Things to know: The chances that the winner of this game is not the Region 8-AAAAAAA champion are about 500,000-to-1, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings, which rate Grayson and Archer as the best pair of region rivals in the state and pretty ...and more »
Archer at Grayson
When, where: 7 p.m. today, Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson
Records, rankings: Archer is 5-1 overall, 1-0 in Region 8-AAAAAAA and No. 5; Grayson is 4-2, 1-0 and No. 4.
Last meeting: Archer won 6-3 in 2017.
Watch the game: On television on ESPN2.
Things to know: The chances that the winner of this game is not the Region 8-AAAAAAA champion are about 500,000-to-1, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings, which rate Grayson and Archer as the best pair of region rivals in the state and pretty evenly matched, as Grayson is a four-point favorite. Grayson, which has lost to nationally ranked Colquitt County and Bergen Catholic of New Jersey, has a balanced offense. J'Kori Jones has thrown for 1,118 yards. Jonathan Halyard has rushed for 602. Kenyon Jackson (committed to Texas A&M) has 334 yards receiving. Grayson has about a dozen major-college recruits that include LB Owen Pappoe (Auburn) and OL Wanya Morris (Tennessee), both rated as five stars. Pappoe and Archer CB Andrew Booth are AJC Super 11 picks. Booth intercepted two passes in Archer's victory over Grayson last season. He returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown in a victory over Newton last week. Archer QB Carter Peevy is 85-of-120 passing for 1,103 yards and 17 touchdowns. Braylen Weems has 32 catches for 476 yards and nine touchdowns.
Blessed Trinity at Flowery Branch
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Falcon Field, Flowery Branch
Records, rankings: Blessed Trinity is 6-0 overall, 2-0 in Region 7-AAAA and No. 1; Flowery Branch is 6-0, 2-0 and No. 9.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: Blessed Trinity and Flowery Branch are two of the three teams from 7-AAAA that are undefeated in region play and ranked in the top 10. The other is Marist, which will face both teams in the next two weeks. Flowery Branch dropped from AAAAA this season as the result of the opening of Cherokee Bluff High in Hall County. The Falcons went 9-3 and reached the second round of the playoffs last season. Blessed Trinity is the defending state champion and returns the core of that team. Among the leaders are RB Steele Chambers (632 yards rushing, committed to Ohio State), LB J.D. Bertrand (team leader in tackles and sacks, has 16 offers and recently decommitted from Georgia), DE J.R. Bivens (committed to Middle Tennessee) and QB Jake Smith (58-of-85 passing for 883 yards and six TDs). Flowery Branch has averaged 55.5 points per game in region victories against White County and Chestatee. Jaizen Edwards has rushed for 511 yards on 106 carries. Elijah Gainey is 69-of-123 passing for 1,352 yards and 13 touchdowns, and Jalin Strown has 694 yards and seven TDs on 29 receptions. The Falcons average 235.3 yards passing and 155.7 rushing.
Cedar Grove at Westminster
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Cedar Grove is 6-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 5-AAA and No. 2; Westminster is 4-2, 2-0 and No. 5.
Last meeting: Cedar Grove won 41-10 in 2017.
Things to know: The winner of this game will have sole possession of first place and likely win Region 5-AAA. Cedar Grove has won region titles two of the past three seasons but ironically did not in 2015, when the Saints won a state title as a No. 2 seed. Westminster isn't impressive statistically - averaging 26.2 points and allowing 23.5 - but that's largely a function of schedule. Westminster has played five ranked teams, including Marist and St. Pius, which inflicted the Wildcats' losses. Parks Harber has thrown for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running backs Paul Weathington (593 yards rushing, 162 receiving) and Will Hallmark (312 rushing, 160 receiving) are versatile. Harber also runs well. DB/WR John Izlar (third in tackles, first in receiving) is a valuable two-way starter. Cedar Grove has shut out its last three opponents and four overall. DL Rashad Cheney, a major Division I recruit, had a tackle for a loss and a sack and returned an interception for a touchdown in last year's Westminster game. DL Dante Walker, LB Isaiah Ratcliff and five-star DB/WR Jadon Haselwood are other scary figures on the Saints' defense. On offense, watch for Robert "Pop" Jones (592 yards rushing, 10.6 per carry), QB Austin Smith (51-of-73, 744 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Haselwood (29-497-5 receiving).
Coffee at Valdosta
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, Valdosta
Records, rankings: Coffee is 6-1 overall, 0-1 in Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 7; Valdosta is 4-3, 1-0 and No. 4.
Last meeting: Coffee won 37-14 in 2017.
Things to know: Coffee and Valdosta are two of the four teams from Region 1 that are among the top seven in the AJC's Class AAAAAA rankings. No. 1 Lee County and No. 3 Northside of Warner Robins are the others. Valdosta leads the series 21-8, but it has been more even recently, with Coffee winning six of the past 11. Coffee is coming off its first loss, a 30-20 setback against Northside in the region opener last week. Sophomore QB A.J. Wilkerson has passed for 767 yards and seven touchdowns, but the Trojans are more likely to run the ball (209.1 yards per game). Josiah Killebrew (55 carries, 452 yards, six TDs), Antonio Dawson (42-282-4), Wilkerson (60-244-5) and B.J. Hodge (45-210-5) are among the region's top eight rushers. Valdosta's Tate Rodemaker is the second-leading passer in AAAAAA (behind Centennial's Max Brosmer). Rodemaker is 133-of-199 for 1,919 yards and 20 TDs. Aalah Brown (37 catches, 605 yards, eight TDs), Tarrell Roberts (14-245-2), Jaheim Bell (24-299-5) and Devonta Berrian (19-216-1) are among the top 10 receivers in 1-AAAAAA. When the Wildcats choose to run, they often give the ball to Rajaez Mosley (105 carries, 633 yards, six TDs).
Hapeville Charter at Allatoona
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buccaneer Stadium, Acworth
Records, rankings: Hapeville Charter is 6-0 and No. 1 in Class AA; Allatoona is 4-2 and No. 9 in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: Hapeville Charter is the defending Class AA champion and has won 19 consecutive games. Allatoona, a top-10 team from four classes higher, is by far the biggest remaining obstacle standing between Hapeville and the first 10-0 regular season in the program's eight-year history. Allatoona started the season 0-2 but has since won four straight, including a 23-7 victory last week over Harrison, which was ranked No. 3 in AAAAAA at the time. Hapeville has a balanced offense that averages 168.0 yards rushing and 165.5 passing. Marcus Carroll has more than half the rushing yardage (573) and has three consecutive 100-yard games. But the Hornets are more known for their defense, which has allowed just three points all season, none since a 33-3 victory over Heard County in the second game. DL Jajuan White leads the team in tackles (31) and sacks (eight). Allatoona relies heavily on the run, averaging 229.3 yards rushing and 73.0 passing. Daniel Parsons has run for 683 yards and six touchdowns on 82 carries and had 163 yards on a season-high 32 carries against Harrison. The Buccaneers have given up just 31 points during their four-game winning streak.
Lee County at Northside (Warner Robins)
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Warner Robins
Records, rankings: Lee County is 6-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 1; Northside is 4-3, 1-0 and No. 3.
Last meeting: Lee County won 16-13 in 2017.
Things to know: The winner of this game will emerge as the favorite to win 1-AAAAAA, although Valdosta also has yet to lose in region play. Lee County won the third region title and first state championship in program history last season. Northside has won 14 region and three state titles, most recently in 2014 for each. Lee County has the No. 2 offense (42.3 points per game) and No. 1 defense (2.67 points per game allowed) in Class AAAAAA. Junior Kyle Toole, who took over at quarterback after the graduation of Jase Orndorff, is 74-of-118 passing for 1,064 yards and 14 touchdowns. Artavius Warren (15 catches, 226 yards, two touchdowns) and Daveon Sanders (17-220-3) are the leading receivers. The Trojans average 111 yards rushing. Northside is sixth in scoring (34.1) and 21st in defense (19.7) in AAAAAA. QB Jadin Daniels is the leading rusher in Region 1 with 790 yards, is 76-of-120 passing for 865 yards and has had a hand in 17 touchdowns. K/P Cory Munson is a huge weapon for the Eagles. He kicked a 53-yard field goal in a 30-20 victory over Coffee last week and had a 59-yarder that forced overtime in last year's loss to Lee County. He also averages 41.6 yards punting.
Marietta at McEachern
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Walter H. Cantrell Stadium, Powder Springs
Records, rankings: Marietta is 2-4 overall, 1-0 in Region 3-AAAAAAA and No. 9; McEachern is 4-2, 0-1 and unranked.
Last meeting: McEachern won 34-14 in 2017.
Things to know: McEachern, beaten last week by Hillgrove, has not lost back-to-back region games since 2007, nor lost two games in region play since 2013. Sophomore QB Carlos Del-Rio Wilson has thrown for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns, at least two to five different receivers. Paris Brown (408 yards rushing, 165 receiving) and Jordon Simmons (357 rushing, 279 receiving) are three-star recruits at running back. FS Jamari Bellamy (four sacks, three interceptions) and DT Jamil Burroughs (team-leading 22 solo tackles, committed to Georgia) are playmakers on defense. Marietta is on a record-setting pace for passing. Harrison Bailey has thrown for 2,168 yards - 367.7 per game. Bailey missed the 2017 McEachern game because of injury. WR/TE Arik Gilbert has 61 catches for 827 yards. Ramel Keyton has 44 receptions for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns, although he injured an ankle last week against North Paulding and is questionable.
Mount Zion (Carroll) at North Cobb Christian
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jacob Dennis Field, Kennesaw
Records, rankings: Mount Zion is 6-1 overall, 3-1 in Region 6-A Div. A and No. 7 in Class A public; North Cobb Christian is 6-0, 3-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Mount Zion won 48-21 in 2017.
Things to know: North Cobb Christian was 0-10 in Mark Hollars' debut as coach in 2016, the school's first attempt at a region schedule. Now, the Eagles are the only unbeaten team in the subregion, though preseason favorites Mount Zion and Darlington remain to be played. It has been a season of thrills for NCC, starting with a 21-20 season-opening win over St. Francis when NCC stopped a two-point conversion attempt in overtime. Then in a 27-23 win over Monticello, Shanard Banks returned a kickoff 85 yards for the decisive touchdown with five minutes left. And against Bowdon, NCC scored the winning TD with less than three minutes left in a 19-15 victory. Ryan Pruitt has scored 11 of the Eagles' 22 touchdowns (six rushing, five receiving). Mount Zion suffered its only loss Sept. 14 against Christian Heritage but has won three consecutive games and likely will win the subregion for the second straight year with a victory Friday. Mount Zion has reshuffled its backfield after losing its top two fullbacks to injury, but each member of the new backfield - FB Lane Ackles, HB Breon Henderson, HB Tyriese Farley and QB Iaan Cousin - has at least one 100-yard rushing game during the winning streak. The four also are two-way starters. Mount Zion passes fewer than five times per game.
North Oconee at St. Pius
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, George B. Maloof Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: North Oconee is 6-1 overall, 1-0 in Region 8-AAAA and unranked; St. Pius is 6-1, 1-0 and No. 3.
Last meeting: St. Pius won 56-21 in 2017.
Things to know: St. Pius is the defending 8-AAAA champion and was the preseason favorite this year, according to the Maxwell Ratings. North Oconee has been the surprise team. The Titans' 6-1 start is their best since 2011. They went 0-10 in 2016 and 1-9 last year, and were projected by Maxwell to finish in last place this season. North Oconee averages 202.6 yards rushing and 147.1 passing. Kaleb Sherrer is 70-of-111 passing for 974 yards and nine touchdowns and has run for 149 yards and a score. The leading rusher is Adam Weynand, who has 594 yards and eight TDs on 100 carries. Garrett Paxson (20 catches, 288 yards), Kyle Sherrer (19-283) and D.J. DeFabio (15-228) are the top receivers. St. Pius has run the ball 297 times this season while attempting just 18 passes. The Golden Lions average 301.7 yards rushing and are led by DeMarcus Mitchell (76 carries, 566 yards, four touchdowns), Michael Benefield (47-527-8) and QB Connor Egan (58-317-3). Egan has completed 10 of his 18 passing attempts, five of which went for touchdowns. North Oconee and St. Pius had one common opponent in non-region play - Loganville beat North Oconee 20-14 and lost to St. Pius 45-21.
Vidalia at Toombs County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Booster Stadium, Lyons
Records, rankings: Vidalia is 6-0 overall, 2-0 in Region 2-AA and No. 7; Toombs County is 5-2, 3-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Toombs County won 26-7 in 2017.
Things to know: These are two of three Region 2-AA teams that haven't lost in region play. The other is Swainsboro (4-2, 2-0). The 2017 champion, Benedictine, moved up to AAA, which opened the door for change. Toombs hasn't won a region title since 2002. Vidalia's last title was 2014. Toombs is in revival mode under third-year coach Richie Marsh and had a 10-win season last year for the first time since 2000. Toombs had lost eight straight to Vidalia, its county rival, until last season. Toombs is balanced, averaging 150.7 yards rushing and 146.0 passing per game. The offensive players to watch are QB Trey Cloud (1,022 yards passing, nine touchdowns), RB Derrick Mincey (485 yards rushing), RB Demetrius Owens (409 rushing) and WR Chandler Lynn (553 receiving). Mincey and Lynn are sophomore two-way starters who rank in the top three in tackles. Six of Toombs' 11 leading tacklers are 10th graders. Vidalia is a wing-T team that averages 352.8 yards rushing per game (9.9 per carry) and fewer than five passing attempts per game. WB/LB Nyshun Bell leads the team in rushing yards (578) and tackles (47).
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