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High school football: Week 7 previews
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The Blitz: Your source for high school football

Game of the Week: Flowery Branch at North Hall

Chestatee at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Huff-Mosley Stadium, Ellijay

Coaches: Chestatee, Stan Luttrell; Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley

Records: Chestatee (3-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA); Gilmer (4-1, 2-0)
Key players: Chestatee, RB Ben Souther (6-1, 200 Sr.), TE/LB Robby Poole (5-10, 175, Sr.), RB/LB Keaton Summerlin (5-10, 175, Sr.). Gilmer, RB Jacob Teague (Jr.), QB Thomas Davis (Sr.), RB/DB Ryan Lowery (So.).

Outlook: Gilmer has won more games this season than it has since 2001, and the hot start has the Bobcats eyeing their first playoff berth in 12 years.

But starting tonight, the road to the postseason is expected to get bumpier. Chestatee will be the first team Gilmer has played this season with a winning record, and from here on out, every team will.

The War Eagles powered through Lumpkin County last week on the strength of the running game, which is averaging more than 220 yards per game. Souther leads the way with 666 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Poole (58 tackles) and Summerlin (24 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks) lead the Chestatee defense.

Teague had 154 rushing yards on 20 carries last week in Gilmer’s 24-0 win over Pickens. The showstopper, however was the Bobcat defense, which allowed just 17 rushing yards on 31 carries and 4 passing yards on 10 attempts.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. The War Eagles will be the best team Gilmer has seen so far.

Gainesville at East Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: East Hall Stadium

Radio: 1240-AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; East Hall, Bryan Gray

Records: Gainesville (6-0, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA); East Hall (0-5, 0-1)

Key players: Gainesville, QB Blake Sims (6-1, 180, Sr.), WR Tai-ler Jones (5-11, 170, Sr.), LB A.J. Johnson (6-3, 220, Jr.). East Hall, LB Corey Richardson (5-8, 210, Sr.), DE/TE Chaz Cheeks (6-5, 225, Jr.), WR/OLB Stephen Mendoza (5-10, 175, Sr.).

Outlook: It’s no secret that Gainesville is good.

The Red Elephants come into tonight’s game against subregion rival East Hall riding a six-game winning streak and averaging 43 points per game.

They boast the area’s fourth-best rusher in Teryan Rucker (615 yards and 5 touchdowns) and the area’s third best passer in Alabama commit Blake Sims (960 yards and 14 touchdowns).

To add insult to injury, Gainesville also has the area’s top receiver, Tai-ler Jones, who has caught 20 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games alone.

For as explosive as Gainesville’s offense is, East Hall’s is struggling.

The Vikings are averaging five points per game and coming off a 41-6 loss to West Forsyth on Sept 25.

After being held scoreless in its first two games, East Hall has shown improvement, scoring in three straight, but yards, much less points, will be hard to come by tonight against a Gainesville defense that is just as weaponized as its offense.

Thomas Sprague (81 tackles) and A.J. Johnson (74 tackles) Alberto Sanabria and Taylor Stowe (4 sacks each) lead a Red Elephants’ defense that is giving up just over a touchdown and only 180 yards of total offense per game.

East Hall’s defense, on the other hand, has at times looked like the shining entity but has struggled recently, allowing 33 points per game in its last two contests.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants stomp their way to a win.

Johnson at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Stadium, Oakwood

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

Records: Johnson (1-5, 0-1 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (0-6, 0-1)

Key players: Johnson, QB Anthony Prophet (5-11, 200 Sr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-2, 215 Jr.), DT E.J. Wright (6-4, 300 Sr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Jr.), RB Marquise Young (5-9, 180 Sr.), WR/LB Ishmail Nuckles (6-0, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: These two teams enter tonight’s game with just one win combined, but that doesn’t matter; when Johnson and West Hall take the field, city-wide bragging rights are on the line.

One look at last season’s 56-55 shootout win by the Spartans tells the tale of what goes on in the Battle of Oakwood.

While this year’s “battle” might not be as high scoring — West Hall is averaging 16 points per game and Johnson is scoring only nine per contest — that doesn’t mean that the two schools seperated by less than 10 miles won’t put on a good show.

Ever since the two schools started playing each other in 1994, the Spartans have won 10 of the 15 meetings (the 1997 game ended in a 20-20 tie), and six of those meetings have been decided by seven points or less.

Prediction: JOHNSON. The Knights have played more competitive football this year and will take the title of best team in Oakwood back to Poplar Springs Road.

Lakeview at Social Circle

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Social Circle

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; Social Circle, Troy Morris

Records: Lakeview (1-3, 0-1 Region 8-A); Social Circle (2-4, 1-1)

Key players: 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.). Social Circle, QB Devaris Pitts (Jr.), LB Austin Farmer (Jr.), RB Jeremy Wyatt (Sr.).

Outlook: On paper, tonight’s matchup between region foes Lakeview and Social Circle seems fairly even.

The Lions are averaging 12 points to the Redskins’ 16, while giving up 27 points to Social Circle’s 29.

As is always the case, however, paper doesn’t tell the entire story.

Lakeview has struggled offensively, scoring only one touchdown in its last two games against Hebron Christian and Class A’s No. 1 ranked Wesleyan.

The Lions, however, are coming off a bye week, and after suffering through two-straight losses, it couldn’t have come at a better time where getting the kinks out are concerned.

While Social Circle struggled just as mightily against Wesleyan, a 52-6 loss, it has scored 21 or more points in three games and will present a challenge in both the running and passing game for a Lakeview defense that is allowing 289 yards of total offense per game.

Prediction: SOCIAL CIRCLE. The Redskins move to 2-1 in the region.

Cross Keys at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Cross Keys, David Radford; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Cross Keys, Carlos Martinez, Dennis Montoya, Ahmed Mahammed (So.); Buford (4-1, 2-1 Region 6-AA); Cross Keys (1-4, 0-2 6-AA)

Key players: Buford, OL/DL Kolton Houston (6-5, 280, Sr.), OL Du’Von Millsap (6-5, 333, Sr.), QB Alex Ross (6-1, 180, Sr.)

Outlook: Buford has never lost to Cross Keys, and with the Indians’ only win this season coming off a forfeit of North Springs, tonight’s game looks a little bit like history repeating.

Buford on the other hand, just lost its first game in three years to Lovett on Sept. 11 and hasn’t had a losing season since 1998.
The Wolves also carry some big guns with Eric Barr, Jessel Curry and Darrian Smith who have churned up 655 yards with 13 touchdowns on the season, and Ross who has 688 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Prediction: BUFORD. Buford’s arsenal is too strong for the Indians to topple.

Commerce at Athens Christian

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Eagle Field, Athens

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Athens Christian, Bill Forman

Records: Commerce (2-3, 1-0 Region 8-A); Athens Christian (4-2, 1-1 Region 8-A)

Key players: Commerce RB/DB Deon Brock, (5-9, 165 Sr.), LB Jon Streetman (6-2, 205 Sr.), RB/DB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 S.). Athens Christian, RB Nathan McNeil (So.), QB Tyson Beacham, WR Forrest Shealy.

Outlook: Commerce has had a rough start this season losing three out of its first four games, but the Tigers saw an upswing to the year with a 28-7 win over Athens Academy last week, their first victory over the Spartans since 2005.

Brock led the Tigers with 298 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, increasing his season total to 822 yards gained with 13 touchdowns. Commerce has never lost to Athens Christian, boasting a perfect 3-0 record against the Eagles.

Prediction: COMMERCE. The win last week will motivate the Tigers to stay undefeated in the region.

Apalachee at Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Apalachee, Shane Davis; Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham

Records: Apalachee (5-0, 5-0 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (3-3, 3-3)

Key players: Apalachee, RB Jon Lee (5-10, 180 Sr.) RB John Ansley (6-2, 195 Sr.), LB Jeff Haney (6-1, 210 Sr.). Habersham Central, LB Keylan Meyers (5-9, 170 Sr.), RB/DB David Griffin (5-10, 170, Jr.), OL Kalan Jones (6-3, 280 Sr.).

Outlook: Habersham Central enters this game with its playoff hopes starting to slip away; not exactly an ideal time to face the No. 9 Wildcats.

Apalachee is off to the first 5-0 start in the 10-season history of the program and is the region’s only unbeaten team. Lee leads the team’s Wing-T offense with 580 rushing yards and more than 10 yards per carry. Last week, in a 56-0 win over Winder-Barrow, he finished with 275 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries.

He splits time with three other backs, while former Gainesville reserve Mike Norman commands the offense at quarterback.
Collectively, they’ll pose a stiff challenge for the Raiders defense. After splitting a pair of defense battles to open the season, Habersham Central has given up 35 points in two straight contests. The Raiders won the first of those, 42-35 over Winder-Barrow, but were shut down last week, managing only seven points in a loss to Madison County.

Defensively, the Wildcats are yielding less than seven points per game and have given up more than one score just once.

Prediction: APALACHEE. Too many Wildcat weapons.

Jackson Co. at Franklin Co.

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Ed Bryant Stadium, Carnesville

Coaches: Jackson County, Billy Kirk; Franklin County, Tommy Welch

Records: Jackson County (3-2, 0-2 Region 8-AAA); Franklin County (3-2, 2-0)

Key players: Jackson County, QB Alex Crawford (5-7, 140, Jr.), WR/S Charlie Waycaster (6-0, 170, Sr.), LB Kelly Moats (6-0, 180, Sr.). Franklin County, WR/DB Daquan Merritt (5-9 Sr.), QB/DB Dashan Merritt (5-9 Sr.), RB/LB Matthew Jackson (6-0 Sr.).

Outlook: After a promising start, Jackson County’s season has taken a downturn since opening 8-AAA play.

After a hard-fought loss to Morgan County two weeks ago, the Panthers took a 42-7 loss to region favorite Hart County last week.
The schedule won’t relent much tonight as Franklin County enters on a three-game winning streak.

Last week, they knocked off Morgan County 28-6, holding the Bulldogs scoreless until the game’s waning minutes.

Jackson County has had trouble scoring after putting up 86 combine points in their first two wins. Since then, the Panthers are scoring nine points per game.

Prediction: FRANKLIN COUNTY. Led by the Merritt twins, the Lions have too much offensive firepower.

Pickens at Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: J.P. King Memorial Stadium, Dahlonega

Coaches: Pickens, Steve Sewell; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: Pickens (1-4, 0-2 Region 7A-AAA); Lumpkin County (2-3, 0-2)

Key players: Pickens, QB Cooper Shaw (Sr.) LB Dustin Nicholson (Sr.), RB/LB Jordan Shaw (Jr.). Lumpkin County, RB/LB Lance Chuvala (6-0, 200 Sr.), TE/DL B.J. Dorsey (6-2, 215 So.), RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: Lumpkin County enters this week in need of a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Last week, the Indians went toe-to-toe with Chestatee, but came up on the short end of a 19-7 decision due in large part to four turnovers.

Defensively, the Indians held firm but were eventually worn down by the War Eagles’ running game.

The defense has been the Indians’ strength throughout the season, limiting opponents to a little more than 100 rushing yards per game. This week they’ll face a Pickens offense struggling to find an identity.

Since a 28-21 win over West Hall to open the season, the Dragons have been shut out in four straight games, the most recent coming in a 24-0 loss to Gilmer last week in which Pickens finished with only 21 yards of total offense.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The Indians pull to .500 with a stingy defensive effort.

Creekview at White County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Warrior Stadium, Cleveland

Coaches: Creekview, Al Morrell; White County, Gregg Segraves

Records: Creekview (4-1, 0-1 Region 7A-AAA); White County (3-2, 0-1)

Key players: Creekview, QB Cody Allen (Jr.), RB Hunter Livingston (Sr.), RB/DB Michael Ay (Sr.). White County, DL Tyler Hamilton (6-1, 285 Sr.), RB Ashely Lowery (6-2, 190 Jr.), QB/DB Tyler Dotson (5-10, 175, Sr.).

Outlook: To say that this game is a must win for White County is probably an understatement. With last week’s loss to North Hall, the Warriors enter tonight’s game faced with the same predicament that kept them out of the playoffs a year ago.

Despite a 7-3 record in 2008, White County stayed at home during the postseason because of losses to the Trojans and Grizzlies, and a win tonight will not only avenge last season’s 33-0 loss, but could put White County in a prime position for that second subregion playoff spot.

To take down the Grizzlies, White County will need to shut down a run-first offense that put up 400 yards against Flowery Branch earlier this season. Livingston leads the Creekview charge on the ground with 471 yards and four touchdowns on the year.

The Warriors did an admirable job holding North Hall to 129 yards last week and will need that type of performance tonight to beat Creekview.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. It’s the Warriors’ homecoming game and although Creekview is a perfect 3-0 in those types of contests, White County will end that streak tonight.

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