Here are previews for all of tonight's area games.
North Hall at East Hall
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: East Hall Stadium
Directions: Take Jesse Jewell Parkway North; turn right onto Old Cornelia Highway and continue on Old Cornelia Highway through Rabbittown. East Hall Stadium is on the left past East Hall High School.
Records: North Hall (8-0, 3-0 Region 7A-AAA); East Hall (0-8, 0-3)
Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; East Hall, Bryan Gray
Key players: North Hall, QB/DB Fabian Jackson (6-0, 180 Sr.); RB/LB Hunter Wolf (5-9, 190 Sr.); FB/LB Bobby Epps (6-1, 210 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: It seems that regardless of who North Hall plays or where North Hall plays one thing is a constant, the Trojans are dominant in all facets of the game. The senior-laden Trojans average 48 points per game while only giving up a touchdown per contest.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have struggled on both sides of the ball averaging just seven points a game while giving up 55.
Prediction: NORTH HALL. As was said last week for the Buford game, the junior varsity will be on the field before the starters break a sweat.
Gainesville 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, turn left on McEver Road. The school is two miles ahead on the right,
Records: Gainesville (6-3, 2-1 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (2-6, 1-1 Region 7B-AAA)
Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; West Hall, Mike Newton
Key players: Gainesville, QB Justin Fordham (5-10, 175 Sr.); WR Gerald Ford (6-4, 210 Sr.); WR Tyler Adetona (6-2 195 Sr.). West Hall, RB/LB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 185 Jr.), RB/LB Daniel Drummond (6-3, 230 Jr.), QB Shunquez Stephens (6-3 235, Sr.).
Outlook: Win and you are in. Lose and ask for help. That is the Red Elephants’ situation today in Oakwood.
If Gainesville wants to assure itself of a playoff spot, it needs a win against West Hall. If the Red Elephants lose, they will need other things to go their way for a life in the postseason.
Gainesville’s offense is still one of the best in the area, averaging 39.2 points per game. Last week, however, it had to rely almost exclusively on the passing game.
That suits quarterback Justin Fordham and receivers Tyler Adetona and Gerald Ford just fine. The trio produce at least two big plays per game and account for most of the Red Elephants offense.
But the Spartans can’t take their eyes off running back Kendrick Harris, who can run and catch out of the backfield.
The most important matchup of this game might be between Gainesville’s defensive line and West Hall’s backfield.
The Spartans have two of the most punishing backs in the area with running back Marquise Stephens and fullback Daniel Drummond. Both can produce over 100 yards on the same night.
Gainesville’s much-improved defense has looked suspect against a steady running attack. White County ran successfully against the Red Elephants, as did Chestatee.
Gainesville has won the last five meetings between these two teams, including a 56-7 win last year.
Prediction: GAINESVILLE. West Hall’s offense may have some success, but its defense will have problems holding down the Red Elephants big-play offense.
Johnson at Flowery Branch
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch
Directions: From Interstate 985 South take Exit 12 (Spout Springs Road) toward Flowery Branch; turn left onto Spout Springs Rd.; turn left onto Hog Mountain Rd.; Flowery Branch High is on your left.
Records: Johnson (3-5, 1-1 Region 7B-AAA); Flowery Branch (7-1, 2-0).
Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw
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.). Johnson, RB Mantevius Rucker (6-2, 190 Fr.), QB Bobby Wirsing (6-0, 170 Sr.), LB Gilberto Espinoza (5-11, 235 So.).
Outlook: Flowery Branch is dominating in Region 7B-AAA with a 6-0 mark since the region was subdivided last season.
Now, the Falcons control their own fate in regards to earning home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Flowery Branch can secure the subregion championship and home field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs with a win tonight along with a Gainesville victory.
If Gainesville doesn’t win tonight, the Falcons have another chance to gain the subregion championship with a win against West Hall next week.
Last season, Flowery Branch emerged the Region 7B-AAA champions and it translated into a big win for the Falcons in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs against Sandy Creek.
Johnson must win tonight to cling to its slim playoff chances. The Knights need help to get into the playoffs after last week’s loss to Gainesvile.
The Knights have seen highs and lows in Region 7-AAA this season including a subregion victory against West Hall that followed a four-game losing streak.
Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. The Falcons have too many weapons for the Knights to contain.
Gilmer at White County
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Warriors Stadium
Directions: From Gainesville, drive North on US 129 through Cleveland. Approximately three miles north of the square, the school is located on the right. Parking is available on school’s campus adjacent to the stadium.
Records: White County (5-3, 2-1 Region 7A-AAA); Gilmer (2-6, 0-3)
Coaches: White County, Gregg Segraves; Gilmer, Bradley Warren
Key players: White County, DL Tasi Suaava (5-11, 250 Jr.); DL Adam Hooper (5-11,220 Fr.); RB Eli McCallister (5-11, 165 Sr.).
Outlook: White County controls its own destiny in regards to earning its first playoff berth since 2001.
The Warriors have the head-to-head advantage against Chestatee with a win two weeks ago. And White County still has its game against Lumpkin County, with an identical 2-1 subregion record, in week 11.
But first the Warriors need a win tonight to stay in the driver’s seat for playoff contention.
Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors have too much on the line to lose to a lesser opponent.
Banks County at Dawson County
When: 7:30 tonight
Directions: From Gainesville, take Ga. 53 past Ga. 400 and take a right onto Perimeter Road. The school will be on the right..
Records: Banks County (3-5, 2-1 Region 8B-AA); Dawson County (3-5, 2-1)
Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Dawson County, Jeff Lee
Key players: Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Jr.); QB Dustin Worley (6-3, 205 Sr.); LB Chris McDuffie (6-1 180 Sr.). 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: The playoffs start tonight for the Leopards and Tigers as the winner of tonight’s game clinches the subregion’s No. 2-seed and a spot in the postseason.
Both teams are coming off losses to Fannin County — Dawson County, 13-7 on Oct. 19, and Banks County 42-28 last week. The disparate scores against Fannin County say a lot about both teams.
The Tigers have thrived on their defense in the second half of the season, yielding just 41 points in the last four games. On the other hand, they’ve had trouble getting their own offense on track and have topped 20 points only twice this season.
Moving the ball hasn’t been a problem for the Leopards. Beasley leads the area in rushing yards with 1,421 on 8.8 per carry. As a result, Banks County is averaging almost 37 points per game in their last three outings (Beasley’s gone over 200 yards in each).
But the Leopards find themselves with a losing record due to their inability to slow down the opposition. They’ve held only one opponent to fewer than 20 points (a 14-0, lightning-shortened win in Week 1 over Jackson County), and they’ve given up at least 34 points in half of their games.
Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. Conventional wisdom favors the better defense, but the Tigers won’t be able keep pace with the Beasley-led Leopards.
Habersham Central at Jackson County
When: 7:30 tonight
Directions: From Gainesville, take US 129 South for approximately 15 miles. Turn right onto Ga. 11. The stadium is on the right.
Records: Habersham Central (7-1, 5-0 Region 8A-AAAA); Jackson County (0-8, 0-5)
Coaches: Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart; Jackson County, Billy Kirk
Key players: Habersham Central, WR Tavarres King (6-2, 170 Sr.); QB Bo Hatchett (6-1, 190 Sr.); WR/DB Josh Anderson (5-10, 165 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: This game defines mismatch.
Since losing to Stephens County in Week 2, the Raiders have rolled to six straight wins.
The Panthers are still looking for their first win of the season and the possibility of an 0-10 season continues to grow.
Habersham Central’s offense is explosive and balanced. Teams, players and fans should always keep an eye on Georgia recruit Tavarres King.
The Raiders are averaging 35.4 points per game and have won their last six by an average score of 36-8.
Jackson County’s offense has scored in double digits once, last week’s 40-14 loss to Madison County.
The Panthers have been shut out three times and are averaging 5.1 points per game.
It doesn’t look any better on the defensive side.
Jackson County has given up more than 30 points four times. Habersham Central has not given up more than 14 points in a win.
The only player that has had success against the Raiders was Stephens County’s Tauren Poole, but Jackson County does not have an athlete of that caliber.
Habersham Central has never lost to Jackson County, winning all seven times the two have played. The Raiders beat the Panthers 31-0 last year.
Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. See above.
Commerce at Jefferson
When: 7:30 tonight
Directions: From Gainesville, take US 129 South for approximately 22 miles. Turn left onto Old Swimming Pool Road. Stadium is on the right.
Records: Commerce (6-3, 2-1 Region 8-A); Jefferson (6-2, 2-0)
Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Jefferson, Bill Navas
Key players: Commerce, QB Reuben Haynes (6-0, 185 Sr.); TE/S Cohen Cooke (6-1, 185 Sr.); OT Jake Flint (6-3 250 Sr.). Jefferson, RB Tyler Hill (5-11, 205 Sr.), RB Zack Crosby (5-8, 170 Sr.), QB Josh Bohannon (5-9 180, Sr.).
Outlook: It’s the kind of rivalry reserved for high school football: neighboring small towns with tradition-rich athletic programs, and lots calendars with today’s date circled. But lately it’s been a one-side affair.
The Dragons haven’t beaten Commerce since 1995 — a string that includes 12 straight losses. But fans in Jefferson have reason to believe this year could be different.
The Dragons come in to tonight’s game winners of five straight, having dispatched Prince Avenue last week by a score of 37-7. That’s the same Prince Avenue team that pushed the Tigers to the brink in a 36-33 Commerce win Oct. 19.
The Tigers’ last three games have been decided by a field goal or less. They won the first two, but fell last week to No. 10 Athens Academy in overtime. Led by Haynes, one of the region’s most dynamic offensive players, the Tigers have depended on their offense this year to outgun their opponents. They’re scoring 34.6 points per game, but are surrendering 32.7.
Jefferson features a balanced offense with Hill’s running (747 rushing yards, 12 TDs), Bohannon’s passing (1,175 yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT), and Crosby’s all-around offensive game (1,000-plus all-purpose yards). The Dragons defense has done its part, holding opponents to 14.6 points per game this season.
Prediction: JEFFERSON. History’s working against them, but the better team wears red, white and blue this year.
Riverside Military at Tattnall Square
When: 8 tonight
Records: Riverside Military (5-3, 3-0 GISA AAA-North); Tattnall Square (7-0, 3-0)
Coaches: Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster; Tattnall Square, Barney Hester
Key players: Riverside Military, RB/LB Tersoo Uhaa (5-9, 200 Sr.); TE Kyle Glennon (5-10, 200 Jr.); WR/DB Ewin Holyfield (6-1, 175 Sr.). Tattnall Square, LB Chris Willis (6-0, 220 Sr.); RB Colby Bond (5-11, 178 Jr.); RB Michael Avery (6-2, 208 Sr.).
Outlook: This game features the last two state champions of GISA’s largest classification.
Since a three-game losing skid, Riverside, which won the title in 2005, has rebounded to win its last three games, including a 41-7 win against Central Fellowship last week.
During Riverside’s recent run, the Eagles defense has only surrendered three touchdowns.
Riverside’s offense relies heavily on GISA AAA-North’s top-ranked rusher Tersoo Uhaa. The senior has tallied 1,079 yards on 199 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns. Uhaa has also recorded 46 tackles at the linebacker position.
Tattnall Square, the defending state champion, is riding an 11-game winning streak dating back to last season, and has recorded four shutouts this season.
The Trojan offense is led by the backfield duo of Colby Bond and Michael Avery. The tandem has combined to rush for 1,063 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Tattnall Square’s defense, ranked first in GISA AAA-North, is led by senior linebacker Chris Willis. Willis leads the defense with 83 tackles (11.9 per game).
Prediction: TATTNALL SQUARE. The Trojans cruise past the Eagles en route to their 20th consecutive trip to the state playoffs.
Last week’s prediction record: 10-2