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High school football: Week 5 previews
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Holloway: Flowery Branch's success not a surprise

Game of the Week: Falcons ready for Rockdale County

North Hall at Walnut Grove

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadium, Walnut Grove

Radio: 102.9 FM

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Walnut Grove, Harris Rainbow

Records: North Hall (1-2, 0-0 Region 8A-AAA); Walnut Grove (0-3, 0-0 8B-AAA)
Key players: North Hall, QB Kanler Coker (6-4, 195 Jr.), WR C.J. Curry (6-2, 190 Sr.), RB/LB Mack VanGorder (5-11, 195 Sr.). Walnut Grove, QB Daniel Kemp (Fr.), LB D.J. Brooks (Sr.), RB/WR/QB Micah Reed (Jr.).

Outlook: The Trojans lost 20-13 to Gainesville last Friday at The Brickyard but still managed 245 yards off offense without starting running back Imani Cross.

While Cross most likely won’t return for another week, Christmas should be welcoming back tight end D.J. Miolen. That adds another weapon for Coker to throw to and should improve an air attack that already features Curry, who has eight catches for 177 yards and a touchdown. Curry is averaging 22.1 yards per catch and has been a necessary option for Coker, especially with a running game that doesn’t feature a single player with more than 150 yards this season.

This will be the fourth varsity game in school history for Walnut Grove, and already the Warriors are plagued by injuries. Starting quarterback Jonah Guinn went down in last week’s 28-3 loss to Franklin County.

Guinn’s backup, Ron Harris, is also injured, so Walnut Grove has had to turn to Kemp in hopes that the freshman can manage the offense.

As of Wednesday, it was unclear whether or not Guinn would be able to play.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. Despite giving up 30 points per game this season, the Trojans defense will still be strong enough to keep Walnut Grove out of the end zone for the third straight game.

Buford at Lovett

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Atlanta

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Lovett; Mike Muschamp

Records: Buford (3-1, 0-0 Region 6A-AA), Lovett (2-1, 0-0 Region 6B-AA)

Key players: Buford, QB Alex Ross (6-2, 198 Sr.), RB/FS Seon Jones (5-9, 178 Sr.), TE/DE Dillon Lee (6-4, 228 Jr.). Lovett, QB Hunter Budd (6-2, 187 Sr.), DB/WR Thomas Patton (6-1, 178 Sr.), RB/DB Zach Boden (5-11, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: Now that these teams are on opposite sides of the region, tonight’s game might be a preview of the Region 6-AA championship game in the final week of the regular season.

The Wolves are coming off a convincing win against Therrell last Friday, while Lovett is two weeks removed from its last game, a 41-21 win against Callaway.

Buford is led by the passing of Ross with 528 yards and five touchdowns. Seon Jones is the Wolves’ leading rusher with 280 yards and 5.8 yards per carry.

For Lovett, Budd has passed for 435 yards with five touchdowns and rushed for five touchdowns.

During the regular season in 2009, Lovett defeated Buford en route to the Region 6-AA title, even though the Wolves eventually won the state championship.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves go on the road and earn revenge for last year’s loss during the regular season.

Chestatee at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Legion Field, Monroe

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Monroe Area, Matt Fligg

Records: Chestatee (2-1, 0-0 Region 8A-AAA); Monroe Area (3-0, 0-0 Region 8B-AAA)

Key players: Chestatee, QB Scott Chewning (5-10, 170 Sr.), WR/DB Pearce Gruenenfelder (6-0, 155 Jr.), LB Daniel Moreno (5-11, 180 Sr.). Monroe Area, QB Demond Smith (6-2, 180 Sr.), DE Stephon Tuitt (6-5, 260 Sr.), TE/DE Kendarious Whitehead (6-3, 215 Jr.).

Outlook: This game is a matchup of past versus present at Chestatee High. Luttrell has been the head of the War Eagles for five seasons now, while Fligg was the one who the started the program in 2002. This is the first time that Fligg has faced his former school.

“I enjoyed all four years at Chestatee,” Fligg said. “We started that program from scratch starting all of those freshman and sophomores and took the lumps of playing a varsity region schedule.

“But that was the best feeling I’ve had as a coach, seeing those kids persevere, caring and working together to make the playoffs.”

After a loss to West Hall to start the season, the War Eagles have rebounded nicely with big wins against Johnson and Dawson County.

Chewning is one of the area’s leading passers with 499 yards for the War Eagles, Quan Clark leads the running game with 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Gruenenfelder is the leading receiver with 207 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, Moreno leads the team with 31 tackles and an area-high nine tackles for a loss.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have been dominating on defense and allowed only 13 points in three games.

Monroe Area is led by a big pair of defensive ends Whitehead and Tuitt, a Notre Dame commit.

Prediction: MONROE AREA. Too much size on the Hurricanes roster for a young Chestatee squad to contend with.

Gainesville vs. Franklin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park, Gainesville

Radio: 1240 AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Franklin County, Tommy Welch

Records: Gainesville (2-1, 0-0 Region 8B-AAA); Franklin County (2-0-1, 0-0 8A-AAA)

Key players: Gainesville, LB A.J. Johnson (6-3, 235 Sr.), QB Deshaun Watson (6-1, 170 Fr.), DT Thomas Niles (6-2, 265 Sr.). Franklin County, QB Kevin Harris, LB Seth Strickland, DB/RB Kyle Harrison.

Outlook: For those not at the Brickyard last week, it’s apparent that the Red Elephants are content with getting a lead, and then turning the game over to Johnson at quarterback in a wildcat-style offense.

The do-it-all linebacker’s ability to bowl over a defense led to nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns against North Hall, and if this game is close, Johnson will more than likely be handed the ball again.

What makes matters worse for teams like the Lions is Johnson still plays defense, and his 19 tackles last week just added to an already impressive individual effort.

But the Red Elephants aren’t just Johnson, and they’ll need more tonight in the final tuneup before subregion play begins next week.

Franklin County comes in winners of two straight and employ a run-first offense similar to Georgia Tech’s option attack. Leading the offense is Harris, who had 156 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries against Commerce two weeks ago.

The Lions also have a stable of running backs capable of wearing down the Gainesville defense.

Franklin County’s defense will be tested by Watson and the Gainesville receiving corps.

The freshman signal caller is second in the area with 569 yards and has two receivers (Keontra Harrison and Michael Lorentz) who are averaging more than 13 yards per catch. Those two, combined with Stephen Mason’s ability to make plays across the middle, can cause fits for an opponent’s defensive backfield.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. After six straight losses to Franklin County from 1991-1999, the Red Elephants have won the last two meetings by a score of 75-7, including a 41-0 win last year. This year they make it three straight.

Johnson vs. Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: Johnson (0-3, 0-0 Region 8B-AAA); Lumpkin County (2-1, 0-0 8A-AAA)

Key players: Johnson, OL/DL David Harkins (6-0, 280 Sr.), QB Luke Gilleland (5-10, 175 Jr.), TE/DE Cody Lewallen (6-6, 205 Sr.). Lumpkin County, TE/DL B.J. Dorsey (6-3, 220 Jr.), QB Taylor Guthrie (6-5, 190 Sr.), LB Lee Cagle (5-10, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: Two teams headed in opposite directions meet up in this final crossover game before subregion play begins next week.

The Knights have lost their first three contests by more than 16 points per game, including a 36-point loss to Chestatee two weeks ago.

Since then, Johnson has had its off week and should be well rested and prepared to take on an Indians team poised to make a run at the playoffs.

Lumpkin County proved as much with its loss to Monroe Area last week.

The Indians allowed only 10 points to a team that entered the contest averaging 59 points a game.

Although their defense was impressive, the Indians, who have the top defense in the area, struggled offensively, and twice started drives from their 1-yard line.

Prior to last week, the Indians averaged 212.5 yards rushing led the area in points per game (36) and points allowed (seven).

Despite averaging 200 yards rushing, Johnson will be facing the toughest defense so far, as the Indians allow only 75 yards on the ground per game .

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians rebound from their first loss with a big win in Oakwood.

Riverside Military vs. George Walton Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: McGinnis Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Riverside, Chris Cotter; George Walton, Don Williams

Records: Riverside (1-3, 0-0 Region 8-A); George Walton (3-0, 0-0 8-A)

Key players: Riverside, QB Michael Gallup (6-0, 160 Fr.), LB Tarvin Dukes (6-2, 215 Sr.), DE Marlon Edwards (6-2, 225 Sr.). George Walton, RB/DB Justin Brown (Sr.), RB Eric Dobbs (Sr.).

Outlook: Offensive struggles and a lack of a running back forced Cotter to move from a wing-T to a spread offense prior to last week’s loss to Landmark Christian, and the Eagles scored their highest point total all season: 15.

Riverside, which has had 13 days to prepare for the Bulldogs, will need more than that tonight in their region opener against another former member of the Georgia Independent School Association.

The Bulldogs racked up 357 yards and 50 points against Hebron Christian last week, and have won their first three games by an average of 25 points.

George Walton is led by Dobbs, who scored four touchdowns, and Brown, who had an interception and 70- and 90-yard touchdown runs last week.

The extended break between Riverside’s last game should mean more consistency on offense, especially since the Eagles only had three days to install and teach the spread to its young quarterback prior to the loss to Landmark Christian.

Prediction: GEORGE WALTON. The Bulldogs running attack is too much for a team giving up 21.8 points per game.

Hebron Christian at Lakeview Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Hebron Christian, Brian Smith; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Hebron Christian (3-1); Lakeview Academy (1-2)

Key players: Hebron Christian, OL/DL Alex Bruner (5-11, 180 Sr.), OL/DL Ryan Kerr (6-4, 250 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Williams (6-2, 210 Sr.). Lakeview Academy, QB Jackson Wells (6-5, 175 Sr.), RB Nick Drury (5-11, 175 Sr.), OL/DL James Bagwell (5-10, 200 Sr.).

Outlook: After a nice effort moving the ball in a Week 1 win against Fellowship Christian, the Lions have lost their way on offense.

Lakeview Academy posted 29 points in against Fellowship Christian, but it has only scored six points in the two loses since then.

Meanwhile, Hebron Christian is coming off a 50-17 loss to George Walton Academy.

In its first three games this season, Hebron Christian averaged 30 points in wins against Prince Avenue Christian, Southside Christian (S.C.) and Athens Christian.

Prediction: HEBRON CHRISTIAN. The Lions have been fairly stingy on defense, but Hebron Christian has the ability to score too many points.

Jackson County at Elbert County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Granite Bowl, Elberton

Coaches: Jackson County, Billy Kirk; Elbert County, Sid Fritts

Records: Jackson County (2-2, 0-1 Region 8B-AA); Elbert County (3-1, 1-0 8B-AA)

Key players: Jackson County, QB Jalen Banks (6-1, 175 Jr.), LB Kelly Moates (5-11, 190 Sr.), ATH Alex Crawford (5-8, 140, Sr.). Elbert County, WR/LB Tyshon Dye, K Ty Martin, QB Hunter Blackmon.

Outlook: Jackson County quarterback Jalen Banks will make his first start for the Panthers after starting at receiver in the team’s first three games.

Last week against East Jackson, he took over for a struggling offense at the start of the second half and went 18-for-25 for 129 yards and two touchdowns and also led the team in rushing with 82 yards on eight carries. Jackson County ended up losing 29-14.

Elbert County is coming of a dominating 63-0 win over Oglethorpe County, which followed a 48-13 win over East Hall.

The Blue Devils’ only loss was in to Wesleyan, 25-23.

Prediction: ELBERT COUNTY. The Blue Devils have too many offensive weapons and a solid defense.

Madison County at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Madison County, Randell Owens; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham

Records: Madison County (1-3, 1-3 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (0-4, 0-4 8-AAAA)

Key players: Madison County, QB Alex Jordan (6-0, 170 Jr.), RB Cedrick Bush (5-9, 165 Sr.), RB Stan Maxwell (6-2, 185 Sr.). Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-0, 175 Jr.), RB David Griffin (6-0, 180 Sr.), OL Garrett Dutton (5-6, 270 Jr.).

Outlook: The Raiders are still looking for their first win of the season. They’re 0-4 for the first time since 2003, when they finished 2-8.

Last week, they lost 38-14 to Clarke Central. On the season, they have been outscored, 124-42.

Madison County hasn’t played much better, but it has a 22-16 Week 3 victory over winless Winder-Barrow. In the Bulldogs’ three losses, they were outscored 55-16.

Habersham Central leads the all-time series 16-4. Madison County won last year 35-6.

Prediction: MADISON COUNTY. This game will be competitive, but the Bulldogs have enough offensive playmakers to separate themselves.

Towns County at Georgia Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Davenport Field, Milledgeville

Coaches: Towns County, Kyle Langford; Georgia Military, Brad Owens

Records: Towns County (0-4); Georgia Military (2-1, 0-0 Region 7-A)

Key players: Towns County, RB/DB Noah Calhoun (5-10, 170 Jr.), OL/DL Josh Goodwin (5-11, 240 Sr.), WR/DB Billy Meier (5-7, 180 Sr.). Georgia Military, DB Devonta Walker (Fr.), LB Skylar Walker (Jr.).

Outlook: Georgia Military won at Baconton Charter 33-8 last Saturday but still took losses.

As of Wednesday, the Bulldogs will have 14 players who are either out or questionable for tonight’s game.

Because of the injuries, Georgia Military had 12 different players carry the ball last week and this week should be much of the same.

Towns County committed seven turnovers in a 27-7 loss at Hayesville, N.C. last week.

If the Indians want to get their first win of the season, they will have to take care of the football.

Towns County will also need to see Calhoun have a big game running the ball behind an experienced offensive line.

Prediction: GEORGIA MILITARY. Despite having so many players out due to injury, the Bulldogs will use superior athletic ability to defeat the Indians.

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