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High school football: Week 11 previews
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The Blitz: Your source for high school football

Pickens at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium

Coaches: Pickens, Steve Sewell; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: Pickens (1-8, 0-6 7A-AAA); East Hall (1-8, 1-4 Region 7B-AAA)

Key players: Pickens, QB Cooper Shaw (Sr.) LB Dustin Nicholson (Sr.), RB/LB Jordan Shaw (Jr.). East Hall, OL/DE Sterling Bailey (6-6, 250 Jr.), RB/DE Chaz Cheeks (6-5, 225 Jr.), QB/DB Desmon Gardner (5-10, 165 Sr.).

Outlook: In last week’s win against West Hall, the Vikings not only proved to outsiders that they could score and compete, but more importantly proved it to themselves.

East Hall got big contributions from two sophomore running backs (Jamond Witt had two rushing touchdowns and Carlos Negron had one) and one senior renaissance man (Desmon Gardner amassed 83 yards rushing and receiving) to earn the season’s first win and with confidence riding high, tonight could be win No. 2.

Prediction: EAST HALL. Vikings finish season on a high note and earn second win.

Lakeview Academy at Athens Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Athens

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; Athens Christian, Bill Forman

Records: Lakeview (1-7, 0-5 Region 8-A); Athens Christian (4-5, 1-4)

Key players: Lakeview, RB/LB Tom Drury (5-10, 190 Sr.), LB/RB Lex Little (6-1, 190 Sr.), QB/LB Jordan Chastain (6-0, 185 Sr.). Athens Christian, RB Anthony Cosby, RB Neil Homer, RB Nathan McNeil.

Outlook: Athens Christian comes into tonight’s matchup on a three-game losing streak. Lakeview has lost its last six.

Don’t let that comparison fool you, however, because the Eagles three games were against Region 8-A’s top-three teams.
In fact, in the Eagles 56-7 loss to top-ranked Wesleyan last week, they became only the third team this season to score a touchdown on the Wolves.

Last week, in a 28-7 loss to the region’s third-best team, Athens Academy, Lakeview came out fired up and scored a 20-yard pass to take an early lead in the game. While they weren’t able to pull out the win, they did according to coach Matthew Gruhn compete harder than they had all season.

Prediction: ATHENS CHRISTIAN. Eagles end season by snapping a three-game losing streak.

Lumpkin County at North Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Brickyard

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

Records: Lumpkin County (4-5, 1-4 Region 7A-AAA); North Hall (7-2, 5-0)
Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 195 Sr.), RB/DB Ian McIntosh (5-9, 160 So.), TE/DL B.J. Dorsey (6-2, 215 So.). North Hall, LB/RB Peyton Wilhoite (6-0, 220 Sr.), QB/DB Nathan Jones (5-11, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Blitch (6-5, 320 Sr.).

Outlook: The Trojans can play themselves into a Region 7-AAA title tonight with a big serving of help from Flowery Branch. North Hall already owns the North subregion title. If Flowery Branch knocks off Gainesville tonight in South Hall, then the Trojans earn the region’s top spot to the playoffs as a result of head-to-head advantage from last month.

North Hall would still like a win against Lumpkin County. The Trojans can extend their subregion winning streak to 22 games and four complete seasons since the start of the 2006 season.

North Hall has been consistently dominant in the subregion this season. Since allowing 21 points against Creekview, the Trojans have recorded three subregion shutouts (White County, Gilmer and Pickens).

Prediction: NORTH HALL. Trojans win and then wait patiently for final results of Flowery Branch and Gainesville game to see if its good enough to capture the region title.

West Forsyth at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartans Stadium

Coaches: West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: West Forsyth (5-4, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (0-9, 0-4)

Key players: West Forsyth, RB Ben Emert (6-1, 230 Sr.), WR Ethan Shirley (6-0, 180 Jr.), OL Jeff Sayer (6-3, 250 Sr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Jr.), WR/LB Ishmail Nuckles (6-0, 180 Sr.), RB Marquise Young (5-9, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s the last chance the Spartans have to win a game in 2009, and that’s going to be a tall task against one of Region 7-AAA’s strongest running teams.

Behind the legs of Emert, the Wolverines’ offense has amassed 41 points or more the past three weeks. One of those weeks was against Flowery Branch, when West Forsyth put up 51 points in a losing effort and Emert rushed for 350-plus and six touchdowns.

Prediction: WEST FORSYTH. The Wolverines can do much more than the Spartans can handle.

Greater Atlanta Christian at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Greater Atlanta Christian, Ken Robinson; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Greater Atlanta Christian (1-8, 1-5 Region 6-AA); Buford (8-1, 5-1)

Key players: Greater Atlanta Christian, WR/DB Julian Horton (6-1, 180 Sr.), QB Beaux Hebert (Sr.), LB Stephen Harber (Sr.). Buford, RB/LB Jessel Curry (6-2, 215 Sr.), OL/DL Kolton Houston (6-5, 280 Sr.), QB Alex Ross (6-2, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: Six games, six wins, seven points allowed.

That’s Buford’s ledger since a loss to Lovett nearly two months ago. The third-ranked Wolves have posted five of their six shutouts during that streak and positioned themselves to earn a share of the 6-AA title, along with Lovett and Westminster. If all three teams win tonight, Buford will take the No. 2 seed into the playoffs.

Traditionally, Buford football has centered on a power running game out of the I-formation. That’s still the basic identity of the 2009 Wolves, but they’re also finding offensive success through the air, with Ross already topping 1,000 passing yards this season. Sherman Page, who has 32 receptions and 414 yards, is the leader at receiver.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves are playing their best football at the most important time of the year.

Prince Avenue at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

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

Records: Prince Avenue (3-6, 1-4 Region 8-A); Commerce (5-4, 4-1)

Key players: Prince Avenue, TE/LB Taylor Clark (6-3, 171 Sr.), QB/LB BoBo Marshall (6-1, 176 Sr.), OL/LB Dillon Faulkner (5-7, 177 Jr.). Commerce, RB/DB Deon Brock (5-9, 165 Sr.), WR Carl Allen (6-0, 160 Sr.), FB/LB Josh Streetman (6-2, 205 Sr.).

Outlook: Commerce has already locked up the No. 2 playoff spot from the region and a first round home playoff game. Meanwhile, Prince Avenue is out of playoff contention regardless of tonight’s outcome.

Commerce has won easily against Athens Academy, Athens Christian and Social Circle: three teams that defeated Prince Avenue and held the Wolverines to 42 points scored in the losses, 14 points per game.

The Tigers also have a perfect 3-0 series record against the Wolverines.

Prediction: COMMERCE. Just one more bump in the road en route to the post season.

Dawson County at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Riverside, Scot Sloan

Records: Dawson County (1-8, 1-7 Region 8-AA); Riverside (4-5, 4-4)

Key players: Dawson County, QB/DB Ethan Brown (5-11, 175 Jr.), OL/DL Zac Johnson (6-3, 270 Jr.), RB Eian Perry (5-7, 190 Jr.). Riverside, QB/LB Lucas Bersin (6-0, 205 Sr.), LB Aaron Gambrah (6-1, 200 Sr.), TE Brandon McKinney (6-5, 255 Sr.).

Outlook: Three weeks ago, Riverside was a 2-4 team on the brink of falling out of playoff contention.

But the Eagles scored a crucial 20-17 win over Fannin County, and bounced back from disappointing loss to Oglethorpe County with a thrilling 28-27 win over Union County last week.

Now all they need to get into the GHSA playoffs for the second straight year is a win over a Dawson County team that’s in danger of finishing with its worst record since 1995.

Brown has been one of the bright spots for the Tigers, leading the team with 468 rushing yards and recording 71 tackles.
But Dawson County has struggled defensively, yielding 40 points or more in each of the last three games.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE. Needing only a win to secure a spot in the playoffs, it’s unlikely the Eagles would be susceptible to the upset.

Jackson County at Stephens County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: The Reservation, Toccoa

Coaches: Stephens County, Travis Noland; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Stephens County (3-6, 2-4 Region 8-AAA); Jackson County (3-6, 0-6)

Key players: Jackson County, WR/S Charlie Waycaster (6-0, 170 Sr.), QB Alex Crawford (5-7, 140 Jr.), LB Kelly Moats (6-0, 180 Jr.). Stephens County, QB/DB Dacen Cash (5-10, 170 Sr.), WR/DB Quan Trammell (6-2, 180 Sr.), WR/DB Kadaryl Burtch (5-8, 165 Sr.), RB/DB Dre Cunningham (6-1, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: Jackson County got a jump on the season and won its first three games against Our Lady of Mercy, Sonoraville and Prince Avenue with ease.

However, since entering region play on Sept. 25 the Panthers have been on a six-game losing streak and have given up 194 points in their losses, 32.33 per game.

Prediction: STEPHENS COUNTY. Jackson County continues to look for its first region win since 2006.

East Jackson at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jefferson Memorial Stadium

Coaches: East Jackson, Frank Caputo; Jefferson, T. McFerrin

Records: East Jackson (9-0, 8-0 Region 8-AA); Jefferson (9-0, 8-0)

Key players: East Jackson, QB/DB Evan Williamson (Sr.), RB/DB Deon Sewells (Sr.), RB/DB C.J. Allen (Sr.). Jefferson, QB/KR Darius Minor (5-11, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Lucas Redd (6-1, 200 Sr.), RB/DE Zach Allen (6-2, 230 Sr.).

Outlook: This is what high school football is all about: two undefeated programs meeting up in the final week of the season to settle the region title on the field. No tie breaker. No coin toss for deciding a champion. It’s just good old fashioned hard-nosed football.

What each of these programs are trying to accomplish in this game is quite remarkable. Jefferson is trying to string together back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and consecutive region titles for the first time in the school’s history. The Dragons only own four previous region titles in football (1971, 1975, 1977 and 2008).

Jefferson has been aided by a stingy defense lately. Last week, Sam Loggins, Kyle Mosley and Zach Allen were all in double-digits tackling in a critical win against North Oconee. And in the last four region games (Riverside Military, Banks County, Rabun County and North Oconee), the Dragons have not surrendered more than six points in a single game.

Meanwhile, East Jackson is trying to win its first region football title in only its second season playing a region schedule.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. Dragons have too solid of a defense to lose at home to the Eagles.

Towns County at Glascock County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Gibson

Coaches: Towns County, Kyle Langford; Glascock County, Chris Kelley

Records: Towns County (2-7); Glascock County (1-8).

Key players: Towns County, WR/S Matt Hogsed (6-1, 180 Sr.), QB John Swilley (6-3, 225 Sr.), RB Matt Beni (5-10, 175 Sr.). Glascock County, HB/LB Montavious Myricks (5-6, 185 Jr.), OL/LB Zach O’Connor (6-0, 205 Jr.),

Outlook: This game is a toss-up. Both programs have only one win this year; the Indians caught a break when Asheville, N.C. forfeited its game on Oct. 9 giving them their second win of the season. But both earned wins were solid victories: a 48-12 win for Towns County against Hayesville, N.C., and a 48-7 win for the Panthers against North Cobb Christian.

Prediction: TOWNS COUNTY. The Indians win the battle of struggling teams.

Union County at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Leopard Stadium, Homer

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Records: Union County (5-4, 4-4 Region 8-AA); Banks County (2-7, 2-6)

Key players: Union County, QB Kolt Owenby (6-2, 180 Sr.) WR/LB Blake Gowder (6-2, 215 Sr.), LB Michael Sossei (6-0, 190 Sr.). Banks County, RB/LB Clay Frink (5-9, 194 Jr.), TE/LB Matthew Patton (6-1, 220 Jr.), OL/DL Nathan Mathis (5-9, 240 Jr.).

Outlook: Last week’s loss to Riverside was a kick in the gut for Union County.

After six straight losing seasons, the Panthers made marked improvement in 2008 under coach Brian Allison, in his first year of a second stint at the school. But an injury took out Owenby late in the season, and Union County limped to a 5-5 record and failed to make the playoffs.

They seemed ready to make amends in 2009, winning three straight before falling last week. Now, the Panthers need to win tonight and get a loss from Riverside against Dawson County to sneak into the postseason with a No. 4 seed.

Prediction: UNION COUNTY. Even though the defense has struggled, the Panthers have enough firepower to finish with a win.

White County at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Huff-Mosley Stadium, Ellijay

Coaches: White County, Gregg Segraves; Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley

Records: White County (6-3, 3-2 Region 7A-AAA), Gilmer (4-5, 2-3)

Key players: White County, RB Ashely Lowery (6-2, 190 Jr.), DL Tyler Hamilton (6-1, 285 Sr.), QB Cole Segraves (6-4, 225 Fr.). Gilmer, OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-0, 265 Sr.), LB Sawyer Petit (6-2, 200 Jr.).

Outlook: White County is playing its best football of the year, winning its last three game by an average of 22 points. After starting the season 4-1, the Bobcats have lose four straight and haven’t held an opponent under 33 points since a 24-0 win over Pickens on Oct. 2.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors end their season on a high note.

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