Here's a look five things we learned from week six of high school football...
1. It looks a three-team race for Region 7-AAA; and the next two weeks are elimination Fridays
There is still plenty of intrigue as to which four teams will make the playoffs from 7-AAA, but after Friday's contests, it seems clear which three programs will play for the region title. Buford made yet another statement last week, dominating a good West Hall team 63-0 in Oakwood, while North Hall pushed past a determined East Hall 56-31 (more on that later). White County was on a bye, but the Warriors are the other program still undefeated in league play. One of those three teams will not be undefeated after this week, however, as White County travels to face Buford. The very next week, the Warriors play host to North Hall (which will travel to Fannin County this week). So, in effect, the next two weeks will determine whether the regular-season finale between the Trojans and Wolves will be the de facto 7-AAA championship game.
2. Only Clarke Central can derail a Flowery Branch-Gainesville title showdown
No team in Region 8-AAAAA is playing better than the Falcons and Red Elephants right now, both 4-0 in league play. Both teams' No. 1 offenses are becoming machine-like in their precision -- with countless weapons and assured quarterback play. Meanwhile, neither defense, especially the No. 1 units, has been easy to crack -- in fact Gainesville has allowed just 19 points in four wins, while Flowery Branch has allowed just seven points in the first half of their four victories. That said, the two foes' season finale is not a region championship game yet. Clarke Central is also undefeated in 8-AAAAA and will take on Gainesville and Flowery Branch back-to-back (Oct. 18 and 25). A perennial power, the Gladiators are dangerous again behind an offense led by running back Jaqua Daniels and quarterback Cameron Johnson, and both the Falcons and Red Elephants must be wary and not get caught looking ahead to their battle in City Park on Nov. 8.
3. Charlie Woerner is helping Rabun County do something special
Georgia football fans that are old enough -- and those of us who are suckers for history -- remember well the name Woerner. The All-American defensive back made huge plays with regularity in late 70s and early 80s (ask Georgia Tech, Clemson and Notre Dame fans). Now Woerner's nephew, Charlie -- a sophomore at Rabun County -- is making big plays with regularity against high school teams throughout northeast Georgia. Just how explosive has Woerner been this season? Consider this, the Wildcats' version of "slash" has rushed for 313 yards and 7 TDs (with an average of 17 yards per carry) and has caught eight passes for 254 yards and 4 TDs (for an average of 32 yards per reception). So that's 598 total yards and 11 scores, at 117 yards per game. And he has done all this while touching the ball just 26 times ALL SEASON. Those numbers have helped Rabun County to its first 5-0 start since 1998 -- when the Wildcats started 9-0 and reached the Class A quarterfinals. If Rabun is to accomplish similar feats in 2013, Woerner will be a big part of that success -- and with the Wildcats facing their two toughest tests so far, you can bet Woerner has the attention of opposing coaches at Jefferson and Washington-Wilkes. Rabun will be on the road for both games, meaning the Wildcats will need to be at their best, including other standouts like quarterback Wes Holcombe, running back Dan Dailey and receiver Alden Wright.
4. Commerce has both heart and nerve
We already knew the Tigers had some playmakers and fight after Sept. 27 defeat of then-No. 8 George Walton. Last week, Commerce showed that it also has plenty of guts, going for two in the first overtime period to clinch a victory at Athens Christian, 22-21. The Tigers are rolling into perhaps their toughest game of the season this week at home against No. 6 Prince Avenue Christian, coming off two straight impressive wins. It's been a huge rebound for Commerce, which has responded to its two losses with determination. And while running backs Chance McClure and Jamir Walton have played huge roles, back-up quarterback Caleb Brooks has also been huge, coming off the bench for injured starter Drew Whitfield and leading like a veteran.
5. East Hall does not deserve an 0-3 region record
We don't play favorites at Access North Georgia; and we don't make a habit of talking about who deserves what. But after watching East Hall three times this season, the Vikings could well be the best 3-3 squad in Class AAA. East Hall's offense has proven explosive this season, while its defense has made some big plays too -- and showed it can play near-shutdown football in a 6-0 loss to White County on Sept. 27. The Vikings three defeats -- all in region play -- have come by an average of just 11 points, including a two-point defeat to Dawson County and that 6-0 setback. Coach Bryan Gray's team has shown plenty of promise this campaign, and every coach that we've talked to remarks about how dangerous and good they are. East Hall has a week off to rest, and we bet the Vikings come out firing for the stretch run.
OCT. 4 AREA FOOTBALL FINALS
Buford 63, West Hall 0
Chestatee 48, Johnson 7
Commerce 22, Athens Christian 21 OT
Dawson County 42, Banks County 19
Flowery Branch 42, Apalachee 20
Gainesville 51, Cedar Shoals 6
Hart County 57, East Jackson 20
Heritage, Conyers 23, Winder-Barrow 13
Jackson County 56, Franklin County 12
Mill Creek 47, Meadowcreek 0
Norcross 49, Habersham Central 3
North Gwinnett 52, Duluth 21
North Hall 56, East Hall 31
Rabun County 63, Riverside 7
Towns County 17, Copper Basin, Tenn. 8
Union County 46, Oglethorpe County 26
Washington-Wilkes 21, Jefferson 14
Wesleyan 28, Lakeview Academy 7
AREA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR OCT. 11
Alpharetta at North Forsyth
Chestatee at Walnut Grove
Clarkston at Johnson
Cross Keys at Lakeview Academy
Flowery Branch at Winder-Barrow
Habersham Central at Meadowcreek
Loganville at Apalachee
Lumpkin County at Madison County
Mill Creek at North Gwinnett
Monroe Area at Stephens County
North Hall at Fannin County
Prince Avenue at Commerce
Rabun County at Jefferson
Salem at Gainesville
Union County at Riverside Military
White County at Buford