Things are starting to get very serious indeed for the area's prep football programs, as most are now into the thick of region play -- meaning that title and postseason races have begun in earnest.
That certainly is the case for two of the three games that will be broadcast live this Friday on the Jacobs Media family of radio stations, while the third features an in-county rivalry.
Both Gainesville and Flowery Branch began play in Region 8-AAAAA last Friday with impressive results, and both the Red Elephants and Falcons are hoping for two more victories this week.
Gainesville (2-1, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAA) will play host to Apalachee (1-1, 0-0) in a game broadcast live on 1240 AM ESPN Radio.
The Red Elephants battered Winder-Barrow 69-0 last week, leading 62-0 at the half. Gainesville held the Bulldoggs to just 12 yards of offense, while racking up 547 yards of their own. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was perfect through the air, completing all 18 passes attempted for seven touchdowns. He also ran for another score as he manufactured 391 total yards.
The Red Elephants know they'll face a significantly tougher challenge against the Wildcats, who had a bye last week after falling to Class AA-ranked foe Greater Atlanta Christian 31-21 on Sept. 7.
The Wildcats base out of a wing-T on offense and feature running backs Eric Tanner, Zay Henry and quarterback Clint Ashe.
Down the road, the Falcons will play host to another 8-AAAAA battle, as Loganville comes calling in a showdown broadcast live on WDUN AM 550.
Flowery Branch (1-2, 1-0) busted an 0-2 start with last week's 45-27 win at Cedar Shoals that saw the Falcons' offense spring to life for 578 yards, including 397 of that on the ground. The performance included the best of the young season for new starting quarterback Jackson McDonald, as the junior rushed for 148 yards, passed for 181 and compiled five total touchdowns.
The Branch will face a Loganville squad that has been torched by two different offenses in its 1-2 start (0-1 Region 8-AAAAA). Monroe Area put up 50 points on the Red Devils in the opener, while Clarke Central tallied 40 in last week's 40-6 outcome in Athens.
The night's other live game will feature a fast-rebounding East Hall playing host to Johnson on 102.9 FM WDUN.
The Vikings (2-1, 0-1 Region 7-AAA) have stormed back from a 42-0 defeat to Dawson County on Aug. 24, reeling off wins over Chattooga and East Jackson. East Hall exploded for 534 total yards of offense -- 67 passing and 467 rushing -- in last week's defeat of the Eagles.
East Hall also held East Jackson to 230 total yard of offense, including 92 rushing. The Vikings will need their best run defense again this Friday against a Johnson team that still rushed for 239 yards in last week's 27-13 defeat to North Murray.
The Knights (2-2) have featured fullback Cedric Harris for much of the early season, though it was fellow running back Luis Hernandez that proved most explosive last week, rushing just three times for 148 yards and both Johnson touchdowns.
The trio of contests will highlight another packed Friday night that will feature the beginning of league competition for Regions 8-AAAA, 8-AAA and 6-AAAAAA.
Much of Region 7-AAA has the night off, though West Hall and Banks County will square off in Homer.
AREA PREP FOOTBALL SCHEDULE, Sept. 21
Apalachee at Gainesville -- Radio: 1240 AM
Loganville at Flowery Branch -- Radio: 550 AM
Johnson at East Hall -- Radio: 102.9 FM
Lumpkin County at Monroe Area
Walnut Grove at Stephens County
West Hall at Banks County
Winder-Barrow at Salem
Eastside at Chestatee
Blessed Trinity at White County
East Jackson at Jackson County
Rabun County at Commerce
Riverside Military at Washington-Wilkes
Lakeview Academy at Pinecrest Academy
Rabun Gap at Towns County
Chattahoochee at North Forsyth
Habersham Central at Mountain View
Mill Creek at Peachtree Ridge
North Gwinnett at Meadowcreek