By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
HS football previews: Week 9
Placeholder Image

Game of the Week: Big test for Flowery Branch in region

Clarke Central at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Clarke Central, Leroy Ryals; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: Clarke Central (3-3, 3-1 Region 8-AAAAA); Gainesville (6-1, 5-0)

Key players: Clarke Central, QB Cameron Johnson (6-3, 174 Jr.), RB Rodney Willingham (5-7, 157 Sr.), DB Dreko Statham (6-0, 169 Sr.). Gainesville, QB Deshaun Watson (6-3, 195 Jr.); LB Devan Stringer (5-11, 180 Jr.); WR Rodney Lackey (5-10, 160 Jr.).

Outlook: The Red Elephants have already defeated one of last season’s 8-AAAA co-champions in Heritage, but Clarke Central doesn’t look to be an easy hurdle despite its overtime loss to Heritage last week.

Like Gainesville, Clarke Central opened the season with a pair of tough nonregion games, accounting for its pedestrian overall record. In region play, the Gladiators outscored their first three opponents 112-18 before falling to Heritage 23-20 in overtime last week when five Clarke Central starters had to sit out a suspension. Now the players, including Johnson (59 for 111 for 797 yards passing and 11 touchdowns) are back.

Johnson’s favorite target is Jaquan Dowdy (20 receptions for 293 yards) and he can hand off to an effective running back in Willingham (63 carries for 496 yards). On defense, Statham has 35 tackles, three interceptions and five pass break-ups.

Watson will certainly give Statham plenty of chances, but the Red Elephants quarterback has been one of the best at getting the ball to his receivers, as he leads the area with 1,877 yards and 23 touchdowns on 126 of 179 passing, as well as 560 yards rushing and 10 scores. Lackey, Lahius Leverette, Caleb Hayman and Tray Harrison are four of the top receivers in the area and have a combined 1,560 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns for an offense that averages 44 points per game.

Stringer has 83 tackles for a defense that has allowed just 15 points per game.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants could be challenged, but they have the kind of offense that allows them to win in nearly any fashion.

White County at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard, Gainesville

Coaches: White County, Bill Ballard; North Hall, Bob Christmas

Records: White County (4-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAA); North Hall (5-1, 3-0

Key players: White County, QB Will Brock (6-3, 198 Sr.); RB/LB Will Stonecypher (5-11, 180 Sr.); WR/LB Will Flowers (5-11, 185 Jr). North Hall, QB/DB Andrew Smith (5-8, 145 Jr.); OL/DL Avery Easton (6-3, 260 Sr.); RB/LB Kevin Christmas (5-8, 170 Sr.)

Outlook: The Trojans have shot to the front of the region, tied with Buford for first, thanks to a great running game. Bolstered by a talented offensive line, North Hall has rushed for 375 yards per night in lopsided region wins against Dawson County, East Hall and Fannin County. North Hall had a season-best 495 yards rushing in last Friday’s 63-0 win over the Rebels.

North Hall’s 46.3 points per game is the highest in Class AAA and fourth best in all classifications.

Kevin Christmas (465 yards, three TDs) and T.J. Tate (451 yards, 10 TDs) are at the top of the Trojans’ rushing game, while Zac Little led the way last week with 150 yards on just four carries. Meanwhile, North Hall’s defense is allowing just 204 yards and 13 points per game.

White County is still a playoff contender, and a win tonight would give them a shot at second place, despite last week’s 49-14 loss to Buford in Cleveland. Brock is leading the way for the Warriors with 380 rushing yards and 400 passing. White County is still one of the area’s best with 29 points per game.

Stonecypher (51 tackles, 10 sacks) is White County’s top defender and leads the area by a wide margin in sacks.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. The combination of a great offensive line and running game has been a winning combination.

West Hall at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: West Hall, Tony Lotti; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: West Hall (2-4, 1-2 Region 7-AAA); East Hall (2-4, 0-3)

Key players: 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.). 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.)

Outlook: After both took huge losses to the top two squads in Region 7-AAA on Oct. 5, the Spartans and Vikings each spent the last two weeks recovering for the home stretch of the region and regular season schedule. It all starts with a big game for both tonight in Gainesville.

West Hall is trying to bounce back from a 61-0 loss at Buford on Oct. 5, while East Hall lost the same night 60-12 against North Hall.

So far, West Hall and East Hall have almost identical offensive production. The Spartans average 225 yards per game, while the Vikings are at 220.

Led by Mahaffey and his 432 yards of total offense, the Vikings are still searching for their first region victory. Hughey is East Hall’s leader on defense with 61 tackles (eight tackles for a loss). The Vikings will round out the regular season with road games against Banks County and Fannin County, and a home game against Buford.

West Hall is led on offense by Rowe with 367 yards and four touchdowns. He had 66 yards on 16 carries in the Spartans’ last outing against Buford two weeks ago.

Prediction: EAST HALL. The Vikings have a chance to finish strong, but only if they get a win tonight in a game that could come down to the wire.

Lanier at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville

Coaches: Lanier, Billy Wells; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: Lanier (3-3, 1-2 Region 8-AAAA); Chestatee (5-1, 3-0)

Key players: Lanier, QB Taylor Grant (6-0, 180 Sr.), WR Marty Sanders (Sr.), RB/LB Brandon Ramos (Sr.). Chestatee, RB Quan Clark (5-10, 188 Sr.), RB A.J. Sijiye (5-11, 150 So.), QB Jordan Degraff (6-0, 155 Sr.).

Outlook: The War Eagles are riding a five-game winning streak entering tonight’s contest against Lanier, which has lost its last two games to region contenders Monroe Area and Eastside.

The Longhorns, despite playing the three-year-old program’s first full region schedule, have been competitive this season, losing by six to Eastside and beating Madison County 14-7 to open region play. In the loss to Eastside, Grant finished 14 for 22 for 267 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96-yard touchdown to Sanders. Lanier is averaging 16 points per game on offense, while the defense, led by Ramos and his eight tackles per game, has allowed just 15 per contest.

Chestatee, led by Degraff (399 yards rushing and seven touchdowns), Clark (775 yards and seven touchdowns) and Sijiye (474 yards and eight touchdowns), will look to score much more than that. The War Eagles are averaging 38 points scored per game after the 51-0 win over Walnut Grove last week, while the defense has allowed 25 points on average.

The offense has also complemented the defense by controlling possession in the run-based, split-back veer option offense.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles offense is rolling, and with the defense stepping up as well, Chestatee should improve to 4-0 in the region.

Lakeview at St. Francis

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Alpharetta

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; St. Francis, Brennen Booth

Records: Lakeview (3-2); St. Francis (3-4)

Key players: Lakeview, QB/DB Ted Reynolds (6-1, 160 Sr.), RB/LB Caleb Faulkner (5-10, 170 Sr.), OL/DL Alex Oliver (6-1, 210 Sr.). St. Francis, WR/LB Nathan Waller (6-2, 180 So.), QB/DB Joey Roche (Jr.), FB/LB Jonah Huff (Jr.).

Outlook: Lakeview enters tonight’s game trying to tie the school record for most wins in a season. After transitioning to a full varsity schedule in 2008, the Lions have gone 4-4 in back to back years. With a roster full of experience this season, they’re hoping for more.

Like the Lions, St. Francis is playing a nonregion schedule this season, its first against a full varsity schedule. After going 4-4-1 last season (1-2-1 against varsity teams), the Knights have won their last three, including a 22-21 win over Baconton Charter last week.

Also like the Lions, St. Francis operates out of a triple-option offense, though the Knights line up in a double slot formation similar to Georgia Tech, while the Lions run primarily out of the triple option.

Faulkner leads Lakeview with 410 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Reynolds has added 395 yards and four scores.

The Lions, who defeated Cross Keys 44-6 last week, have played stingy on defense this season, allowing 13.6 points per game while scoring 28.8.

St. Francis scores 21.1 per game and gives up 31.9.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW ACADEMY. The Lions look like the more complete team on both sides of the ball.

Druid Hills at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Druid Hills, Kip Hall; Johnson, Jason Roquemore

Records: Druid Hills (2-4, 0-3 Region 2-AAAAAA); Johnson (4-3)

Key players: Druid Hills, QB Kyle Simmons (6-0, 170 Sr.), WR/DB/QB Jaquan Johnson (6-1, 180 Sr.), RB Hasaan Enis (5-11, 160 So.). Johnson, RB Cedric Harris (6-0, 200 Sr.), OL/DL Mason Borders (6-2, 315 Sr.), TE/LB Jose Martinez (6-1, 210 Sr.).

Outlook: Johnson enters tonight’s game just six days removed from a 31-27 road win over Clarkston to push the Knights back above .500.

Harris, who scored three more touchdowns in the win, continues to lead the area with 995 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns for a run-heavy offense that averages 22 points per game. The Knights defense, led by Martinez, has allowed 28 points per game.

The Red Devils counter with a balanced attack led by Simmons, who is 32 for 66 for 602 yards passing with six touchdowns and four interceptions. Johnson, who didn’t play football until his junior year, is his top target with 16 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns; he has also passed for 220 yards and a score under center. Enis has rushed for 270 yards on 59 attempts and two touchdowns.

Druid Hills has scored 15 points per game while allowing 27. The Red Devils also defeated Clarkston this season, 33-2, at home to start the season, but have lost three straight entering tonight’s game.

Prediction: JOHNSON. The Knights will need to come out quicker than they did against Clarkston, but Harris shows no signs of slowing down.

Riverside Military at Social Circle

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Redskin Stadium, Social Circle

Coaches: Riverside Military, Gary Downs; Social Circle, Ron Sebree

Records: Riverside Military (0-6, 0-4 Region 8-AA); Social Circle (0-6, 0-3)

Key players: Riverside Military, RB Elijah Holyfield (5-11, 180 Fr.); QB Collin Pettell (6-4, 220 Jr.); OLB Montana Ogbu (6-0, 190 Sr.). Social Circle, K/P Tanner Preston (Sr.); RB/CB M.J. Hester (Jr.); WR/CB Jeremy Elder (So.).

Outlook: It’s been a rocky season for Riverside Military, but there are signs of improvement. An Eagles offense that went without a touchdown in its first three outings has posted an average of 16 points in the three region games since.

And Riverside Military has fared better against common region opponents than Social Circle.

Earlier this season, the Eagles were competitive against Oglethorpe County, losing 31-12. Last week, Social Circle lost by a wider margin to the Patriots, 49-21.

Hester is Social Circle’s leading rusher with three touchdown carries, including a 76-yard touchdown run. Elder also has big-play capabilities for the Indians with a touchdown reception and 85-yard kickoff return for a score.

Holyfield has emerged as a threat for Riverside in recent weeks, and ran for 182 yards on 10 carries two weeks ago against Union County.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles, who are starting to find some consistency on offense, pick up Downs’ first win as head coach.

Dawson County at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Dawson County (4-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAA); Buford (5-1, 3-0)

Key players: 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.). Buford, RB Dontravious Wilson (5-11, 215 Sr.); LB/TE Korie Rogers (6-2, 210 Jr.); OL/DL Josh Cardiello (6-4, 285 Sr.).

Outlook: Buford’s defense has been head and shoulders above the rest in the area this season. The Wolves (165 yards allowed per outing) are the only squad holding the opposition to less than 200 yards per game. North Hall is the next closest at 203 yards allowed per game.

Tonight’s game is probably the last real challenge before the Wolves meet North Hall on Nov. 9 in a game that could decide the region title. The Trojans are also undefeated in region play. The Wolves’ individual numbers for players on defense don’t paint nearly the same picture as the entire unit. Rogers is Buford’s leading tackler with 43 stops (six for a loss).

In region play, Buford has scored 55 per outing. Wilson is the Wolves’ leading rusher with 698 of their 1,493 yards on the ground. Buford had passed for 581 yards this season.

Dawson County had two weeks to prepare for Buford, following a 45-9 win against Banks County on Oct. 5 in Homer. In the Tigers’ last outing, Sayler had 156 yards of offense and two touchdowns from his receiver position.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves put on a another dominating performance with superior defense.

Jackson County at Hart County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Pete Herndon Stadium, Hartwell

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

Records: Jackson County (4-2, 2-1 Region 8-AAA); Hart County (3-3, 3-0)

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.). Hart County, QB Dakota Mitchell (5-7, 180 Jr.), WR Jared Scotland (5-11, 170 Sr.), LB Mason Buchanan (5-10, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s game isn’t a must-win for Jackson County, but a victory would be a huge step for the Panthers, who are trying to keep pace in a highly competitive region and reach the postseason for the first time since 1992.

Under Harrison, a first-year head coach, the Panthers are already off the their best start since ’92, when they started 6-0-1 and recorded the program’s last winning record.

Harrison installed the spread offense he previously oversaw as the offensive coordinator at Flowery Branch, and his new team has found immediate success, scoring 25.2 points per game. Daniel (1,241 passing yards) and Harper (544 receiving yards) form one of the area’s most prolific duos, and Scott leads the ground game with 515 rushing yards and 6.7 yards per carry.

Hart County is also thriving under a new coach. DeVane, who coached the Bulldogs to the 1999 state title game, is back at Hartwell, taking over for longtime coach Joby Scroggs.

Hart County has won three straight since opening region play and is scoring 46.5 points per game in its last four contests. Mitchell makes the Bulldogs’ pistol offense go with 1,140 passing yards, 460 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns.

Prediction: HART COUNTY. The Bulldogs are clicking on offense and have the capability to win if the game becomes a shootout.

Banks County at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge

Coaches: Banks County, Philip Jones; Fannin County, Greg Chambers

Records: Banks County (1-5, 0-3 Region 7-AAA); Fannin County (1-5, 1-2)

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.). Fannin County, QB Trevor Stone (6-0, 200 Jr.), WR Noah O’Neal (6-0, 190 Jr.), DL Blake Callihan (6-2, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: Although Banks County has not won a game since their season opener, the offense still averages 16 points per game. The Leopards have had a week off to regroup and plan for Fannin County, and this could be the game the Leopards need to salvage their season. Faulkner is Banks County’s leading rusher, but do not be surprised to see Hubbard carry the ball as well. The Leopards run a shotgun-spread offense, but Hubbard has the ability to throw the ball as well, creating a dual threat on offense.

Fannin County’s only win came three weeks ago against West Hall, before being beaten by a region-leading North Hall team. Stone has 1,072 yards passing and seven touchdowns for the Rebels, and O’Neal leads the team in rushing with 520 yards and five scores.

Both teams struggle on defense, allowing over 35 points per game on average, but Fannin County has beaten Banks County in four out of the teams’ six meetings.

Banks County, however, holds the most recent victory from last year’s match.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. The Leopards’ offense has the capability of putting up enough points to defeat Fannin County.

Commerce at Athens Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Slaughter Field, Watkinsville

Coaches: Commerce, Marvin Justice; Athens Academy, Michael Gunn

Records: Commerce (4-3, 0-3 Region 8-A); Athens Academy (6-0, 2-0 Region 8-A)

Key players: Commerce, OL/LB Chance McClure (6-1, 215 Jr.), RB Jamal Browner (6-0, 220 Sr.), RB/DB Terrick Ramsey (5-9, 165 Sr.). Athens Academy, RB Taylor Allen (5-9, 173 Sr.), QB Austin Schulte (5-10, 175 Sr.), TE/DE Bobby Marshburn (6-3, 220 Sr.).

Outlook: The road isn’t getting any easier for Commerce. In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the tough-luck Tigers travel to take on second-ranked and region-leading Athens Academy tonight.

Commerce went unbeaten through its nonregion portion of the schedule before falling 26-14 to No. 7 George Walton on Sept. 28. The Tigers then lost starting quarterback Drew Whitfield to mononucleosis — possibly for the remainder of the season — and the offense has sputtered in his absence as Commerce has fallen to Athens Christian and No. 5 Prince Avenue in the last two weeks.

The Tigers haven’t missed the postseason since 1996 and are currently ranked No. 10 in the Class A public schools power rankings.

The top 16 public and top 16 private schools will earn playoff bids.

Athens Academy, Region 8-A’s other traditional power, is ranked No. 1 in the private school power rankings, putting the Spartans in stellar position to reach the postseason for the 21st time in 23 years.

The Spartans are led by one of Class A’s top defenses, a unit that allows only 6.7 points per game — tops in the classification. Athens Academy, which defeated Prince Avenue 14-7 two weeks ago, has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 7 points in a game this season, and has gotten steady offensive production from Allen and Schulte.

Prediction: ATHENS ACADEMY. The Tigers depend on their running game to move the ball and keep the opposing offense off the field; they’ll have a hard time finding success tonight.

Habersham Central at North Gwinnett

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium, Suwanee

Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; North Gwinnett, Bob Sphire

Records: Habersham Central (1-6, 1-4 Region 7-AAAAAA); North Gwinnett (5-1, 3-1)

Key players: Habersham Central, RB Sydnee Mulligan (5-11, 190 Jr.), LB Tucker Williams (So), LB Gunner Hedden (Jr.). North Gwinnett, QB Michael Haynes (6-0, 170), RB/CB Donnie Miles (5-11, 190), RB Cam Lewis (5-11, 190).

Outlook: The Raiders found a way to win their first game of the season last week against Meadowcreek, but the team still has problems generating offense. Mulligan sees plenty of time with the ball and is the team’s leading rusher with 350 yards and two touchdowns on 73 carries.

The defense is the strength of the team, although Habersham Central has problems solving the new offenses of strong Gwinnett County teams. Williams has the fourth-best tackle totals in the area with 78, and Hedden is not far behind with 62. The younger players on the team are growing into their roles as the Raiders rebuild, and the win could give them some momentum to begin putting up more points. North Gwinnett’s only loss this season came at the hands of Region 7-AAAAAA’s leader Norcross. Haynes drives the Bulldogs offense, completing 95 of 147 passes for 1,130 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. Lewis is also a leader on this offense with 267 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries, and 146 yards on 13 receptions. Miles has 114 yards and two scores on 10 carries.

The Bulldogs offense is threatening, but the defense allows an average of 20.1 points per game. Fortunately, the offense is able to overcome this by scoring an average of over 34 points per game.

Prediction: NORTH GWINNETT. The Bulldogs offense is the strength of the team, and even a Habersham Central defense with two leading tacklers in the area will not be able to stop it.

Lumpkin County at Eastside

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Sharp Stadium, Covington

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Eastside, Rick Hurst

Records: Lumpkin County (2-4, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA); Eastside (4-2, 2-1)

Key players: Lumpkin County, QB Daniel McCrary (6-1, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Jonathan Gilreath (Jr.), RB/FS Gunner Wood (5-9, 160 So.). Eastside, QB Demario Terrell (Jr.), RB/LB Jamondi Smith (Jr.), WR/DB Cameron Boyd (5-10, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: Lumpkin County was able to ride the momentum from a win over Walnut Grove to beat Madison County last week behind strong performances from McCrary and Gilreath. McCrary is 64 for 121 so far this year with 692 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Gilreath is McCrary’s primary target and the team’s leading receiver with 330 yards and three scores on 24 receptions.

The Indians have gotten stronger each week and have finally found ways to make the offense work for them, but the defense still struggles some, allowing 30.3 points per game on average.

For Eastside, Smith is the catalyst for an offense that lost to a much bigger Alcovy team and dropped a double-overtime contest to region foe Chestatee. Smith has 391 yards and seven touchdowns on 43 carries, making him the go-to guy when the Eagles are in the red zone. Quarterback Terrell adds to the offense’s strength, completing 71 of 114 passes for 768 yards and four touchdowns. Boyd is the Eagles’ primary receiver with 299 yards on 14 catches with three scores, but he also sees time passing and carrying the ball.

This is the first meeting for these two teams, but Eastside has more experience against bigger, stronger teams, which will give it the edge against a struggling Lumpkin County team.

Prediction: EASTSIDE. Even though the Indians have won two straight, the Eastside offense will be too strong.

North Cobb Christian at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: North Cobb Christian, Harry Miles; Towns County, Kyle Langford

Records: North Cobb Christian (3-3, non-region schedule), Towns County (0-6)
Key players: North Cobb Christian, QB/RB Kendall Crute, RB Daniel Galanos, QB Alex Ho-on. Towns County, RB/LB Wesley Bloodworth (5-10, 230 Sr.), WR/DB Cruz Shook (5-9, 160 So.), CB Brett Barrett (5-11, 170 Jr.).

Outlook: Crute is the utility player for North Cobb Christian, leading the team in rushing with 294 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries and passing, going 7 for 10 on the season with 141 yards and three touchdowns. He is second on the roster in receiving as well, with 100 yards on three catches. Crute also has 16 tackles for the team. Ho-on typically fills the quarterback role for the Eagles, completing 15 of 45 passes with 254 yards and one touchdown. Galanos is the second leading rusher for North Cobb Christian, with 206 yards on 46 carries.

Towns County has beaten North Cobb Christian in each of the previous two meetings. Although North Cobb Christian is 3-3, one of the wins for the Eagles was a forfeit win in their season opener. However, the Eagles average 23.2 points per game, while allowing 24.5 points per game compared to the Indians allowing 31.3 points per game but only scoring an average of 19 points.

Prediction: NORTH COBB CHRISTIAN. The Eagles’ more balanced game will be able to defeat the Indians for the first time.

Union County at Greene County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Greensboro

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Greene County, Robert Edwards

Records: Union County (5-1, 2-1 Region 8-AA); Greene County (1-5, 1-2)

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.). Greene County, QB/DB Cory Brown (5-10, 160 Jr.), QB/DB Jared Miller (6-0, 175 Sr.), WR/DB Keyondre Wright (6-1, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: Union County is off to its best start since 2001, also the last time the Panthers made the playoffs. With a win tonight, they can clinch a winning record for just the second time since that year and the first since 2009.

The Panthers have been led by their defense this year, featuring Barnett, who has posted an area-high 87 tackles, and Jones, who is second in the area with 16 tackles for a loss. Other than Washington-Wilkes, no Union County opponent has scored more than 14 points.

Bentley leads the offense with 904 passing yards and 382 rushing. Lalo Rivera is his primary target with 28 catches for 348 yards, and Johnathan Hughes has emerged as the team’s top running back with 304 yards on 57 carries.

The Panthers will be facing a Greene County team that’s struggled recently. After slumping to a 2-8 finish last season, the Tigers snapped a seven-game losing skid with a 62-3 win over Social Circle two weeks ago, but lost to Washington-Wilkes last week, 48-0.

Prediction: UNION COUNTY. The Panthers’ balance on offense and aggression on defense should yield another win.

Regional events