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High school football: Week 9 previews
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Game of the week: Flowery Branch vs. Salem

East Hall at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Leopard Stadium, Homer

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Records: East Hall (3-5, 2-2 Region 8A-AA); Banks County (6-2, 3-1)

Key players: East Hall, RB Jamond Witt (5-7, 160 Jr.), OL/DL Sterling Bailey (6-5, 265 Sr.), DE/RB Chaz Cheeks. Banks County, LB Jeremy Greenway (5-9, 185 Sr.), OL Isaac Mayfield (5-10, 195 Sr.), RB Dylan Lackey (5-10, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The Vikings have to win this game for a shot at the state playoffs, while the Leopards, with a win, still have a shot at winning the subregion if Fannin County loses to Union County.

Even if the Vikings win, they’ll need some help to reach third place in the subregion — the final spot that qualifies for a berth in the play-in games that decide which team makes the postseason.

Witt is the area’s leading rusher (1,151 yards), and Jeremy Greenway leads the Leopards with 655 rushing yards.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. Look for the Leopards to rebound from last week’s tough loss to Fannin County.

Rabun County at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Rabun County, Danny Durham; Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: Rabun County (1-7, 0-4 8A-AA); Dawson County (2-6, 2-2)

Key players: Rabun County, QB Tanner Wright, WR Dillon Bleckly, DB Blake McCracken. Dawson County, OL/DL Zach Johnson (6-3, 300 Sr.), ATH Ethan Brown (6-0, 175 Sr.), RB Eian Perry (5-6, 155 Sr.).

Outlook: After a refreshing road win over East Hall, the Tigers have a legitimate chance at a top-three subregion finish at home against the last-place Wildcats.

If the Tigers win, coupled with East Hall and Union County losses, they’ll finish third in 8A-AA and play in a region crossover game that will determine a state playoff spot.

Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. The Tigers do their part in trying to play for a state playoff berth.

West Hall at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park, Gainesville

Radio: 1240-AM

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: West Hall (3-5, 1-3 Region 8B-AAA); Gainesville (7-1, 4-0)

Key players: West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Sr.), WR Brandon Fuqua (5-10, 170 Sr.), WR William Stroup (6-6, 210 Sr.). Gainesville, LB A.J. Johnson (6-3, 235 Sr.), QB Deshaun Watson (6-1, 170 Fr.), RB Devon Pierce (5-7, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: Having already secured a berth in next week’s region title game, Gainesville enters tonight’s matchup with one goal: to complete its third straight undefeated subregion season.

To do that, the Red Elephants will have to get by the Spartans, a team they’ve defeated eight straight years by a combined score of 370-59. That history could mean a short night for Johnson, Watson and the rest of the Gainesville starters, but look for that group to work on a few plays and formations as it prepares for the meeting with White County next week.

Aside from stopping Gainesville, the Spartans’ biggest concern is the health of Stephens, who missed last week’s loss to Monroe Area due to an injury. If Stephens can’t play, freshman Chandler Newton will start at quarterback.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants finish undefeated in subregion play for the third straight year.

North Hall at Stephens County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Reservation, Toccoa

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Stephens County, Travis Noland

Records: North Hall (4-4, 2-2 Region 8A-AAA); Stephens County (6-2, 3-1)

Key players: North Hall, QB Kanler Coker (6-4, 195 Jr.), WR/DB C.J. Curry (6-2, 190 Jr.), RB/LB Imani Cross (6-2, 220 Jr.). Stephens County, RB Chaz Thornton (5-9, 170 So.), LB Zach Butler (6-0, 185 Sr.), WR/DB/KR Cassadine Blassingame (6-1, 150 Sr.).

Outlook: North Hall needs a win tonight to avoid missing the region play-in game and potentially the playoffs for the first time since 2005. The Trojans’ only other formula into the playoff-qualifier game Nov. 5 also requires a Lumpkin County (2-2 in the subregion) loss to Chestatee (0-4 in the subregion) tonight in Gainesville.

The Trojans kept their playoff hopes alive with a 20-14 win at Franklin County (1-3 in subregion play) last Friday in Carnesville, thanks to a late fourth quarter touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal by Cross.

After running for 93 yards last week, Mack VanGorder is the team’s leading ball carrier with 69 carries for 449 yards.
Stephens County secured the No. 2 spot in the subregion with a 35-24 win against Lumpkin County last week. Thornton rushed for 122 yards and now stands at 1,240 yards on the season.

Special-teams threat Blassingame added a 97-yard kickoff return for a Stephens County touchdown. Blassingame has four kick returns for touchdowns this season.

Prediction: STEPHENS COUNTY. North Hall has had its troubles stopping the running game this season and Thornton will be one of the best the Trojans have faced.

White County at Franklin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Ed Bryant Stadium, Carnesville

Coaches: White County, Tommy Flowers; Franklin County, Tommy Welch

Records: White County (7-1, 4-0 Region 8A-AAA), Franklin County (3-4-1, 1-3)

Key players: White County, QB Cole Segraves (6-4, 190 So.), RB/WR/DB Ashely Lowery (6-2, 200 Sr.), LB Ethan Eaton (Sr.). Franklin County, LB Seth Strickland (5-8, 170 Sr.), QB Kevin Harris (6-1, 190 Sr.), OL/DL Ben Parten (6-2, 230 Sr.).

Outlook: Regardless of the outcome, White County will play for the Region 8-AAA title against Gainesville (4-0 in the south subregion) on Nov. 5 in Cleveland. The Warriors locked up the north subregion title with a 56-14 win against Chestatee last Friday.

Franklin County is out of contention for one of the top three subregion spots for a region play-in game.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors have too many weapons to suffer a letdown heading into the region title game.

Union County at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Fannin County, Clark Drennan

Records: Union County (3-5, 2-2 Region 8A-AA); Fannin County (5-3, 3-1)

Key players: Union County, QB/RB Jesse Wright (6-1, 180 Sr.), WR/DB Garrett Smith (6-0, 175 Sr.), WR/DB Josh Schultz (6-0, 170 Sr.). Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (Fr.), WR Ryan Nix (Sr.), RB Garrison Kreis (Sr.).

Outlook: Of the eight possible scenarios that could play out tonight involving Region 8A-AA, about half (depending on tiebreakers) could land Union County in one of next week’s all-important region play-in games. The Panthers can do their part by winning tonight at the home of the subregion leader.

Fannin County moved to the top of 8A-AA with a 13-12 win over Banks County last week.

Prediction: FANNIN COUNTY. The Rebels have the ability to slow down the Panthers’ balanced offense.

Lumpkin County at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagles Stadium

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Gainesville, Tommy Jones; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: Lumpkin County (5-3, 2-2 Region 8A-AAA), Chestatee (2-6, 0-4).

Key players: Lumpkin County, QB Taylor Guthrie (6-4, 190 Sr.), WR/DB Ian McIntosh (5-8, 170 Jr.), RB/DL Michael Flanagan (6-2, 230 Sr.). Chestatee, QB/DB Scott Chewning (5-11, 170 Sr.), LB/RB Quan Clark (5-11, 180 So.), WR/DB Alex Moore (6-0, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: If Lumpkin County wins tonight, it plays again in the region play-in game on Nov. 5 in Dahlonega. An Indians loss, combined with a North Hall win, would send the Trojans to the playoff-qualifier game.

Chestatee is playing the remainder of the regular season without the team’s leading tackler Daniel Moreno, who endured a knee injury two weeks ago.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians are tough to stop on offense and will secure a region play-in game berth tonight in Gainesville.

Commerce at George Walton

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Keith Henderson Stadium, Monroe

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; George Walton, Don Williams

Records: Commerce (4-4, 3-1 Region 8-A); George Walton (7-1, 3-1)

Key players: Commerce, QB Cody Streetman (6-0, 185 Jr.), LB Josh Swistak (5-9, 190 Jr.), LB Tyler Adams (5-10, 185 Sr.). George Walton, RB/DB Justin Brown (5-8, 155 Sr.), RB/DB Eric Dobbs (5-11, 165 Sr.), WR/DB Hunter Rice (6-2, 170 So.).

Outlook: One of the most storied programs in the region squares off tonight against the newest member, but last year’s Georgia Independent Schools Association champion.

Since both teams lost to Athens Academy, the winner of tonight’s game will be poised to earn the No. 2 seed in the region that provides a home game for the first round of the Class A state playoffs. Each team has winnable games next week — Commerce visits Social Circle and George Walton plays host to Athens Christian — so the emphasis is on winning tonight’s game.

Prediction: GEORGE WALTON. A year removed from winning a GISA title, the Bulldogs inch closer to the No. 2 seed in the subregion.

East Jackson at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: East Jackson, Frank Caputo; Jefferson, T. McFerrin

Records: East Jackson (3-5, 2-3 Region 8B-AA); Jefferson (4-4, 2-3)

Key players: East Jackson, QB/DB Cody Gibbs (6-2, 170 Sr.), RB C.J. Allen (5-8, 170 Jr.), C Parker Wilson (5-11, 230 Sr.). Jefferson, QB Bryant Sherriffs (So.), FB/DE Zach Allen (6-1, 230 Sr.), TE/DE Hoytes Damons (6-2, 240 Sr.).

Outlook: After winning two straight Region 8-AA titles, the Dragons will miss the playoffs this season for the first time since 1999. Jefferson is coming off a 42-21 victory over Jackson County last week and will aim to defeat another county rival in East Jackson tonight.

The Eagles have been shutout the past two weeks and face another strong defense in Jefferson, which is led by Allen (62 tackles and two sacks) and Jackson (54 tackles, 38 solo).

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons will use the balanced attack of Jackson’s legs and Sherriffs’ arm to move to .500 in the subregion.

Hart County at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Hart County, Joby Scroggs; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Hart County (4-3-1, 3-2 Region 8B-AA); Jackson County (3-5, 1-4)

Key players: Hart County, RB/LB Stephon Eades (6-0, 195 Jr.), QB Landon Beck (6-2, 205 Sr.), WR John Vollrath (6-1, 165 Sr.). Jackson County, ATH Alex Crawford (5-8, 140 Sr.), LB Kelly Moates (5-11, 190 Sr.), QB Kyle Daniel (6-0, 175 So.).

Outlook: Jackson County has been outscored 162-48 in subregion games this season, including a 37-0 shutout against subregion leader North Oconee on Oct. 8. In their lone subregion win, the Panthers defeated winless Oglethorpe County 7-0.

Last week, Jackson County gave up 303 yards of total offense and 35 points to Jefferson in the first half in a game the Panthers lost 42-21.

Prediction: HART COUNTY. With an offense that seems capable of running over, around and through defenses, the Bulldogs will have too much on the ground for the Panthers defense.

Johnson at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Hurricanes Stadium, Monroe

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Monroe Area, Matt Fligg

Records: Johnson (2-6, 2-2 Region 8B-AAA); Monroe Area (7-1, 3-1)

Key players: Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (6-1, 170 So.), OL/DL David Harkins (6-0, 280 Sr.), FB/LB Joey Brooks (5-11, 240 Jr.). Monroe Area, RB Tre Burdette (6-1, 185 Sr.), DE Stephon Tuitt (6-5, 260 Sr.), TE/DE Kendarious Whitehead (6-3, 215 Jr.).

Outlook: The winner of tonight’s matchup earns the No. 2 seed in the subregion and will play the No. 3 seed from Region 8A-AAA next week with a berth in the state playoffs on the line. That’d be quite the achievement for the Knights, who started the season 0-5.

But wins against West Hall and Oconee County have Johnson in a position to play for the playoffs, and the Knights could secure the No. 3 seed and still play in the region play-in game if Oconee County defeats Walnut Grove (1-7, 1-3).

Prediction: MONROE AREA. The best way to beat Monroe Area is through the air, but the Knights’ strength is on the ground.

Loganville at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Coaches: Loganville, Eric Godfree; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham

Records: Loganville (5-3, 5-3 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (2-6, 2-6)

Key players: Loganville, RB Mykel Wyyet (Sr.), QB Garrett Ford (Jr.), DB Brandon O’Rourke (Sr.). Habersham Central, QB Kevin Ellison (6-0, 175 Jr.), RB Andre Barrs (5-6, 185 Sr.), LB Tyler Stinespring (6-1, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: Last week’s heartbreaking 13-10 loss in double overtime against Heritage guaranteed Habersham Central a second consecutive losing season. But there’s no time for the Raiders to feel sorry for themselves, as Loganville enters tonight’s game still fighting for a playoff berth.

Loganville is currently tied for fourth in 8-AAAA, and just a half game out of third. The Red Devils had some success on the ground last week, rushing for more than 200 yards in a 42-21 loss to Flowery Branch, however, they also surrendered nearly 500 yards of offense to the Falcons.

Prediction: LOGANVILLE. The Red Devils are potent on offense and still have plenty to play for.

Athens Academy at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Online webcast:

Coaches: Athens Academy, Michael Gunn; Riverside Military, Chris Cotter

Records: Athens Academy (7-1, 4-1 Region 8-A); Riverside Military (2-6, 1-3)

Key players: 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.). Riverside Military, QB Michael Gallup (6-1, 160 Fr.), WR Billy McCoy (6-3, 195 Sr.), OL/DL/K Victor Salcido (Jr.).

Outlook: Riverside is coming off of a bye week after its win over Athens Christian on Oct. 15. The Eagles’ defense limited Athens Christian to 162 yards of offense and forced five turnovers in the 23-6 win.

Athens Academy sits in first place in Region 8-A and is coming off a 21-10 win last week, also against Athens Christian.

Prediction: ATHENS ACADEMY. While Riverside is improving each week, the Spartans have too much power on the ground and will keep their defense off the field to wear down an undermanned Eagles team.

Towns County at Lakeview Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Towns County, Kyle Langford; Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Towns County (3-5); Lakeview (3-4)

Key players: Towns County, WR/DB Billy Meier (5-7, 180 Sr.), RB/DL Taylor Denton (5-11, 220 Sr.), OL/DL Josh Barnes (6-3, 285 Sr.). Lakeview, RB/LB Nick Drury (5-11, 175 Sr.), OL/LB Stephen Reynolds (5-9, 160 Jr.), OL/DL Logan Jones (5-7, 180 Sr.)

Outlook: Tonight marks the final game of Lakeview’s third and most successful season of varsity football.
After back-to-back years of one-win seasons, the Lions have come to life late this year, winning two straight and setting themselves up for an opportunity to finish the year at .500.

Towns County enters the game on a three-game winning streak.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW. The Lions’ steady improvement pays off with a season-ending winning streak.

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