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High school football: Week 8 previews
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Holloway: Trojans, Red Elephants in battle to stay on top

Game of the week: Gainesville vs. Monroe Area

Heritage at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Heritage, Chad Frazier; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

Records: Heritage (5-2, 5-2 Region 8-AAAA); Flowery Branch (6-0, 6-0)
Key players: Heritage, RB/DB Quami Stanley (Jr.), QB Isaiah Spencer (So.), DB Casey Thomas (Sr.). Flowery Branch, QB Austin Brown (6-1, 195 Sr.), WR Logan Conley (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB Jeremy Haley (5-8, 185 Jr.).

Outlook: The Patriots and Falcons have played four of the same opponents so far this season — Rockdale County, Apalachee, Cedar Shoals and Winder-Barrow.

Flowery Branch beat Rockdale 49-0, Heritage beat them 16-8. Flowery Branch beat Apalachee 52-35, Apalachee beat Heritage 28-14. Flowery Branch beat Cedar Shoals 50-15, Heritage beat them 13-6. Finally, Flowery Branch beat Winder-Barrow 28-0, and last week Heritage barely snuck by them 14-13 in overtime.

These common opponents would indicate Heritage may be heavily overmatched Friday night — especially when considering no team has come within 14 points of the Falcons.

Brown leads the area with 88 completions, 1,405 passing yards and 15 touchdowns with zero interceptions. Conley and Casey Osborne are the area’s No. 1-2 receivers, respectively. Conley has 36 catches, 652 receiving yards and seven touchdowns and Osborne has 28 catches for 488 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Haley is second in the area with 756 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. Too much offense, defense and special teams for the Patriots.

Johnson at Walnut Grove

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadium, Loganville

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Walnut Grove, Harris Rainbow

Records: Johnson (1-6, 1-1 Region 8B-AAA); Walnut Grove (0-6, 0-2)

Key players: Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (So.), OL/DL David Harkins (6-0, 280 Sr.), QB Luke Gilleland (5-10, 175 Jr.). Walnut Grove, RB Dene Phillips (So.), RB Duronta Momon (So.), LB D.J. Brooks (Sr.).

Outlook: From no wins to two wins, that’s what is in store if the Knights beat Walnut Grove.

Fresh off its thrilling, last-second win over West Hall last week, Johnson has every chance to make it two straight against the winless Warriors, who are giving up 35 points per game.

Despite its record, Johnson has shown it can put up points on any defense. The Knights have scored in the double digits since the second game of the season, and scored a season-high 33 points against the Spartans last week. The offensive output is due in large part to Harris, who continued his great year with a 157-yard, three-touchdown game last week. Harris has now rushed for 100 or more yards four times this year and has scored at least one touchdown in five straight games.

Prediction: JOHNSON. The Knights will use the momentum gained from last week’s win to take down the Warriors.

East Hall at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Fannin County, Clark Drennan

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

Key players: 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.). Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (Fr.), WR Ryan Nix (Sr.), RB Garrison Kreis (Sr.).

Outlook: It looks as though 2010 is shaping up to be East Hall’s year. The Vikings have broken a string of three consecutive 1-9 seasons with three wins already and find themselves in the driver’s seat in 8A-AA with a 2-0 record.
And this team is still improving. As of late, they’re not fumbling the ball as much as they were earlier in the season — they fumbled six times against Johnson in the second game of the season — and are playing great as a team.

Prediction: EAST HALL. The Rebels have done a decent job of holding opponents to low scores (save the 55 they surrendered to a North Carolina team), but have yet to face a running back of Witt’s abilities.

Lumpkin County at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; North Hall, Bob Christmas

Records: Lumpkin County (4-2, 1-1 Region 7A-AAA), North Hall (3-3, 1-1)

Key players: Lumpkin County, FB/DL Michael Flanagan (6-2, 230 Sr.), QB Taylor Guthrie (6-4, 190 Sr.), RB/WR/DB Ian McIntosh (5-9, 170 Jr.). North Hall, QB Kanler Coker (6-4, 195 Jr.), RB/LB Imani Cross (6-2, 220 Jr.), TE/DE D.J. Miolen (6-3, 250 Sr.).

Outlook: Both North Hall and Lumpkin County are walking a fine line between being in the thick of the playoff race and falling to the bottom of the pack for the top three spots in the subregion. Each has a loss in the subregion against White County.

Tonight’s winner will stay with the top tier teams in the north subregion with a game against a tough Stephens County squad still to go. Meanwhile, the loser will already have two subregion losses, which makes a playoff run more of a longshot.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians have the ability to pound away in the running game behind Flanagan and McIntosh.

Franklin County at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagles Stadium

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

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

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.). Chestatee, QB/DB Scott Chewning (5-10, 170 Sr.), WR/DB Brice Beck (6-0, 165 Sr.), LB Daniel Moreno (5-11, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: These two teams are both in desperate need of a win to stay in playoff contention. The War Eagles have allowed more than 50 points in each of their subregion losses to North Hall and Stephens County. In two weeks of subregion play, Chestatee has allowed more than 800 rushing yards and 1,000 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, Stephens County had more than 300 rushing yards last week and a combined 450 yards of total offense.

Prediction: FRANKLIN COUNTY. The Lions will score enough points against a young Chestatee defense.

Lakeview at North Cobb Christian

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: North Cobb Christian, Kennesaw

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; North Cobb Christian, Harry Miles

Records: Lakeview (1-4); North Cobb Christian (2-5)

Key players: Lakeview, RB/LB Nick Drury (5-11, 175 Sr.), RB/LB Matt Askounis (5-8, 160 Jr.), OL/DL Logan Jones (5-7, 180 Sr.). North Cobb Christian, DE/FB Chad Smith (6-2, 210 Sr.), WR/RB Corey Harris (5-10, 165 Jr.), LB/FB Grant Titus (5-9, 165 Jr.).

Outlook: For Lakeview, the key to snapping its four-game losing streak could all come down to the third quarter.

The Lions have played well in the other three, outscoring their opponents by a slim margin. But they’ve run into trouble after halftime, having been outscored 40-9 in third quarters this season.

Last week, a 7-7 tie at halftime ended with the Lions on the losing end of a 22-16 score against River Ridge. In the previous game, Sept. 24 against Hebron Christian, Lakeview let a 7-7 halftime tie turn into a 28-19 defeat.

A focus for the Lions this week will be tightening up on defense after surrending more than 300 rushing yards last week, well above their season average.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW. The Lions take a step toward maturity by putting together four quarters of solid football.

Athens Christian at Riverside Military Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Athens Christian, Bill Forman; Riverside, Chris Cotter

Records: Athens Christian (2-4, 1-1 Region 8-A); Riverside Military (1-6, 0-3)

Key Players: Athens Christian, QB Zack Resop (5-9, 170 SR.), RB Anthony Crosby (6-2, 190 Sr.), WR Caleb Sheally (5-8, 155 Jr.); Riverside, QB Michael Gallup (6-1, 160 Fr.), WR Billy McCoy (6-3, 195 Sr.), LB/TE Tarvin Dukes (6-2, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: Usually comparing the records of two teams can give a good hint at who will win the game but that is not true of this matchup.

Both of these teams were beaten by common opponent Commerce, but Athens Christian only managed seven points where Riverside put 21 on the board. Riverside hasn’t won since the first week of the season, but have lost each of the last two games by narrow margins (32-21, 22-19).

Athens Christian has only won two games this season, but one came in a 34-10 victory over Social Circle to make the Eagles 1-1 in Region 8-A. Riverside lost to Social Circle 22-19 on Oct. 1 and are 0-3 in the region.

Prediction: ATHENS CHRISTIAN. Athens Christian has too many playmakers for the Riverside defense to stop.

West Hall vs. Oconee County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; Oconee County, Mitch Olson

Records: West Hall (3-3, 1-1 Region 8B-AAA); Oconee County (1-5, 0-2)

Key players: West Hall, QB Chandler Newton (6-2, 180 Sr.), ATH Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Sr.), WR Brandon Fuqua (5-10, 170 Sr.). Oconee County, QB Conner White (So.), WR/DB Cole Thurston (Jr.), RB/DB Davis Aiken (Jr.).

Outlook: The Spartans might be coming off a disheartening loss to rival Johnson last week, but they should be able to rebound this week against a struggling Oconee County team.

The Warriors had issues slowing down Gainesville last week and if not for a 78-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, Oconee County would have suffered its first shutout of the season. The loss was still the fifth straight for the Warriors, who managed only one first-half first down last week.

Prediction: WEST HALL. The Spartans rebound from a disappointing loss with a convincing win.

Stephens County at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warriors Stadium, Cleveland

Radio: 105.1-FM

Coaches: Stephens County, Travis Noland; White County, Tommy Flowers

Records: Stephens County (5-1, 2-0 Region 8A-AAA); White County (5-1, 2-0)

Key players: Stephens County, RB Chaz Thornton (5-10, 160 Sr.), LB Zach Butler (6-0, 200 Sr.), WR/DB/KR Cassadine Blassingame (6-2, 175 Sr.). White County, QB Cole Segraves (6-4, 190 So.), RB/WR/DB Ashely Lowery (6-2, 205 Sr.), DB Patrick Jones (5-11, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s game will put one of these teams in the driver’s seat for the region title game at season’s end. Already, White County has shown its ability to play great defense by holding Lumpkin County and North Hall to 14 and 12 points respectively.

The Warriors have also shown the ability to pull through in the close game. White County’s defense held Lumpkin County from scoring a touchdown to tie the game in the final two minutes.

Then against North Hall, Segraves scored a go-ahead touchdown to lead White County to the first win of the series since 1987.

Currently, Lowery leads the offense with 626 rushing yards. On defense, he has a team-high 56 tackles.
Last week, Thornton topped the 1,000-yard mark (1,002) on 138 carries, an average of 7.3 yards per attempt for Stephens County.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors continue to make a claim why they should play for a region title.

Avondale at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Avondale, Bryon McCall; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Avondale (2-4, 1-0 Region 6-AA); Buford (6-1, 2-0)

Key players: Avondale, RB/LB William Miller (6-0, 190 Sr.), WR Dustin Dixon (6-3, 169 Sr.), DB/WR Marcus Carter (6-2, 205 Sr.); Buford, RB Seon Jones (5-9, 178 Sr.), TD/DE Kurt Freitag (6-5, 235 Jr.), LB/FB Nathan Staub (6-3, 214 Jr.).

Outlook: The Wolves are ranked second in Class AA and have defeated Avondale four straight times by an average margin of 47.3 points.

Buford is sitting atop Region 6A-AA after defeating Clarkston 47-0 last week and Decatur 42-7 the week before.
Avondale is coming off a bye week after also defeating Clarkston it its last game, a 14-6 victory on Oct. 1.

Prediction: BUFORD. Look for Jones to find the end zone multiple times in the first half and the Wolves to keep up their points average against Avondale.

Jefferson at Elbert County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Granite Bowl, Elberton

Coaches: Jefferson, T. McFerrin; Elbert County, Sid Fritts

Records: Jefferson (3-3, 1-2 Region 8B-AA); Elbert County (5-1, 3-0)

Key players: Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-2, 190 So.), WR Cole Givens (6-0, 180 Jr.), DE Zach Allen (6-1, 230 Sr.). Elbert County, RB/S Valdon Cooper (5-10, 175 Sr.), RB/LB Tyshon Dye (6-3, 190 So.), RB/LB D.J. Lewis (5-6, 160 Jr.).

Outlook: McFerrin will be returning to the site of his greatest achievement tonight, but the 1995 state championship he won with Elbert County won’t have any impact on the Jefferson team that enters the Granite Bowl.

McFerrin is one of the state’s winningest high school football coaches, and the Dragons haven’t missed the postseason since 1999, but that streak was put in peril after they lost their first two subregion games this season. Now they need to a win to avoid getting passed over in an ultra-competitive subregion.

Unfortunately for Jefferson, the Blue Devils stand in the way, and they’ve got their sights set on the program’s first region title since McFerrin left in ’96.

Prediction: ELBERT COUNTY. The Blue Devils’ running game is too explosive to contain.

Dawson County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Dawson County (1-5, 1-1 Region 8A-AA); Union County (1-5, 0-2)

Key players: Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-4, 165 So.), LB Cody Smith (5-10, 200 So.), RB Zach Martin (6-0, 200 So.). 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.).

Outlook: Last week, Dawson County lost to Banks County 25-11 and Union County lost 35-28 to East Hall.

The only common opponent between these two teams is Banks County, which shut out Union County 27-0.

This is a critical subregion game for both teams and important to win if either wants a shot at a region play-in game that determines a state playoff spot.

Tigers QB Dominy is 81 of 138 (59 percent) on the season with 981 passing yards and nine touchdowns with nine interceptions. Martin leads the team in rushing with 293 yards and a touchdown on 71 carries.

Leading receivers are Ethan Brown (22 catches, 384 yards, four touchdowns) and Bruce Clark (24 catches, 346 yards, five touchdowns).

Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. This should be a close game, but based how the two teams played common opponent Banks County, the Tigers appear to have a slight edge.

Commerce at Athens Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Slaughter Field, Athens

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Athens Academy, Michael Gunn

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

Key players: Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-0, 185 Jr.), RB/DB Jessie Savage (5-7, 150 Sr.), OL/DL Serquio Rojas (5-11, 275 Sr.). Athens Academy, QB Mark Sanders (6-0, 170 Sr.), RB/LB Henry Terrell (5-10, 193 Sr.), RB/DL Andrew Owenby (5-10, 205 Sr.).

Outlook: Commerce enters tonight’s game as the only unbeaten team left in 8-A, and about to embark on a difficult stretch of its schedule. After tonight, fellow playoff contenders Prince Avenue (4-2, 1-1) and George Walton (5-1, 2-1) await.

But for now, the focus is on the Spartans, a familiar foe. Athens Academy and Commerce have been the dominant teams in the region for the better part of the last 20 years.

Prediction: ATHENS ACADEMY. Other than a slip up against Prince Avenue, the Spartans defense is allowing a stingy 6.8 points per game.

Banks County at Rabun County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Rabun County, Danny Durham

Records: Banks County (5-1, 2-0 Region 8A-AA); Rabun County (1-5, 02)

Key Players: Banks County, LB Jeremy Greenway (5-9, 185 Sr.), OL Isaac Mayfield (5-10, 195 Sr.), RB Dylan Lackey (5-10, 175 Sr.); Rabun County, WR Dillon Bleckly, DB Blake McCracken, QB Tanner Wright.

Outlook: Banks County defeated Dawson County 25-11 last week to move into a tie atop the subregion with East Hall. If the Leopards want to guarantee themselves a spot in the state playoffs, they can’t stumble before meeting East Hall on Oct. 29.

Lackey is averaging 6.3 yards per carry this season and has found the end zone nine times. While quarterback Harrison Dale has only four touchdown passes this season, he has yet to be intercepted.

The senior has shown he can manage the game and limit his mistakes while at the same time making whatever plays necessary for Banks County to win.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. With a defense that is surrendering just 14.3 points per game on 221.3 total yards, the Leopards should run away with this one early.

River Ridge at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: River Ridge, Robert Braucht; Towns County, Kyle Langford

Records: River Ridge (1-5); Towns County (1-5)

Key Players: River Ridge, QB Jackson Weeg, RB E.J. Ellis, RB Will Redding. Towns County, RB/DL Taylor Denton (5-11, 220 Sr.), RB Noah Calhoun (5-10, 170 Jr.), OL/DL Dylen Nelson (5-11, 3-5 Sr.).

Outlook: River Ridge earned its first victory against a varsity opponent in school history last week, defeating Lakeview Academy, 22-16.

The win was a big one and if the Knights want to beat the Indians, they’ll have to hang onto the momentum.

Towns County won their first game of the season two weeks ago, beating North Cobb Christian 48-18.

The Indians are coming off a bye week and should be well rested and prepared for River Ridge.

Prediction: TOWNS COUNTY. The Indians play physical football and will wear down undersized and undermanned River Ridge.

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