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HS Football Previews: Week 8
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Read a preview of Friday's game of the week here: 

Gainesville vs. Clarke Central

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: City Park Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Clarke Central, Ahren Self; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: Clarke Central (3-3, 3-2 Region 8-AAAAA); Gainesville (4-2, 4-1)

Key players: Clarke Central, RB JaQua Daniels (6-2, 212 Jr.); QB Akeem Wise (5-10, 170 Sr.); TE/OLB Qua-Von Scott (6-1, 225). Gainesville, WR Messiah Dorsey (Jr.); RB Michael Byrd (5-7, 170 Sr.); DL Kash Jones (5-10, 240 Sr.).

Outlook: It’s a matchup with far-reaching Region 8-AAAAA implications. Following the Red Elephants’ 26-23 loss at region leader Lanier, Gainesville is tied with Salem for second at 4-1 in region play. Clarke Central is one of three teams a game back of the Red Elephants after winning 32-12 at Flowery Branch.

Dorsey had three receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns against Lanier. He has 28 receptions for 291 yards on the season.

Daniels rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yard score, against the Falcons. The junior running back is the most prominent offensive weapon for the Gladiators, lining up at both running back and at times takes direct snaps.

Scott returned an interception for a touchdown against Flowery Branch.

Gainesville has averaged 38.6 points in the five games since being shut out in its opener against Grayson. Their defense is allowing 16.2 points per contest, including the 39 points the Elephants surrendered to Grayson.

The Gladiators are averaging 29.6 points in five region contests.

Flowery Branch at Apalachee

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: W. Clair Harris Stadium, Winder

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Chris Griffin; Apalachee, Shane Davis

Records: Flowery Branch (2-4, 1-4 Region 8-AAAAA); Apalachee (0-6, 0-5)

Key players: Flowery Branch, RB Jeremiah Goss (5-6, 195 So.); MLB Cole Ford (6-1, 205 Sr.); CB/WR Cortez Davis (5-11, 165 Jr.). Apalachee, WR/SS Kent Knowles (Sr.); OL Logan Jackson (Sr.); RB/OLB Dalton Bales (Jr).

Outlook: If there was ever a chance to bring some optimism back to Flowery Branch, tonight would be the time. The Falcons desperately need a second region win before they end the season against strong playoff hopefuls Salem and cross-town rival Gainesville. Goss is the Falcons’ leading rusher with 547 yards and three touchdowns.

Apalachee is winless so far on the season, despite having averaged three touchdowns in the past two games against Clarke Central and Loganville. Stopping the Wildcats’ aerial attack is vital for Flowery Branch to pick up its third win on the season.

Apalachee quarterback Bryan Wilson has thrown for 100.5 yards per game so far this season, but has also thrown seven picks.


Banks County at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega

Coaches: Banks County, Biff Parson; Lumpkin County, Ty Maxwell

Records: Banks County (3-3, 0-2 Region 7-AAA); Lumpkin County (4-3, 3-0)

Key players: Banks County, RB/QB/LB Trevae Cain (Jr.); RB/CB Demetrious Walker (So.); WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell (5-9, 150 Sr.). Lumpkin County, QB/MLB Zach Matthews (6-1, 195); RB Gunner Wood (5-11, 170 Sr.); RB/OLB Bradley Womack (Sr.).

Outlook: These teams have gone in opposite directions since Region 7-AAA play began.
Led by the running of Matthews, Womack and Wood, the Indians have earned three straight victories. Meanwhile, the Leopards lost narrowly to Franklin County and Fannin County before last week’s bye. Matthews ran for 300 yards and four touchdowns in last Friday’s win against Fannin County.

The way Lumpkin County is playing, it might be on track for a region title showdown at West Hall in the Nov. 7 season finale. Banks County will be looking to keep its playoff hopes alive by recapturing the momentum of its three-game winning streak earlier in the season.

West Hall at Franklin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Ed Bryant Stadium, Carnesville

Coaches: West Hall, Tony Lotti; Franklin County, Jerry Underwood

Records: West Hall (5-1, 2-0 Region 7-AAA); Franklin County (2-4, 1-2)

Key players: West Hall, RB/CB Tyquan Statham (6-1, 190 Jr.); RB/CB Kwon Williams (6-0, 186 Jr.); OL/LB Ty Statham (6-2, 210 Sr.). 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.).

Outlook: The Spartans are coming off their highest scoring output of the season in a 51-22 win against rival East Hall. Three West Hall running backs (Statham, Kwon Williams and Jay Crawford) surpassed 100 yards rushing in that victory.

Now, West Hall turns its attention to a Lions group coming off losses to Lumpkin County and Dawson County. Franklin County’s two wins this season have come against East Jackson and Banks County.

Franklin County is averaging 19.7 points per games, while West Hall is holding opponents to 8.8 points per contest.


Riverside Military Academy at Oglethorpe County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Patriot Stadium, Lexington

Coaches: Riverside, Gary Downs; Oglethorpe County, Jimbo Hale

Records: Riverside (1-5, 0-2 Region 8-AA); Oglethorpe County (0-6, 0-3)

Key players: Riverside, RB/FS Mahlik Faulk (5-11, 175); TE/DE Avery Cagle (6-4, 220 Sr.); K Jordan Ainslie (Jr.). Oglethorpe County, OL/DE Zach Bates (6-4, 195 Sr.); RB/OLB Will Mathis (5-9, 175 Sr.); C/DT Dustin Todd (5-10, 200 So.).

Outlook: The Eagles nearly broke through for a key Region 8-AA victory last week, but defending region champion Washington-Wilkes escaped Gainesville with a 13-10 triumph.

Faulk paced Riverside with 57 yards on 11 carries and also returned an interception 43 yards against Washington-Wilkes, with Ainslie providing a field goal. Avery Cagle had 35 rushing yards and the only touchdown for the Eagles.

Riverside has a golden opportunity for a region win this week against the winless Patriots, who surrendered 74 points to Hart County earlier this season and have allowed fewer than 40 points only once in six outings.

The Eagles defense has allowed 14.7 points per contest, so a well-timed offensive outburst could make the difference tonight.


Buford at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Legion Field, Monroe

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Monroe, Joey Sulkowski

Records: Buford (6-0, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA); Monroe Area (0-6, 0-3)

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.). Monroe Area, QB Jacob Olson (6-1, 180 Sr.); RB C.J. Winding (5-9, 175 Jr.); WR/DB Alfred King (5-10, 170 Jr.).

Outlook: The Wolves have outscored their Region 8-AAAA opposition 152-17 in three games thus far. A matchup with the winless Purple Hurricanes shouldn’t do anything to change that trend.

Buford’s power running game and stout defense should cement the outcome early. Thomas has been the workhorse of the Wolves’ running game, carrying the ball for 338 yards on 39 carries and nine touchdowns. Xavier Gantt is second on the team with 266 yards (9 yards per carry) and four touchdowns.

The Buford running game, which is its trademark, has averaged 244.7 yards per game, while allowing only 57.8 yards per contest on the ground.

The Wolves follow up tonight’s game with a trip to North Oconee, which enters this week 3-0 in region play.


Chestatee vs. Stephens County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Stephens County, Frank County; Chestatee, Bill Forman

Records: Stephens County (5-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA); Chestatee (1-5, 0-3)

Key players: Stephens County, QB Mason Long (6-0, 185 Sr.); RB/OLB Desmond Wheeler (5-9, 210 Sr.); WR Isaiah Mighell (6-4, 165 Sr.). Chestatee, RB/LB Kris Pierce (5-8, 210 Sr.); RB/LB Tray Bryant (6-2, 210 Sr.); RB/LB Marvin Rosario (6-2, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: The War Eagles had their highest scoring output of the season in last week’s 49-28 loss at Madison County. They face another tall task tonight against the Indians, who are unbeaten in Region 8-AAAA play.

Stephens County has no shortage of athletes. Long has passed for 794 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions, and he’s added another 401 yards and six touchdowns rushing. Wheeler has amassed 707 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing, with leading Indians receiver Mighell pulling in 23 receptions for 394 yards and seven touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Chestatee will try to tighten up defensively after allowing at least 49 points in each outing of its three-game losing streak. The War Eagles’ lone win came 24-19 at Pepperell on Sept. 12.


North Hall vs. Madison County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: The Brickyard, Gainesville

Coaches: Madison County, Chris Smith; North Hall, David Bishop

Records: Madison County (4-2, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA); North Hall (0-6, 0-3)

Key players: Madison County, QB/DB Ethan South (5-7, 155 Jr.); DL/OL Tyler Gary (6-1, 210 Sr.); OL/LB Phillipe Claytor (6-0, 210 Sr.). North Hall, RB/DL Austin Perry (6-4, 220 Sr.); OL/DL Hayden Hughes (6-2, 230 Sr.), QB/DB Maddox Turner (5-9, 155 So.).

Outlook: The Trojans are still searching for their first victory of the season and take on a Red Raiders group that has already matched its 2013 win total.

North Hall’s defense has allowed at least 38 points in each of its six losses. It won’t be an easy task taking on a Madison County offense featuring the dynamic South, who has a team-high 251 rushing yards.

Following this matchup, the Trojans will host winless Monroe Area next week. The Trojans are winless through six games for the first time since 2001. North Hall has rushed for 915 yards this season, led by Kyle Bacus’ 253 yards.


Jefferson vs. East Jackson

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: East Jackson, Gary Hughes; Jefferson, Ben Hall

Records: East Jackson (1-6, 0-3 Region 8-AAA); Jefferson (7-0, 3-0)

Key players: East Jackson, RB/LB Taylor Murphy (6-1, 215 Sr.), DB Devonte Browner (Fr.), DB Josh Adair (5-8, 145). Jefferson, RB Colby Wood (5-9, 165 Fr.), RB Sammy Williams (5-6, 165 Sr.), WR T.J. Skelton (6-2, 185).

Outlook: The Dragons hit the 50-point mark for the second straight week in a 51-16 win against Morgan County last week.

Jefferson’s closest game so far this season was a 28-3 non-region victory against Commerce.
Wood scored three touchdowns against Morgan County.

Both he and Williams, who had a touchdown, had more than 100 yards rushing.

Quarterback Evan Shirreffs has continued his fantastic season, completing 77 of 123 throws for the Dragons for 1,504 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Dragons.

Williams (676 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Wood (614 yards, 12 touchdowns) provide a nice 1-2 punch for Jefferson’s running attack.

East Jackson should have a tough time slowing down the Dragons’ prolific offense.

Jefferson has a bye following this game before taking on Oconee County.


Lakeview Academy vs. Athens Academy

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Jock Hornor Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Athens Academy, Don Chuboff; Lakeview Academy, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Athens Academy (2-3, 1-3 Region 8-A); Lakeview Academy (2-4, 2-2)

Key players: Athens Academy, QB/LB/SS Drew Richardson (6-1, 190 Jr.), CB/WR Rolf Reynolds (5-10, 145 So.), RB Hayden Hudson (5-8, 165). Lakeview Academy, RB/CB/KR Tae Turner (5-10, 175 Jr.); QB/DB David Abee (6-1, 170 Sr.); WR Thaddeus Webb (6-3, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: A win here would benefit the Lions’ playoff hopes. Both teams are coming off losses last Friday, Lakeview at George Walton Academy and Athens Academy at home against Prince Avenue Christian.

Turner has shown an ability to carry Lakeview, as he did in Region 8-A triumphs against Providence Christian and Hebron Christian. He has 10 touchdowns in the Lions’ last three games.

A third victory in four weeks would be an important step for the Lions in their return to region play this season.

White County vs. North Oconee

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: White County Stadium, Cleveland

Coaches: North Oconee, Terry Tuley; White County, Bill Ballard

Records: North Oconee (4-2, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA); White County (3-3, 1-2)

Key players: North Oconee, RB Kawon Bryant (5-9, 205 Sr.); QB Tate Adcock (6-0, 185 Sr.); DB/WR/KR Zantravious Shields (5-10, 185 Sr.). White County, CB/RB Maurice Sutton (6-0, 190 Sr.); FB/OLB Max Taylor (5-9, 210 Sr.); DE/WR/TE Tucker Cook (6-3, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: The Warriors are in need of a victory to help their playoff positioning after last week’s 30-10 defeat at Stephens County. They’ll have to do it against a team that has rolled off four straight victories since an 0-2 start.

Bryant is a dynamic playmaker for the Titans, rushing for 906 yards and 12 touchdowns. Adcock gives some variety to North Oconee’s ground-based attack with 805 yards through the air and six touchdowns.

Interestingly, the teams have played completely opposite region schedules. White County’s region opponents are 8-1 in region play and North Oconee’s have combined to go 0-9.

This is the first meeting between the two programs.


Commerce at Providence Christian

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Lilburn

Coaches: Commerce, Michael Brown; Providence Christian, Ken Robinson

Records: Commerce (4-2, 3-1 Region 8-A); Providence Christian (0-6, 0-4)

Key players: Commerce, QB/SS Caleb Brooks (5-10, 160 Jr.); RB/S Cole Chancey (5-10, 175 So.); RB/CB Grant Mayberry (Sr.). Providence Christian, QB/DB Jeremy Hardnett (Jr.); SS/SB Kendall Adams (5-11, 152 So.); MLB/C Ben Ellison (5-9, 185 Jr.).

Outlook: The Tigers had a bye last week after a 48-27 loss to Prince Avenue Christian on Oct. 3.

Tonight they’ll take on a Providence team that hasn’t won this season and lost 61-27 to Hebron Christian last week and 54-7 to Athens Christian the week before.

Mayberry tallied a team-high 88 rushing yards on 11 carries in the Prince Avenue game.


Dawson County vs. Fannin County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Fannin County, Jim Pavao; Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: Fannin County (3-3, 1-1 Region 7-AAA); Dawson County (1-5, 1-2)

Key players: Fannin County, QB Brad Davis (6-1, 160 So.); RB Tyler Beaver (5-11, 180 Sr.); WR/DB/P Cooper Earls (6-0, 172 So.). Dawson County, RB/SS Andrew Goley (Jr.); FS Dylan Nix (So.); WR Dalton Edwards (6-0, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: The Tigers are trending in the right direction. In the past two weeks, they scored 29 points in a narrow loss to East Hall before breaking through last Friday with a 25-7 victory against Franklin County for their first win of the season.

Goley rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown for Dawson County in the victory, and Nix had a 47-yard fumble return for a touchdown and an interception. If the Tigers can build off that momentum, they have a chance to even their region record.

Fannin County has a win against Banks County and lost to Lumpkin County in region play so far. The Rebels are in their first year under Pavao, who served previously as defensive coordinator for Gainesville.


Union County vs. Rabun County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Rabun County, Lee Shaw

Records: Union County (7-0, 3-0 Region 8-AA); Rabun County (5-2, 3-0)

Key players: Union County, QB Joseph Mancuso (6-3, 195 Jr.); MLB/FB Chase Barnett (5-9, 200 Sr.); WR/OLB Jacob Rogers (6-2, 182 Sr.). Rabun County, WR Charlie Woerner (6-5, 220 Jr.); MLB Tucker Williams (6-0, 220 Sr.); CB Tyler Harris (6-1, 170 Jr.).

Outlook: An undefeated Union County squad plays host to Rabun County, who is riding a four-game win streak dating back to early September. Quarterback Mancuso (1,884 yards, 25 touchdowns, 1 INT) stands a good chance of throwing the 51st touchdown of his varsity career tonight against the Wildcats as he leads an offense that has scored more than 44 points per game in 2014. Mancuso ranks third in the state in passing, behind Kyle Banks of North Paulding (2,498 yards) and North Gwinnett’s John Urzua (2,054 yards).

Meanwhile, fullback Barnett has proven he can shoulder some of the offensive weight. His three rushing scores last week helped secure a 42-27 win over Greene County. Williams (34 solo tackles, four sacks) will be the main defensive threat for Rabun County, but if Mancuso can get decent blocking from his offensive linemen, Union County should be poised for its eighth straight win.


Habersham Central vs. Centennial

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Raider Stadium, Mt. Airy

Coaches: Habersham Central, Michael Pollock; Centennial, Jeff Carlberg

Records: Habersham Central (0-6, 0-5 Region 7-AAAAAA); Centennial (3-3, 3-2)

Key players: Habersham Central, QB Bennett Black (6-1, 185 Sr.); RB Michael Babers (5-10, 205 So.); WR/DE John David Herrin. Centennial, QB Casen Conway (6-0, 180 So.); RB Luther Martinez (5-6, 165 Jr.); DE/OLB Chris Calhoun (6-3, 235 Sr.).

Outlook: In the space of a week, Centennial will go from playing the region leaders in Alpharetta to the cellar dwellers of Habersham Central. The Knights, who were on a three-game region win streak before last week’s 39-0 loss to Alpharetta, won’t make things easy for Pollock’s Raiders.

If Centennial’s Luther Martinez (13 carries, 115 yards, 1 TD against Johns Creek) continues his recent good run of form, the Raiders will still be searching for their first win of the season come late October.


Jackson County at Hart County

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Pete Herndon Stadium, Hartwell

Coaches: Jackson County, Benji Harrison; Hart County, William DeVane

Records: Jackson County (1-6, 0-3 Region 8-AAA); Hart County (6-0, 2-0)

Key players: Jackson County, QB Jacob Lewis (6-1, 180 Sr.); RB Malik Tuck (Jr.); WR Chase Wester (5-11, 175 Jr.). Hart County, QB Cameron Fouch (6-0, 180 Sr.); RB/OLB Trey Clark (5-10, 173 Jr.); WR Anthony Turner (6-4, 200 Jr.).

Outlook: The Panthers have stumbled to three straight losses to open Region 8-AAA play since their victory at East Hall in their final non-region game. Things don’t get any easier in facing a Bulldogs group that hasn’t lost this season.
Jackson County has to hold on to the ball better to have a chance against this high-octane opponent. Lewis has been effective all season for the Panthers, completing 59 percent of his throws for 1,242 yards. Caleb Smith has been Lewis’ top target at wide receiver with 44 catches for 402 yards. Linebacker Griffin McElvery is Jackson County’s top defender with 105 tackles, six for a loss.

Fouch, Clark and Turner lead an offense averaging more than 38 points per contest. Hart County scored 74 points in a win against Oglethorpe County earlier this season and hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game. Fouch has a strong arm, throwing for 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season. At Hart County, this is the second consecutive season it has started the season 6-0 under the third-year coach DeVane.


Towns County vs. Prince Avenue Christian

When: 7:30 Friday night

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Prince Avenue, Jeff Herron; Towns County, Billy Barnhart

Records: Prince Avenue (5-2, 4-1 Region 8-A); Towns County (1-6, 1-4)

Key players: Prince Avenue, RB/SS/KR Jonah Doster (5-6, 170 Sr.), QB/OLB Tyson Herron (6-1, 180 Sr.), RB Matthew Hill (6-1, 165 Fr.). 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: The Indians are on a four-game losing streak since their victory against Lakeview Academy. After being shut out by Athens Academy (41-0) and Athens Christian (46-0) the past two weeks, Towns County has to face one of Region 8-A’s top teams.

Prince Avenue enters tonight on a three-game winning streak, the latest being a 29-7 triumph against AthensAcademy last week. Wolverines playmaker Doster returned a kickoff for a touchdown last week, with Hill scoring twice on runs and Herron running for another score.

Towns County is averaging fewer than 11 points per game and must increase that output against Prince Avenue, which averages 31.3 points and allows 19.4 per contest.

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