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HS Football Previews: Week 6
Lumpkin County's Cal Thrailkill breaks up a pass intended for East Hall's Rex Purgason in the Indians' 38-35 win Sept. 26 in Gainesville. - photo by Jared Putnam

Read a preview of White County vs. Madison County here:

Buford at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Chestatee, Bill Forman; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Buford (4-0, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA); Chestatee (1-3, 0-1).

Key players: Buford, RB/LB Joshua Thomas (5-11, 200 Sr.); TE Isaac Nauta (6-4, 240 Jr.); WR/DB David Curry (6-0,195 Sr.). Chestatee, RB/LB Tray Bryant (6-2, 210 Sr.); RB/WR/DE A.J. Sijiye (6-2, 195 Sr.); RB/LB Kris Pierce (5-8, 210 Sr.).

Outlook: The top-ranked Wolves have yet to bend on the season, while the War Eagles are looking to gain some traction following a slow start. The consensus No. 1 program in Class AAAA, Buford has given up just 30 total points on the season, 20 of those coming in a win against Class AAAAAA’s ninth-ranked McEachern.

The Wolves are riding a 29-game winning streak, dating back to two games forfeited due to a self-reported infraction to the Georgia High School Association in 2012. For Chestatee, offensive production has been the biggest void. The War Eagles have produced 31 total points, 24 coming in their win against Pepperell.

Former Chestatee coach Stan Luttrell is now an assistant coach with the Wolves. Luttrell coached the War Eagles for eight seasons, including back-to-back playoff appearances in 2012 and 2013.

Gainesville vs. Salem

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Salem, John Starr

Records: Gainesville (3-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAAAA); Salem (4-1, 4-0)

Key players: Gainesville, QB Mikey Gonzalez (5-9, 167 Sr.); WR Rodney Lackey (5-11, 175 Sr.); LB J.D. Sosebee (5-11, 225 Sr.). Salem, RB/DB Hasan Boddie (5-9, 180 Sr.); DB Elijah Daniels (5-9, 180 Sr.); RB/DB Nijaron Brown (5-9, 155 Sr.).

Outlook: While the Red Elephants have been dominating in three region victories to date, the Seminoles have also kept an unbeaten record with three narrow victories. Gainesville’s win against Heritage last Friday, 47-13, was its closest in region play. Salem has yet to win a region contest by more than a touchdown.

At 4-0 in 8-AAAAA, Lanier is the only other unbeaten team in region play besides these two matching up at City Park Stadium.

Despite losing running back Chris Byrd to an ankle injury, Gainesville still has an explosive offense. Lackey, Messiah Dorsey and Chris Williamson are all over 200 yards receiving for the Red Elephants. Gonzalez has been quite strong in the starting quarterback role, completing 72 percent of his throws for 881 yards and 11 touchdown passes.

Sosebee has a team-high 38 tackles for Gainesville, while Kash Jones is second with 29 stops.

Behind the explosive running of Boddie and three interceptions by the defense, Salem held off Winder-Barrow 31-24 last Friday. The Seminoles are on their longest winning streak since 2007, when they won nine straight in the regular season.

Winder-Barrow at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Coaches: Winder-Barrow, Heath Webb; Flowery Branch, Chris Griffin

Records: Winder-Barrow (2-3, 2-2 8-AAAAA) ; Flowery Branch (2-2, 1-2, Region 8-AAAAA)

Key players: Winder-Barrow, RB/CB CeCe Green (5-10, 185 Jr.); QB Noah Chapman (6-3, 170 Jr.); WR Brandon Hayes 6-5, 180 Jr.). Flowery Branch, RB Jeremiah Goss (5-8, 200 So.); WR/DB Cortez Davis (5-11, 175 Jr.); LB/RB Cole Ford (6-0, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: For the third straight time this season, the Bulldoggs find themselves following up a defeat from the previous week. They’ll try to get back to .500 (and win their third region game so far) against a Flowery Branch team that finally righted itself in a 17-7 win over Cedar Shoals.

Griffin’s team will be more than ready to pick up a second consecutive region victory against Winder-Barrow, which came up just short in last week’s tussle against Salem. Running back Green (158 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries) was ruled short of the goal line in a last-second scoring attempt. Salem would go on to win 31-24.

Quarterback Noah Chapman was 23 of 33 passing with a touchdown, while Green had 10 receptions for 116 yards and a score in the loss.

North Hall vs. North Oconee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard, Gainesville

Coaches: North Oconee, Terry Tuley; North Hall, David Bishop

Records: North Oconee (2-2, 1-0 Region 8-AAAA); North Hall (0-4, 0-1)

Key players: North Oconee, RB Kawon Bryant (5-9, 205 Sr.); QB Tate Adcock (6-0, 185 Sr.); LB Will Mattison (5-9, 160 Sr.). North Hall, North Hall, RB/ DL Austin Perry (6-4, 220 Sr.); DB Sam Jackson (5-11, 150 Jr.); DB Maddox Turner (So.).

Outlook: The Trojans continued their early-season struggles with a 48-19 loss at Stephens County in their Region 8-AAAA opener. On the same night, the Titans scored their second straight win against a Hall County opponent, 51-7 versus Chestatee.

A week earlier, North Oconee handed West Hall its first loss. After a pair of losses to tough foes Coffee and Greater Atlanta Christian to open the season, the Titans are coming together at the right time as they look to earn a postseason berth from this competitive region.

North Hall, which has surrendered at least 38 points in each of its four losses, will have to show defensive improvement against a group averaging 39.5 points in its two wins.

East Hall at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: East Hall (1-3, 0-1 Region 7-AAA), Dawson County (0-4, 0-1)

Key players: East Hall, QB Devin Watson (5-11, 185 Sr.); WR/P Junior Lee (6-0, 205 Sr.); RB Jacques Ash (5-11, 190 Sr.). Dawson County, WR Dalton Edwards (6-0, 170, Sr.), RB/LB Kyle Hayes (5-10, 180 Sr.), RB/SS Andrew Goley (Jr.).

Outlook: This is a matchup of two teams in desperate need of a victory early in Region 7-AAA play. Both would’ve been considered serious playoff contenders entering the season but now face an uphill climb.

East Hall is dangerous enough offensively to compete against most anybody with Watson at quarterback, but the Vikings’ defense must improve for them to pick up wins.

Riverside Military at Strong Rock Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Patriots Stadium, Locust Grove

Coaches: Riverside Military, Gary Downs; Strong Rock Christian, Tommy Webb

Records: Riverside Military (1-3); Strong Rock Christian (2-2)

Key players: QB Hunter Sims (5-9, 165 So.); OL/LB Cole Garcia (6-2, 230 Sr.); WR/LB Chris Howard (6-1, 210 Sr.). Strong Rock Christian, WR/DB Torrey McKissick (Sr); QB Tyler May (Jr.); RB/LB Pierce Brewer (Jr.).

Outlook: The Eagles are looking to bounce back after a loss to Johnson, despite only allowing 185 yards of offense last Friday in Gainesville. At 0-1 in Region 8-AA, this is the Eagles’ final non-region matchup before playing five straight in region play that count heavily toward playoff qualifying.

In only their eighth season playing football, the Patriots are on a two-game losing streak following games against Macon private schools Mount de Sales and Tattnall Square. Strong Rock still has all four Region 5-A games remaining on its schedule.

Lakeview Academy vs. Hebron Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn; Hebron Christian, Kevin Shaffer

Records: Lakeview Academy (1-3, 1-1 Region 8-A); Hebron Christian (3-2, 1-2)

Key players: Lakeview Academy, RB/DB/KR Tae Turner (5-11, 175 Jr.); QB/DB David Abee (6-1, 170 Sr.); OL/DL Kyle Larsen (6-1, 190 Sr.). Hebron Christian, RB Chris McGee (5-11, 175 Jr.); QB/DB Conner Holliday (6-2, 165 Jr.); WR/DB Jacob Harper (6-1, 165 Sr.).

Outlook: Following Turner’s 240-yard, five-touchdown outing against Providence Christian, Lakeview Academy is looking to remain in the private-school playoff battle in Class A. The Lions’ 38 points in the win was their most in a game since beating North Cobb Christian 42-7 late in the 2013 season.

Meanwhile, Hebron Christian is coming off a 23-20 loss to Prince Avenue Christian. Hebron Christian lost last Friday after a failed quarterback-keeper attempt midway through the fourth quarter.

Harper had a 65-yard touchdown reception for Hebron Christian last week. He leads the program with 19 catches for 425 yards and five touchdowns. McGee, who also takes snaps as backup quarterback, leads Hebron with 335 rushing yards, while Andrew Redman has carried the ball for 285 yards. Holliday has completed 42 of 74 throws for 750 yards and eight touchdowns.

Hebron Christian is in its second year under Shaffer, who played nine seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL, four of those with the Atlanta Falcons.

Jefferson vs. Elbert County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Elbert County, Sid Fritts; Jefferson, Ben Hall

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

Key players: Elbert County, QB/CB Mecole Hardman (5-11, 170 Jr.); RB/OLB Rantious Reed (5-9 Sr.); WR/DE/P Montavious Tinch (6-3, 195 Jr.). Jefferson, QB Evan Shirreffs (6-5, 195 Sr.); RB Sammy Williams (5-6, 165 Sr.); WR/P Dalton Hill (6-1, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The Dragons are fresh off a 34-7 victory against Jackson County in their Region 8-AAA opener. Jefferson hasn’t won by fewer than 25 points in its first five outings.

This could be the toughest test yet for the Dragons. Reed has 448 yards and seven touchdowns rushing, plus an interception return touchdown and a fumble return score.

Williams rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns last week.

Lumpkin County vs. Franklin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: Franklin County, Jerry Underwood; Lumpkin County, Ty Maxwell

Records: Franklin County (2-2, 1-0 Region 7-AAA); Lumpkin County (2-3, 1-0)

Key players: Franklin County, QB Tyrique David (5-11, 160 So.), RB/CB Bud Woods (5-4, 150 Jr.), FS/SB Brooklon Wright (6-2, 180 Jr.). Lumpkin County, QB/LB Zach Matthews (6-1, 190 So.); RB/DB Gunner Wood (5-10, 175 Sr.); DB/WR Cal Thrailkill (Jr.).

Outlook: The Indians’ 38-35 victory in last week’s offensive shootout gave them just the momentum they needed to start region play. With the way Lumpkin County has played so far and the upcoming schedule, it could be the team most likely to contend with West Hall for the Region 7-AAA title.

Wood and Bradley Womack each rushed for more than 175 yards and combined for three touchdowns against the Vikings.

Franklin County edged Banks County 22-21 a week ago for its second straight win after an 0-2 start.

Jackson County at Oconee County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadum, Watkinsville

Coaches: Jackson County, Benji Harrison; Oconee County, Travis Noland

Records: Jackson County (1-4, 0-1 Region 8-AAA); Oconee County (5-0, 1-0)

Key players: Jackson County, QB Jacob Lewis (6-1, 180 Sr.); RB Malik Tuck (Jr.), LB Mason Williams (So.). Oconee County, QB/DB Zeb Noland (6-3, 205); RB/DB Christian Casey (So.); WR/DB Chase Major (6-1, 185 Jr.).

Outlook: The records might suggest Oconee County should be the favorite, but the Panthers have defeated the Warriors by double digits the past two seasons. Jackson County has plenty of athletes, led by Lewis, Tuck and receiver Adrian Parsons, to give Oconee’s defense trouble. And the Panthers should easily be the best opponent the Warriors have seen in 2014.

Banks County at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Fannin County High, Blue Ridge

Coaches: Banks County, Biff Parson; Fannin County, Jim Pavao
Records: Banks County (3-2, 0-1 Region 7-AAA); Fannin County (2-2, 0-0)

Key players: Banks County, RB/QB/LB Trevae Cain (Jr.); RB/CB Demetrious Walker (So.); WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell (5-9, 150 Sr.). Fannin County, OL Cody McPeek, QB Brad Davis, WR Daniel Lang.

Outlook: Banks County and Fannin County are both enjoying bounceback seasons. Banks County has already won three games this year — the first of which ended a 14-game losing streak that dated back to 2012. Meanwhile, Fannin County has already matched its win total from a season ago under first-year coach Jim Pavao, who took the job after a successful stint as defensive coordinator at Gainesville High. Fannin County narrowly won last year’s meeting 6-0, but the Rebels will likely have to generate a better offensive output to get the same result this season.

Led by the versatile Trevae Cain, the Leopards are averaging 27 points per game after being held to just nine points per game a year ago.

Commerce at Prince Avenue Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Wolverine Field, Bogart

Coaches: Commerce, Michael Brown; Prince Avenue Christian, Jeff Herron.

Records: Commerce (4-1, 3-0 Region 8-A); Prince Avenue Christian (3-2, 2-1)

Key players: Commerce, QB/SS Caleb Brooks (5-10, 160, Jr.); RB/S Cole Chancey (5-10, 175 So.), WR/CB J’Varius Wood (5-10, 130 Jr.). Prince Avenue Christian, QB/OLB Tyson Herron (6-1, 180 Sr.); RB/SS Jonah Doster (5-6, 170 Sr.); RB Matthew Hill (6-1, 165 Fr.).

Outlook: The Tigers are developing a knack for winning close games (28-21 vs. Banks County, 27-20 vs. Athens Academy and 10-7 last week at Athens Christian), which could pay off quite well as such contests seem to be a normal part of life in Region 8-A.

Against a Prince Avenue team that has been up and down early, Commerce has a strong chance to go to 4-0 in region play halfway through its 8-A slate.

Athens Academy at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Athens Academy, Don Chuboff; Towns County, Billy Barnhart

Records: Athens Academy (1-2, 0-2 in Region 8-A); Towns County (1-4, 1-2 in Region 8-A)

Key players: Athens Academy, WR/FS Eric Williams (5-10, 160 Sr.); MLB Joe Jordan (6-2, 220 Sr.); WR/MLB Richard Ferguson (5-11, 170 Sr.). Towns County, FB/DB Cruz Shook (5-9, 205 Sr.); OL/LB Kyle Davis (5-10, 210 Sr.); TE/DL Daulton Rogers (6-1, 200 Jr.).

Outlook: Fresh off a bye week, Athens Academy is hoping to avenge a close 27-20 loss to Commerce that leaves the Spartans winless in the region so far.

Meanwhile, Towns County must try to bolster its defense that has allowed more than 53 points per game in its last two games against George Walton and Hebron Christian.

Union County at Oglethorpe County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Patriot Stadium, Lexington

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Oglethorpe County, Jimbo Hale

Records: Union County (5-0, 1-0 in Region 8-AA); Oglethorpe County (0-4, 0-1 in Region 8-AA)

Key players: Union County, QB Joseph Mancuso (6-3, 195 Jr.); WR/CB Robert Prunier (5-9, 175 Sr.); WR/OLB Jacob Rogers (6-2, 182 Sr.). Oglethorpe County, WR/DB John Tucker (5-11, 155 Sr.); TE/LB Nick Sanchez (5-11, 165 So.)

Outlook: With a dominant 52-19 win over Social Circle last week, the Union County Panthers improved to a 5-0 start to the season for the first time since 2001. They can add to that total with a win over Oglethorpe County, a team that has given up an average of 45 points per game in its four losses.

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