There’s something to be said for a fashionably late entrance. That’s what three area teams got from a trio of skill players Friday night.
But considering their freshman status, the contributions of Lumpkin County’s Ian McIntosh, Habersham Central’s Kevin Ellison and Flowery Branch’s Imani Cross could still be considered unexpectedly early, even eight weeks into the season.
Cross was used only sparingly through the Falcons’ first seven games, but was pushed into heavy action Friday against East Hall when starting running back Daniel Drummond was forced out with an injury. Cross answered the bell, carrying 20 times for 133 yards and two scores, and helping the Falcons overcome a slow start in a 42-3 win over East Hall.
Entering Friday night, McIntosh had just four touches on offense this season, and the Indians’ game-winning, Chris Guthrie-to-Taylor Guthrie touchdown pass with 7.5 seconds left was standout moment in Lumpkin County’s 23-22 win over West Hall. But McIntosh chipped in with 105 yards of total offense (83 rushing, 22 receiving), including a 71-yard scoring run that brought the Indians within a touchdown late in the third quarter.
It wasn’t truly a coming out party for Ellison, who’s been leading the Raider rushing offense for much of the season. But his school record five-touchdown performance was an attention-grabber anyway. Ellison, one of numerous underclassmen manning the skill positions for Habersham Central (4-4, 4-4 Region 8-AAAA), scored all of the Raiders’ touchdowns in a 33-14 win over Monroe Area, and rushed for 156 yards in the game.
Week 9 showdowns in 7-AAA
Chestatee’s 41-21 loss to White County on Friday certainly wounded the War Eagles’ playoff hopes, but they’ll still have the chance to play their way into one of 7A-AAA’s two playoff spots. That said, the final three weeks of the regular season won’t bring any breathers for Chestatee (4-3, 3-1).
This week, the War Eagles go to The Brickyard to face subregion leader North Hall (4-3, 3-0). On deck, it’s a 7-AAA crossover game against West Forsyth (6-1, 2-1 7B-AAA), then a home game against Creekview (2-4, 1-1) that could have major playoff implications for both teams.
Other contenders for the playoffs include Lumpkin County (3-3, 2-1) and White County (3-4, 1-2).
With two subregion losses, the Warriors have some catching up to do. White County coach Gregg Segraves said his team isn’t even talking about the playoffs anymore, instead taking a week-by-week approach and letting the standings shakeout take care of itself. The Warriors will likely need to win out and get some help to find a spot in the postseason.
The Indians weren’t predicted to be in the playoff chase, but they’ve remained competitive this year with a stifling defense. In its last two games, Lumpkin County has yielded just 54 rushing yards on 33 carries. This week they’ll be facing a Warriors offense fresh off of a 35-carry, 317-yard night against Chestatee.
In 7B-AAA, West Forsyth travels to Flowery Branch. For the Wolverines, it’s a chance to stake a claim on the subregion’s No. 2 spot. For the Falcons, it’s a chance to stay in the race for the region championship.
The Falcons (7-1, 3-0) have won seven straight since a season-opening loss at Stephens County, scoring at least 35 in each of their last four.
West Hall sophomore quarterback Shunquez Stephens topped the 2,000-yard mark for the season, passing for 335 yards in Friday’s loss to Lumpkin County. ... Julian Suber went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season with 203 rushing yards in Riverside’s 40-28 loss to Fannin County. ... Friday was the first game all season that North Hall free safety Nathan Jones did not intercept a pass. The junior standout leads the area with seven interceptions.