Sunday November 29th, 2015 7:50PM

5 things: What we learned from Week 8 of high school football (updated)

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Here's a look at five things we learned from Week 8 of the high school football season. Editor's note: After the news today that Buford has been forced to forfeit two games by playing an ineligible player, we've altered our "third thing" from this morning...

1. Region 7-AAA now North Hall's for the taking

After the news that Buford had to forfeit it's 63-0 defeat of Banks County and 61-0 defeat of West Hall in self-reporting that an ineligible player participated -- for four total plays in two games -- the road is now clear for North Hall to claim its first region title since 2007. Certainly the Trojans would rather settle it on the field than in this manner, and it's beyond disappointing for Buford -- which may not get a chance to play for the 7-AAA crown now. If North Hall can handle its business this week against West Hall and on Nov. 2 against Banks County (ironically enough), the Trojans will enter Tom Riden Stadium for their showdown with the Wolves as 2012 7-AAA champs. It's a definite shame that game may not be for all the marbles.

2. The Gainesville at Flowery Branch game won't be over until the final whistle

Both the Red Elephants and Falcons showed the ability to rebound under duress last week, as Gainesville overcame a 21-7 first quarter deficit against Clarke Central and Flowery Branch fought back from 27-6 down at halftime to defeat Heritage, Conyers. The two outcomes pushed each program one step closer to a season-ending showdown against each other for the Region 8-AAAAA title -- a game that may literally come down to the final play. Each team has the ability to score quickly and make game-changing stops and will likely never fall far behind in a contest this season. And, as last week showed, even sizable deficits are easily overturned. Flowery Branch has one more huge contest before hosting Gainesville, as the Falcons travel to Clarke Central this week. The Red Elephants also play host to Loganville in two weeks before the Nov. 9 tilt.

3. Chestatee has learned how to win -- and isn't ready to stop

The War Eagles have shown -- on three separate occasions this season -- that they refuse to lose, winning tight Region 8-AAAA battles, two in overtime. The latest OT thriller came this past week with a 43-36 defeat of Lanier to set up a huge three-game slate to close the season. Last week's victory also marked Chestatee's first ever six-game win streak. The most impressive part isn't just the War Eagles are winning, rather how they are winning. Chestatee is making plays at absolute make-or-break moments, including a 27-yard field goal to send the game into overtime last week, a fourth-and-three conversion in overtime, and an interception to seal the win. Some teams don't make that many big plays in a season and the fact that the War Eagles are shows that this is a mature group ready to handle anything thrown their way.

4. The playoff race in Region 8-AA could get very messy

The race for the final two playoff spots in 8-AA is very much on, and it's anyone's guess as to who will grab the third and fourth seeds. Jefferson looks to have the top spot on lockdown, with Washington-Wilkes at No. 2. Union County, Rabun County, Oglethorpe County and Greene County are all tied with 2-2 region records. This Friday should go a long way in determining the future, as Rabun plays host to Union and Greene travels to Oglethorpe. In fact Rabun's Wildcats will have the most to say about things over the next few weeks, as they take on the other three contenders over the next three weeks, including two of those games at home. Keep an eye on things in 8-AA, it should get very interesting.

5. Jason Roquemore may be due a raise, already

We know that money doesn't grow on trees, and we're not seriously suggesting that Johnson pay its new football coach more, but the Knights head man has more than impressed in his first season in Oakwood. And after Friday's 42-15 defeat of Druid Hills, the Knights have, at 5-3, their highest win total since 2004 -- when Johnson went 7-4 and last reached the state playoffs. Johnson isn't eligible for the postseason this year due to moving to a non-region schedule. But things certainly look good for Johnson moving back to a region slate in 2014 -- and doing so successfully.

Apalachee 27, Cedar Shoals 23
Athens Academy 45, Commerce 7
Banks County 47, Fannin County 46
Buford 34, Dawson County 3
Chestatee 43, Lanier 36, OT
East Hall 28, West Hall 27, OT
Eastside 52, Lumpkin County 16
Flowery Branch 35, Conyers (Heritage) 27
Gainesville 49, Clarke Central 28
Greene County 37, Union County 19
Hart County 31, Jackson County 16
Jefferson 43, Oglethorpe County 0
Johnson 42, Druid Hills 15
Lakeview Academy 35, St. Francis 0
Loganville 28, Winder-Barrow 14
Mill Creek 56, Duluth 21
North Gwinnett 44, Habersham Central 6
North Hall 42, White County 7
Riverside Military Academy 35, Social Circle 34
Stephens County 49, Madison County 0
Towns County 38, North Cobb Christian 6
Washington-Wilkes 41, Rabun County 12
West Forsyth 38, North Forsyth 3

Flowery Branch at Clarke Central
Chestatee at Lumpkin County
North Hall at West Hall
East Hall at Banks County
Fannin County at Buford
White County at Dawson County
Johnson at Pickens
Jefferson at Social Circle
Union County at Rabun County
Glascock County at Riverside Military
Hebron Christian at Commerce
North Cobb Christian at Lakeview
Lanier at Stephens County
Jackson County at Oconee County
North Oconee at East Jackson
Cedar Shoals at Winder-Barrow
Salem at Apalachee
North Gwinnett at Collins Hill
Duluth at Habersham Central
North Forsyth at Centennial
St. Francis at Towns County
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