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High school football: Week 8 previews
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The Blitz: Your source for high school football

East Hall at Flowery Branch

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Falcons Stadium, Flowery Branch

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw

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

Key players: East Hall, DE Sterling Bailey (6-6, 250 Jr.), DE/RB Chaz Cheeks (6-5, 225 Jr.), WR/OLB Stephen Mendoza (5-10, 175 Sr.). Flowery Branch, QB Connor Shaw (6-2, 200 Sr.), RB Imani Cross (6-1, 218 So.), LB Cory Sanderson (6-1, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: The Falcons are presumably still reeling after a 37-34 loss to region rival North Hall in which they not only gave up 12 fourth-quarter points for the loss but were also knocked out of the top 10 as a result.

The Vikings, however, could be in similar shape after a 63-0 loss to Class AAA’s No. 1-ranked Gainesville — the worst East Hall loss since an 83-0 loss to Commerce in 1966.

Like last week, Flowery Branch will have to deal with a run-first team that uses the Wing-T.

Against North Hall, the Falcons gave up 395 yards rushing on 47 carries including 152 by Peyton Wilhoite alone.

East Hall doesn’t have quite the size on the offensive line as North Hall, but runs an offense that Flowery Branch has struggled stopping in two losses (Creekview, North Hall).

East Hall’s version of deja vu is that, like last week, it will once again have its hands full attempting to contain a balanced offense — Flowery Branch averages 210 yards rushing per game and 227 yards passing.

Flowery Branch — which has beaten East Hall by an average of 39 points in the last three meetings — is led by Connor Shaw (1,502 yards passing and 18 touchdowns) on offense and Matt Bell (60 tackles 5 for a loss) on defense.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. Falcons come in with a chip on their shoulders and leave with a win.

West Forsyth at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: West Forsyth (3-1, 1-1 Region 7B-AAA); Johnson (2-5, 1-1)

Key players: West Forsyth, RB Ben Emert (6-1, 220 Sr.), WR Ethan Shirley (Jr.), LB Nathan Teter (Sr.). Johnson, QB Anthony Prophet (5-11, 200 Sr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-2, 215 Jr.), DT E.J. Wright (6-4, 300 Sr.).

Outlook: The Johnson offense finally got on track last week, as Prophet rushed for 178 yards and six touchdowns and Rucker added 125 rushing yards in the Knights’ 49-45 win over West Hall. The yards and points could be harder to accumulate this week, as West Forsyth yields 25 points per game fewer than West Hall.

The Wolverines last saw action two weeks ago in a 34-0 loss to No. 1 Gainesville. Not much was working offensively that night for the Wolverines, as they finished with 65 yards of offense on 48 plays from scrimmage.

The Knights have had a hard time slowing down opponents this year, especially recently. Since shutting out Pickens on Sept. 18, Johnson is giving up nearly 50 points per game.

Prediction: WEST FORSYTH. The Wolverines have played more consistently than the Knights this season.

Prince Avenue at Lakeview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Prince Avenue Christian, Mark Farriba; Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Prince Avenue Christian (2-5, 0-3 Region 8-A); Lakeview (1-4, 0-2)

Key players: Prince Avenue Christian, RB Bobo Marshall (6-1, 176 Sr.), RB Taylor Clark (6-3, 171 Sr.), LB Dillon Faulkner (5-7, 177 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: Despite averaging six points in its last four games including a 56-7 loss to Class A’s No. 1 ranked Wesleyan last week, Prince Avenue beat Fellowship Christian 42-14 in Week 2.

That doesn’t mean much until its considered that in Week 1 of the season, Lakeview lost to that same team (Fellowship Christian) 21-20.

All told, the Wolverines are allowing 15 points to the Lions 11, while giving up 28 compared to the Lions 31.

Prince Avenue is led by Taylor Clark, whose best showings of the season came in wins against Fellowship Christian (245 yards, three touchdowns) and Glascock County (122 yards, two touchdowns), and Bobo Marshal who ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns against Glascock County.

Lakeview is led by Tom Drury who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry through five games.

Prediction: PRINCE AVENUE CHRISTIAN. Wolverines earn first region win of 2009.

Lumpkin County at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: Lumpkin County (3-3, 1-2 Region 7A-AAA); West Hall (0-7, 0-3 Region 7B-AAA)

Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-11, 195 Sr.), RB/LB Lance
Chuvala (6-0, 200 Sr.), WR/DB Chad Fulton (5-10, 160 Sr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 240 Jr.), WR Ishmail Nuckles (6-0, 180 Sr.), WR Brandon Fuqua (5-10, 150 Jr.).

Outlook: The Spartans have had no problems scoring this year — just check their 20 points per game average and the 45 points they put up against Johnson in a losing effort. Most teams would relish the opportunity to score 45 because that point total normally leads to a win. That wasn’t the case for the Spartans, as they fell to Johnson by four points, increasing their average points allowed per game to 45.

Lumpkin County is coming off its highest scoring offensive output, a 34-7 win over Pickens last week. While the Indians aren’t known for their offensive prowess, they have the ability to shut teams down defensively, with only Flowery Branch scoring more than 19 points against them.

Facing Flowery Branch will provide the Indians an idea of what West Hall will do offensively, but Lumpkin County will still have a tough time shutting down Stephens, who has eclipsed the 1,700-yard passing mark without winning a game.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. The defense will be the difference and lead the Indians to a win.

North Hall at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Dragons Stadium, Jasper

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Pickens, Steve Sewell

Records: North Hall (4-2, 2-0 Region 7A-AAA), Pickens (1-5, 0-3)

Key players: North Hall, RB/LB Peyton Wilhoite (6-0, 220 Sr.), QB/DB Nathan Jones (5-11, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Blitch (6-5, 320 Sr.). Pickens, QB Cooper Shaw (Sr.), LB Dustin Nicholson (Sr.), RB/LB Jordan Shaw (Jr.).

Outlook: North Hall is playing the rest of the regular season with hopes of a subregion title and the outside chance of a region title. Pickens is playing out the string.

The Trojans have defeated teams ranked No. 7 in the state (Creekview and Flowery Branch) in two of their past three games.

Pickens has been shut out in two of its three subregion games to this point in the season.

North Hall’s only two losses were to teams ranked No. 1 in the state (Buford and Gainesville) at the time of their meeting. Pickens has only scored in two of its games all season.

It is obvious these are two programs on the two opposite sides of the spectrum.

Robert Humphrey is North Hall’s leading rusher with 383 yards and six touchdowns. Peyton Wilhoite is second in rushing (358 yards, five TDs) and leads the Trojans in tackles with 58, including 19 tackles in a win last Friday against Flowery Branch.

The Trojans defeated Flowery Branch 37-34 last Friday, while Pickens lost to Lumpkin County 34-7.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. The Dragons have only scored once in subregion play this season, and they’ll have trouble containing the Trojans’ offense.

Fannin County at Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Fannin County, Clark Drennan; Riverside Military, Scot Sloan

Records: Fannin County (3-3, 2-3 Region 8-AA); Riverside Military (2-4, 2-3)

Key players: Fannin County, QB Nick Dean (6-0, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Garrison Kreis (5-10, 170 Jr.), RB/LB Blake Henry (5-9, 155, So.). Riverside Military, LB Aaron Gambrah (6-1, 200 Sr.), QB Alex O’Donnell (6-4, 218 Sr.), TE/DL Brandon McKinney (6-5, 255 Sr.).

Outlook: The Eagles can position themselves for a run at the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 8-AA with a win tonight. With a loss, Riverside would become a longshot, at best, to make the postseason. The sense of urgency for this game is doubled by the fact the Rebels have the exact same 2-3 region record with three more games left to play.

Region 8-AA consists of big blocks of teams. Jefferson, North Oconee and East Jackson are all tied for first with a 5-0 region record. All three of these programs finish the regular season against one another and will determine the probably seeding order for the playoffs. The Eagles just finished running the gauntlet of playing those three programs in order leading into last Friday’s bye week for Region 8-AA.

Riverside, Fannin County, Union County and Banks County are all lumped together at 2-3 in 8-AA. With the success of the top three in the region, it will likely leave the door open for only one of these four teams to sneak into the playoffs. Fannin County is coming off a 28-24 loss to Union County two weeks ago.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles will defend the castle with a win tonight to stay in the playoff picture in Region 8-AA.

Banks County at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Jefferson, T. McFerrin

Records: Banks County (2-4, 2-3 Region 8-AA); Jefferson (6-0, 5-0)

Key players: Banks County, WB/LB Jeremy Greenway (5-9, 170 Jr.), TE/LB Matthew
Patton (6-1, 220 Jr.), QB/WR/DB Kane Duncan (6-3, 170 Sr.). Jefferson, RB/DB Lucas Redd (6-1, 200 Sr.), QB/KR Darius Minor (5-11, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Caleb Meek (5-7, 155 Sr.).

Outlook: Tonight’s game will be Banks County’s third in a row against an unbeaten region rival, and possibly the most difficult.

The Leopards have lost by a combined score of 68-6 against North Oconee and East Jackson in their most recent games. After a region-wide bye week, they’ll travel to take on No. 7 Jefferson.

Jefferson is cruising through their second season in Class AA. Since moving up last year, they’re 14-0 in region games.

This year the Dragons are getting the vast bulk of their offensive production from the running game. They lead Northeast Georgia with more than 269 rushing yards per game, and feature four backs averaging more than 7 yards per carry. Redd (395 yards, 7.3 avg.) and Minor (385 yards, 12.0 avg) lead Jefferson on the ground.

Banks County got a boost in the backfield with the return of Clay Frink. The Leopards had been without their top two rushers when Frink and Dylan Lackey were injured in a Week 3 win over Dawson County. Lackey is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons have the weapons to overwhelm most teams in 8-AA.

Thomson at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Thomson, Luther Welsh; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Thomson (2-4, 1-2 Region 3-AAA); Buford (5-1, 3-1 Region 6-AA)

Key players: Thomson, QB Phillip Anderson (Jr.), RB Brandon Huff (Sr.), RB/DB Dontavis Brown (Jr.). Buford, RB Jessel Curry (6-2, 217 Sr.), OL/DL Kolton Houston (6-5, 280 Sr.), RB/DB Eric Barr (5-8, 156 Jr.).

Outlook: The Wolves aren’t afraid to play teams in higher classifications, evident by their games earlier this year against Grovetown (Class AAAA), North Hall and tonight’s contest against Thomson. If the previous two games are any indication of what’s to happen tonight, then Thomson is in for a long evening.

The Wolves, who are coming off a 65-0 thrashing of Cross Keys last week, outscored Grovetown and North Hall 86-7 and beat this same Thomson team 29-0 last year.

Buford has turned it up since its loss to Lovett, averaging more than 44 points per game and recording three straight shutouts.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves tune up for three straight region games with a big win.

Commerce at Wesleyan

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Henderson Stadium, Norcross

Coaches: Commerce, Steve Savage; Wesleyan, Franklin Pridgen

Records: Commerce (3-3, 2-0 Region 8-A); Wesleyan (7-0, 3-0)

Key players: Commerce, RB/DB Deon Brock (5-9, 165 Sr.), LB Jon Streetman (6-2, 205 Sr.), QB Cody Streetman (6-0, 190 So.).
Wesleyan, RB Kyle Karempelis (5-10, 170 Jr.), QB Connor Welton (6-0, 180 Sr.), OL/DL David Andrews (6-3, 270 Jr.).

Outlook: Commerce has proven it can play with the some of the state’s best Class A teams. This week, the Tigers will get their shot at the best of the best.

Three weeks ago, Commerce led No. 4 Lincoln County late in the third quarter, but eventually fell, 20-12. There’s more on the line tonight as the Tigers travel to take on Wesleyan, the No. 1 team in Class A and the Region 8-A frontrunner.

If any team’s going to knock the Wolves from their perch atop the region, it seems like it’s going to have to be the Tigers. Wesleyan closes the season with Athens Academy and Athens Christian, teams Commerce dispatched of with relative ease.

The Wolves, the defending Class A champs, are riding a 19-game winning streak led by Karempelis. After rewriting the school record book as a sophomore, he leads the team with 809 rushing yards this season. Welton provides balance, completing 80 percent of his passes this year for 916 yards with 16 touchdowns and only one interception.

The Tigers are led by Deon Brock, who leads the area with 875 rushing yards and 12 scores. Cody Streetman took on a large share of the load in last week’s 35-17 win over Athens Christian, rushing for 139 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries.

Prediction: WESLEYAN. The Wolves are playing on a different level than most of Class A.

Habersham Central at Monroe Area

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Legion Field, Monroe

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Habersham Central, Stuart Cunningham; Monroe Area, Matt Fligg

Records: Habersham Central (3-4, 3-4 Region 8-AAAA); Monroe Area (0-6, 0-6)

Key players: Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-0, 180 Jr.), RB David Griffin (5-10, 170 Jr.), WR/DB Dee Ellison (6-1, 170 Sr.). Monroe Area, QB Demontavious Smith (Jr.), RB/DB Tre’Shard Burdette (Jr.), RB/DB
Michael Hendricks (Jr.).

Outlook: After a 10-quarter hiatus, the Habersham Central defense returned in the second half last week. Unfortunately for the Raiders, it was about two quarters too late to prevent the team’s second straight loss, 21-13, to No. 9 Apalachee.

In the previous two weeks, the Raiders surrendered 70 total points, and the Wildcats jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first half last week before Habersham Central was able to respond.

The Raiders will try to even their record this week when they take on the Purple Hurricanes, losers of 16 straight.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. Monroe Area’s vulnerability against the pass could lead to big points for a balanced Raiders offense.

Eastside at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panthers Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Eastside, Rick Hurst; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

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

Key players: Eastside, RB Git Aiken (Sr.), QB Califf Carnes (6-0, 174 Jr.), LB Kevis Bell (Jr.). Jackson County, WR/S Charlie Waycaster (6-0, 170 Sr.), QB Alex Crawford (5-8, 140 Jr.), LB Kelly Moats (5-9, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: Jackson County’s 3-0 start is all but a distant memory now, as the Panthers have lost their last three games by a combined score of 98-21. The Panthers could certainly use a win, but it won’t come easy tonight when they play host to last year’s region champion Eastside Eagles, winners of their last three games.

One of those Eastside wins was a 42-20 beating of Hart County, which beat Jackson County 42-7.

The Eagles, who reached the third round of the Class AAA state playoffs last year, are led by Aiken, who has 704 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the season.

To slow down Aiken, as well as RB Greg Griffieth (345 yards, five TDs), the Panthers will need to have the defensive performances they had to start the season when they surrendered a little more than three points a game.

Eastside beat Jackson County, 50-0 last year, and hold a 5-2 edge in the series that dates back to 2000.

Prediction: EASTSIDE. The Eagles improve their win streak to four games.

Dawson County at North Oconee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bogart

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; North Oconee, Terry Tuley

Records: Dawson County (1-5, 1-4 Region 8-AA); North Oconee (6-0, 5-0)

Key players: Dawson County, QB/DB Ethan Brown (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB/LB Stephen King (5-10, 170 Sr.), LB Sam Edwards. North Oconee, DB/RB Lane Thompson (5-9, 165 Jr.), RB Brandon Whitlock (5-9, 170 Sr.), OT/DT Sam Stewart (6-4, 270 Sr.)

Outlook: North Oconee comes into this game with a perfect record on the season, a first for the Titans at this point.

The Tigers will take the field with a series record of 1-0 in their favor, but have only won one game this season, against Rabun County on Sept. 11, a team North Oconee blew out 48-0 last week.

In fact, the Titans have defeated Rabun County and Oglethorpe County, two programs who have already defeated Dawson County this year.

Prediction: NORTH OCONEE. Dawson County doesn’t have the scoring power needed to defeat North Oconee.

Georgia Military at Towns County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee

Coaches: Georgia Military, Brad Owens; Towns County, Kyle Langford

Records: Georgia Military (0-6), Towns County (2-5)

Key players: Geogia Military, S Jakar Hamilton (6-2, 196 Sr.), OLB Roy Mangram (6-1, 200 Sr.), RB Tobias Palmer (5-10, 165 Sr.). Towns County, WR/S Matt Hogsed (6-1, 180 Sr.), QB John Swilley (6-3, 225 Sr.), RB Matt Beni (5-10, 175 Sr.)

Outlook: The Indians come into this game with a series record of 1-2 against the Bulldogs, but the losses to Georgia Military were in 1990 and 1991, two seasons that Towns County was only able to win once.

Last year, the Indians overwhelmed the Bulldogs winning 49-14, and this year looks to be much of the same.

Prediction: TOWNS COUNTY. In a game where both programs are having losing seasons, bet on the one that at least has an earned win under its belt.

Oglethorpe County at Union County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville

Coaches: Oglethorpe County, Larry Milligan. Union County, Brian Allison

Records: Oglethorpe County (2-4, 1-4 Region 8-AA); Union County (3-3, 2-3)

Key players: Oglethorpe County, QB A.J. Perlotte (5-10, 180 Sr.), RB Teaspoon Jones (5-8, 160 Sr.), RB D.J. Johnson (6-1, 175 Sr.). Union County, WR/LB Blake Gowder (6-2, 215 Sr.), QB Kolt Owenby (6-2, 180 Sr.), LB Michael Sossei (6-0, 190 Sr.)

Outlook: Oglethorpe County has really struggled in region play this season with only one win, against Dawson County on Oct. 2.

The Patriots are 6-2 against the Panthers, but have given up 147 points in region play already this year. Union County is tied with Fannin County, Banks County and Riverside, which all vie for the fourth spot in the region.

Prediction: UNION COUNTY. The pressure will motivate the Panthers to win.

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