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High school football: Week 2 previews
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Writer's Block: Some area coaches talk to Jon and Brent.

Banks County at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Riverside, Scot Sloan

Records: Banks County (0-1); Riverside (0-1)

Key players: Banks County, TE/LB Matthew Patton (6-1, 220 Jr.), QB Kane Duncan (6-3, 170 Sr.), RB Dylan Lackey (5-10, 170 Jr.). Riverside, TE/DL Brandon McKinney (6-5, 255 Sr.), LB Aaron Gambrah (6-1, 200 Sr.), QB Alex O’Donnell (6-4, 218 Sr.).

Outlook: Riverside’s coach is glad that last week’s season-opening 40-6 loss to Elbert County is a thing of the past. The Eagles were able to get back to work Monday with the Region 8-AA opener against Banks County as the top priority.

The remaining nine games of the regular season for the Leopards and Eagles will be a straight run through the region schedule.

That’s a good thing, according to Sloan, not having to bounce in and out of region competition during the course of the season.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE. The Eagles want to get last week’s loss at Elbert County out of their minds as soon as possible. Riverside gets a solid ground-control game going to win the Region 8-AA opener against the Leopards.

Dawson County at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jefferson Memorial

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Jefferson, T. McFerrin

Records: Dawson County (0-1); Jefferson (1-0)

Key players: Dawson County, OL/DL Zach Johnson (6-3, 270, Jr.), QB/CB Ethan Brown (5-11, 175, Jr.), RB Eian Perry (5-7, 190, Jr.). Jefferson, QB/K/KR Darius Minor (5-11, 170 Sr.), LB/OL Kyle Mosley (6-2, 240 Jr.), RB/DB Lucas Redd (6-1, 200 Sr.)

Outlook: Jefferson already has its biggest rivalry game of the season in the books, a 30-13 win against Commerce last week. Now it’s time to open the nine-game stretch of the Region 8-AA schedule tonight against Dawson County.

McFerrin says that Dawson County has a tremendous advantage with its size on the line. He compares Dawson County’s size on the line to that of teams such as Parkview, Brookwood and Collins Hill he previously coached against.

Minor led the way last week for the Dragons with 85 yards rushing and a touchdown, as well as a pair of passing touchdowns. Zac Allen led the team with more than 100 yards rushing.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons have too many offensive weapons for Dawson County to contain.

East Hall at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Cleveland

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; White County, Gregg Segraves

Records: East Hall (0-1); White County (1-0)

Key players: East Hall, DE Sterling Bailey (6-6, 250 Jr.), LB/FB Corey Richardson (5-8, 210 Sr.), TE/WR Chaz Cheeks (6-5, 225 Jr.) White County, RB Ashely Lowery (6-2, 190 Jr.), DB/RB Tyler Nation (5-8, 160 Sr.), QB/DB Tyler Dotson (5-10, 175 Sr.).

Outlook: For a Vikings team that managed only 62 yards of total offense against Murray County on Aug. 22, a bye week might be just the thing they needed to work out the kinks in their first year of running the wing-T.

If the said kinks haven’t been worked out, a solid White County defense that comes in having given up only six points in its opener at Franklin County will have a field day.

The Vikings defense on the other hand was solid, holding the Indians to 34 yards of total offense and just one first down in the first half and only 122 yards for the game.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. The Warriors will move to 2-0 thanks to defensive prowess.

Flowery Branch at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Dahlonega

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: Flowery Branch (1-0); Lumpkin County (1-0)

Key players: Flowery Branch, RB Imani Cross (6-1, 218 So.), QB Connor Shaw (6-2, 200 Sr.), LB Cory Sanderson (6-1, 195 Sr.). Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 195 Sr.), RB/LB Lance Chuvala (6-0, 200 Sr.), RB/DB Ian McIntosh (5-9, 160 So.).

Outlook: Both Class AAA’s No. 2-ranked Flowery Branch and Lumpkin County showed off impressive running games and formidable defenses in Week 1 wins.

For the Indians, stopping Falcons sophomore Imani Cross (176 yards and two touchdowns last week) will be key. He led the way for a ground game that accumulated 302 of the team’s 393 yards of total offense in the Falcons’ 38-8 win against Stephens County.

Lumpkin County, despite amassing 206 yards on the ground in its 13-0 win against Dawson County, will have to find a way to get around a Flowery Branch defense that held perennial Region 8-AAA powerhouse Stephens County to just 80 yards of total offense in the first half.

Flowery Branch’s defense will also have to contend with a speedy sophomore in the Indians’ Ian McIntosh (12.4 yards per carry on seven attempts). The Lumpkin County defense held Dawson County, which runs the triple option, to just 77 yards of total offense which means that Flowery Branch might need to find its air game if it wants to repeat last year’s 42-10 win.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. The Indians defense was great last week, but will face a true test tonight and the Falcons will come around the mountain with the win.

Franklin County at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park

Radio: 1240-AM, 1330-AM

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: Franklin County (0-1); Gainesville (1-0)

Key players: Franklin County, WR/DB DaQuan Merritt (5-9 Sr.), QB/DB Dashan Merritt (5-9 Sr.), RB/LB Matthew Jackson (6-0 Sr.). Gainesville, QB Blake Sims (6-1, 180 Sr.), RB Teryan Rucker (5-9, 180 Sr.), LB Thomas Sprague (6-1, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: Despite a 34-0 win in the season opener against Chestatee, the Red Elephants enter tonight’s game with Franklin County as a team with much to prove. The main issue at hand is the three lost fumbles and 130 yards of penalties that Gainesville had in Week 1.

“That’s what will get you beat in close games,” Miller said after last Friday’s win.

The Red Elephants will be able to iron out that issue when they play host to the Lions, who lost 10-6 last week to White County and 34-7 a year ago to Gainesville.

The Lions will have their work cut out for them on both offense and defense, as Gainesville piled up 437 yards, including 140 on the ground from Rucker and 254 combined from Sims, against Chestatee. Standout senior Tai-ler Jones leads the receiving corps.

On defense, Gainesville is led by linebackers Alberto Sanabria, Sprague and A.J. Johnson, who completely shut down Chestatee’s running game in Week 1. The secondary was also effective, holding the War Eagles to just 17 yards passing.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The game should contain fewer turnovers and penalties, and if that is the case, the Red Elephants will once again cruise to a win.

Sonoraville at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Sonoraville, Chuck King; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Sonoraville (1-0); Jackson County (1-0)

Key players: Sonoraville, QB Ryan Bess (6-0, 195 Sr.), RB Zach Washington (5-11, 215 Sr.), TE/OLB Mitchell Turner (6-0, 210 Jr.). Jackson County, QB Alex Crawford (5-7, 140 Jr.), WR/S Charlie Waycaster (6-0, 170 Sr.), LB Kelly Moats (6-0, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: The Panthers got their 2009 season started perfectly with a 44-0 trouncing of Our Lady of Mercy in Week 1. It was the biggest offensive output for a Jackson County team since 1991, and that type of performance gives the Panthers some momentum heading into the home opener tonight in Jefferson.

Visiting the Panthers tonight are the Phoenix from Sonoraville, which beat Jackson County by two points last season, but lost seven key players from that squad, including All-State safety Trent Payne.

Prediction: JACKSON COUNTY. The Panthers are poised to start 2-0 for the first time since 1981.

Johnson at North Forsyth

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Valley, Cumming

Coaches: Johnson, Paul Friel; North Forsyth, Jared Zito

Records: Johnson (0-1); North Forsyth (1-0)

Key players: Johnson, QB Anthony Prophet (5-11, 200 Sr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-2, 215 Jr.), DT E.J. Wright (6-4, 305 Sr.). North Forsyth, QB Joey Vicary (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB/S Steven Hester (6-1, 220 Sr.), RB Tyler Slaton (5-9, 185 Jr.).

Outlook: Johnson fared well against a run-heavy team last week, holding North Hall to less than 150 yards rushing, but fell short in a 20-3 loss.

They’ll get another dose of the ground game tonight, as the Raiders feature three solid options in their split-back veer approach. In addition to bottling up North Forsyth’s backfield, the Knights will need to avoid the miscues that doomed them in Week 1.

Offensively, Johnson got good production from Prophet (195 total yards) and Rucker (82 rushing yards), but turned the ball over four times last week. Tonight, they’ll be facing a tough Raider defense that shut down a potent West Forsyth running game last week.

Friel said the Knights are prepared to play without starting linebacker Gilberto Espinoza, the team’s leading tackler in 2008, who was sidelined early in last week’s game with a knee injury. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, but had to leave town due to a death in the family.

Prediction: NORTH FORSYTH. This is a winnable game for the Knights, but they’ll have to do everything right to derail a Raider team that seems to be clicking early in the season.

Lakeview at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; Towns County, Kyle Langford

Records: Lakeview (0-1); Towns County (0-1)

Key players: Towns County, WR/S Matt Hogsed (6-1, 180 Sr.), RB Matt Beni (5-10, 175 Sr.), FB/DT Taylor Denton (5-11, 215 Jr.). Lakeview, RB/LB Tom Drury (5-10, 190 Sr.), RB/DB Dalton Munday (5-7, 140, Sr.), QB/LB Jordan Chastain (6-0, 185 Sr.).

Outlook: The Lions are coming off a disappointing one-point loss to Fellowship Christian but gained some needed confidence for tonight’s Region 8-A opener based on the emergence of what looks to be a solid running game.

Lakeview scored 20 points, the second most in the program’s varsity history, on the legs of Tom Drury (128 of the team’s 238 rushing yards) but were doomed by penalties and a couple of special teams miscues.

Towns County is coming off a 36-14 loss to a Rabun County team that went 1-9 in 2008 and lost to the Indians 20-0 last year.

Last week the Indians struggled to stop the Rabun County running game, which could bode well for the Lions.

If the offensive line provides the holes for Drury and company like they did last week, Lakeview could put a notch in the win column, avenging last year’s season opening 26-13 loss.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW. It will be close, but with confidence in their running game and a lesson learned from last week, the Lions will prevail.

Rabun County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Rabun County, Danny Durham; Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Rabun County (1-0); Union County (1-0)

Key players: Rabun County, RB/DB Paul Blackstock (5-10, 160), RB/DB Daniel Campbell (5-10, 165), FB/LB J.B. McClain (5-11, 175). Union County, QB Kolt Owenby (6-2, 180 Sr.), WR/LB Blake Gowder (6-2, 215 Sr.), LB Michael Sossie (6-0, 190, Sr.).

Outlook: Both the Panthers and the Wildcats got off to a quick start, especially on offense, putting up big points in Week 1 victories.
Union County opened with a 41-26 win over Hayesville, N.C., led by Owenby, who threw for 278 yards and rushed for 83. That kind of output isn’t abnormal for the quarterback, but the fact that the Panthers were able to put up 41 points with only 67 receiving yards from Gowder (2008’s state leader in receiving yards) could foretell good things for the Union County offense.

Prediction: UNION COUNTY. If it turns into a shootout, the Panthers have the best weapons.

West Hall at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jasper

Coaches: West Hall, Mike Newton; Pickens, Steve Sewell

Records: West Hall (0-1); Pickens (0-0)

Key players: West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Jr.), RB Marquise Young (5-9, 180 Sr.), WR/LB Ishmail Nuckles (6-0, 180 Sr.). Pickens, QB Jordan Shaw (Jr.), RB Cooper Shaw (Sr.), FB Michael Greenway (Sr.).

Outlook: The Spartans enter their second game of the season with one glaring question: Can the defense match the offense?

Last week, West Hall’s offense outshined the defense, with Stephens throwing for 349 yards with one passing touchdown and two rushing scores. Stephens was aided by Young, who rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown, and Nuckles, who had seven receptions for 167 yards. Unfortunately for West Hall, those numbers were not good enough to produce a win as the defense surrendered 55 points to an East Jackson team that was shut out three times in 2008.

West Hall will need to improve on that defensive performance when it heads to Jasper to play a team that is opening the 2009 season tonight. After a bye week in Week 1, the Dragons begin this season with the thought of avenging last year’s 21-3 loss to the Spartans.

Prediction: WEST HALL. The Spartans know they will need to put up points in order to win, and they will be able to do that against a young team from Pickens.

Morgan County at Commerce

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Commerce

Coaches: Morgan County, Bill Malone; Commerce, Steve Savage

Records: Morgan County (0-1, 0-1 Region 8-AAA); Commerce (0-1)

Key players: Morgan County, QB/DB Terence Harper (Sr.), QB JD Hawkins (Jr.), RB/LB Terrence Heard (Jr.); Commerce, LB Josh
Streetman (6-2, 205 Sr.), RB/DB Deon Brock (5-9, 165 Sr.), RB/DB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Sr.)

Outlook: Commerce opened this season with a 30-13 loss against Jefferson and Morgan County’s season began in a similar fashion, losing 38-14 to Mary Persons. Both programs enter tonight with something to prove.

The Tigers are 4-3 all-time against the Bulldogs and Commerce’s Brock is the player to watch putting 109 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns against the Dragons.

Prediction: COMMERCE. Morgan County might have strong moments, but Commerce plays a more balanced game.

Habersham Central at Heritage

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Conyers

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Heritage, Chad Frazier; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham

Records: Heritage (0-1, 0-1 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (0-1, 0-1)

Key players: Heritage, QB Andre Wilson (6-0, 165 Jr.), RB Devon Holmes (5-10, 162 Sr.), DE Rufus Jenkins, (5-11 200 Sr.). Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-1, 180 Jr.), OL Kalan Jones (6-3, 280 Sr.), LB Keylan Myers (5-9, 170 Sr.).

Outlook: Coming off of a heartbreaking 16-13 loss in overtime, Habersham Central needs every win it can get if they want a chance to get to the playoffs this year.

Posting a 6-4 record last year wasn’t enough to get into postseason play and the Raiders come into this game against Heritage in the same shape as last season with an 0-1 record. The Raiders hold a 9-3 advantage in the all-time series record against Heritage and haven’t been defeated by the Patriots since 2004.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. The tough loss in Week 1 will motivate the Raiders and propel them to a win.

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