Game of the week: Lakeview on verge of record season
North Hall at West Hall
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: West Hall Stadium, Oakwood
Coaches: North Hall, Bob Chrstmas; West Hall, Tony Lotti
Records: North Hall (6-1, 4-0 Region 7-AAA); West Hall (3-4, 2-2)
Key players: North Hall, RB T.J. Tate (5-8, 165 Sr.); RB/LB Kevin Christmas (5-8, 170 Sr.); QB/DB Andrew Smith (5-8, 145 Jr.). West Hall, RB/LB Isaiah Rowe (6-2, 215 So.); OL/DL Blake Manning (6-6, 300 Sr.); QB Zac English (5-11, 175 Jr.).
Outlook: It’s been a good week for North Hall in its chase for the program’s first region title since 2007. After last Friday’s 42-7 win against White County, the Trojans were primed to play for the region title, probably against Buford in the final week of the regular season.
However, the Wolves on Monday had to forfeit two region wins (Banks County and West Hall), due to a self-reported violation to the Georgia High School Association of using an academically ineligible player.
Now, North Hall has a two-game cushion in the region title race and can still earn the region title, even with a loss against the Wolves on Nov. 9. The Trojans simply need to top West Hall tonight and Banks County on Nov. 2 to lock up the region title and a No. 1 seed in the postseason.
Now owning a win against Buford, West Hall is back in the playoff picture, as well. Behind the Trojans, the Spartans are in a five-way tie of teams knotted at 2-2 in region play.
North Hall got to this point with its high-powered, run-based offense. Tate (526 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Christmas (520 yards, five TDs) are the leading rushers, followed closely by quarterback Bradley Brown (480 yards, seven TDs).
North Hall has wavered little in its offensive production, putting up an average of 377 rushing yards and 45.7 points per game.
West Hall is coming off a 28-27 overtime loss against East Hall in Gainesville last Friday. Rowe is leading West Hall’s offense with 432 yards (4.2 per attempt). English has completed 55 of 139 passes for 776 yards.
Prediction: NORTH HALL. With the region title theirs to win, the Trojans aren’t about to come out flat.
Chestatee at Lumpkin County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega
Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones
Records: Chestatee (6-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA); Lumpkin County (2-5, 2-2)
Key players: Chestatee, RB Quan Clark (5-10, 188 Sr.); RB A.J. Sijiye (5-11, 150 So.); QB Jordan Degraff (6-0, 155 Sr.). Lumpkin County, QB Daniel McCrary (6-1, 175 Jr.); WR/DB Jonathan Gilreath (Jr.); RB/DB Gunnar Wood (5-9, 160 So.).
Outlook: Behind an offense that has averaged 355 rushing yards per game, the War Eagles are in line for their first playoff appearance since 2006. And with a perfect 4-0 mark in region play, Chestatee is still in the running for the region title and homefield in the postseason.
Clark is one of the best in the area with 903 yard and nine touchdowns. He’s aided by Sijiye (537 yards, nine TDs) and Degraff (482 yards, eight TDs). They’ve combined to lead an offense that is also one of the area’s best at 39 points per game.
Despite a slow start, the Indians are also still in the playoff picture. Lumpkin County is currently tied at 2-2 for fourth place in the region with Stephens County. The Indians host Stephens County for the regular season finale on Nov. 9 in Dahlonega.
For Lumpkin County, Gilreath has the best production on offense with 26 catches for 395 yards. The quarterback McCrary is the Indians’ leading rusher with 199 yards and four touchdowns. Lumpkin County’s defense is allowing 34 points per game.
Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles continue to win with a steady, ground-based attack.
Flowery Branch at Clarke Central
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Billy Henderson Stadium, Athens
Coaches: Flowery Branch, Chris Griffin; Clarke Central, Leroy Ryals
Records: Flowery Branch (6-2, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA); Clarke Central (3-4, 3-2)
Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Jackson McDonald (5-11, 172 Jr.), DB/WR Quinton Mayfield (5-8, 175 Sr.), RB Justin Curry (5-11, 180 So.). Clarke Central, QB Cameron Johnson (6-3, 174 Jr.), RB Jalani Payne (5-6, 157 Sr.), DB Dreko Statham (6-0, 169 Sr.).
Outlook: For Flowery Branch, tonight’s game is simple — win and guarantee a No. 1 or 2 seed out of the region, which means at least one home playoff game.
It would also mean playing Gainesville, once again, for the region title as long as the Red Elephants take care of business.
The Gladiators, however, have been the Falcons’ No. 1 nemesis since the two came into the same region in 2010. Twice Clarke Central has beaten Flowery Branch to derail a perfect regular season and a chance at a region title (both shared the region title, along with Heritage, last season).
This year’s Gladiators have been dealt injuries and suspensions but are still dangerous, with back-up running back Payne stepping in to replace injured starter Rodney Willingham and hardly skipping a beat to lead an explosive offense. Last week against Gainesville, Payne had 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 49-28 loss, bringing his season total to 456 yards rushing.
Johnson has 986 passing yards and 11 touchdowns for an offense that has averaged 30 points per game. The defense has allowed 23 points per game.
While Clarke Central has stumbled the last two weeks against two of the region’s best, Flowery Branch is coming off a 35-27 win over Heritage that included a second-half comeback from a 21-point deficit.
Curry leads the Falcons ground attack with 944 yards (second in the area) and eight touchdowns, and McDonald has added 560 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns to go along with 1,064 yards passing.
Mayfield recorded three interceptions in last week’s game and leads the team in the category, making an already loaded secondary look even deeper.
Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. The Falcons finally break through against the Gladiators behind a consistent running game and an opportunistic defense.
Johnson at Pickens
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Dragons Stadium, Jasper
Coaches: Johnson, Jason Roquemore; Pickens, Chris Parker
Records: Johnson (5-3); Pickens (4-3, 2-1 Region 7-AAAA)
Key players: Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (6-0, 200 Sr.), OL/DL Mason Borders (6-2, 315 Sr.), TE/LB Jose Martinez (6-1, 210 Sr.). Pickens, QB Tanner Brumby (6-2, 181 Jr.), RB/DB Shannon Brooks (5-11, 175 So.), WR/DB Eric Justice (5-11, 178 Jr.).
Outlook: The Knights are looking for their first three-game winning streak since 2004 as they travel to Jasper tonight.
Johnson is coming off one of its most dominant wins of the season, a 42-15 victory over Druid Hills, while the Dragons are looking to bounce back from a 21-13 loss against rival Gilmer.
The Knights boast the area’s most prolific running back in Harris (1,200 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns on 213 carries) and have impact players on defense in Martinez (team-high 72 tackles, 18 for loss) and Dre Johnson (tied for area lead with three interceptions, three pass break-ups). The offense has averaged 24 points per game, while the defense has allowed an average of 26.
Pickens has been a balanced offensive team this season. In the loss to Gilmer, the Dragons ended up with 124 yards passing and 142 rushing. Brumby, who threw for 272 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a win over Cedartown, completed 13 passes for 97 yards against Gilmer. He added 56 yards rushing to go along with Brooks, who had a team-high 92 yards and a score.
Pickens averages 29 points per game on offense and allow 22 per game on defense.
Johnson is 6-4 all time against Pickens, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
Prediction: PICKENS. The Dragons are 0-3 at home this season, but they should break that streak tonight behind a balanced offense in a close game.
Fannin County at Buford
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
Coaches: Fannin County, Greg Chambers; Buford, Jess Simpson
Records: Fannin County (1-6, 1-3 Region 7-AAA); Buford (4-3, 2-2 Region 7-AAA)
Key players: Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (6-1, 200 Jr.), RB/S Peyton Satterfield (6-2, 190 Jr.), WR/LB Noah O’Neal (6-2, 180 Jr.). Buford, RB Dontravious Wilson (5-11, 215 Sr.), OL/DL Josh Cardiello (6-4, 285 Sr.), TE/LB Mikey Bart (6-3, 245 Sr.).
Outlook: Buford was dealt some bad news this week when the Georgia High School Association ruled the Wolves must forfeit previous wins over West Hall and Banks County, after Buford self-reported the use of an academically ineligible player in those games.
The losses leave the fourth-ranked Wolves in a five-way tie for second place in 7-AAA and puts their hopes for a region title in peril. On the field however, Buford has been second to none since region play began. Through four region games, the Wolves have outscored opponents 207-17.
They’re led by a defense that posts area-best numbers in points allowed per game (5.6), rushing yards allowed per game (96.9) and total yards allowed per game (171.8).
Defense has been an ongoing issue for Fannin County. While the Rebels have shown the ability to score with a multi-faceted offense, they’re giving up more than 38 points per game. They lost last week to Banks County, 47-46.
Tonight, they can expect heavy doses of Wilson, who has run for 836 yards this season (11.1 per carry) with 11 touchdowns.
Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves are not only one of the most talented teams in Class AAA, they now have a reason to play with a chip on their shoulders.
East Hall at Banks County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Leopard Stadium, Homer
Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Banks County, Philip Jones
Records: East Hall (3-4, 1-3 Region 7-AAA); Banks County (3-4, 2-2)
Key players: East Hall, East Hall, OL/DL Devonte Benton (6-5, 263 Sr.); RB/LB Xavier Hughey (6-2, 198 Sr.); RB Austin Mahaffey (5-9, 185 Sr.). Banks County, QB Tyler Hubbard (5-9, 180 Sr.), WR/DB Greg Cannon (6-0, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Wes Faulkner (5-8, 180 Jr.).
Outlook: Both teams are coming off one-point region wins, and the Leopards gained another region win during the week after Buford was forced to forfeit a pair of victories, including the 63-0 win over Banks County, after reporting that it had played an academically ineligible player in each game.
Banks County is now in a five-way tie for second in the region behind frontrunner North Hall. East Hall and Fannin County are both one back of the group.
The Vikings will look to get back in the mix for a postseason bid starting with tonight’s game against the Leopards, who East Hall beat last season to earn a spot in a region play-in game when both were in 8-AA.
This season the Vikings have a defense that has allowed 27 or fewer points in each of the team’s three wins, but has allowed 40 or more points in three of the four losses.
Xavier Hughey leads the team with 73.5 tackles, 14 for loss. On offense, East Hall is led by a pair of running backs, Edward Vergara (376 yards rushing and seven touchdowns) and Mahaffey (329 yards and three scores). The Vikings score 21 points per game and allow an average of 33.
Banks County has scored 20 and allowed 29, although the Leopards’ offense broke out in last week’s 47-46 win against Fannin County.
Prediction: EAST HALL. The Vikings, energized after an overtime win over West Hall, should be able to win another close one in Homer.
Jackson County at Oconee County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Warrior Stadium, Watkinsville
Coaches: Jackson County, Benji Harrison; Oconee County, Mitch Olson
Records: Jackson County (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-AAA); Oconee County (2-5, 1-3)
Key players: Jackson County, QB Kyle Daniel (6-2, 190 Sr.), WR Xavier Harper (6-1, 180 Jr.), RB/DB Dustin Scott (5-9, 165 Sr.). Oconee County, QB Connor White (6-5, 200 Sr.), RB/DB Ikwaan Jones (Jr.), WR/LB Keenan Brown (5-11, 167 Sr.).
Outlook: It’s getting down to crunch time for Jackson County. The Panthers, a program that has struggled for the better part of the last two decades, has a chance to claim a winning season and a possible playoff spot for the first time since 1991. But they can scarcely afford another loss.
Jackson County is coming off a 31-16 defeat at the hands of Hart County that leaves the Panthers tied for the fourth and final playoff spot with Morgan County. With games against Elbert County (4-3, 3-1) and Morgan County looming in the final two weeks, tonight’s game is crucial.
Oconee County snapped a five-game losing streak with a 49-33 win over Franklin County last week. Like the Panthers, the Warriors are led by a talented senior quarterback. White, who accounted for more than 250 yards and five total touchdowns last week, has thrown for 1,590 and run for 200 yards on the season.
Defense has been Oconee County’s biggest problem. The Warriors have given up 56 points or more four times this season and surrender 52.3 points per game in region play.
Jackson County will try to capitalize with an offense that averages 223.7 passing yards and 101.6 rushing yards per game. Daniel is third in the area with 1,561 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, and Harper leads the area in receptions (40) and receiving yards (701).
Prediction: JACKSON COUNTY. The Panthers have the offensive weapons to find success against a struggling defense.
White County at Dawson County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Tigers Stadium, Dawsonville
Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; Dawson County, Jeff Lee
Records: White County (4-3, 2-2 Region 7-AAA); Dawson County (4-3, 2-2)
Key players: White County, QB Will Brock (6-3, 198 Sr.); WR/LB Will Flowers (5-11, 185 Jr.); RB/OLB Will Stonecypher (5-11, 180 Sr.). Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-4, 178 Sr.); RB/LB Zach Martin (5-11, 215 Sr.); WR/DB Chris Sayler (5-9, 160 Jr.)
Outlook: The biggest game in Region 7-AAA this week could be the one in Dawsonville. The Tigers and Warriors are in the midst of a five-team pack tied at 2-2 in region play, and tonight’s winner will have a much easier path to securing a playoff berth.
White County and Dawson County have kept a similar trajectory this season. After fast starts, they’ve yet to find consistency in region games. White County is coming off a 42-7 loss to region-leading North Hall last Friday, while Dawson County lost to Buford 34-3 last week.
Dawson County has one of the best passing games in the area, led by Dominy and his 1,805 yards (second in the area). The Tigers have a handful of capable receivers, led by Bruce Clark (510 yards, seven touchdowns), Sayler (21 catches, 471 yards) and Will Anglin (23 catches, 303 yards). The Tigers are seventh among area teams in scoring (31 points per game).
On defense, Dawson County is fourth in the area, allowing 253 yards a game.
For White County, it’s a much more balanced approach between running and throwing. Brock has a team-high 425 rushing yards and 496 passing. Andrew Bergin is the Warriors’ leading receiver with nine catches for 285 yards.
Stonecypher has an area-best 10 sacks for White County.
Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. While the Tigers have been up and down, the passing game will be enough to lift Dawson County to a close win.
Jefferson at Social Circle
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Redskin Stadium, Social Circle
Coaches: Jefferson, T. McFerrin; Social Circle, Ron Sebree
Records: Jefferson (6-1, 4-0 Region 8-AA); Social Circle (0-7, 0-4 Region 8-AA)
Key players: Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-3, 215 Sr.), LB Wesley Simonton (6-0, 205 Sr.), RB Sammy Williams (So.). Social Circle, RB/DB M.J. Hester (Jr.), WR/DB Jeremy Elder (So.), QB Jake Howard (Jr.).
Outlook: With three games remaining, Jefferson is bearing down on its first region title since 2009 and is showing no signs of slowing.
The Dragons, who have won six straight, are up to No. 8 in Class AA, and are winning by big margins since opening region play. Led by Shirreffs on offense and Simonton on defense, Jefferson has outscored its region foes by a total of 191-33.
Shirreffs has passed for 1,119 yards and run for 517 while accounting for 15 total touchdowns. Williams has also emerged as a threat on the ground, gaining 479 yards (7.7 per carry) and seven touchdowns. Simonton is at the forefront of the Dragons’ aggressive defense, ranking third in the area in tackles (91) and first in tackles for loss (20).
On the opposite end of the standings, the Redskins have struggled. They’ve officially lost 13 in a row, and their only win last season came via forfeit. The last time Social Circle walked off the field a winner was Oct. 29, 2010 after a victory over River Ridge.
This season, the Redskins have given up at least 32 points in each game and allow an average of 42.9.
Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons continue their march toward and unbeaten region record.
Union County at Rabun County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger
Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Rabun County, Lee Shaw
Records: Union County (5-2, 2-2 Region 8-AA); Rabun County (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-AA)
Key players: Union County, QB T Bentley (6-0, 190 Sr.), OL/DL Luther Jones (6-0, 275 Jr.), LB Chase Barnett (5-7, 185 Sr.). Rabun County, QB Wes Holcombe (6-0, 175 Jr.), WR/FS Charlie Woerner (6-4, 190 Fr.), RB/SS Kendall Woodard (5-7, 160 Sr.).
Outlook: An unexpected loss has left Union County in an unenviable position, and makes tonight’s game with Rabun County crucial to both teams’ postseason aspirations.
The Panthers fell last week to Greene County, 37-19, letting a 19-14 halftime lead slip away with five turnovers in the final two quarters. The loss leaves Union County, Rabun County, Oglethorpe County and Greene County in a four-way fight for the region’s final two playoff spots. Working to the Panthers’ disadvantage is the fact that they’ll be playing region leader Jefferson in the final week of the regular season.
Rabun County is coming off back-to-back losses to the region’s top teams, Jefferson and Washington-Wilkes, and will get a chance to earn its first playoff berth since 1998 by facing each of the teams it’s tied with over the season’s final three weeks.
The Wildcats are led on offense by Holcombe (1,580 total yards, 14 total touchdowns) and Woodard (427 rushing yards, 7.7 yards per carry). Woerner leads the team in receiving yards (471) and tackles (93).
Prediction: UNION COUNTY. The Panthers defense, which has only allowed two teams to break 14 points, should be the difference.
Glascock County at Riverside Military
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Maginnis Field, Gainesville
Coaches: Glascock County, Chris Kelley; Riverside, Gary Downs
Records: Glascock County (1-6, nonregion schedule); Riverside Military (1-6, 1-4 Region 8-AA)
Key players: Glascock County, RB/LB A.J. Sammons (5-11, 210 Sr.), RB/LB Joe Brown (5-9, 165 So.), QB/DB Cliff Jones (6-2, 155 Sr.). Riverside Military, QB Collin Pettell (6-4, 220 Jr.), RB/WR/KR Adrian Humphrey (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB Elijah Holyfield (5-11, 180 Fr.).
Outlook: Riverside Military got their first win under head coach Gary Downs in a 35-34 win over Social Circle last Friday. The Eagles were led by Holyfield with 132 yards and two touchdowns rushing and Adrian Humphrey with 172 yards rushing and two scores. The Eagles average 12.3 points per game on offense and allow an average of 39.0 points.
Glascock County defeated Harlem 12-7 earlier in the season but has not seen much success since. The Panthers score, on average, 14 points per game and allow 33.4.
Prediction: GLASCOCK COUNTY. The game should be close, but the Panthers have the offensive edge.
Duluth at Habersham Central
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: John Larry Black Field, Mount Airy
Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; Duluth, Corey Jarvis
Records: Habersham Central (1-7, 1-5 Region 7-AAAAAA); Duluth (2-5, 1-4)
Key players: Habersham Central, RB Sydnee Mulligan (5-11, 190 Jr.), OLB Tucker Williams (6-0, 190 So.), LB Gunner Hedden (6-0, 156 Jr.). Duluth, WR Myles Campbell (5-7, 165 Sr.), WR Jordan Dandridge (6-2, 185 Sr.), DB Terence Williams (5-9, 160 Sr.)
Outlook: Habersham Central doesn’t see much offensive production outside of the numbers that Mulligan is able to put up; he leads the team with 384 yards rushing and a pair of scores on 90 carries. Williams and Hedden lead the defense; Williams has 84 tackles, and Hedden has 63 with 2.5 tackles for loss.
Duluth is another struggling team in the region, but its offensive numbers show signs of life. Dandridge has 494 yards and five scores on 26 receptions, and Campbell has 26 receptions for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Wildcats defense also has a pair of capable linemen with Williams, who has 26 solo tackles and 19 assists, and Evan Ubakanma (26 solo and 46 assists).
Prediction: DULUTH. The Raiders may show the Wildcats some competition, but Duluth has the passing ability to take the win.
St. Francis at Towns County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee
Coaches: St. Francis, Brennen Booth; Towns County, Kyle Langford
Records: St. Francis (3-5); Towns County (1-6)
Key players: St. Francis, WR/LB Nathan Waller (6-2, 180 So.), QB/DB Joey Roche (Jr.), FB/LB Jonah Huff (Jr.). Towns County, RB/LB Wesley Bloodworth (5-10, 230 Sr.), RB Jackson Noblet (5-11, 185 Jr.), QB Joseph Gibson (Sr.).
Outlook: Towns County won their first game of the season last week, 38-6, over North Cobb Christian after losing a number of close games throughout the year. Bloodworth carried the Indians with 122 yards on 13 carries, and Noblet had 94 yards on eight carries. Gibson completed 9 of 14 passes for 167 yards and two scores.
Not only was the offense finally clicking, the Towns County defense held North Cobb Christian to less than 100 yards of total offense in the game.
St. Francis ended a three-game winning streak last Friday with a 35-0 loss to Lakeview Academy. In the game, St. Francis generated just 94 yards of offense. It is the school’s first full season with a varsity program.
Prediction: TOWNS COUNTY. The Indians can capitalize on last week’s win to overcome this first-year program.