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Football Friday Nights
Week 11 previews
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East Hall at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Huff-Mosley Memorial Stadium, Ellijay

Directions: Go North on Ga. 136. It will join with Ga. 184. When it splits with Ga. 52, take the slight left to stay on Ga. 52. That will take you right into Ellijay. Take a right onto Depot Street and a right onto Jeff Street. The school will be on 408 Bobcat Trail.

Records: East Hall (0-9, 0-4 7A-AAA); Gilmer (2-7, 0-4)

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Gilmer, Bradley Warren

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.). Gilmer, FB Ethan Hawkins (Sr.); RB Rod Newberry (Sr.); DB Darrin Greene (Sr.).

Outlook: East Hall has history on its side going into tonight’s matchup with Gilmer in Ellijay, but that’s about it.

The Vikings have not lost to the Bobcats since 1971 when Homer Cuddy was the coach at East Hall. The Vikings ended that season with a 2-7-1 record.

The other facet of history East Hall has going for it is that the football team hasn’t had a winless season since 1966. East Hall has had plenty of one win seasons, five to be exact, but have not gone a season without a win in 41 years.

Working against Bryan Gray and his troops going into tonight’s game are their numbers on the season compared to Gilmer’s.

The Bobcats are averaging two touchdowns while giving up 28 points per game and East Hall is only averaging eight points and giving up 44 per game.

The past two weeks the Bobcats have put up some good offensive numbers against two of Subregion 7A-AAA’s top teams. Against Chestatee they scored 25 points and againt White County they scored 20.

The Vikings are, as has been stated before, an athletic group of young players but their streak of non-winless seasons ends tonight.

Prediction: GILMER. Don’t worry folks of Valhalla, basketball season starts next week.

Flowery Branch at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Field, Oakwood

Directions: From Interstate 985 South take Exit 17 and turn right onto Hwy. 53. After approximately two miles, take a left on McEver Road. The school will be two miles on the right.

Records: Flowery Branch (8-1, 3-0 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (2-7, 1-2 Region 7B-AAA)

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw; West Hall, Mike Newton

Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Jaybo Shaw (6-0, 188 Sr.); WR/DB Connor Shaw (6-1, 175 Soph.); LB Jimmy Smith (5-10 175 Sr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-3, 235 Fr.), RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 185 Jr.), FB/LB Daniel Drummond (6-3 230, Jr.).

Outlook: West Hall has one more opportunity to improve on its two wins in 2006, and that opportunity comes against the top team in the subregion.

Flowery Branch has won its last three games, starting with a win over Gainesville at City Park. North Hall handed the Falcons their only loss of the season Oct. 5.

The Falcons offense is led by senior quarterback Jaybo Shaw, The Times 2006 Player of the Year. He beats teams with his legs and arms.

Shaw has 778 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing and 1,692 yards and 21 touchdowns passing.

His primary target is younger brother and wide receiver Connor Shaw, who has eight touchdown receptions.

The only offenses that pushed Flowery Branch this season are North Hall and Gainesville, two of the most potent in the area.

Otherwise, the Falcons are giving up 7.2 points per game.

West Hall’s offense relies heavily on the ground attack and running back Marquise Stephens.

The bruising junior has 1,081 yards rushing this year and 12 touchdowns. Last week against Gainesville, Stephens had 133 yards in the first quarter alone.

Fullback Daniel Drummond adds another running threat. Coach Mike Newton sometimes uses a direct snap to Drummond, which has been effective.

West Hall’s defense has been suspect against good offensive attacks. The Spartans have given up over 30 points in a game five times this season. They are giving up an average of 26 points per game.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. West Hall has the homefield advantage, but Flowery Branch has the Jaybo advantage.

Pickens at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial, Oakwood

Radio: 1240-AM

Directions: From Gainesville, take I-985 South to Exit No. 17. Take a left on Mundy Mill Road, then left on GA 13 North. Johnson is located on Robert Wood Johnson Drive. Parking available on school’s campus and at football stadium.

Records: Johnson (3-6, 1-2 Region 7B-AAA); Pickens (2-7, 0-3)

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Pickens, Steve Sewell

Key players: Johnson, RB Mantevius Rucker (6-2, 185 Fr.); QB Anthony Prophet (6-1, 180 So.); LB Gilberto Espinoza (5-11, 235 S0.)

Outlook: By any measure, this season has been a disappointment for the Knights. They hoped for a season that would result in a playoff berth for the first time in three years.

But the subregion schedule proved to be Johnson’s biggest nemesis. The Knights lost to subregion ‘B’ playoff qualifiers Gainesville and Flowery Branch to dash any dreams of a playoff run.

But if there’s any motivation for this game, it’s the fact that if Johnson wins it ensures one more victory than last season. That could be a sign the Knights are starting to close a pretty big gap with the Falcons and Red Elephants.

Prediction: JOHNSON. Seniors win one for pride tonight.

Washington-Wilkes 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 Highway. School is at 1486A Historic Homer Hwy.

Records: Washington-Wilkes (4-5, 2-2 8A-AA); Banks County (4-5, 3-1 8B-AA)

Coaches: Washington-Wilkes, Russell Morgan; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Key players: Washington-Wilkes, RB Eric Scott (6-0, 170 Fr.); OL/DL Dan Wylie (6-2, 260 Sr.), QB Teverrius Jones (6-3, 190 Fr.). Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Jr.), LB Chris McDuffie (6-1, 180 Sr.), QB Dustin Worley (6-3 205, Sr.).

Outlook: The last time these teams met — Sept. 28 — Washington-Wilkes pulled out 20-13 win on the strength of two long touchdown runs by freshman running back Eric Scott.

If the Leopards hope to reverse their fortunes in tonight’s region playoff game and return to the postseason for the first time since 1997, bottling up Scott will be key.

The freshman tailback has rushed for more yards in a single season than any freshman in school history. And at a school like Washington-Wilkes, with four state titles in its trophy case, that’s saying a lot. By the way, 1997 is also the last year that the Tigers didn’t make the playoffs.

Banks County has its own standout in the backfield, Justin Beasley, and relies on him for the bulk of its offensive production. With 1,593 yards through nine games, Beasley leads the area in rushing yards and has accounted for 19 Leopard touchdowns this season.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. The Tigers are coming off a deflating loss to rival Greene County, while the Leopards are playing with renewed confidence after winning three of their last four

Buford at Lovett

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Atlanta

Directions: From Buford, take I-985 South towards Atlanta. Merge onto I-85 South and take exit 95-B towards Chattanooga/Birmingham. Merge onto I-285 West and take exit 18 for Paces Ferry Road toward Vinings. Follow signs for Cumberland Parkway North. Turn left on Paces Ferry Road.

Records: Buford (9-0, 7-0 Region 6-AA), Lovett (8-1, 7-0)

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Lovett, Mike Muschamp

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

Outlook: The Wolves have the opportunity tonight to lock up their eighth undefeated regular season since 1995. Buford last lost a regular season game in 2004 to Class AAAAA Central Gwinnett.

But the Wolves have no plans on losing tonight.

Notre Dame recruit Omar Hunter and Georgia Tech recruit T.J. Pridemore anchor a tough, experienced defense that is only allowing five points per game. The two have combined for 147 total tackles.

South Florida recruit Demetris Murray leads the Buford offense with 693 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Buford’s numbers on offense are deceptively low this season with the absence of any close games.

Prediction: BUFORD. Although this will be Buford’s toughest matchup thus far, the Wolves still won’t be tested. Look for the Buford starters to play three quarters, instead of just a half.

Dawson County at Greene County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Greensboro

Directions: From Gainesville, drive South on US 129 toward Athens. Turn right onto Athens Perimeter Hwy/Ga. 10 S/Ga. 8 S/Paul Broun Pkwy. Take exit 1 to merge onto Ga. 316 W/Ga 8 W/University Pkwy/US 29 S/US 78 W. Turn left at Oconee Conn. Continue on Mars Hill Road for 2.6 miles. Continue on Experiment Station Road for 1.9 miles. Slight right at Ga. 24/N. Main Street/US 441, then slight left at Ga. 15/Greensboro Hwy. Continue to follow ga. 15 for 25 miles. Turn left at W Broad Street/Ga. 12/Ga. 15/Greene County Memorial Hwy. Turn right at Ga. 44/S. Main Street. School is at 1002 S. Main Street.

Records: Dawson County (3-6, 2-2 Region 8B-AA); Greene County (6-3, 3-1 Region 8A-AA)

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Greene County, Larry Milligan

Key players: Dawson County, QB Austin Lark (5-10, 175 Sr.); RB/LB Evan Weatherford (5-10, 170 Jr.); RB/LB Bubba Tolbert (6-0, 190 Sr.). Greene County, QB William Leslie (5-9, 150 So.), LB Dontravious Wright (5-10, 195 Sr.), WR Wilbert Carter (6-3 180, Sr.).

Outlook: Despite losing its first four games and its last two, Dawson County can’t complain about the shape they’re in heading into tonight’s region playoff game against Greene County.

Win, and they’re in the playoffs. Lose, and the Tigers will be done for the season.

But getting that win doesn’t figure to be easy. Standing in Dawson County’s way is Greene County, which has won six of its last seven games. The only loss in that span was a 14-13 defeat to Morgan County which cost Greene County a spot in tonight’s region championship game.

Sophomore quarterback William Leslie takes the helm in Greene County’s spread offense, which is putting up almost 30 points per game.

Slowing down opponents hasn’t been the problem lately for Dawson County; scoring (12 points per game this season) has been.

Prediction: GREENE COUNTY. This would be a tough one for Dawson County on any field, but in Greensboro it’s almost unwinnable.

Heritage at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3 FM

Directions: From Gainesville, Take US Interstate 985 North/Ga. 365 to Clarkesville/Mt.Airy Exit (Highway 197) just past mile marker 49. Exit turn right. School is 3/10 of a mile on the right.

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

Coaches: Heritage, Chad Frazier; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart

Key players: Heritage, WR/DB Mikel Hunter (5-9, 170 Sr.); QB Kenny Seabolt (5-10, 180 Sr.); LB Zach Cheek (5-11 190 Sr.). Habersham Central, WR Tavarres King (6-2, 170 Sr.), QB Bo Hatchett (6-1, 190 Sr.), WR/CB Josh Anderson (5-9 165, Sr.).

Outlook: No. 7-ranked Habersham Central has won seven straight games, is unbeaten in the subregion play and is 2-0 against Region 8B-AAAA. But if they don’t win tonight, none of that matters.

To earn a spot in the playoffs, the Raiders have to beat Heritage tonight. And even though they haven’t lost a region game since September 2006, the Raiders need Salem to lose to Madison County tonight to earn 8-AAAA’s No. 1 seed. If Salem and the Raiders both win, Habersham will take the region’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Tonight’s opponent might look like a pushover for the Raiders, who haven’t been challenged since a Week 2 loss to Stephens County (No. 2 in Class AAA). The Patriots had lost four straight before a 28-24 win over Alcovy last week gave them their first subregion win of the season, but they’ve been competitive in all six of their losses. In subregion play, their biggest loss was eight points, 22-14 against Rockdale County.

But Habersham Central represents — arguably — the best team Heritage has played.

The Raiders’ lowest point total this season is 28 points, and they’ve topped 40 points four times this season. Meanwhile their defense gives up an average of 11 points per contest.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. Too much experience to lose a big game at home to a team with inferior talent.

Jefferson at Athens Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Athens

Directions: From Jefferson, take Hwy. 129 toward Athens. Turn right onto the Athens bypass. Take the Watkinsville-441 South exit and turn right onto Macon Highway (Ga. Hwy 441-S). At the second light, take a left into the athletic complex. Continue straight and football field is ahead.

Records: Jefferson (6-2, 2-0 Region 8-A); Athens Academy (7-1, 2-0 Region 8-A)

Coaches: Jefferson, Bill Navas; Athens Academy, Michael Gunn

Key players: Jefferson, QB Josh Bohanan (5-10, 180 Sr.); FB Tyler Hill (5-11, 205 Sr.); RB Zach Crosby (5-9, 175 Jr.). Athens Academy, QB Carter Gunn (6-0, 195 Sr.); FB/NG Jeff Turner (5-9, 215 Sr.); G Sam Mansfield (6-0, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: The Dragons have a chance to win their first region championship in football since 1977.

It wouldn’t be the first time this season that Jefferson could break a long drought. Last week, Jefferson ended a 12-year losing streak with a 42-7 win against Commerce.

In last week’s 42-7 rout of the Tigers, senior quarterback Josh Bohanan led Jefferson with a 15 of 16 night passing for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Junior defensive back Tab Martin leads the Dragon defense with two interceptions, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Athens Academy is coming off a 24-6 win against Social Circle last week, which extended its winning streak to five games.

The Spartans are historically a strong program. They won the Region 8-A championship and advanced to the state semifinals last season.

The Spartans, led by senior quarterback Carter Gunn, are averaging 28 points per game.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. Coming off a huge win against Commerce, the Dragons are playing with a ton of confidence. Coach Navas guides his Dragons to its first Region title since 1977.

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