Game of the Week: Monroe Area at Chestatee
Banks County at North Hall
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: The Brickyard, Gainesville
Coaches: Banks County, Philip Jones; North Hall, Bob Christmas
Records: Banks County (3-5, 2-3 Region 7-AAA); North Hall (7-1, 5-0)
Key players: 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.). North Hall, RB T.J. Tate (5-8, 165 Sr.); RB/LB Kevin Christmas (5-8, 170 Sr.); RB/OLB Zac Little (5-8, 180 Jr.).
Outlook: North Hall, which missed out on the postseason each of the last two seasons, can claim its fourth region title in school history with a win over Banks County tonight.
The Leopards, who hosted a first-round playoff game last season, are just trying to stay in the mix for the No. 4 seed out of the region.
North Hall has won this season behind a big offensive line opening holes for a ground game that has averaged an area-best 383 yards rushing per game and put up an area-best 46 points per game. Tate, Christmas and quarterback Bradley Brown all have over 500 yards rushing this season, while Little has come on strong and has 461 yards to go along with six scores.
The Trojans defense, led by Andrew Smith (108 tackles), has also been solid, averaging 12.1 points per game and 196.2 yards per game, second in the area.
Banks County has averaged 20 points per game but allowed 32.
This will be the two teams’ first meeting according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
Prediction: NORTH HALL. The Trojans’ offense should continue rolling right along.
Buford at East Hall
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville
Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; East Hall, Bryan Gray
Records: Buford (5-3, 3-2 Region 7-AAA); East Hall (4-4, 2-3)
Key players: Buford, RB Dontravious Wilson (5-11, 215 Sr.), OL/DL Josh Cardiello (6-4, 285 Sr.), TE/LB Mikey Bart (6-3, 245 Sr.). East Hall, OL/DL Devonte Benton (6-5, 263 Sr.); DB/QB Devin Watson (5-10, 171 So.); RB Austin Mahaffey (5-9, 185 Sr.).
Outlook: While a region title is unlikely at this point with the Wolves having forfeited two region games, Buford can still clinch a No. 2 seed and at least one home playoff game by winning out in the regular season, starting with tonight’s game against an East Hall team still clinging to hope of a state playoff berth.
The Wolves have won this season with easily the most dominant defense in the area, yielding a measly five points per game. The unit has allowed just two teams to score more than three points this season, and is led by defensive lineman Donte Gordon (team-high six sacks, 15 hurries), and linebacker Korie Rogers (team-high 55 tackles, seven tackles for loss). The Wolves allow an area-best 86.6 rushing yards per game and 196.2 yards total.
On offense, Wilson leads the team with 857 yards and 12 touchdowns on 79 carries.
Buford also leads the area in kicking, with sophomore Matthew Bonadies having converted an area-best seven of nine field goal attempts and 40 of 42 extra points for a total of 61 points scored.
East Hall has averaged 25 points scored per game and allowed an average of 31. The Vikings are on a two-game winning streak after a 56-20 win over Banks County to grab their second consecutive region win.
Mahaffey leads the Vikings with 501 yards rushing and six touchdowns, to go along with 365 yards receiving and two more scores, and Xavier Hughey leads the defense with 85 tackles, 15 for loss.
Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves’ defense should handle East Hall’s run-based attack.
Loganville at Gainesville
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: City Park Stadium
Coaches: Loganville, Eric Godfree; Gainesville, Bruce Miller
Records: Loganville (2-6, 1-5 Region 8-AAAAA); Gainesville (7-1, 6-0)
Key players: Loganville, LB Evan Messer (5-8, 205 Sr.); OL Zach Mason (6-1, 245 Jr.); RB Bernard Merriweather (5-10, 205 Sr.). Gainesville, QB Deshaun Watson (6-3, 195 Jr.); LB Devan Stringer (5-11, 180 Jr.); WR Rodney Lackey (5-11, 160 So.).
Outlook: Outside of momentum, there’s nothing on the line for Gainesville tonight. The Red Elephants will face Flowery Branch (7-2, 7-0) for the region championship on Nov. 9, win or lose tonight. The Falcons are off this week.
Watson is the man behind Gainesville’s success offensively leading the Red Elephants to an area-best 449 yards per game. He’s the area leader in passing yards (2,118, 71 percent completion rate) and sixth in the area with 731 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. At 45 points per game, Gainesville trails only North Hall (46) among area squads.
The Red Elephants receiving game is led by Lackey (647 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Lahius Leverette (27 catches, 397 yards).
Defense has been just as strong for Gainesville, which allows 239 yards per game. The Red Elephants have allowed slightly more rushing yards (127) per game than passing (113). Stringer remains Gainesville’s leading tackler (100, four tackles for a loss).
Loganville’s two wins (Winder-Barrow and Walnut Grove) are against programs with a combined 2-14 record. The Red Devils have allowed 31 points per game.
Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants aren’t about to overlook a struggling program with the region championship game just a week away.
West Hall at White County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: White County Stadium, Cleveland
Coaches: West Hall, Tony Lotti; White County, Bill Ballard
Records: West Hall (3-5, 2-3 Region 7-AAA); White County (5-3, 3-2)
Key players: West Hall, RB/LB Isaiah Rowe (6-2, 215 So.); OL/DL Blake Manning (6-6, 300 Sr.); QB Zach English (5-11, 175 Jr.). 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.).
Outlook: The Warriors’ 47-42 win over Dawson County last week has White County in good position to clinch a state playoff berth, with home games against West Hall tonight and Banks County on Nov. 9 remaining. The Warriors will clinch a state berth with a win over at least one of their final two opponents, and would lock in at least a No. 3 seed if they win both.
West Hall is still in the mix for a postseason spot as well, but the Spartans, who fell to North Hall 48-10 last week, would likely need to win out against two of the better teams in the region in White County and Dawson County to end the regular season.
To beat the Warriors, the Spartans would likely need to score more than they have this season, as White County averages 28 points per game — and has scored over 30 in each win — while West Hall has scored over 30 just once.
Brock is the engine behind the Warriors’ offense, with 843 yards passing and 10 touchdowns to go along with 512 yards rushing and 10 more scores, and receiver Andrew Bergin has nine touchdowns and 451 yards receiving, averaging over 32 yards per catch. On defense, Stonecypher leads the area with 11 sacks.
Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors have enough offense to sprint by a still-rebuilding West Hall team.
Riverside Military at Jefferson
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
Coaches: Riverside Military, Gary Downs; Jefferson, T. McFerrin
Records: Riverside Military (1-7, 1-4 Region 8-AA); Jefferson (7-1, 5-0).
Key players: Riverside Military, QB Collin Pettell (6-4, 220 Jr.); RB/S Elijah Holyfield (5-11, 180 Fr.); RB/WR/DB Adrian Humphrey (5-11, 170 Sr.). Jefferson, QB Bryant Shirreffs (6-3, 215 Sr.); LB Wesley Simonton (6-0, 205 Sr.); RB Sammy Williams (5-5, 155 So.).
Outlook: Jefferson has two paths to earn the region championship tonight. The Dragons can take care of the region title with a win, or a Washington-Wilkes loss against Oglethorpe County.
However, based on recent performances, Jefferson shouldn’t have trouble taking care of business on its own. In five region games, Jefferson has averaged 48 points per game and won by an average margin of 39 in those games.
The Dragons posted shutouts against Washington-Wilkes and Oglethorpe County and they rank fourth in the area in total offense with 405 yards per game.
Shirreffs is having an outstanding season for the Dragons with 1,316 yards passing (fourth in the area) and 537 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns. Jefferson’s leading rusher is Williams with 609 yards and nine scores.
Simonton is Jefferson’s leading tackler with 101 stops (24 for a loss).
Riverside Military has shown steady improvement. After not scoring a touchdown until its fourth game, Riverside Military has averaged 20 per game in the four games since. Humphrey is leading the Eagles’ rushing attack with 589 yards and five touchdowns, while Holyfield is second on the team with 423 yards on just 34 attempts.
Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons are too crafty and deep in talent on offense for a youthful Eagles squad.
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 (2-6); Lakeview (5-2)
Key players: Towns County, RB/LB Wesley Bloodworth (5-10, 230 Sr.), RB/DB Jackson Noblet (5-11, 185 Jr.), QB Joseph Gibson (Sr.). Lakeview, QB/DB Ted Reynolds (6-1, 160 Sr.), RB/LB Caleb Faulkner (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB/LB Trevor Price (5-10, 165 Sr).
Outlook: Lakeview Academy is aiming to close out the most successful season in school history tonight with a fourth straight win. Towns County, which closes its season next week against Hebron Christian, is seeking a third straight win with an eye toward just its second four-win season in program history.
The Indians, who lost their first six games, have found a groove recently. They’ve scored at least 34 points in each of their last four games and edged St. Francis last week, 35-33, thanks to big games from Bloodworth (18 carries, 205 yards) and Noblet (101 rushing yards and an 83-yard touchdown reception).
Yards could be tougher to come by against Lakeview Academy. The Lions are giving up less than 14 points per game, and thrive with a ball-control offense predicated on a dangerous triple-option running game.
Faulkner, Reynolds and Price are the primary threats on the ground and have combined for almost 1,600 rushing yards in seven games. The Lions scored a school-record 63 points in last week’s win over North Cobb Christian and are averaging 47.3 per game during their three-game winning streak.
Lakeview has won its last three matchups against Towns County and holds a 4-1 all-time advantage.
Prediction: LAKEVIEW ACADEMY. The Lions are stout on both sides of ball and motivated to improve on an already successful season.
Dawson County at Fannin County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge
Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Fannin County, Greg Chambers
Records: Dawson County (4-4, 2-3 Region 7-AAA); Fannin County (1-7, 1-4)
Key players: Dawson County, QB Tyler Dominy (6-4, 178 Sr.); WR/DB Bruce Clark (6-4, 210 Sr.); WR/DB Chris Sayler (5-9, 160 Jr.). Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (6-1, 200 Jr.); RB Peyton Satterfield (6-2, 190 Jr.); WR/LB Noah O’Neal (6-2, 180 Jr.).
Outlook: Dawson County is still in the playoff race, but after a 47-42 loss to White County last Friday, the Tigers have dropped three of their last four in region play and desperately need a win tonight to stay in the chase.
The Tigers are one of four teams in the region with a 2-3 league record. At 1-4, Fannin County is the lone team in the region that is out of contention.
Dawson County’s has been moving the ball successfully, averaging almost 380 yards of offense per outing. Dominy has 2,018 passing yards and has averaged 252 yards passing per game this season. Clark is now the Tigers’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 549 yards and seven touchdowns. Sayler (23 catches, 525 yards) is close behind.
Meanwhile, senior Zack Martin leads Dawson County’s running game with 82 carries for 456 yards and six touchdowns.
The Tigers have struggled on defense, allowing 42.7 points per game in region losses to North Hall, Buford and White County. Martin leads the Tigers with 90 stops this season from his linebacker spot.
Fannin County has struggled all season scoring points. It was shut out in region losses to North Hall and Buford, and has been held under 10 points four times this season.
Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. The Tigers will break down a struggling Rebels defense.
Habersham Central at Mill Creek
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Mill Creek Community Stadium, Hoschton
Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; Mill Creek, Shannon Jarvis
Records: Habersham Central (1-8, 1-6 Region 7-AAAAAA); Mill Creek (5-3, 4-2)
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.). Mill Creek, FB Jacorey Lewis (5-11, 185 Sr.), QB Daniel David (6-0, 185 So.), DT Kelsey Griffin (6-3, 290 Sr.).
Outlook: The Raiders have only scored more than 14 points in one game this season, a win over Meadowcreek on Oct. 12. Habersham Central’s offense comes mostly from Mulligan, who has 445 yards on 106 carries with three touchdowns.
Williams and Hedden drive the defense, Williams with 84 tackles and Hedden with 70.
Mill Creek is able to find ways to win in a tough region due to talents like Lewis, who has 18 touchdowns and 1,307 yards on 154 carries. David runs the versatile offense and has 235 yards and four scores on 41 carries along with completing 72 of 122 passes for 1,081 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.
Devozea Felton is also a key to the Hawks’ offense, acting as David’s top receiver with 243 yards and three touchdowns on 19 catches and recording 513 yards and five touchdowns on 49 carries.
Griffin is the strength of a defense that allows 20.5 points per game, with 59 tackles and six sacks on the season.
Prediction: MILL CREEK. The Hawks have shown that they can beat teams in 7-AAAAAA that the Raiders have struggled against.
Elbert County at Jackson County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson
Coaches: Elbert County, Sid Fritts; Jackson County, Benji Harrison
Records: Elbert County (4-4, 3-2 Region 8-AAA); Jackson County (5-3, 3-2)
Key players: Elbert County, RB/LB Tyshon Dye (6-0, 208 Sr.), FB/DB K’taro Cade (6-0, 190 Sr.), LB Dee Newman (5-8, 170 Jr.). Jackson County, QB Kyle Daniel (6-2, 190 Sr.), WR Xavier Harper (6-1, 180 Jr.), RB/DB Dustin Scott (5-9, 165 Sr.).
Outlook: Jackson County is an extremely balanced team, led by Daniel, the third-best quarterback in the area, completing 153 of 252 passes for 1,892 yards and 19 touchdowns. Daniel’s primary target is Harper, who is leading the area in receiving with 827 yards and nine touchdowns on 50 receptions. He is complemented by Ben Brissey, who has six scores and 461 yards on 37 catches. Scott is fourth in the area rushing, with eight scores and 880 yards on 118 carries.
The Jackson County defense gets contributions from a number of players as well, with Evan Breakspear totaling 97 total tackles, including six for loss. Daivon Ledford adds to the defense’s strength with 96 tackles and seven for a loss. Chris Foster and Garrett Holt are also big hitters with 123 tackles combined and 13 tackles for a loss from Foster.
For Elbert County, the offense relies heavily on Dye, who leads the team with 817 yards and 12 of the team’s 32 total scores on 95 carries. Cade has 44 carries for 436 yards and five touchdowns. Newman leads the defense with 70 total tackles.
Prediction: JACKSON COUNTY. The Panthers have a wide range of offensive weapons that will help them matchup well with the Blue Devils.
Social Circle at Union County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville
Coaches: Social Circle, Ron Sebree; Union County, Brian Allison
Records: Social Circle (0-8, 0-5 Region 8-AA); Union County (5-3, 2-3)
Key players: Social Circle, RB/DB M.J. Hester (Jr.), WR/DB Jeremy Elder (So.), QB Jake Howard (Jr.). Union County, QB T Bentley (6-0, 190 Sr.), OL/DL Luther Jones (6-0, 275 Jr.), LB Chase Barnett (5-7, 185 Sr.).
Outlook: Back-to-back losses have put Union County on the outside of the 8-AA playoff picture with two games remaining, including a date with region-leading Jefferson next week.
But before they can concern themselves with that game, the Panthers must focus on getting back on the winning track tonight. A win over Social Circle would seal Union County’s first winning season since 2009 and only the second since 2001.
The Redskins, whose only win last season came via forfeit, have continued their struggles in their first season under Sebree. They’re averaging 13 points per game on offense, while giving up 43.4 on defense.
Until the last two weeks, defense had been a strong point for Union County, which is now tied for fifth place in the region, one game behind Greene County and Rabun County — the teams that handed the Panthers their last two defeats.
Union County gave up well over their average of 290 yards allowed per game in both contests, but were also stung by a total of nine turnovers. The defense has been strongest against the run, led by Barnett (area-best 109 tackles) and Jones (second in the area with 20 tackles for loss).
Bentley leads the offense in passing (1,150 yards, eight touchdowns) and rushing (531 yards, six touchdowns).
Prediction: UNION COUNTY. The Panthers appear more skilled on both sides of the ball.
Lumpkin County at Lanier
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Sugar Hill
Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Lanier, Billy Wells
Records: Lumpkin County (2-6, 2-3 Region 8-AAAA); Lanier (3-5, 1-4)
Key players: Lumpkin County, QB Daniel McCrary (6-1, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Jonathan Gilreath (6-1, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Gunner Wood (5-9, 160 So.). Lanier, QB Taylor Grant (5-11, 180 Sr.), WR Marty Sanders (5-10, 165 Sr.), LB Izzy Sam (5-10, 215 Sr.).
Outlook: Although Lanier has only won one region game, the Longhorns have faced tough region teams so far this year. The offense’s numbers proves that they have the ability to score, with Grant completing 103 of 179 passes for 1,750 yards and 14 scores and Sanders recording 824 yards on 36 catches for seven touchdowns.
Sam leads the defense with 114 tackles, seven tackled for loss and six sacks.
Lumpkin County has posted two wins, both in region, and McCrary is 73 for 147 passing with 816 yards and four touchdowns. Gilreath is the main offensive spark for the Indians with three scores and 397 yards on 27 catches.
Wood and Logan Head anchor the defense and have 127 tackles between them.
Prediction: LANIER. Although the Longhorns have lost four straight, they have played close games with the top four teams in the region.