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Area high school football previews
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Game of the Week: Flowery Branch at Gainesville

Riverside looking to make it to state playoffs tonight

Creekview at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagles Stadium

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: Creekview, Al Morrell; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: Creekview (5-4, 4-1 Region 7A-AAA); Chestatee (4-5, 3-2)

Key players: Creekview, QB Collins Wold (5-8, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Josh Reyes (5-10, 160 Sr.), RB Hunter Livingston (5-8, 184 Sr.). Chestatee, LB Chase Vasser (6-4, 211 Sr.), RB Ben Souther (6-0, 200 Jr.), DB Jonathon Cain (6-0, 190 Sr.).

Outlook: The implications for this game are pretty cut and dry. Creekview has to win to secure a playoff spot. If Creekvew loses, then White County and Chestatee are back in the picture to get that No. 4 playoff spot.

Chestatee’s only path to the playoffs is a win against Creekview and a White County loss to Gilmer, or a win by 13 or more over the Grizzlies combined with a White County win by less than 13.

Chestatee can’t worry about all the what-ifs when it hits the field tonight. The War Eagles are just going to want to focus on winning on senior night, then let the chips fall where they may.

Chestatee’s defense is led by the area’s leading tackler Chase Vasser, who has 128 tackles (seven for a loss), and Jonathon Cain (107 tackles).

War Eagles junior Ben Souther is the third leading rusher in the area with 1,385 yards and 15 touchdowns. His older brother Ethan is leading Chestatee at quarterback with 959 passing yards and nine touchdowns.

Prediction: CREEKVIEW. The Grizzlies have every reason to play like gang busters tonight.

East Hall at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jasper

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Pickens, Steve Sewell

Records: East Hall (1-8, 0-5 Region 7B-AAA); Pickens (1-8, 1-5 Region 7A-AAA)

Key players: East Hall, QB Desmon Gardner (5-10, 165 Jr.), WR/DB Kiante Young (6-1, 190 Sr.), RB/LB Corey Richardson (5-8, 175 Jr.). Pickens, QB/DB Alex Willingham (5-11, 180 Sr.), RB/LB Brett Larson (5-9, 200 Sr.).

Outlook: In the regular season finale a year ago, East Hall went out on top with a win over Gilmer. In doing so, the Vikings built momentum that carried the rebuilding program into this year.

East Hall has consistently gotten better this year as evidence by its last two games. While the games were both losses, the Vikings played their opponents (Johnson and West Hall) down to the wire losing by a combined nine points.

As a result, East Hall is poised to leave this year in the same fashion it left last year.

The two teams seem evenly matched with each surrendering 31 points per game and scoring less than two touchdowns.

Look for Vikings’ seniors Young, Marcellous Moon, Andrew Ivester, Christian Romero, Cameron Miller and Jerry Rodriquez to play big in the hopes of leaving the program with the same momentum and confidence last year’s seniors did.

Prediction: EAST HALL. The Vikings consistent improvement has been building to this point, and the seniors won’t let them leave Jasper without a win.

Athens Christian at Lakeview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Athens Christian, Van Beacham; Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Athens Christian (3-6, 1-4 Region 8-A); Lakeview (1-6, 0-5)

Key players: Athens Christian, QB Tyson Beacham (6-3, 195 Sr.), WR/S Forrest Shealy (6-0, 160 Sr.), OL/DE Joey Moon (6-3, 210 Sr.). Lakeview, FB/LB Lex Little (6-1, 180 Jr.), QB/DB Haughton Carswell (5-10, 150 Sr.), WR/OLB Nick Saye (6-0, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: After taking it on the chin from the region’s top teams the last two weeks, both Athens Christian and Lakeview will be eager to end the season on a winning note tonight.

Lakeview is coming off big losses to Commerce and Athens Academy, while Athens Christian has lost by 30-plus in games against Athens Academy and Wesleyan.

Beacham leads the Eagles’ efficient passing attack. Pressuring the senior quarterback and taking away leading receiver Shealy will be important for the Lions tonight.

The Lakeview triple-option offense has struggled to get traction for much of the season, and the Lions will look to establish the ground game early and maintain possession on long, grinding drives.

Prediction: ATHENS CHRISTIAN. The Eagles are a couple of steps ahead of the second-year Lions program.

North Hall at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: J.P. King Memorial Stadium, Dahlonega

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: North Hall (6-3, 5-0 Region 7A-AAA); Lumpkin County (4-5, 2-3)

Key players: North Hall, LB Thomas Sprague (6-0, 200 Jr.), WR/DB Graham Duncan (5-11, 170 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Blitch (6-6, 330 Jr.). Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-10, 190 Jr.), RB Haden Rider (5-8, 175 Jr.), OL/DL Alex Dege (5-10, 225 Sr.).

Outlook: North Hall is already a lock for the No. 2 spot and a home game at The Brickyard to open the state playoffs next week, but the Trojans still have plenty to play for. With a win, the Trojans can remain perfect in subregion play since it began in 2006. North Hall went 5-0 the first two seasons of subregion competition, and are currently 5-0 this season.

The last three weeks, North Hall has put up some gaudy offensive numbers. In wins against Gilmer, Pickens and Chestatee, the Trojans averaged 52 points per game. The defense is only giving up 10 points per game over that same span.

Tonight’s game is the end of the season for Lumpkin County. The Indians have struggled in subregion play, scoring no more than 17 points in a game against subregion ‘A’ opponents. Loses to White County and Creekview the past two weeks have spelled the end to the Indians’ playoff hopes.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. The machine that is known as North Hall heads into the state playoffs with a full head of steam.

West Hall at West Forsyth

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Cumming

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; West Forsyth, Frank Hepler

Records: West Hall (5-4, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA); West Forsyth (7-2, 2-2)

Key players: West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 248 So.), RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 210 Sr.), LB Gage Brown (5-10, 180 Sr.). West Forsyth, RB Ben Emert (6-1, 220 Jr.), QB Lance Baker (6-0, 170 Sr.), RB Ethan Shirley (5-11, 205 Sr.).

Outlook: No matter what happens tonight, neither team is going to finish with a losing record. The bad news is that neither is going to the playoffs either.

Still, for a team that hasn’t won five games since 2003 (West Hall), and a team in its first season of varsity of football (West Forsyth), this season must already be considered a success.

The Spartans feature one of the most dangerous offenses in the area, led by Shunquez Stephens, the area’s leading passer, and his older brother Marquise Stephens (1,158 yards of total offense and 10 total touchdowns). Brown and Ishmail Nuckles are two of the leaders on the defense.

The Wolverines are led in their wing-T offense by running back Emert, but last week were pushed to victory by Baker’s four touchdown passes in a 42-41 win over Chestatee.

Prediction: WEST FORSYTH. The Wolverines’ only losses this year have come to 7-AAA’s top teams, Gainesville and Flowery Branch.

Riverside Military at Dawson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tigers Stadium, Dawsonville

Coaches: Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster; Dawson County, Jeff Lee

Records: Riverside Military (6-3, 5-3 Region 8-AA); Dawson County (3-6, 2-6)

Key players: Riverside Military, RB Julian Suber (5-9, 175 Jr.), LB Diego Osegueda-Weiner (6-1, 215 Sr.), LB Aaron Gambrah (6-2, 195 Jr.). Dawson County, QB Chase Gilreath (6-1, 190 Jr.), WR/DB Cody Tobias (6-1, 185 Sr.), K/P David Scully (6-1, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The Eagles have made believers out of people in their first season playing in the GHSA. What they haven’t done yet is lock up a playoff spot. Riverside needs a win against the Tigers tonight to solidify a spot in the playoffs. If it loses, then Riverside’s fate is in the hands of other Region 8-AA teams.

The only things certain in 8-AA are that Jefferson (9-0, 8-0) is the region champion and thus earned the No. 1 seed to the playoffs, and the North Oconee (7-2, 6-2)/Fannin County (7-2, 6-2) winner earns the No. 2 spot to the playoffs and also starts the postseason at home.

Banks County (5-4, 5-3) and Union County (5-4, 4-4) are also still in the running for a playoff spot.

Riverside hopes to join the club of the playoff bound with a win in its season finale. The bread-and-butter for the Eagles’ success is their offensive production, more specifically the running game. Junior running back Julian Suber is coming off his second straight 200-yard performance in last week’s 37-20 win against Union County, and is now second in the area with 1,495 yards this season.

The Riverside defense has also played well recently. Junior linebacker Aaron Gambrah (90 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss) and Diego Osegueda-Weiner (88 tackles, 8 TFL) are the leaders on the group.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles shoot into the playoffs with a big win on the road tonight.

Banks County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Blairsville

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Banks County (5-4, 5-3 Region 8-AA); Union County (5-4, 4-4)

Key players: Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Sr.), RB Demetric Dempson (5-10, 195 Sr.), QB Chris Porter (5-10, 175 Sr.). Union County, RB Manning Thomas (5-11, 190 Sr.), WR Blake Gowder (6-2, 195 Jr.).

Outlook: With one game left in the regular season, Banks County has a few obstacles between it and a playoff spot.

First, the Leopards needs to win to push Union County out of playoff contention.

Secondly, they need to hope for a Fannin County or Riverside Military Academy loss.

If the cards are dealt in favor of the Leopards, they can sneak into the playoffs as a No. 4 seed.

Should Banks County ride the momentum it has earned the last two weeks, another win is right around the corner and playoff hopes are still alive. The Leopards have defeated their last two opponents by a combined score of 46-27, earning most of their yards on the ground. They will need one more big night from running back Justin Beasley, who leads all area rushers with 1,710 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns this season.

Union County won’t go down without a fight, though. The Panthers are a pass-heavy team that has scored at least 35 points five times this season and are difficult to beat at home.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. The Leopards are on a hot streak, and with playoff implications on the line, they can’t afford to lose.

Greater Atlanta Christian at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: GAC, Ken Robinson; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: GAC (4-5, 4-2 Region 6-AA); Buford (9-0, 6-0)

Key players: Greater Atlanta Christian, QB Colton Chapple (6-1, 179 Sr.), LB Shane Mularkey (6-2, 210 Sr.), LB Blake Southerland (6-1, 225 Sr.). Buford, RB Cody Getz (5-7, 157 Sr.), RB Storm Johnson (6-1, 202 Jr.), DL/OL Dallas Lee (6-4, 295 Sr.).

Outlook: In its years as a dominating force in Class AA, Buford can name a few rivals it has run into over the years in the playoffs. Charlton County and Lovett are two that come to mind.

But when it comes to traditional rivalry, the Wolves have Greater Atlanta Christian, a team they have faced, and defeated, every year since 1999.

The region champs have nothing to lose in this game except their perfection, having locked up the region title with a 29-7 win against Westminster last week.

The game, however, is pivotal for GAC as it needs a win tonight to ensure a playoff spot. Should the Spartans lose, they would need Blessed Trinity, who plays Westminster tonight, to lose in order to crack the top four.

Buford has remained undefeated thanks to a balance of size on its lines and speed in its running game. But the Wolves running back tandem of Cody Getz and Storm Johnson could face a challenge in GAC’s Division I linebackers, North Carolina verbal commit Shane Mularkey and Vanderbilt verbal commit Blake Southerland, who is the brother of Georgia fullback Brannan Southerland.

Prediction: BUFORD. It’s senior night, and the Wolves have owned GAC for almost a decade.

Commerce at Prince Avenue Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bogart

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Prince Avenue, Mark Farriba

Records: Commerce (4-5, 3-2 Region 8-A); Prince Avenue (3-5-1, 1-4)

Key players: Commerce, RB Deon Orsborne (5-9, 155 Jr.), RB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Jr.), RB Javon Womack (5-11, 175 Sr.). Prince Avenue, OL Matt Van Halanger (6-4, 260 Sr.), RB Anthony Ball (5-10, 181 Sr.), OL Andrew Cruz (6-0, 210 Sr.).

Outlook: The past two weeks have been eventful ones for Commerce. The Tigers won two games by a combined score of 68-14 and locked up a playoff spot in Region 8-A in the process.

Commerce is currently tied for third in Region 8-A with Social Circle, but can clinch the position with a win tonight against Prince Avenue. Since Commerce defeated Social Circle last week, it wins the tiebreaker, meaning the third seed is its to lose.

Winning shouldn’t be a difficult task for the Tigers, as Prince Avenue has only won once in region play this year, and is coming off a 36-point loss two weeks ago to the Redskins.

It’s been an up-and-down season for Commerce, but the Tigers seem to have finally clicked, especially on offense. Junior Deon Orsborne has become a catalyst as a running back and wide receiver, having scored five touchdowns (three receiving, two running) in his last two games.

Prediction: COMMERCE. The Tigers’ recent hot streak earned them a playoff berth, and this season finale is a victory lap.

Stephens County at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Stephens County, Travis Noland; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Stephens County (7-2, 5-1 Region 8-AAA); Jackson County (1-7-1, 0-6)

Key players: Stephens County, RB Ren Teasley (5-8, 180 Sr.), QB Dacen Cash (5-10, 150 Jr.), WR Jaquan Trammel (6-1, 150 Jr.). Jackson County, WR/DB Marquice Gillespie (5-9, 145 Jr.), RB Rodderick Burks (5-8, 160 Jr.), TE/LB John Holton (6-0, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: Mired in a three-way tie for Region 8-AAA’s top spot, Stephens County can’t afford a slip-up tonight.

Jackson County, meanwhile, is trying to build on some of the offensive progress shown in its last two games.

The Panthers haven’t won since the first week of the season, but they’ve averaged 20 points per game during their last two, after scoring just six total points in the previous four games.

Last week, Jackson County was beaten thanks to Oconee County’s balanced offensive attack, surrendering 171 rushing yards and 170 passing yards. The Panthers can expect the Indians to attack with a similar plan.

Stephens County depends on the run to move the chains, but has shown throughout Noland’s tenure an ability to hit big plays consistently in the passing game.

Prediction: STEPHENS COUNTY. Even in a somewhat down year, the Indians are still one of 8-AAA’s best teams.

Jefferson at East Jackson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Commerce

Coaches: Jefferson, Bill Navas; East Jackson, Frank Caputo

Records: Jefferson (9-0, 8-0 Region 8-AA); East Jackson (3-6, 3-5)

Key players: Jefferson, QB Darius Minor (6-0, 180 Jr.), WR/DB Tab Martin (5-9, 170 Sr.), LB Kyle Mosely (6-3, 220 So.). East Jackson, QB Evan Williamson (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB/LB Robbie King (6-0, 165 Sr.), RB/DB Zach Gilbert (6-0, 202 Sr.).

Outlook: For the first time in 31 years, Jefferson has a region championship in football.

The Dragons snapped the title drought last week with a hard-earned 17-16 win over North Oconee.

This week, the 2008 team can further stamp its name on the history books by notching the school’s first 10-0 start to a season, and recording only the third 10-win season in team history.

Standing in the way is East Jackson, a team fresh off its third win of an innaugural season of region football.

The Eagles edged Dawson County, 28-21 last week, thanks to a late touchdown followed by an interception that stopped Dawson County’s last chance.

The Dragons offense was slowed for the first time last week, scoring just one offensive touchdown. Still, Jefferson is averaging more than 37 points per game for the year.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. Last week’s close call should serve as a wake-up call for the Dragons, who have no intention of entering the playoffs with a loss.

Gilmer at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Cleveland

Coaches: Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley; White County, Gregg Segraves

Records: Gilmer (0-9, 0-5 Region 7-AAA); White County (5-4, 3-2)

Key players: Gilmer, RB Evan Pankey (6-0, 185 Sr.), RB/LB Jacob Teague (5-11, 175 So.), OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-1 220 Jr.). White County, QB Chantz Segraves (5-10, 185 Sr.), RB Ashely Lowery (6-1, 175 So.), DL Tasi Suaava (6-0, 285 Sr.).

Outlook: By the end of tonight, White County will know whether or not it will make the playoffs.

If the Warriors beat Gilmer by at least 13 points, and Chestatee also defeats Creekview by at least 13 points, they will earn the No. 4 seed in the state playoffs.

Should Chestatee fall to Creekview, or win by less than 13 points, or Chestatee wins by at least 13 points and White County doesn’t, the Warriors’ season is complete.

Luckily for White County, it has won its last three games by at least 16 points, and faces a winless Gilmer team in its season finale.

The Bobcats have 13 points in their last four games, and have given up 95 points, including a 53-7 loss to North Hall last week, a team the Warriors were a reception away from defeating earlier this season.

White County is coming off a 26-10 win against Pickens last week, which featured a 111-yard passing performance from quarterback Chantz Segraves, and 92 yards on the ground from Ashely Lowery. The two players’ offensive leadership, plus an enormous line on both sides of the ball, make the Warriors the clear favorite to win on senior night.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors still have a chance to make the playoffs, so losing to a winless team at home is not an option.

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