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Week 10 High School Football Previews
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Tonight's Jefferson-North Oconee game will decide the Region 8-AA title.

at Johnson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Johnson, Paul Friel

Records: Gainesville (8-0, 3-0 Region 7B-AAA); Johnson (2-7, 1-3)

Key players: Gainesville, QB Blake Sims (6-1, 195 Jr.), WR T.J. Jones (6-0, 195 Jr.), LB Phillip Gaines (5-11, 205 Sr.). Johnson, QB Anthony Prophet (5-10, 180 Jr.), RB Mantevius Rucker (6-1, 200 So.), LB Gilberto Espinoza (5-11, 220 Jr.).

Outlook: Last week, a late touchdown pass from Prophet to Mick Shannon pushed the Knights past East Hall and snapped a four-game losing streak. Any momentum taken from that inspiring win will be much needed tonight, as the Knights welcome the sixth-ranked Red Elephants to Billy Ellis Memorial.

While Johnson willed itself to a win last week, the high-powered Red Elephants were cruising to a 42-6 defeat over winless Gilmer. But despite the high scoring affair, Gainesville coach Bruce Miller was not pleased with his team’s inability to hold onto the football. "We need to cut down on the turnovers," Miller said after his team fumbled the ball twice, muffed a punt, and threw an interception against Gilmer.

Granted some of those turnovers were due to the rainy playing conditions, but the Red Elephants will need to secure the football to get past Johnson. Especially since the Knights know that they can beat Gainesville.

Two years ago, a 2-4-1 Johnson team stormed into City Park and beat Gainesville, which was 7-1 at the time, catching the Red Elephants off guard and giving the people of Oakwood something to brag about. But alas, these are not the 2006 Red Elephants, and that game two years ago provided the team with the "you-can’t-overlook-any-team" mantra.That mind set was on display last week, when Gainesville came out firing against an 0-7 Gilmer team and put up 35 first-half points. Two of those five touchdowns came from Sims to Jones, who have accounted for seven scores on the season.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The Red Elephants take on Flowery Branch for the region title next week, and this could be what you call a "trap game," but the Sims-to-Jones tandem, combined with a defense that is giving up a paltry 5.75 points per game spells doom for the Knights.

East Hall
at West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Field, Oakwood

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: East Hall (1-7, 0-4 Region 7B-AAA); West Hall (4-4, 1-2)

Key players: East Hall, RB/LB Corey Richardson (5-8, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Kiante Young (6-1, 190 Sr.), OL/P Christian Romero (5-11, 235 Sr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 248 So.), RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 210 Sr.), WR Rodney Gibson (6-3, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: There is little better than a series with history, and this one has it.

Since 2002, West Hall has won two matchups with East Hall including last year’s 37-7 victory.

Prior to last year, however, the Vikings had won four straight and will be looking to notch another one tonight.

The bad news, West Hall has had two weeks to prepare for East Hall, and let fester the emotions evoked after a one-point loss to Lumpkin County.

The Spartans come in boasting the area’s top passer in sophomore Shunquez Stephens (2,244 yards passing and 18 touchdowns) and three of the area’s top four receivers in Rodney Gibson (648 yards and eight touchdowns), Terrell Penland (581 yards and five touchdowns) and Marquise Stephens (524 yards and three touchdowns).

On the defensive side, however, West Hall (giving up 28 points per game) doesn’t have the type of prowess its offense has, and that could be how East Hall keeps it close.

In the last two games, played against offenses which predominately run the ball like East Hall does, West Hall has given up 55 points in one matchup (a win over Johnson) and lost the other game (23-22 to Lumpkin County).

Prediction: WEST HALL. Considering the offensive line gives Shunquez Stephens time in the pocket, he will add onto his already gaudy numbers and lead his team to a win.

North Hall
at Gilmer

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Bobcats Stadium, Ellijay

Coaches: North Hall, Bob Christmas; Gilmer, Wesley Tankersley

Records: North Hall (5-3, 4-0 Region 7A-AAA); Gilmer (0-8, 0-4)

Key players: North Hall, LB Thomas Sprague (6-1, 200 Jr.), WB/DB Graham Duncan (5-11, 170 Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Blitch (6-6, 330 Jr.). Gilmer, RB/LB Jacob Teague (5-11, 175 So.), RB Evan Pankey (6-0, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-1, 220 Jr.).

Outlook: Playing against a winless opponent leaves much to be desired in terms of the level of competition, but North Hall still has everything to play for. The Trojans can lock up the subregion ‘A’ championship with a win tonight, which equates to a home playoff game to open the postseason.

From all indications, North Hall is a team that is continuing to get better as the regular season reaches its end. Through the first six games, the Trojans averaged only 13 points per outing. Much of that could be credited to the level of competition with games against Gainesville, Flowery Branch and Buford.

But over the last two games, the Trojans’ offense has exploded for an average of 51 points in important subregion wins against Pickens and Chestatee. North Hall can probably expect more of the same tonight.

Last week Gainesville held the Bobcats to only 61 yards on offense and only six points. Gilmer has struggled offensively all season, being shut out three times. Gilmer’s defense has also struggled, giving up at least 40 points in each of the last four games.

Prediction: NORTH HALL. A No. 2 seed to open the state playoffs awaits the Trojans. There’s more football left to be played at The Brickyard this season.

at Westminster

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta

Coaches: Buford, Jess Simpson; Westminster, Gerry Romberg

Records: Buford (8-0, 5-0 Region 6-AA); Westminster (7-1, 4-1)

Key players: Buford, RB Cody Getz (5-7, 157 Sr.), RB Storm Johnson (6-1, 202 Jr.), OL/DL Dallas Lee (6-4, 290 Sr.). Westminster, RB Stephon Shelton (5-10, 170 Sr.), QB Tom Moak (6-0, 175 Sr.), DE L.B. Joel (6-2, 230 Sr.).

Outlook: After five weeks of outscoring opponents 206-0, Buford found an opponent that could give it a challenge in its 14-10 win against Blessed Trinity last Friday. In fact, the Titans stayed so competitive that if it weren’t for Cody Getz’s 41-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the game, the Wolves may have lost the game.

Things won’t get any easier for Class AA’s top team as it heads into Atlanta for a game against No. 8- ranked Westminster. The Wildcats are coming off a 55-0 win against Cross Keys and look ready for battle, having allowed only 12 points in their last three games.

The Region 6-AA title could be decided in the game, as Buford would lock up the top spot with a win. A win for Westminster would give it the edge in region standings, but with Blessed Trinity scheduled next week, and three teams tied for third in the region, any mistake at this point in the season could be very costly for the Wildcats.

Prediction: BUFORD. With a region title on the line, the Wolves will be playing with the most intensity yet this season, which is a scary thought for any opponent.

West Forsyth
at Chestatee

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: War Eagle Stadium

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: West Forsyth, Frank Hepler; Chestatee, Stan Luttrell

Records: West Forsyth (6-2, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA); Chestatee (4-4, 3-2 Region 7A-AAA)

Key players: West Forsyth, QB Lance Baker (6-0, 170 Sr.), RB Ben Emert (6-1, 220 Jr.), RB Ethan Shirley (5-11, 205 Sr.). Chestatee, RB Ben Souther (6-1, 200 Jr.), FS Jonathon Cain (6-0, 190 Sr.), QB Ethan Souther (5-9, 155 Sr.).

Outlook: Both teams look to get back to their winning ways tonight at Chestatee. After starting the year 5-0, West Forsyth has lost two of its last three, while the War Eagles have lost their last two. The past two weeks have been somewhat of a disappointment for Chestatee, which looked poised to make the playoffs after winning three consecutive games. But two straight losses, including a 55-24 loss last Friday to rival North Hall, has Chestatee needing to win out in order to secure its third playoff berth in four years.

Leading the way for the War Eagles is junior running back Ben Souther, who is coming off a 252-yard rushing performance against the Trojans, and has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this year except one, the season-opener against Gainesville. Already amassing 1,173 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, Souther is Chestatee’s most reliable offensive weapon, and if he gets going, the War Eagles should have success tonight.

On the other side of the ball, Chestatee’s defense will have to deal with a strong rushing attack from West Forsyth. The two-headed monster of Ben Emert and Ethan Shirley have given opposing defenses fits all year, which doesn’t bode well for a Chestatee defense that has allowed an average of 310 yards rushing in its past two games.

Prediction: CHESTATEE. It’s a coin flip, but the War Eagles will be motivated after losing to their cross-town rivals, and will play inspired football in front of the home crowd.

Union County
at Riverside

When: 7:30 tonight

Radio: 1240-AM

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Union County, Brian Allison; Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster

Records: Union County (5-3, 4-3 Region 8-AA); Riverside Military (5-3, 4-3)

Key players: Union County, QB Kolt Owenby (Jr.), RB Manning Thomas (Sr.), WR/K/P Luke Parker (Sr.). Riverside Military, RB Julian Suber (5-9, 170 Jr.), LB Aaron Gambrah (6-2, 190 Jr.), LB Diego Osegueda-Weiner (6-1, 215 Sr.).

Outlook: Every season there is at least one region’s playoff race that goes down to the very end. This year, it looks it will be the crowded race for the four playoff spots in Region 8-AA. It looks like Jefferson and North Oconee are going to take the top two spots for the playoffs, with the winner of tonight’s head-to-head matchup earning the region title.

After that, Fannin County, Riverside Military, Union County and Banks County are going to have to fight tooth-and-nail for the final two spots.

The winner of the Union County/Riverside game is one step closer to qualifying for the posteason. The loser will have a tough time finding a way to slide into the playoffs.

Riverside Military wants this game to go along with its head-to-head advantage it owns on Banks County (4-4, 4-3). The Eagles lost the head-to-head contest against Fannin County (6-2, 5-2) on Oct. 17 in Blue Ridge.

Riverside seems to have asserted its running game as one of the best in the region. Eagles running back Julian Suber carried for 277 yards and three touchdowns last week to make his season total thus far 1,284 yards and 13 touchdown runs.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles remain in the tight playoff hunt in Region 8-AA.

Lakeview Academy
at Athens Academy

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Field, Athens

Coaches: Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn; Athens Academy, Michael Gunn

Records: Lakeview (1-5, 0-4 Region 8-A); Athens Academy (7-1, 3-1)

Key players: Lakeview, QB/DB Haughton Carswell (5-10, 150 Sr.), FB/LB Tom Drury (5-10, 185 Jr.), FB/LB Lex Little (6-1, 180 Jr.). Athens Academy, RB/DB James Colquitt (5-8, 165 Sr.), QB Will Daniel (5-10, 175 Sr.), OL/DL Will Jenkins (6-2, 220 Sr.).

Outlook: The season stats, along with the winning ways of one of the programs, tells the story of this matchup.

Athens Academy is averaging 33 points per game to Lakeview’s 10.

On the defensive side, the Lions are giving up 30 points per game to the Spartans 11.

Numbers aside, last year, Athens Academy was Region 8-A champions and played in the state semifinals.

Coming into tonight’s matchup with first-year varsity program Lakeview Academy, the Spartans are tied for the No. 2 spot in the region after last week’s 17-7 loss to Wesleyan.

The same Wesleyan team that beat the Lions 38-0 earlier in the season.

Prediction: ATHENS ACADEMY. The Spartans will be reeling from their first loss and, unfortunately, Lakeview is the opponent.

White County
at Pickens

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jasper

Radio: 105.1-FM

Coaches: White County, Gregg Segraves; Pickens, Steve Sewell

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

Key players: White County, DL Tasi Suaava (6-0, 285 Sr.), RB Ashely Lowery (6-1, 175 So.), OL/DL C.J. McDonald (6-2, 255 Sr.). Pickens, QB/DB Alex Willingham (5-11, 180 Sr.), RB/LB Brett Larsen (5-9, 200 Sr.).

Outlook: White County picked the perfect time to peak. After losing to Creekview 33-0 three weeks ago, the Warriors have reeled off back-to-back victories, a 41-21 win against Chestatee and a 34-0 win over Lumpkin County last week. Running backs Blake Limbaugh and Ashely Lowery are leading the offense, as the two have combined for 483 yards and six touchdowns in the two wins. A strong defense, led by Tasi Suaava and C.J. McDonald up front, and Cam Segraves and Kevin Frederick in the secondary has the Warriors imposing their will and forcing teams into playing their style of football.

Pickens, on the other hand, is coming in losers of three straight, including a 42-7 loss to that same Creekview team that shutout the Warriors. In years past (from 1997-2004) Pickens has owned this series, winning six in a row, but White County has won two of the last three meetings, including a 16-13 win last year.

Prediction: WHITE COUNTY. In order to have a chance at the playoffs White County needs to win out. This senior-laden team will make sure there is no slip-up tonight in Jasper.

Lumpkin County
at Creekview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Wolverines Stadium, Canton

Coaches: Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones; Creekview, Al Morrell

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

Key players: Lumpkin County, RB/LB Jake McClure (5-10, 190 Jr.), RB Haden Rider (5-8, 175 Jr.), OL/DL Alex Dege (5-10, 225 Sr.). Creekview, QB Collins Wold (5-8, 170 Sr.), RB Hunter Livingston (5-8, 184 Sr.), WR/DB Josh Reyes (5-10, 160).

Outlook: Both Lumpkin County and Creekview come into tonight’s game riding the roller coaster that is a 10-game season.

After starting the year 0-4, Creekview is in the midst of a four-game winning streak and are sitting firmly in second place in Region 7A-AAA.

In order to make the progam’s first state playoff appearance, the Grizzlies will have to win out, beginning tonight against Lumpkin County.

Over the course of their winning streak, the Grizzlies have averaged 39 points per game while giving up only three.

The Indians on the other hand, after stringing together two straight wins including a thrilling one-point win over West Hall two weeks ago, were shut out by White County last week.

Lumpkin County’s defense, led by Lance Chuvala’s 85 tackles, will be looking to make a statement after giving up 34 points to the Warriors last week. A performance like the one the Indians managed in holding West Hall to 22 points would go a long way toward making that statement. Lumpkin County is giving up 20 points per game this season.

The Indians offense, led by running back Haden Rider (391 yards rushing and three touchdowns) and quarterback Daniel Abercrombie (278 yards rushing and four touchdowns) will have a lot to contend with against a defense that is clicking.

Prediction: CREEKVIEW. With the program’s first trip to state on the line, the Grizzlies will take over the war path and in doing so, get a win.

Salem at
Habersham Central

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3 FM

Coaches: Salem, Chad Estes; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart

Records: Salem (5-3, 5-3 Region 8-AAAA); Habersham Central (5-4, 5-4)

Key players: Salem, OL/DL Nick Dennis (6-2, 320 Sr.), RB Bradley Moon (5-10 175 Jr.), C Sam Watts (6-5, 290 Jr.). Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-0, 185 So.), RB David Griffin (5-10, 175 So.), RB Kevin Ellison (6-2, 190 Fr.).

Outlook: Both teams are coming off shutout wins last week, but neither shutouts were blowouts by any means.

Habersham Central squeaked by Rockdale County 6-0 with two field goals making up for all of the game’s points.

The Raiders relied primarily on running backs David Griffin and Kevin Ellison, and ended the game with only 125 yards on offense, all rushing. But they also limited Rockdale County to only 90 yards on the night, an impressive showing by their defense.

Meanwhile, the defending region champion Salem shut out Winder-Barrow, 21-0, marking the fourth straight game the Seminoles finished with 21 points. So far this season, Salem is averaging only 15 points per game.

What makes this game pivotal for Habersham Central is that a loss would eliminate it completely from playoff contention. With a bye next week, this game is the Raiders’ last of the regular season, meaning the fate of their season comes down to tonight’s match-up.

Prediction: HABERSHAM CENTRAL. It’s senior night, and with playoff implications on the line tonight, the Raiders will come out wanting a win more than ever.

Oconee County
at Jackson County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Panther Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Oconee County, Mitch Olson; Jackson County, Billy Kirk

Records: Oconee County (2-6, 2-3 Region 8-AAA); Jackson County (1-6-1, 0-5)

Key players: Oconee County, QB Zach Mettenberger (6-6, 233 Sr.), RB/LB Jamie Stephens (5-10, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Hutch Roper (6-0, 180 Jr.). Jackson County, WR/DB Marquice Gillespie (5-9, 145 Jr.), RB Rodderick Burks (5-8, 160 Jr.), TE/LB John Holton (6-0, 190 Jr.).

Outlook: Jackson County came within a two-point conversion last week of scoring its biggest win of the season and first region win since 2006, but Elbert County turned the Panthers back, leaving Jackson County with its fifth straight loss.

Still, there were reasons for Panthers fans to be hopeful. Led by Gillespie, who scored on a blocked punt return and a kickoff return, Jackson County had its season-high point total in the 25-23 loss. The Panthers even led at halftime, 17-6.

This week Jackson County will be focused on shutting down Mettenberger, a highly touted quarterback prospect who has verbally committed to Georgia. It’s been a disappointing season for the Warriors, who have lost three straight to the region’s frontrunners since a two-game winning streak in September. But if they can win tonight, the Warriors will remain in the hunt for Region 8-AAA’s No. 4 playoff seed.

Prediction: OCONEE COUNTY. After falling in consecutive weeks to Stephens County, Hart County and Eastside, the Warriors will be eager to take on an opponent that doesn’t outclass them at most positions.

Dawson County
at East Jackson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Commerce

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; East Jackson, Frank Caputo

Records: Dawson County (3-5, 2-5 Region 8-AA); East Jackson (2-6, 2-5)

Key players: Dawson County, QB Chase Gilreath (6-1, 190 Jr.), WR/DB Cody Tobias (6-0, 185 Sr.), RB Eian Perry (5-7, 190 So.). East Jackson, QB Evan Williamson (5-11, 175 Jr.), RB/LB Robbie King (6-0, 165 Sr.), RB/DB Zach Gilbert (6-0, 202 Sr.).

Outlook: Last week, Dawson County earned its second overtime win of the season in thrilling fashion, by blocking a Union County field goal, then answering with a 27-yard David Scully kick to seal the game.

They’ll be looking for more heroics this week win they travel to face East Jackson, a team fresh off a 3-0 loss to playoff contender North Oconee.

The Dawson County defense has been solid in the last three weeks, holding opponents to 12.3 points per game.

Last week the unit squashed Union County’s potent passing attack, intercepting five passes, including three by safety Ethan Brown.

Prediction: DAWSON COUNTY. The Tigers’ defense has kept them in games most of the season.

Social Circle
at Commerce

When: 8 p.m. tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Radio: 1270-AM

Coaches: Social Circle, Troy Morris; Commerce, Steve Savage

Records: Social Circle (5-3, 3-1 Region 8-A); Commerce (3-5, 2-2)

Key players: Social Circle, WR/DB Christopher Burns (6-1, 185 Jr.), DT Tytus Baynes (5-11, 270 Sr.), RB Justice Russell (5-9, 165 So.). Commerce, RB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Jr.), RB Deon Orsborne (5-9, 155 Jr.), LB Josh Streetman (6-0, 195, Sr.).

Outlook: Both teams are coming off big wins last week, combining to score 101 points between the two games.

While Commerce defeated Lakeview Academy 47-7, Social Circle hit the 50-point mark for the second time this season with a 54-18 win against Prince Avenue Christian.

Prediction: SOCIAL CIRCLE. With an average of 31 points per game this season and only 15 per game allowed, the Redskins have proven they can be a force on both sides of the ball.

Banks County at
Oglethorpe County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Patriot Stadium, Lexington

Coaches: Banks County, Blair Armstrong; Oglethorpe County, Buddy Cain

Records: Banks County (4-4, 4-3 Region 8-AA); Oglethorpe County (1-7, 0-7)

Key players: Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-9, 175 Sr.), WR/DB Kane Duncan (6-3, 165 Jr.), LB Billy Pinson (5-11, 168 Sr.). Oglethorpe County, RB/DB D.J. Johnson (5-11, 170 Jr.), QB A.J. Perlotte (5-10, 165 Jr.), TE/LB Anthony Spratlin (6-0, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: Banks County gave itself a huge boost in the 8-AA playoff hunt last week with a 34-7 win over Fannin County.

The Leopards will still need some help to emerge with one of the region’s four playoff spots, but they can do their part by closing the season with two more wins, starting tonight.

The Banks County running game, spearheaded by Beasley (1,443 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) and Demetric Dempson (509 rushing yards, five touchdowns), has guided the Leopards to 30.8 points per game in region play.

Tonight they’ll face a defense that’s giving up almost 39 points per game in 8-AA action and last week surrendered 294 rushing yards to Riverside.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. The Leopards look like they’re on a mission, and a win tonight will give the program its most successful season since 1997.

Last week: 10-2
Season record: 84-17-1

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