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Football Friday Nights
Week 9 previews
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Hear the Packway Handle Band from Athens get down at Hemlockfest 2007.

Lumpkin County at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard

Radio: 102.9-FM

Directions: In Gainesville, drive north on Hwy. 60 to Mount Vernon Road. North Hall High is four miles down Mount Vernon Road on the left. Parking is available along Mount Vernon Road, in front of the school’s campus and at North Hall Middle.

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

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

Key players: North Hall, QB/DB Fabian Jackson (6-0, 180 Sr.); LB/WB Dylon Wolf (5-9, 190 Sr.); LB/FB Bobby Epps (6-1, 210 Sr.). Lumpkin County, RB/LB Cameron Jackson (5-10, 190 Sr.); RB/DB Ken Jackson (5-9, 170 Sr.); WR/FS Chris Young (5-9, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: The Trojans are almost assured of a playoff spot in 7-AAA with a win on senior night at the Brickyard. Tonight’s game against the Indians is the final regular season home game for the 18 seniors from North Hall.

"This is going to be a special game for me, this is a special senior class," Trojans coach Bob Christmas said.

According to Christmas, Lumpkin County’s running back tandem of Ken and Cameron Jackson is the best they’ve seen all year. But the Indians tendency to run the football plays right into North Hall’s strength with its ability to stop the run.

"I think our team keeps getting better in every phase of the game each week," Christmas said. "Our offensive line is crisp in its blocking, our running game is improving, we’re throwing the football well and our defense is playing with confidence."

Christmas is also impressed with the performance of senior Matt McMillan (two interceptions last week) and sophomore starting linebacker Thomas Sprague.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. The Trojans are getting better each and every week. That’s scary for the rest of Class AAA.

Pickens at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch

Directions: From Interstate 95 South take Exit 12 (Spout Springs Road) toward Flowery Branch; turn left onto Spout Springs Road’ turn left onto Hog Mountain Road; Flowery Branch High is on your left.

Records: Pickens (2-6, 0-2 7B-AAA); Flowery Branch (6-1, 1-0 7B-AAA)

Coaches: Pickens, Steve Sewell; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

Key players: Pickens, LB/RB Alex Willingham (5-10, 175 Jr.); WR/DB Devin MOsley (5-8, 150 Sr.); QB/DB R.J. Harrington (5-9, 165 Sr.). Flowery Branch, Jaybo Shaw (6-0, 180 Sr.); Izaan Cross (6-4 240 Jr.); Connor Shaw (6-1, 175 Soph.)

Outlook: The last game Flowery Branch played, against Gainesville, solidified its starting quarterbacks’ legacy with the Falcons.

The Middle Tennessee recruit led his team to a 49-38 win over the Red Elephants at City Park by running for 235 yards and four touchdowns while completing 14-of-21 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.

Considering a spot in the playoffs and a subregion championship is still at stake, Jaybo Shaw will not take a Friday off from here on out, especially considering he and his fellow seniors are playing in the first of their last two home games.

Pickens is coming off a week in which Gainesville put up 77 points on them by running virtually the same offense the Falcons will run tonight.

The Dragons were able to score 35 points on the Red Elephants, but offense could be tougher to come by tonight.

The Jimmy Smith- and Daniel Mendez-led Falcons defense are giving up 16.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the offense averages 32.9 points per game.

The Dragons are scoring 20.6 while surrending 32 per contest.

In last year’s game, Flowery Branch won 35-6.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. Because Jaybo says so.

Chestatee at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Huff-Mosley Memorial Stadium, Elijay

Directions: Head North on Ga. 136. It will join with Ga. 183. When it splits with Ga. 52, take the slight left to stay on Ga. 52. That will take you right into Elijay. Take a right onto Depot Street and a right onto Jeff Street. The school will be on 408 Bobcat Trail.

Records: Chestatee (5-2, 1-1 Region 7A-AAA); Gilmer (2-6, 0-2 Region 7A-AAA)

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Gilmer, Bradley Warren

Key players: Chestatee, QB Ethan Souther (5-8, 160 Jr.); RB Jo Jo Sweet (5-11, 200 Sr.); LB Chase Vasser (6-3 200 Sr.). Gilmer, FB Ethan Hawkins (Sr.); RB Rod Newberry (Sr.); DB Darrin Greene (Sr.).

Outlook: The War Eagles might not have expected to be in this position, but here they are.

With last week’s loss to White County, Chestatee is in a must-win situation tonight against Gilmer.

Another loss would strengthen Lumpkin County’s hold on the second playoff spot in Region 7A-AAA.. The first one looks untouchable in North Hall’s hands.

The War Eagles’ offense has looked unstoppable at times. The trio of Ethan Souther, Ben Souther and Jo Jo Sweet can rack up the rushing yards.

But Chestatee’s kryptonite has been turnovers. In the War Eagles two losses, they have turned the ball over a combined 13 times, including seven against White County last week.

Despite that, the War Eagles are still averaging 35.4 points per game.

Gilmer has struggled this season, only averaing 10 points per game on offense but giving up 28.7 pointer per game on defense.

In their two wins, the Bobcats limited their opponents to one touchdown. The 21 points they scored against Pickens is a season-high.

Chestatee has won the last three meetings between these two teams, including a 24-13 win last year.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. If the War Eagles can keep the ball in their own hands, there is no reason they can’t run over and past the Bobcats.

Cross Keys at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium

Directions: From Gainesville, drive South on Interstate 985 to Friendship Road (Exit No. 8). Turn right on Friendship Road and turn left on Ga. Hwy. 13 (Buford Highway). Drive one-mile south on Buford Highway and turn right on Sawnee Road. Buford High is on the right. Parking is available on the school’s campus and at Buford City Park.

Records: Buford (8-0, 6-0 Region 6-AA); Cross Keys (0-7, 0-5)

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Cross Keys, Douglas Blackwell

Key players: Buford, DL Omar Hunter (6-0, 300 Sr.); LB T.J. Pridemore (6-2, 235 Sr.); RB/DB Demetris Murray (5-10, 205 Sr.).

Outlook: This game pits the best and worst in Class AA against one another.

The Wolves are averaging 55 points per game this season. The Indians allowed on average 48 points in their first seven games, mostly against teams that Buford previously manhandled.

With a win, Buford locks up a playoff spot and homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Wolves wrap up the regular season next Friday at Lovett.

Buford is looking to wrap up its third consecutive regular season without a loss.

Prediction: BUFORD. Once again, the Wolves’ junior varsity may see more snaps than the starters.

East Hall at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadium, Cleveland

Directions: From Gainesville, take Highway 129 N to downtown Cleveland and stay straight through the square. White County High is two miles north of downtown Cleveland at 2600 Highway 129 N.

Records: East Hall (0-7, 0-2 7A-AAA); White County (4-3, 1-1 7A-AAA)

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; White County, Gregg Segraves

Key players: East Hall, WR/FS Austin Morgan (6-0, 180 Sr.); WR/LB Montoious Tanner (6-0, 185 Soph.); LB Hugo Rangel (5-5, 150 Sr.). White County, QB Tyler Norman (5-9, 170 Sr.); WR/DB Brandon Vaught (6-3, 190 Sr.); WR Drew Crumley (5-10, 190 Sr.)

Outlook: White County is coming off an emotional upset win over Chestatee and looking to move out of a tie for third place in subregion 7A-AAA.

In actuality, the Warriors’ quest for a playoff spot begins tonight against the winless Vikings.

If White County wins its last three games, the final one over Lumpkin County, the Warriors will make it to the state playoffs for the first time since 2001.

The Warriors are averaging 15.9 points per game to East Hall’s 6.9 points per game while giving up 22.4 points per game to the Vikings’ 43.3.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors will stay in contention for the playoffs with a big win over the Vikings.

Habersham Central at Loganville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Loganville

Radio: 99.3 FM

Directions: From Mount Airy, take US 23/Interstate 985 South. Merge on to I-85 South. Take exit 107 toward Ga. 316 East/Ga. 120. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Ga. 120. Turn left at Duluth Hwy NW/Ga. 120 E. Turn right at Sugarloaf Pkwy NW and follow for eight miles. Turn right at Grayson Hwy SW and follow for two miles. Continue on Ga. 20/Loganville Hwy SW for five miles. Continue on Ga. 81. Turn left at US 78. Turn left at Tom Brewer Road. Continue on Trident Trail.

Records: Habersham Central (6-1, 4-0 Region 8A-AAAA); Loganville (3-4, 2-2 Region 8A-AAAA)

Coaches: Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart; Loganville, Eric Godfree

Key players: Habersham Central, WR Tavarres King (6-2, 170 Sr.); QB Bo Hatchett (6-1, 190 Sr.); WR/CB Josh Anderson (5-10 160 Sr.). Loganville, RB Zach West (5-9, 160 Sr.), QB Drew Payne (6-0, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: Winners of five straight, Habersham Central can lock up the subregion’s top seed for the region playoffs with a win tonight.

In 8-AAAA’s playoff format, that doesn’t actually guarantee the Raiders a spot in the state playoffs, but it should give them an easier matchup in the regular season’s final week.

Since dropping a three-point decision to Stephens County (Class AAA No. 2), the Raiders have been on a tear, outscoring opponents by an average score of 37-7 during that stretch. That includes a 42-14 beatdown of second place Clarke Central last week.

Not surprisingly, senior wide receiver Tavarres King has been at the forefront of the Raiders’ surge. In his last three games, the Georgia recruit has tallied 23 catches for 487 yards, bringing his season totals to 55 receptions for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. The Raiders are on their way to a second straight unbeaten region season.

Athens Academy at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Records: Athens Academy (6-1, 1-0 Region 8-A); Commerce (6-2, 2-0)

Coaches: Athens Academy, Michael Gunn; Commerce, Steve Savage

Key players: Athens Academy, QB Carter Gunn (6-0, 195 Sr.), FB/NG Jeff Turner (5-9, 215 Sr.), G Sam Mansfield (6-0, 195 Sr.). Commerce, QB Reuben Haynes (6-0, 185 Sr.); TE/S Cohen Cooke (6-0, 185 Sr.); C Baxter Barnes (5-10, 225 Sr).

Outlook: The Tigers need a win tonight to keep the upperhand in the race for the Region 8-A title. Very little has been easy for Commerce this season.

Last week, Commerce squeezed past Prince Avenue Christian with a 36-33 victory. That nail-biter came a week after winning 36-35 against Social Circle.

Commerce is averaging 425 yards per game on offense led by senior quarterback Reuben Haynes, who has rushed for 1,257 yards (8.9 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns, and passed for 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Haynes’ primary target at receiver is senior Cohen Cooke. Cooke has accumulated 652 yards (12 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.

Athens Academy’s quarterback Carter Gunn leads a well-balanced offensive attack. Gunn’s ability to manage the game, and Will Callaway’s ability to run the ball has been a major factor in the Spartans’ success this season.

Look for this game to come down to the final minutes.

Prediction: COMMERCE. This year’s contest has all the makings of another classic shootout. Although this one might to too close to call, playing at home could be a huge advantage for the Tigers.

Jefferson at Prince Avenue Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bogart

Directions: From Jefferson, head South on US 129 toward Athens. Turn right onto Athens Perimeter Hwy/Paul Broun Pkwy. Take exit 18 for US 29/US 78 toward Winder/Atlanta. Turn right at Atlanta Hwy/US 78. Turn left at Ruth Jackson Road. School is at 2201 Ruth Jackson Road.

Records: Jefferson (5-2, 1-0 Region 8-A); Prince Avenue Christian (5-2, 0-2 Region 8-A)

Coaches: Jefferson, Bill Navas; Prince Avenue Christian, Mark Farriba

Key players: Jefferson, RB Tyler Hill (5-11, 205 Sr.); RB Zack Crosby (5-9, 175 Jr.); QB Josh Bohanan (5-9 180 Sr.). Prince Avenue, QB Jon Richt (6-2, 190 Sr.), FB/LB Daniel Adcock (5-11, 180 Sr.), RB/DB Anthony Ball (5-9 175, Sr.).

Outlook: With big games looming against rival Commerce and front-runner Athens Academy, the Dragons can’t afford to overlook this week’s opponent. A win tonight guarantees Jefferson its eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs.

The Dragons, coming off 19-12 win over Social Circle last week, have now won four straight, and led by a formidable trio of backs, are putting up more than 30 points per game this season.

The offense starts with Bohanan, the senior quarterback who’s completing 65 percent of his passes and has thrown only one interception in 135 attempts. His favorite target is Crosby (32 receptions, 425 yards), who has twice topped 90 yards rushing and receiving this season.

Hill serves as the workhorse, topping 100 yards rushing four times in six games.

In a win over Bremen, Crosby stepped up in his absence, rushing 18 times for 97 yards and catching five passes for 96 yards.

The Wolverines, who dropped a 36-33 heartbreaker to Commerce last week, also feature a balanced offense, led by Richt and Ball. Both have topped 1,000 yards this season — Richt through the air, and Ball on the ground.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons have too many offensive options and too tough a defense.

Jackson County at Madison County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Field, Danielsville

Directions: From Jefferson, take Ga Hwy. 82 East toward Athens for approximately nine miles. Turn right onto US Hwy. 441, then turn left on to Ga Hwy. 98 and follow for 13 miles. Turn right onto Crawford West Long St., then turn onto Madison St. School is ahead.

Records: Jackson County (0-7, 0-4 Region 8A-AAAA); Madison County (3-4, 1-3 Region 8A-AAAA)

Coaches: Jackson County, Billy Kirk; Madison County, Randell Owens

Key Players: Jackson County, LB Jacob Dias (5-11, 210 Sr.); QB Chad Daniel (6-2, 190 Sr.); RB Adarius Hendrix (5-10, 170 Sr.). Madison County, OT Brent Russell (6-3, 305 Sr.); OG Brad Russell (6-2 310 Sr.); WR Aldreakis Allen (6-0, 205 Jr.)

Outlook: In last season’s matchup, Madison County rolled past Jackson County with a 49-17 victory for the Red Raiders’ ninth consecutive win in the series.

Jackson County’s problem is a lack of offensive production with no more than seven points in the first seven games.

Madison County features a strong offensive line, with four of five starters returning from last year’s team.

Raiders junior wide receiver Aldreakis Allen is the leader of the offense. Madison County is averaging 21 points per game.

Prediction: MADISON COUNTY. The Raiders make it a double-digit winning streak in this rivalry.

Fannin County at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Homer

Directions: From Gainesville, take Jesse Jewell Parkway toward Interstate 985. Turn right onto Old Cornelia Highway and follow for seven miles. Turn right at Ga. 52 and follow for five miles. Turn left at Ga. 323 and follow for five miles. Turn right at Ga. 51 and follow for five miles. Turn right at Historic Homer Hwy. School is at 1486A Historic Homer Hwy.

Records: Fannin County (6-1, 2-0 Region 8B-AA); Banks County (3-4, 2-0 Region 8B-AA)

Coaches: Fannin County, Clark Drennan; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Key players: Fannin County, RB Josh Gaddy, QB Derek Jarnagin, WR Shawn Powers. Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Jr.), LB Chris McDuffie (6-1, 180 Sr.), QB Dustin Worley (6-3 205, Sr.).

Outlook: This is as big a game as Banks County has played in quite sometime. But it’s the kind they hoped would follow first-year coach Blair Armstrong when he took over the program a season after guiding Class AAAAA Peachtree Ridge to a co-state championship.

First place in the subregion is on the line tonight, and the Leopards have the chance to place themselves in excellent position for the school’s first postseason berth since 1997.

Thanks in large part to the contributions of junior running back Justin Beasley, the Leopards have scored at least 40 points in back-to-back wins. Last week, Beasley topped the 300-yard mark and, in the two wins, he’s tallied 584 yards.

Fannin County held off Dawson County last week, 13-7, when the clock expired with the Tigers less than 10 yards from the end zone.

The Rebels have won four straight and are yielding fewer than 10 points per game this season.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. Blair, Beasley and the Leopards won’t let down the hometown

Regional events