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High school football: Week 7 previews
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Chestatee at Stephens County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Reservation, Toccoa

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Stephens County, Travis Noland

Records: Chestatee (2-3, 0-1 Region 8A-AAA), Stephens County (4-1, 1-0)

Key players: Chestatee, QB/DB Scott Chewning (5-10, 170 Sr.), WR/DB Brice Beck (6-0, 165 Jr.), LB Daniel Moreno (5-11, 180 Sr.). Stephens County, RB Chaz Thornton (5-10, 160 So.), LB Zach Butler (6-0, 200 Sr.), WR/DB/KR Cassadine Blassingame (6-2, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The War Eagles desperately need a win to stay afloat in the subregion. However, Chestatee is riding a five-game losing streak in subregion play, dating back to a four-game losing streak to conclude the 2009 season in Region 7-AAA.
Last week, Chestatee played close with North Hall the majority of the game. Meanwhile, Stephens County is off to a good start in the subregion thanks to a 10-7 win against Franklin County last Friday.
Thornton is the leader of the Indians’ running game with 800 yards, including a pair of 200-yard outings this season. Blassingame plays all over the place, including wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner. This season, he has kick returns of 91 and 82 yards for touchdowns. Blassingame has a punt return of 71 yards against West Hall, and a 45-yard touchdown reception.
These two teams last met in the first round of the 2005 Class AAA state playoffs, which ended in a 49-0 win by Stephens County.

Prediction: STEPHENS COUNTY. The Indians have will keep the ball moving on the ground and go 2-0 in the subregion.

Gainesville at Oconee County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadium, Watkinsville

Radio: 1240-AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Oconee County, Mitch Olson

Records: Gainesville (4-1, 1-0 Region 8B-AAA), Oconee County (1-4, 0-1)

Key players: Gainesville, LB A.J. Johnson (6-3, 235 Sr.), QB Deshaun Watson (6-1, 170 Fr.), RB Markece Robertson (5-10, 210 Sr.). Oconee County, QB/LB Santonio Brown (6-0, 185 Sr.), RB/WR Davis Aiken (5-9, 165 Jr.), OL/DL Greg Marshall (5-11, 200 Sr.).

Outlook: It’s been two years since No. 9 Gainesville ended Oconee County’s season with a 49-21 win in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs, and the two programs have gone in opposite directions since then.
While the Red Elephants rolled to the state title game last year, the Warriors stumbled to a 3-7 finish that included wins over sub-.500 teams Jackson County, Morgan County and Stephens County. The two teams are also heading in different directions this year, as Gainesville has won four straight since losing to Buford in its home opener and Oconee County has lost four straight since beating East Jackson by three points in the first game of the season.
Gainesville got off to a great start in the subregion by scoring 62 points against Johnson last week, while the Warriors were  shut down by the subregion’s other top team, Monroe Area.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants are starting to prove why they’re ranked in Class AAA’s top 10.

North Oconee at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: North Oconee, Terry Tuley;
Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: North Oconee (5-0, 2-0 8B-AA); Jackson County (3-3, 1-2)

Key Players: North Oconee, RB/DB Lane Thompson (5-0, 172 Sr.), FB/LB Russ
Williams (6-3, 215 Sr.), C Dillan Prather (6-1, 280 Sr.). Jackson County, QB Jalen Banks (6-1, 175 Jr.), ATH Alex Crawford (5-8, 140 Sr.), OL Ben Brown (5-11, 225 Sr.).

Outlook: As tough as the Panthers’ first two subregion opponents have been — they lost to East Jackson 29-14 and Elbert County 54-6 — this could be their stiffest test in a tough 8B-AA.
Jackson County is coming off a 7-0 win over Oglethorpe County (0-6, 0-3), but that will hardly serve as a momentum-builder since they’re facing a team that reached the second round of the playoffs in 2009.
For Jackson County to have a chance, it’ll need to execute more in the passing game, having established itself more in the run game.
This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Prediction: NORTH OCONEE. The Titans are clearly the team to beat in Region 8-AA.

Franklin County at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: J.P. King Memorial Stadium, Dahlonega

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

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

Key players: Franklin County, LB Seth Strickland (5-8, 170 Sr.), QB Kevin
Harris (6-1, 190 Sr.), OL/DL Ben Parten (6-2, 230 Sr.). Lumpkin County, FB/DL
Michael Flanagan (6-2, 230 Sr.), TE/DL B.J. Dorsey (6-3, 220 Jr.), WR/DB Ian McIntosh (5-9, 170 Jr.).

Outlook: Both teams are desperately in need of a win to avoid an 0-2 start in the subregion and fall to the back of the pack in the search of one of the top three spots in the subregion at season’s end.
Trailing 21-0 last week, Lumpkin County mounted a comeback before losing 21-14 against White County in Cleveland. Most of the Indians’ success came behind the running of Flanagan in the second half (99 yards for the night). Dorsey led the Indians on defense with eight tackles.
Meanwhile, Franklin County is coming off its own close contest after falling 10-7 against Stephens County. Before playing Stephens County, the Lions lost 28-7 against Gainesville.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians use a steady run game to get back on track in the subregion.

Riverside Military at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tigers Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Riverside, Chris Cotter; Commerce, Steve Savage

Records: Riverside (1-5, 0-2 Region 8-A); Commerce (2-3, 1-0)

Key players: Riverside, QB Michael Gallup (6-0, 160 Fr.), LB Tarvin Dukes (6-2, 215 Sr.), DE Marlan Edwards (6-2, 225 Jr.). Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-0, 185 Jr.), RB Jesse Savage (5-7, 150 Sr.), LB Josh Swistak (5-9, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: This week’s game between Riverside and Commerce should be an interesting one as it’s the first meeting between these two squads.
After last week’s disappointing loss against Social Circle, failing to hold a 19-3 halftime lead, Riverside comes into this week’s game hungry for its second win of the season. However, this will be no easy task as they face a quarterback in
Streetman, who boasts more total offensive yards than the Eagles’ whole team.
The Eagles will have to find a way to put points on the board if they wish to win tonight’s game against the fourth-ranked defense in the area. Last week, Riverside managed only 109 yards of offense. The Tigers on the other hand, coming off a 49-20 victory against Athens Christian, just need to duplicate last week’s offensive efficiency when Streetman rushed for 159 yards and Davis had three rushing scores.

Prediction: COMMERCE. The Tigers’ offensive threats will be too much for the Eagles defense.

Union County at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: Union County (1-4, 0-1 Region 8A-AA); East Hall (2-3, 1-0)

Key players: Union County, QB/RB Jesse Wright (6-1, 180 Sr.), OL/DL Christian Forney (6-0, 240 Jr.), OL/DL Thomas Herbert (6-6, 240 Sr.). East Hall, RB/DB Jamond Witt (5-7, 160 Jr.), OL/DL Sterling Bailey (6-5, 265 Sr.), DE/RB Chaz Cheeks (6-5, 221 Sr.).

Outlook: With their win last week over Rabun County, the Vikings assured themselves of more than one win in a season for the first time since 2006.
Union County, on the other hand, continues its free fall after a 6-4 season in 2009. The Panthers opened the season with a definitive 40-7 win over Towns County, but have dropped four straight since and have been outscored 131-20, including a 27-0 loss last week to Banks County in the subregion opener.
Witt continues to open eyes in the run game and took over the area rushing lead last week with former leader Jeremy Haley and Flowery Branch on a bye.

Prediction: EAST HALL. The Vikings are cutting down on turnovers while continuing to put up stout offensive numbers. And the defense will be enough to slow a Panthers offensive averaging just 12 points a game.

Flowery Branch at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: John Larry Black Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham
Records: Flowery Branch (5-0, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (2-4, 2-4)
Key players: Flowery Branch, WR Logan Conley (5-11, 175 Jr.), OL Chris Rhodes (6-2, 280 Sr.), OL Brandon Keller (6-2, 285 Sr). Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-0, 175 Jr), LB Tyler Stinespring (6-1, 185 Sr.), OL Garrett Dutton (5-6, 270 Jr.).

Outlook: This game could get ugly for the Raiders. Though they’ve shown improvement after an 0-4 start and have momentum with a two-game win streak — including a 21-0 win last week over Winder-Barrow and a 44-14 clubbing of 8-AAAA cellar-dwelling Madison County — they haven’t fared well against the region’s better teams.
The Raiders lost to Apalachee and and Clarke Central by a combined score of 73-21.
The Falcons are coming to Mount Airy off a bye week, and will look to exploit an inexperienced Raiders defense that continues to struggle after returning just one starter from a season ago.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. The Falcons have too much offense and too much defense. And the bye week doesn’t hurt.

West Hall at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium,

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton;
Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: West Hall (3-2, 1-0 Region 8B-AAA), Johnson (0-5, 0-1).

Key players: West Hall, QB/WR Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Sr.), QB/S Chandler Newton (6-1, 175 Fr.), WR Brandon Fuqua (5-10, 170 Sr.). Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (6-0, 175 So.), DE/P Cody Lewallen (6-6, 205 Sr.), OL/LB Taylor Whitmire (5-10, 240 Sr.).

Outlook: If you like points, this is the game for you. During the past two meetings, the two teams combined for 205 points, including a thrilling 49-45 win by Johnson last year that ended with a failed pass in the end zone that would have resulted in a West Hall win.
This year’s contest will likely feature the same type of scoring, especially on the West Hall side of the ball. The Spartans unveiled a new look in their 48-10 win over Walnut Grove last week, using Newton at quarterback instead of Stephens, who has been a mainstay at the position since his freshman year. The move worked, and Stephens as a wide receiver gives the Spartans a wealth of talent at the position. Along with Fuqua, who leads the team with 35 receptions for 293 yards and four touchdowns, the Spartans have 6-6
William Stroup and Antonio Sigmund, who has 20 receptions for 283 yards. Add those four receivers to a talented running back in Dre Pou, and it’s no wonder the team is scoring 25 points per game.
While the Spartans may boast a slew of offensive weapons, the Knights have arguably one of the best young running backs in the area in Harris. Despite facing the toughest defense he’s seen all year, the sophomore rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Gainesville last week. That was the third time this year
Harris has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau and he has now scored a touchdown or more in four straight games.

Prediction: WEST HALL. The Spartans get revenge from last year’s disappointing loss.

Banks County at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong. Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: Banks County (4-1, 1-0 Region 8A-AA), Dawson County (1-4, 1-0)

Key players: Banks County, RB Dylan Lackey (5-10, 175 Sr.), DE Eli Autry (6-0, 220 Sr.), C Nathan Mathis (5-9, 220 Sr.). Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-4, 165 So.), LB Cody Smith (5-10, 200 So.), RB Zach Martin (6-0, 200 So.)

Outlook: After starting the season 0-4, Dawson County earned its first win of the season last week in a 24-17 win over subregion foe Fannin County. Dominy proved Lee’s preseason statement that the quarterback would turn out to be a big player for Dawson County; the sophomore went 15-for-27 passing with 165 yards and two touchdowns against the Rebels.
The Tigers have been outscored 169-59 so far, but three of their five opponents have been from a higher classification.
Banks County has given up 75 points through five games and managed to score 113, but those numbers may be misleading: three of their five opponents were from Class A. The Leopards defeated Union County 27-0 last week to open their subregion schedule.
With both teams tied at the top of Region 8A-AA, this game could well decide which team is in the playoff hunt come the end of October.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. Too much speed and power from Lackey for Dawson County to combat.

Clarkston at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Clarkston, Jay Rollerson; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Clarkson (0-5, 0-1 Region 6A-AA); Buford (5-1, 1-0)

Key players: Clarkston, DE/RB Dominic Knight (5-10, 170 Jr.), QB/DB Darius
McGuire (6-1, 175 Sr.), OL/DL Nathaniel Paxton (6-2, 230 Sr.). Buford, RB Seon Jones (5-9, 178 Sr.), TD/DE Dillon Lee (6-4, 228 Jr.), WR/DB Eric Barr (5-8, 166).

Outlook: Buford is ranked second in Class AA, with its lone loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Carver-Columbus. Jones has proved to be the Wolves’ workhorse, amassing 71 carries and 620 yards with five touchdowns this season. The senior is averaging 8.7 yards per carry and Buford is averaging almost 38 points per game. That average will likely hold this week against a Clarkston team that is giving up a little more than 27 points per game.
The Angoras are coming off a 14-6 loss to Avondale (2-4, 1-0 Region 6A-AA) last week and currently sit in a tie with Decatur in last place in the subregion. Decatur lost to Buford 42-7 a week ago.

Prediction: BUFORD. Clarkston will have no answer for the Wolves running game.

Oglethorpe County at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Oglethorpe County, Larry Milligan; Jefferson, T McFerrin

Records: Oglethorpe County (0-6, 0-3 Region 8B-AA); Jefferson (2-3, 0-2)

Key players: Oglethorpe County, QB A.J. Hayes (Sr.), DE J.F. Hansford (Sr.), LB/RB Shaq Fleming (So.). Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (So.), RB/DE Zach Allen (6-1, 230 Sr.), LB/RB Chris Jackson (5-11, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: Oglethorpe County has taken a beating in the subregion so far this season, giving up 109 points in just three games.
On the other side, Jefferson has managed to score at least 17 points in each game this season while giving up an average of 22.8. The Dragons lost to North Oconee 35-22 last Friday to fall to 0-2 in the subregion. The 2009 8-AA region champions find themselves in an odd place, looking up in the standings with a lot of work to do to make the region play-in game.
Jefferson is 28-8 all time against Oglethorpe in a series that dates back to 1952. The Dragons are in the midst of a eight-game winning streak over the Patriots, with their last loss coming in 1997.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons will get things going this week. Look for Shirreffs and junior wide receiver Cole Givens to connect early and often.

River Ridge at Lakeview Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: River Ridge, Robert Braucht; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: River Ridge (0-5), Lakeview Academy (1-3)

Key players: River Ridge, QB Jackson Weeg, RB E.J. Ellis, RB Will Redding. Lakeview Academy, RB Nick Drury (5-11, 175 Sr.), OL/LB Stephen Reynolds (5-9, 160 Sr.), LB Mills Rogers (5-11, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: Lakeview Academy was off last week after losing to Hebron Christian 28-19 on Sept. 24 in a game that the Lions kept close throughout. Drury finished the game with 154 yards rushing and two touchdown on 30 carries and quarterback Jackson Wells had 42 yards and a touchdown on the ground while throwing for another 42 yards.
Lakeview committed three turnovers in the game (two fumbles and one interception) and committed nine penalties. If the Lions want to notch a win tonight, they’ll need to cut down on both of those.
River Ridge is only in its second year of competition and has yet to win a game. The Knights are 0-10 all time and are coming off a 16-0 loss to Gordon Lee. Gordon Lee has only scored 26 points total this season, with over half coming against River Ridge.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW ACADEMY. Drury and Wells should be more than enough for Lakeview to get a home win.

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