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Week 3 High school football previews
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at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Lovett, Mike Muschamp; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Lovett (1-1); No. 1 Buford (2-0)

Key players: Lovett, QB Jonathan Carkhuff (6-0, 185 Jr.) RB/DB Taylor Mack (5-9, 175 Jr.), WR/DB Max Williams (Jr.). Buford, RB Cody Getz (5-7, 157 Sr.), RB Storm Johnson (6-1, 202 Jr.), OL/DL Dallas Lee (6-4, 295, Sr.).

Outlook: The Lions come to Buford tonight looking to beat the Wolves for the first time since 1971.

That stat’s a little misleading, considering the series was on a 34-year hiatus until 2005, but since then, Buford has won four straight. The most notable — or most forgettable for Lovett — was a 50-0 Wolves win in the Class AA state championship game last December.

Since then, the Lions have lost 25 seniors and are trying to work their way back into the postseason for the fourth time in Muschamp’s four-year tenure.

For top-ranked Buford, little has changed despite the loss of numerous Division-I athletes from last year’s team. The Wolves have stretched their regular season winning streak to 39 straight, averaging 43.5 points per game in wins over Mansfield-Timberview (Texas) and North Hall.

Simpson’s formula for success hasn’t changed much either. The Wolves are rolling with efficient quarterback play (senior Michael May is 14-for-15 so far), a deep stable of running backs, characteristically physical play on the line of scrimmage, and sure tackling from their opportunistic defense.

Prediction: BUFORD. Lovett’s probably a playoff team, but leaning on a relatively inexperienced junior class, the Lions aren’t as good as they were last year when Buford beat them twice by a combined score of 71-0.

East Hall at
Lumpkin County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Dahlonega

Coaches: East Hall, Bryan Gray; Lumpkin County, Tommy Jones

Records: East Hall (0-2); Lumpkin County (0-2)

Key players: East Hall, WR/FS Andrew Ivester (6-1, 170 Sr.), RB/LB Corey Richardson (5-8, 185 Jr.), WR/LB Kiante Young (6-1, 190 Sr.); Lumpkin County, QB Daniel Abercrombie (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB/LB Lance Chuvala (6-0, 185 Jr.), RB Haden Rider (5-8, 175 Jr.).

Outlook: East Hall struggled in a 34-8 rout by White County last Friday night.

Lumpkin County fared no better, losing to Flowery Branch 42-10.

Prior to the start of last week’s game, the Vikings lost leading rusher Xavier Robinson to a dislocated kneecap. He’ll be out for at least a month.

During the first drive of last week’s game, the Indians lost second leading rusher, and starting quarterback, Daniel Abercrombie. He’s questionable for tonight’s game.

Both teams are looking for what has been an elusive first win of the 2008 season, and missing two of their top offensive producers won’t make getting that win easy.

It’s Lumpkin County, though, that has a bit of an advantage in the making up for what’s lost department.

The team’s leading rusher Jake McClure (14 carries for 159 yards and one touchdown through two games) should be able to carry the offensive load against an East Hall team that isn’t very saavy when it comes to stopping the run.

Not to say that Lumpkin County is.

Neither team has shown a knack for stopping opposing offenses, whether those offenses are run-first, pass-first or balanced. In the first two games of the season East Hall is averaging 25.5 points allowed to the Indians 34.

Prediction: LUMPKIN COUNTY. East Hall might have speed, but the Indians have McClure and are playing at home.

Flowery Branch
at Creekview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Canton

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw; Creekview, Al Morrell

Records: Flowery Branch (1-1); Creekview (0-1)

Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Connor Shaw (6-1, 185 Jr.), RB/LB Daniel Drummond (6-3, 230 Sr.), WR/SS Greg Palmer (6-0, 180 Sr.); Creekview, QB Collins Wold, RB Michael Ay, WR Jason Wright.

Outlook: Unfortunately for Creekview, Flowery Branch’s offense came into its own last week against Lumpkin County.

The Falcons amassed 42 points on 461 total yards, 330 coming from the legs and arm of quarterback Connor Shaw who accounted for four touchdowns.

After a first game in which Flowery Branch’s Darius Kimbrough struggled to find running room, the junior rushed for 46 yards and one touchdown against the Indians, a sure confidence boost. Falcons’ senior Daniel Drummond also had 46 yards on the ground.

The passing game was just as efficient as the run game, with Shaw passing for two touchdowns, both to Jamel Mitchum, who finished the game with four catches for 103 yards.

Flowery Branch, however, has yet to prove that it can effectively stop an opponent’s running game.

Stephens County ran for 180 yards on the Falcons, Lumpkin County had 152.

Creekview likes to run the ball and, having scored 34 points in its opener against Class AAAA Sequoyah, isn’t all that bad at it.

The Grizzlies might be new to 7-AAA and varsity football but they aren’t the conventional startup.

They lost 35-34 in double overtime last week to Sequoyah which was a week removed from beating Class AAAAA Cherokee, which went 8-4 in 2007.

Prediction: FLOWERY BRANCH. Considering all tools are used to their fullest, the Falcons should have no problem properly welcoming Creekview to Region 7-AAA.

White County
at Gainesville

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park, Gainesville

Radio: 102.9-FM

Coaches: White County, Gregg Segraves; Gainesville, Bruce Miller

Records: White County (1-1); Gainesville (2-0)

Key players: White County, QB Chantz Segraves (5-10, 180 Sr.) RB Ashely Lowery (6-1, 175 So.), DB/WR Kevin Frederick (5-9, 155 Sr.).
Gainesville, QB Blake Sims (6-0, 175 Jr.), WR T.J. Jones (6-0, 175 Jr.), DE Josh Jackson (6-2, 260 Sr.).

Outlook: Last week, White County got its first win of the year, 34-8, over East Hall.

The Warriors’ reward? A date with the high-powered Red Elephants, who are not only getting the job done offensively —as expected— but they are shutting teams down on defense, making the case that they are the team to beat in Region 7-AAA.

Tonight’s matchup will prove to be yet another test for Gainesville, as the Warriors come in with a bit of confidence after losing to the Red Elephants by just two points last season. But that loss was at White County, and when these two teams square off at City Park, the results have been completely one-sided.

In the past three meetings at Gainesville’s home stadium, the Red Elephants have won 56-6, 77-40, and 56-20. Those three wins, combined with three more in Cleveland, have provided the Red Elephants with a six-game winning streak against the Warriors. Gainesville is 9-1 all-time against White County.

For the Warriors to stay in this game, their defense will have to pick up where it left off last week and limit the vaunted Gainesville offense from scoring too many points, which no team has done yet.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. Blake Sims, with his 530 yards passing and five touchdowns in two games, is making an early case for player of the year. Tonight, he’ll be faced with his toughest task in the hard-hitting White County defense, which has one of the strongest defensive lines in Region 7-AAA. But Gainesville has too many playmakers on offense for White County.

Hebron Christian
at Lakeview

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jock Horner Field, Gainesville

Coaches: Hebron Christian, Rick Burlingame; Lakeview, Matthew Gruhn

Records: Hebron Christian (0-1); Lakeview (0-1)

Key players: Hebron Christian, RB/LB Tim Gordon (6-1, 195 Sr.), QB Paul Stinespring (5-11, 160 Soph.), RB/LB Bobby Foley (5-11, 180 Sr.). Lakeview, QB/LB Haughton Carswell (5-10, 150 Sr.), WR/DB Austin White (6-0, 175 Sr.), FB/LB Lex Little (6-1, 180 Jr.).

Outlook: Hebron Christian and Lakeview come into tonight’s game on equal footing. Both are small private schools with young and inexperienced teams looking for that first win as a varsity program.

The differences in the two, however, are what could make this matchup interesting.

Hebron runs a pass-first spread offense which could work in Lakeview’s favor considering it had a hard time stopping the run in last week’s 26-13 loss to Towns County. The Indians had 263 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Not working in Lakeview’s favor will be Hebron’s quarterback Paul Stinespring.

The sophomore was 10-for-21 with 163 yards passing and one touchdown in Hebron’s game last week against Commerce High’s junior varsity.

Prediction: LAKEVIEW: Even though the Lions’ secondary hasn’t been challenged yet, they will be up to the challenge, and instrumental in getting Lakeview its first varsity win.

Rabun County at
Riverside Military

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Maginnis Field

Coaches: Rabun County, Danny Durham; Riverside Military, Chris Lancaster

Records: Rabun County (0-2, 0-1 Region 8-AA); Riverside Military (2-0, 1-0 Region 8-AA)

Key players: Rabun County, QB Ethan Grant (6-0, 185 Sr.), RB/DB Daniel Campbell (5-10, 160 Jr.), OL/DL Morgan Gantt (6-1, 200 Sr.); Riverside Military, QB Julian Suber (5-11, 170 Jr.), LB Diego Osegueda-Weiner (6-2, 215 Sr.), LB Aaron Gambrah (6-1, 195 Jr.).

Outlook: Riverside Military seems to be chugging right along with wins against Elbert County and Banks County to open its first season back in the GHSA. Tonight, the Eagles have the chance to earn back-to-back wins in Region 8-AA.

Riverside Military has one of the most productive linebacker pairs in the area with Gambrah (30 tackles, 5 TFL) and Osegueda-Weiner (26 tackles, 4 TFL). The Eagles are also finding points easy to come by with the versatility of junior quarterback Julian Suber, who accounted for four touchdowns in last week’s win against the Leopards.

Kyle Glennon is leading Riverside’s receivers with eight catches for 164 yards.

Ethan Grant, a senior, leads the wishbone offense for the Wildcats. Daniel Campbell, a junior, is the leading ball carrier for Rabun County.

Rabun County is off to a sluggish start with loses to Towns County and Union County.

Prediction: RIVERSIDE MILITARY. The Eagles are quickly turning into one of the big surprises this season.

Gilmer at
West Hall

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Spartan Field, Oakwood

Coaches: Gilmer, Wesley Tankersly; West Hall, Mike Newton

Records: Gilmer (0-1); West Hall (2-0)

Key players: Gilmer, RB/LB Jacob Teague (5-11, 175 So.), RB Evan Pankey (6-0, 185 Sr.), OL/DL Wesley Nestor (6-1, 220 Jr.). West Hall, QB Shunquez Stephens (6-4, 248 So.), RB Marquise Stephens (6-2, 210 Sr.), WR Rodney Gibson (6-3, 180 Sr.).

Outlook: The Spartans couldn’t have scripted a better way to start the 2008 season.

They’re 2-0 for the first time since 2002, and with a win tonight, have a chance to go 3-0 for only the fifth time in the program’s history. The last time West Hall started the year 3-0 was also 2002 when the Spartans started the season 7-0.

Standing in their way is Gilmer, which has been a thorn in the Spartans’ side for the past two years. After beating Gilmer 35-0 in 2005, the Spartans have lost twice to Gilmer, including a 7-6 nail bitter last year.

But West Hall is a different team this year, with sophomore quarterback Shunquez Stephens playing like a four-year starter. In his first two games, Stephens has thrown for more than 500 yards and has five touchdowns, including a four-TD performance in Week 1. Gilmer surrendered 328 yards of rushing offense in its lone game of the season (a 34-18 loss to Fannin County on Aug. 29), which is good news for not only Shunquez Stephens and the aerial attack, but for Marquise Stephens and the Spartans’ ground game.

Prediction: WEST HALL. After losing its season opener, Gilmer has had two weeks to prepare for tonight’s showdown with West Hall , but that won’t be enough, as the Spartans prove too strong and improve to 3-0.

Fannin County
at Jefferson

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Jefferson Memorial Stadium, Jefferson

Coaches: Fannin County, Clark Drennan; Jefferson, Bill Navas

Records: Fannin County (2-0, 1-0 Region 8-AA); Jefferson (2-0, 1-0 Region 8-AA)

Key players: Fannin County, QB/DB Nick Dean (6-0, 160 Jr.) RB/LB Josh Gaddy (5-10, 170 Sr.), RB/DB Devan Morris (5-9, 170 Sr.). Jefferson, QB Darius Minor (6-0, 179 Sr.), OL/DL Kyle Roberds (5-10, 190 Sr.), WR/DB Zac Crosby (5-9 175, Sr.).

Outlook: Coaches will tell you not much can be decided just three weeks into the season.

But tonight, when Region 8-AA’s defending champ and its upstart newcomer meet, it’s safe to say there’s a lot on the line.

Both teams are coming off wins in their region openers, and both are expected to represent the region in the postseason this year. But with four new teams in 8-AA this year, there are still plenty of unknowns after two weeks.

Last season, Fannin County won it first region championship in 12 years, while Jefferson missed out on the Region 8-A title in a regular season-ending loss to Athens Academy.

The Dragons lost their quarterback and leading rusher from that team, but haven’t missed a beat in 2008. Darius Minor has stepped in at quarterback and guided Jefferson to 53 combined points in wins over Commerce and Dawson County. And the experience of facing Commerce’s triple option offense could be beneficial for the Dragons.

Prediction: JEFFERSON. The Dragons’ first-week win over Commerce is even more impressive after the Tigers knocked off Class AAA Morgan County, 33-23, last Friday. Considering that, and the Dragons’ shutout over Dawson County last week, points could be tough to come by against Jefferson this season.

Franklin County
at Commerce

When: 8 tonight

Where: Tiger Stadium, Commerce

Coaches: Franklin County, Tommy Welch; Commerce, Steve Savage

Records: Franklin County (1-1); Commerce (1-1)

Key players: Franklin County, RB Jay Moon (5-10, 165 Sr.), LB Ryan King (Sr.). Commerce, RB Jon Cash (5-9, 160 Jr.), LB Josh Streetman (6-0, 195 Sr.), OG Cameron Billings (5-11, 230 Sr.).

Outlook: After last week’s 33-23 win against Class AAA’s Morgan County, the Tigers invite region opponent, Franklin County to Tiger Stadium.

The Lions are looking to rebound from a 34-7 loss to Gainesville last Friday, and re-awaken the defense that limited White County to 158 yards in Week 1.

Prediction: FRANKLIN COUNTY. When Franklin County’s defense is on its game, they’re hard to break. The Lions will also be coming out with a lot of anger from last week’s frustrating loss.

Dawson County
at Banks County

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Homer

Radio: 104.3 FM

Coaches: Dawson County, Jeff Lee; Banks County, Blair Armstrong

Records: Dawson County (1-1); Banks County (0-2)

Key players: Dawson County, QB Chase Gilreath (6-0, 190 Jr.) RB Eian Airy (5-7, 190 So.), P/K David Scully (6-1, 175 Sr.). Banks County, RB Justin Beasley (5-11, 195 Sr.), RB Demetric Dempson (5-11, 195 Sr.), DE Lyn Hester (6-3, 250, Sr.).

Outlook: Banks County is looking to bounce back from an embarrassing 56-28 loss to GHSA newcomer Riverside Military Academy, while Dawson County just looks to score some points after a 19-0 shutout loss to Jefferson.

The Leopards’ upside is their wing-T running game that features two efficient runners in Justin Beasley and Demetric Dempson.

The two seniors have combined for 445 rushing yards this season.

Prediction: BANKS COUNTY. Despite their loss last week, Banks County still scored 28 points, and at least the same is expected against Dawson County. The running back duo of Beasley and Dempson were efficient against their first two opponents and may be too much speed for the Tigers to handle.

Clarke Central
at Habersham

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Raider Stadium, Mount Airy

Radio: 99.3-FM

Coaches: Clarke Central, Leroy Ryles; Habersham Central, Gene Cathcart

Records: Clarke Central (1-1); Habersham Central (1-1)

Key players: Clarke Central, QB John Wilson (5-10, 160 Sr.) DE Terrance Bradshaw (6-2, 230 Jr.), RB Reggie Battle (5-9, 170 Jr.). Habersham Central, QB Austin Brown (6-0, 185 So.), OT Charlie Dwozan (5-11, 240 Sr.), WR Dee Ellison (5-11, 175 Jr.).

Outlook: Habersham Central is coming off a 12-7 win against a much larger Heritage team, while Clarke Central is looking to win its second straight.

Despite winning last week, the Raiders struggled to defend Heritage. They were outgained by 159 yards, gave up two safeties and racked up 111 yards of penalties.

However, they did score a pair of rushing touchdowns, and David Griffin picked up 69 yards on the ground.

Similar play against Clarke Central may not end in a win again this week.

Prediction: CLARKE CENTRAL. Habersham Central won’t be able to win if it gets two safeties and has as many penalties as it did last week.

Last week’s record: 7-4

Season record: 15-6

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