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Football Friday Nights
Week 8 previews
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1028ClermontAud2 Seth Weaver

Clermont City Council candidate Seth Weaver discusses his plans for office.

Previews of tonight's high school football games.

West Hall at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial

Radio: 550-AM

Directions: From Gainesville, take US Interstate 985 South to exit No. 17 (Mundy Mill Road). Take a left onto Mundy Mill, and turn left on Ga 13 N. Turn right onto Robert Wood Johnson Drive and parking available in front of school’s campus.

Records: Johnson (2-4, 0-0 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (2-5, 1-0).

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; Johnson, Paul Friel

Key players: West Hall, RB/LB Daniel Drummond, (6-3, 230 Jr.); RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 185 Jr.); OL/LB Kevin Jones (6-0, 190 Sr.). Johnson, RB Mantevius Rucker, (6-0, 185 Fr.); QB Bobby Wirsing (6-0, 170 Sr.); WR Chris Cannon Jr.

Outlook: Tonight is the annual Battle of Oakwood.

This game means everything to these two schools, and even more this season with the playoff implications magnified.

West Hall started its subregion schedule with a 21-12 win against Pickens last Friday night in Jasper. With the win, the Spartans sit in a tie with Flowery Branch for the subregion lead.

West Hall also has a two-game winning streak heading into Billy Ellis Memorial tonight.

West Hall depends on its dependable running game with juniors Daniel Drummond and Marquise Stephens. This pair of backs have tallied more than 100-yards each in the past three games.

Johnson needs a win as bad as anyone in Region 7-AAA to snap a four-game losing streak.

Prediction: WEST HALL. Spartans have momentum right now with local bragging rights on the line in the Battle of Oakwood.

Pickens at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bobby Gruhn Field, Gainesville

Radio: 1240-AM

Records: Pickens (2-5, 0-1 Region 7B-AAA); Gainesville (4-3, 0-1)

Coaches: Pickens, Steve Sewell; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Key players: Pickens, QB/DB R.J. Harrington (5-9, 165 Sr.); LB/RB Alex Willingham (5-10, 175 Jr.); WR/DB Devin Mosley (5-8 150 Sr.). Gainesville, QB Justin Fordham (5-10, 175 Sr.); WR Tyler Adetona (6-2, 195 Sr.); WR Gerald Ford (6-3 210, Sr.).

Outlook: Few teams need a win as badly as Gainesville.

The Red Elephants come into tonight’s game with a three-game losing streak. All three of those losses were emotional and all three came against region rivals (North Hall, Chestatee and Flowery Branch).

Already down 0-1 in Region 7B-AAA, another loss could open the door for another team, like Pickens, to move up and take a playoff spot away from Gainesville.

Despite the losses, the Red Elephants’ offense has not slowed down.

Quarterback Justin Fordham leads the area in passing by a landslide with 2,017 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.

Receivers Tyler Adetona and Gerald Ford are the No. 1 and No. 3 receivers in the area as far as statistics are concerned.

But the Red Elephants defense has looked porous in their last three games, giving up an average of 41.6 points.

Pickens is in the middle of its own losing streak, dropping two straight since a win over East Hall on Sept. 28. The Dragons are giving up an average of 25.3 points per game while scoring an average of 18.6 points per contest.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The slide has to stop sometime, right? Pickens is not close to the type of talent the Red Elephants have played the last three weeks.

Gilmer at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard

Radio: 102.9-FM

Records: North Hall (6-0, 1-0 Region 7A-AAA); Gilmer (2-4, 0-1)

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Gilmer, Bradley Warren

Key players: North Hall, FB/LB Bobby Epps (5-10, 200 Sr.); HB Hunter Wolf (5-9, 190 Sr.); QB Fabian Jackson (6-0, 180 Sr.); Gilmer FB Ethan Watkins Sr.; RB Rod Newberry Sr.; DB Darrin Greene Sr.

Outlook: North Hall coach Bob Christmas hopes the festivities surrounding homecoming tonight at The Brickyard don’t serve as a distraction to the Class AAA No. 5-ranked Trojans. Not only will there be the traditional homecoming festivities with a parade and homecoming court, but this year’s homecoming is to celebrate the school’s 50th year of existence.

With the school’s milestone, part of tonight’s festivities for the game is a 120-member alumni band.

"I don’t think our team will have any trouble focusing on the game," Christmas said. "We’ve always played pretty well here on homecoming."

According to Christmas, the Bobcats are better than their record indicates.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. Trojans help celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary celebration with a win at the Brickyard.

Lumpkin County at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium

Record: Lumpkin County (4-2, 1-0 7A-AAA), East Hall (0-6, 0-1)

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/DB Ken Jackson (5-9, 170 Sr.); OL/DL Mike Trump (6-3, 275 Sr.); RB/DB Cameron Jackson (5-10 190 Sr.). 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.)

Outlook: In the game between the Indians and the Vikings, it all comes down to numbers and confidence.

In the numbers category, Lumpkin County is averaging 13 more points per game than East Hall, which is only averaging a touchdown per game, and the Indians are giving up only half the points the Vikings are per game.

As far as confidence is concerned, Lumpkin County is coming off two straight wins and is in the midst of its best season since 2003.

Also, the Indians’ proven and potent running game, led by backfield tandem Cameron and Ken Jackson, will not only run the clock, giving East Hall’s struggling offense little time to score, but also have little trouble breaking big runs behind their experienced offensive line led by seniors Kendall Hernandez, Quentin Self, Tyler Head, Mike Trump and junior Brad Grainger.

Defensively, the Vikings are athletic but could be overmatched on the line, thus unable to get to Lumpkin County’s runners in the backfield.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians have proven they have the ability to roll up big yards on the ground — something the Vikings struggle with.

John Milledge Academy
at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Records: Riverside (3-3, 1-0 GISA Class AAA North); John Milledge Academy, (2-2, 0-1).

Coaches: Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster; John Milledge, Ken Johnson

Key players: Riverside Military, RB/LB Tersoo Uhaa (5-9, 200 Sr.); OL/DL Colton Keig (6-3, 255 Jr.), QB Bill Dearybury (6-1, 190 Sr.). John Milledge, RB Landon NeSmith Sr.; RB Danny White Sr.; OL/DL Chris Couey Sr.

Outlook: Riverside Military quarterback Bill Dearybury should be closer to full speed tonight, according to Eagles coach Chris Lancaster. The Eagles quarterback was on the field last week in their win against Mount de Sales, but played with a steel insert in his shoe to remedy a turf toe injury.

The Eagles come into tonight’s game after winning their first region game last week with a strong defensive performance against Mount de Sales. The games in region are the sole determining factor for playoff seeding.

According to Lancaster, the Eagles are getting strong performances on both sides of the ball, including defensive tackle Colton Keig, defensive end Joe Heath, tight end Kyle Glennon, offensive guard Justin Bittker and linebacker Diego Osegueda-Weiner.

"Last week is the best our defense has played all season," Lancaster said. "I hope we can play like that again, because all the games are important from here on."

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles always play tough at home.

Buford at Walker

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Marietta

Directions: From Buford, drive South on US Interstate 985 and merge onto I-85 South. Take exit 95B toward Chattanooga/Birmingham. Keep right at fork and follow signs for US 23/Doraville/Buford Hwy. Keep left at fork and follow signs for I-285 W and merge onto I-285 West. Take exit 20 and merge onto I-75 North. Take exit 265 for Ga. 120/North Marietta Parkway. Turn left at Barnes Mill Drive. Turn right at N. Marietta Pkwy. Turn right at N. Cobb Pkwy. School is at 700 Cobb Pkwy.

Records: Buford (7-0, 4-0 Region 6B-AA). Walker (1-5, 0-1 Region 6A-AA)

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Walker, Frank Cuda

Key players: Buford, RB Demetris Murray (5-10, 205 Sr.); DT Dallas Lee (6-4, 290 Jr.); DT Omar Hunter (6-0 305 Sr.) Walker, QB Taylor Cook (Sr.), WR Brian McPherson (Jr.), RB/DB Christian Moore (Sr.).

Outlook: Despite giving up the most points it has allowed in a game this season, Buford was just as dominating as ever in last week’s 55-13 win over Holy Innocents’.

The Wolves, ranked No. 1 in Class AA, have done as they’ve pleased in every game so far, racking up more than 47 points per game. They’re averaging more than 7 yards per carry as a team, and their closest game so far was a 29-point win over a much larger Ohio school in the season-opening Herbstreit Classic.

Conversely, Walker has struggled to get its young team on track. But after only once scoring more than seven points in five straight losses to start the year, the Wolverines routed winless Cross Keys last week, 49-6.

Prediction: BUFORD. Yawn. Is it time for the playoffs yet?

Clarke Central at

Habersham Central


When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, 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: Clarke Central (5-1-1, 4-0 Region 8A-AAAA); Habersham Central (5-1, 3-0)

Coaches: Clarke Central, Leroy Ryals; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart

Key players: Clarke Central, RB Darreion Robinson (5-9, 170 Sr.); RB Terrence Scruggs (5-9, 180 Sr.); OL Trevino Woods (6-5 275 Sr.). Habersham Central, WR Tavarres King (6-2, 170 Sr.), QB Bo Hatchett (6-1, 190 Sr.), LB Daniel Franklin (6-3 230, Sr.).

Outlook: Since giving up 31 points to Stephens County in its only loss this season, Habersham Central’s defense has gotten stingy. In their four wins since, the Raiders are only giving up six points per game. That trend could get tested tonight against Clarke Central in a battle of the only two unbeatens in subregion 8A-AAAA.

The Gladiators bring a pair of explosive senior running backs (Robinson and Scruggs), and a five-game winning streak to Mount Airy. The Raiders offense leans on its passing game, helmed by Hatchett (1,302 yards, 13 TDs) and Georgia recruit King (46 receptions, 801 yards, 10 TDs). Running backs Zach Chitwood and Robert Renshaw provide a measure of balance, combining for close to 750 rushing yards at about 6 yards per carry.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. The Raiders have faced good backs and have the talent to contain Clarke Central’s speedsters.


Dawson County at Fannin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Blue Ridge

Directions: From Dawsonville, head west on Ga. 136 for approximately nine miles and continue on Ga. 183, then turn slight left at Ga. 52. Turn right toward Ga. 515 N. Turn right Ga. 515 N. Turn right at East First Street/Ga. 5/US 76. Turn right at Mountain Street. Turn left at East Second Street.

Records: Dawson County (3-4, 2-0 Region 8B-AA). Fannin County (5-1, 1-0)

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Fannin County, Clark Drennan

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.).

Outlook: Currently holding down first place by a half of a game in the subregion, Dawson County can take a giant step toward the postseason with a win tonight.

Standing in the Tigers’ way is Fannin County, which is also unbeaten in the subregion, and coming off of a bye week.

Dawson County has won three consecutive games since opening the season 0-4. The most noteable change has been in the Tigers’ defense, which surrendered an average of 39 points per game in their losses, but is giving up only nine points per game during the winning streak.

In its last game Fannin County defeated Union County 45-19.

Prediction: FANNIN COUNTY. The Tigers will have trouble stopping the Rebels offense, which is averaging almost 27 points per game.


Banks County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Blairsville

Directions: From Homer, head North on Ga. 51 for 11 miles. Turn left onto Ga. 51/Main Street. Make a sharp right onto Ga. 52. Turn slight right onto Ga. 283. Turn right at Ga. 11/US Hwy 129 and follow for approximately 40 miles. At Town Square, take the third exit onto US Hwy 129/US 19/Young Harris Street. Turn right at Ga. 2/Ga. 515/Southern Highroads Trail/US 76. Turn left at Weaver Road. Turn right at Ledford Road. The school is at 604 Panther Circle.

Records: Banks County (2-4, 1-0 Region 8B-AA). Union County (1-5, 0-2 Region 8B-AA)

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Union County, Todd Peugh

Key players: Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Jr.); QB Dustin Worley (6-3, 205 Sr.); LB Chris McDuffie Sr. Union County, QB Kolt Owenby (6-2, 210 So.), RB/WR Blake Gowder (6-2, 215 So.), LB Robert Hider (5-10 200, Sr.).

Outlook: Last week’s 42-21 win over Rabun County did more than snap Banks County’s four-game losing streak, it also propelled the Leopards into what appears to be a three-team race for one of the two Region 8B-AA playoff spots. Banks County and Fannin County are tied with one subregion win and no losses, while Dawson County is on top of the other subregion at 2-0. The Leopards will square off with Fannin County next week, but first they’ve got to get past the Panthers.

Junior running back Justin Beasley carries the load offensively for the Leopards. Through six games, he’s second in the area with 901 rushing yards, including a 284-yard outburst last week.

Union County relies on its sophomore-led passing game, but when it stalls, so do the Panthers. In last week’s 19-7 loss to Dawson County, the Panthers were just 6-for-25 through the air and finished with fewer than 200 total yards of offense.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. An experienced big-game coach, Armstrong won’t let the Leopards get caught peeking ahead.

at Prince Avenue Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bogart

Directions: From Commerce, head South on US 441 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: Commerce (5-2, 1-0 Region 8-A). Prince Avenue (5-2, 1-1)

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

Key players: Commerce, QB Reuben Haynes (6-0, 185 Sr.); TE/S Cohen Cooke (6-0, 185 Sr.); C Baxter Barnes (5-10 225 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: The Commerce defense has been living dangerously all season, and last week, in the Tigers’ Region 8-A opener, it almost cost them.

The Tigers escaped with a 36-35 win over Social Circle, thanks to a last-minute two-point coversion.

In Haynes, the Tigers have one of the region’s most potent playmakers. So far this season he’s rushed for more than 1,100 yards (9 per carry) and 19 touchdowns, while completing 62 percent of his passes for 900 yards. With the help of Cooke (50 receptions, 621 yards), among others, he’s helped Commerce put up 36 points per contest.

Meanwhile though, the Tigers defense, which is heavy on underclassmen, is giving up 33 points per game. This week they’ll see Jon Richt, son of Georgia coach Mark Richt, and perhaps the most heralded player in the region.

But whereas previous Wolverine teams resembled a one-man show, this year’s installment features a healthy running game and a defense that’s yielding fewer than 14 points per game.

Prediction: PRINCE AVENUE. In what could turn into a shootout, the Wolverines will make one more stop than the Tigers.


Social Circle at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jefferson

Directions: From Gainesville, take US 129 South for approximately 22 miles. Turn left onto Old Swimming Pool Road. Stadium is on the right.

Records: Social Circle (2-5, 0-1 Region 8-A), Jefferson (4-2, 0-0)

Coaches: Social Circle, Troy Morris; Jefferson, Bill Navas

Key players: Social Circle, TB Jamahl Street; QB Damion Partee. Jefferson, QB Josh Bohannan (5-9, 180 Sr.); RB Zach Crosby (5-9, 175 Jr.); DB Tab Martin (5-9, 165 Jr.).

Outlook: Jefferson is riding a three-game winning streak, with wins against Mt. Pisgah, Trion and Bremen, and Jefferson coach Bill Navas said the Dragons have raised their "level of focus to another level."

The Dragons are fresh off a 41-28 win against Bremen, which was 5-1 coming into the game.

The backfield duo of Virgil Appleby and Zach Crosby combined for nearly 400 yards of on offense and four touchdowns.

"Virgil stepped in and played great," Navas said. "Tyler (Hill) was out with an injury, and it’s great because now Virgil will share some time with Zach and Tyler."

Navas said that Hill will be playing tonight although he’s not at 100 percent.

According to Navas, the Dragons’ game plan is to keep Social Circle off balance.

"We are going to do a mixture of things (tonight)," Navas said. "It should be a good ball game."

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons backfield should be too much for a Social Circle defense that is allowing nearly 30 points a game.

Loganville at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jefferson

Directions: From Gainesville, take US 129 South for approximately 15 miles. Turn right onto Ga 11. Stadium is on the right.

Records: Loganville (2-4, 1-2 Region 8A-AAAA), Jackson County (0-6, 0-3)

Coaches: Loganville, Eric Godfree, Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Key players: Loganville, RB Zach West (5-9, 160 Sr.); QB Drew Payne (6-0, 170 Sr.). Jackson County, LB Jacob Dias (6-0, 230 Sr.); QB Chad Daniel (6-2, 190 Sr.); RB Adarius Hendrix (5-10, 170 Sr.)

Outlook: Last season, Loganville defeated Jackson County 31-14. In fact, the Devils have won the last eight games between the two teams.

Jackson County is coming off a 49-6 loss to Clarke Central in Week 7.

Loganville, which has lost three games by a total of eight points, relies heavily on running back Zach West, who averages 25-30 carries per game.

Prediction: LOGANVILLE. A young Jackson County defense will not be able to contain Loganville’s rushing attack.

Last week’s prediction record: 13-0
Season: 57-9

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