failed to score more than a touchdown in losses to Franklin County, North Hall and Stephens County.
However, the Indians managed to turn things around last week. Led by McIntosh's four rushing touchdowns last Friday, the Indians pulled out a 41-18 win against Chestatee.
Meanwhile, West Hall rounded out subregion play with three consecutive losses and hasn't scored in either of its last two games. The Spartans were still in the running for a region play-in spot heading into last Friday, but came up short with a 41-0 loss to Gainesville.
McIntosh is Lumpkin County's leader in rushing with 946 yards (13 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. Indians senior quarterback Logan Moye has 413 yards (5 per attempt). Cagle (107) and Wood (96) are the Indians' leading tacklers.
For West Hall, Newton stands at 998 passing yards. Taylor is the leader on defense with 82 tackles.
Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians have the superior running game and finish with back-to-back wins.

Buford at Blessed Trinity

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Blessed Trinity, Tim McFarlin

Records: Buford (9-0, 3-0 Region 6A-AA); Blessed Trinity (6-3, 5-0 6B-AA)

Key players: Buford, OL/DL Vadal Alexander (6-6, 340 Sr.), TE/LB Dillon Lee (6-5, 240 Sr.), RB/LB Andre Johnson (5-11, 220 Sr.). Blessed Trinity, RB/DB Jordan Denson (Jr.), QB/LB Spencer McManes (Jr.), RB/LB Liam Walsh (Sr.).

Outlook: This game is a rematch of the season opener which Buford won 42-0. The winner tonight will be crowned the Region 6-AA champion and awarded a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs.
On paper, not much should be different in this game. Buford's defense has been remarkable all season, allowing an area-best 3.9 points per game this year. In fact, the Wolves have allowed points in just four games, including a season-high in a 59-14 win over Decatur.
While the defense gets the headlines, the offense has been consistent and balanced all year as well. Johnson leads the team in rushing with 653 yards (9.1 per carry) and 12 touchdowns. Six other rushers have recorded 100 yards this season, and 13 different rushers have scored touchdowns.
The Wolves protect the football well. While passing attempts are limited, quarterback Sam Clay has thrown nine touchdowns to just one interception this season.
For Blessed Trinity, just being in this game is an improvement from its 1-3 start this season. The team has won five consecutive games behind strong defense, allowing just 12.4 points per game in that span.
But a win over Buford tonight will require much more than that. The Wolves are going for their fifth consecutive state title, and this is perhaps the strongest of those five teams.
Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves are one of the best teams in the state and will look the part tonight.

Rockdale County at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Rockdale County, Mike Etheridge; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham

Records: Rockdale County (1-8, 1-8 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (5-4, 5-4)

Key players: Rockdale County, RB Deon Holder (Sr.), DE Larry Jones (Sr.), LB Nick Coggins (5-10, 185 Sr.). Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-1, 180 Sr.), DB Coleman Cunningham (5-11, 170 Sr.), FB/DE Patrick Burns (6-1, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: A win for Habersham Central tonight keeps things clean and simple; a loss, and things could get messy.
The Raiders are currently in sole possession of fourth place and Region 8-AAAA's final playoff spot, but there's a crowd behind them hoping for a Rockdale County upset.
Salem has already finished its season at 5-5, while Apalachee, Loganville and Cedar Shoals are all tied at 4-5. Apalachee and Loganville will play tonight, knocking the loser out of contention, while Cedar Shoals will take on winless Winder-Barrow. If Habersham Central slips up, a four-way tie is a distinct possibility.
But the Raiders can eliminate all the guesswork and tiebreakers by taking care of business against Rockdale County and locking up their first playoff bid since 2007, when current University of Georgia receiver Tavarres King led Habersham Central to the state quarterfinals.
The unquestioned leader of this year's team is Ellison, who has racked up 1,786 rushing yards, 870 passing yards and accounted for 36 combined touchdowns in a stellar senior campaign. With Ellison at the helm of the triple option, the Raiders lead the area with 338 rushing yards per game. They'll be looking to exploit a Rockdale County defense that allowed 376 rushing yards last week in a 44-0 loss to Clarke Central.
Habersham Central's defense has had its own problems, yielding 45 points or more in each of the last three games.
Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. Ellison and the Raiders will find plenty of running room on their way to a state playoff berth.

Jefferson at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Jefferson, T. McFerrin; Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: Jefferson (7-2, 4-2 Region 8-AA South); Dawson County (5-4, 4-1 Region 8-AA North)

Key players: Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-3, 200 Jr.), DE Carson Newman (6-0, 200 Sr.), RB Tristen Jackson (5-9, 190 So.). Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-5, 185 Jr.), RB/LB Zack Martin (5-10, 190 Jr.), WR Bruce Clark (6-4, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: This is one of the play-in games for Region 8-AA, with the South's third seed Jefferson traveling to the North's No. 2 Dawson County. The winner will advance to the playoffs as either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, depending on the outcome of the other play-in game.
The seedings may indicate the Tigers are the favorite, but the Dragons have already defeated Dawson County 42-14 in Dawsonville on Sept. 9.
The rematch will feature some difference, however, as both teams have gone through personnel changes.
The key players, however, are the same, as two dual-threat quarterbacks will once again face off.
Dominy is third in the area with 1,797 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions on 127 of 202 passing.
Shirreffs is fourth with 1,539 yards, 18 touchdowns and just one interception, while completing 102 of 166 throws.
Both have a dominant running back to feed the ball. Martin has carried the ball 187 times for the Tigers, compiling 1,061 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jackson has carried the ball 104 times for 815 yards and five scores.
The edge on defense goes to Jefferson with Newman leading the area with 22 tackles for loss and 106 tackles overall. Linebacker Wesley Simonton has 98 tackles for a Dragons defense that has allowed just 19 points per game.
Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons have already shown that they can defeat the Tigers in Dawsonville.

North Oconee at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Leopard Stadium, Homer

Coaches: North Oconee, Terry Tuley; Banks County, Philip Jones

Records: North Oconee (9-0, 6-0 Region 8-AA South); Banks County (7-2, 4-1 Region 8-AA North)

Key players: North Oconee, OL Joseph Scelfo (6-1, 280 Sr.), QB Blake Gaubert (6-2, 210 Sr.), RB David Pinkerton (5-9, 175 Sr.). Banks County, QB Tyler Hubbard (5-9, 150 Jr.), TB Dean Ewing (6-1, 200 Sr.), WR/DB Marquaze Maddox (6-0, 165 Sr.).

Outlook: Having already matched the program's best win total since 1997, Banks County needs an upset of the seventh-ranked Titans to bring home the first region title in more that 50 years of Leopards football.
North Oconee, riding high after a 17-6 win over previously unbeaten Elbert County last week, has other plans. The Titans, who launched their football program in 2004, are also seeking their first region title and their first 10-win season.
North Oconee presents a number of challenges for the Leopards, including a run-first offense that averages more than 400 yards of total offense per game and a defense that has posted four shutouts on the season. The Titans have been especially strong lately, limiting opponents to nine points in the last four weeks.
Offensively, North Oconee is led by Pinkerton (773 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) and Kawon Bryan (741 yards, 12 touchdowns). Gaubert keeps defenses with honest with 961 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Banks County will need to shore up the holes in its defense that East Hall exposed last week while rushing for 286 yards in a 34-17 win over the Leopards.
In the two seasons of its current setup, the North holds a 16-4 advantage in crossover games against the South, including a 6-1 record this season.
Prediction: NORTH OCONEE. The Titans have proven to be the best team in the tougher subregion.

Prince Avenue at Riverside

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Prince Avenue, Mark Farriba; Riverside, Sheldon Ward

Records: Prince Avenue (9-0, 5-0 Region 8-A); Riverside (1-8, 1-4)

Key players: Prince Avenue, QB/CB Carl Mattox (5-10, 155 Jr.), RB/DB Rob Farriba (6-0, 165 Jr.), OL/DL Jason Shivar (6-1, 250 Sr.). Riverside, DL Marlan Edwards (6-2, 212 Sr.), K/P/DL Victor Salcido (5-11, 222 Sr.), OL/LB John-Mark MacFarlane (5-10, 176 So.).

Outlook: After a shutout of Social Circle on Sept. 9, the Eagles have loss three straight by an average score of 40-4.
Winning will get no easier as the undefeated Region 8-A champions come to Gainesville tonight. The Wolverines defense has pitched five shutouts this season.
The program is also coming off of its first wins over rival Athens Christian and Commerce.
One of the biggest threats the Wolverines pose to Riverside will be their wing-T running attack led Farriba. Through nine games, he has 903 yards and six touchdowns on 118 carries, which is more yards than the entire Eagle offense this season.
With a dominating defense and an offense which focuses on ball control, Riverside has a tough task at hand.
Prediction: PRINCE AVENUE. The Wolverines complete a perfect regular season.

White County at Walnut Grove

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Walnut Grove Community Stadium

Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; Walnut Grove, O.J. Soto

Records: White County (2-7, 1-4 Region 8-AAA North); Walnut Grove (2-7, 1-4 Region 8-AAA South)

Key players: White County, RB/DB Ryan Kennedy (5-11, 180 Sr.), RB/LB Dalton Whitfield (6-1, 220 So.), QB Will Brock (6-2, 190 Jr.). Walnut Grove, OL Jay Weldon (6-0, 225 Sr.), QB Jonah Guinn (6-0, 190 Sr.), RB Tyler Bennett (6-0, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: After a 9-3 season, spot in the region title game and trip to the second round of the state playoffs last year, 2011 has been a bit of a disappointment for the young Warriors.
But, while it would be easy to consider this a rebuilding season, White County has still progressed as the year went along.
This year, White County has lost a couple of close games, a 28-27 loss to East Jackson and a 27-24 loss to Oconee County that could have easily gone the other way.
In its last four, it has also put forth strong defensive performances against North Hall, Stephens County, Chestatee and last week against Franklin County. It won just one of those games (35-0 against Chestatee), but it showed signs of improvement in each.
This week, it will play a Walnut Grove team that has struggled on offense for much of the season. Just twice has it scored more than 21 points, both in wins. In its losses, Walnut Grove has averaged just 9.1 points per game.
That doesn't bode well against White County's defense.
This will be the first time the two teams have met in each school's history.
Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The defense will rule the game and White County will end its difficult season with a win.

Social Circle at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Social Circle, David Seawright; Commerce, Marvin Justice

Records: Social Circle (1-8, 1-4 Region 8-A); Commerce (3-6, 2-3)

Key players: Social Circle, LB/OL Kyle McCaleb (5-8, 175 Sr.), DL/OL Shawn Rakestraw (5-9, 220 Sr.), QB/DB Michael Hightower (5-11, 170 Sr.). Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-1, 200 Sr.), FB/LB Chance McClure (6-0, 215 So.), LB/K Josh Swistak (6-0, 200 Sr.).

Outlook: Commerce is just a win away from clinching a playoff bid for the 15th consecutive season. The Tigers are currently tied for fourth place with Athens Christian, a half game behind Athens Academy. In the event of a three-way tie, Athens Academy would be slotted third, followed by the Tigers in fourth.
But first Commerce needs a win against Social Circle, whose only win this season came via forfeit.
The Redskins have struggled all season, scoring just 31 total points and getting shutout five times.
The Tigers have had their own offensive problems this year, topping 14 points just twice in back-to-back 41-0 and 42-0 wins over Athens Christian and Riverside, respectively. Taking on the region's top teams in consecutive weeks, Commerce enters tonight's game on a three-week slide.
The Tigers will try to get back in the win column by exploiting a Redskins defense that yields nearly 38 points per game. Quarterback Cody Streetman (744 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns) leads the Tigers' triple option offense.
Prediction: COMMERCE. The Tigers have struggled against the region's top tier, but won't have any trouble wrapping up a playoff berth against the last-place Redskins.

Jackson County at Rabun County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger

Coaches: Jackson County, Billy Kirk; Rabun County, Danny Durham

Records: Jackson County (2-7, 1-5 Region 8-AA South), Rabun County (3-6, 1-4 Region 8-AA North)

Key players: Jackson County, RB Dustin Scott ( Jr.), MLB Andy Williams (5-11 210, Sr.), QB Kyle Daniel (6-2 195, Jr.). Rabun County, RB Dyllon Crabtree (6-2, 215 Sr.), DL/WR Dillon Bleckley (6-1, 192 Sr.), QB Wes Holcombe (So.).

Outlook: While this year has been a bit of a turnaround for Rabun County, Jackson County has taken a step back and will miss the playoffs for the 20th straight season. The Wildcats are going for their fourth win, a nice ending potentially after five straight one-win seasons.
Both are the No. 6 seed from their subregion, which means this is the final game of the regular season for both.
Last week, Jackson County's Scott had 236 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-13 loss to Hart County. Hurting Jackson County most during subregion play was a defense that allowed 32 points per outing.
On the other side of Region 8-AA, Rabun County's only win was 35-21 against Fannin County on Oct. 7. Lately, offense has been a concern for the Wildcats with only a touchdown in each of its last two outings.
Prediction: JACKSON COUNTY. The Panthers finish the season the way it started: With a win.

Hart County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Hart County, Joby Scroggs; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Hart County (5-4, 3-3 Region 8-AA South); Union County (3-6, 2-3 Region 8-AA North)

Key players: Hart County, RB/LB Stephon Eades (6-0, 200 Sr.), RB/DB K.J. Moore (So.), LB/RB Deonte Allen (Sr.). Union County, QB T Bentley (6-0, 190 Jr.). RB/LB Jonathan Hughes (5-10, 170 Jr.), LB Ian Petkevich (6-0, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: This game is the final of the year for both teams and is also a rematch from earlier in the season. Hart County beat Union County 36-7 at Pete Herndon Stadium on Sept. 9 in Hartwell.
Both teams come into tonight's game with momentum.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season with wins over Oglethorpe County and Jackson County to grab the No. 4 spot in the South. Eades rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the win against the Patriots.
The Panthers snapped a six-game losing streak with wins against Rabun County and Fannin County to snatch the No. 4 spot in the North.
Hart County has averaged 24 points scored on offense and has allowed an average of 23 on defense. Union County has the better defense, allowing just 21 points per game, but the offense struggled at just 14 points per contest.
The Bulldogs need a win tonight to avoid their first non-winning season since 2002, a 5-5 season. Since then the Bulldogs averaged eight wins per season through 2010.
Prediction: HART COUNTY. This may be a down year for the Bulldogs, but they have already shown that they can defeat the Panthers.

Towns County at Hebron Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Dacula

Coaches: Towns County, Kyle Langford; Hebron Christian, Sal Battaglia
Records: Towns County (1-8); Hebron Christian (4-5)
Key players: Towns County, QB Jackson Noblet (5-11, 185 So.), WR Zack Stroud (6-1, 170 Sr.), TB Noah Calhoun (5-10, 170 Sr.). Hebron Christian, QB/WR/DB Lew Stephens (5-10, 170 Sr.), LB Tyler Smith (6-1, 195 Sr.), RB/DB Xavier Railey (5-10, 160 Sr.).

Outlook: Both teams enter tonight's game looking to avoid their respective program's worse finishes in four years.

With a win the Indians would prevent the team's worst finish since an 0-10 campaign in 2007, Langford's first season in Hiawassee. Towns has lost its last three games by a combined score of 97-25.
The Lions will finish with their worse record since they started playing a 10-game varsity season. Hebron Christian set up high expectations as they went 9-1 last year. They are on the right track heading into the offseason after a slow start, winning three of their last five games.
Prediction: HEBRON CHISTIAN. The Lions have turned a corner and keep the winning streak alive.



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