Friday February 12th, 2016 7:27AM

5 things: What we learned from week 7 of high school football

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Here's a look at five things we learned from week seven of the high school football season...

1. Jefferson is going to be just fine

Not that we were too worried about the Dragons, but it can be very dicey when you lose your starting quarterback -- especially during a tough loss and on the verge of another tough game. But thanks to a stellar defense that allowed just 217 yards -- to a Rabun County offense that was averaging almost 500 yards per game -- and a gutsy and clutch performance from back-up QB TJ Skelton, Jefferson bounced back from its first region loss since 2011 with an emotional overtime defeat of Rabun County last week. The win kept the Dragons in second place in Region 8-AA -- behind leader Washington-Wilkes -- and in prime position to host a first round state playoff contest in a few weeks. The win also showed that the defending Class AA champs are still very much a force to be reckoned with. Skelton will only get better in the weeks to come, and his athletic ability will make him a tough stop for opposing defenses. The Dragons' own defense could also be the rock from which another playoff run is launched.

2. Rabun County is for real

No one wants a loss, but you often learn the most about yourself via adversity, and the Wildcats came out of Friday's defeat with plenty of positives. Most impressive was a defense that notched four turnovers against the Dragons and forced Jefferson to earn every yard. Meanwhile, the Wildcats offense may not have put up the numbers it wanted, but Rabun also showed it can operate and score against strong defenses, taking a 20-13 fourth quarter lead. It will be tough to get back up for perhaps their toughest game of the regular season this week at Region 8-AA leader Washington-Wilkes, but the Wildcats showed on Friday that they have the ability to head on the road and pull off the win -- which would create havoc in the race for the 8-AA title. It's a chaos Rabun would love to create.

3. The battle for Region 8-AAAAA has a semifinal this week

Three teams have separated themselves in the race for the 8-AAAAA crown -- not surprisingly, they are Flowery Branch, Gainesville and Clarke Central. All three are undefeated in league play -- for just a few more days. The Red Elephants will head to Athens this week to take on the Gladiators in what is a sort of semifinal for the region championship. The Falcons, Red Elephants and Gladiators have a two game-lead over the trailing teams in 8-AAAAA, and with three region games remaining (four for Clarke Central) it would take a collapse from the front-runners to get anyone else involved. That's not say it can't happen -- Gainesville stumbled against Loganville during last year's state championship run -- but the likelihood of all three teams getting upset is low indeed. That's why this Friday's game in Athens will have the attention of the entire region. It should be an interesting showdown between two athletic teams, and it will be the biggest test for the Gainesville defense since Buford in week 2. The Red Elephants' defense is allowing just 5.4 points per game in region play.

4. Chestatee's biggest region test -- so far -- is set for Friday

Certainly Chestatee football fans know that powerhouse Monroe Area is looming on the horizon, but the War Eagles (5-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA) also know that they face their biggest 8-AAAA showdown so far this week. Lanier is also 5-1 -- the Longhorns' only loss coming to Monroe Area -- and is coming off a 40-10 defeat of Eastside, which had designs on the 8-AAAA crown itself before the season started. Chestatee's first region win of the campaign was a 33-23 win at Eastside; the War Eagles learned a lot about their grit and determination that night. Chestatee is likely to need every ounce of that to get another big region victory this Friday in Sugar Hill. The War Eagles' defense has allowed just seven points over three straight wins and will face a huge test against a Lanier offense averaging 39 points per game. Chestatee will be looking forward to the challenge.

5. Union County's playoffs start this week

Sitting at 4-2, 2-1 in Region 8-AA, the Panthers have played themselves into playoff contention. In fact, with the foes remaining on the regular season schedule, you can make the case that the playoffs have already started for Union County. Jefferson and Rabun County still lie in wait for the Panthers, while Greene County will pay a visit to Blairsville this Friday. The Tigers' 37-19 defeat of the Panthers in 2012 helped keep Union County out of the postseason, and some payback on Friday would go a long way in getting the Panthers back into state for the first time since 2001.


Alpharetta 45, North Forsyth 6

Buford 42, White County 6

Chestatee 27, Walnut Grove 0

Flowery Branch 44, Winder-Barrow 7

Gainesville 58, Salem 8

Jefferson 26, Rabun County 20

Johnson 31, Clarkston 21

Lakeview Academy 42, Cross Keys 0

Loganville 29, Apalachee 21

Madison County 28, Lumpkin County 21

Meadowcreek 21, Habersham Central 14

Monroe Area 47, Stephens County 0

North Gwinnett 50, Mill Creek 47

North Hall 62, Fannin County 7

Prince Avenue 28, Commerce 13

Union County 40, Riverside Military 24

Athens Academy at Commerce
Buford at Dawson County
Cedar Shoals at Apalachee
Chestatee at Lanier
Duluth at Mill Creek
East Hall at West Hall
East Jackson at Morgan County
Fannin County at Banks County
Flowery Branch at Heritage, Conyers
Gainesville at Clarke Central
Greene County at Union County
Hart County at Jackson County
Jefferson at Oglethorpe County
Johnson at Druid Hills
Loganville at Winder-Barrow
Lumpkin County at Eastside
Madison County at Stephens County
North Forsyth at West Forsyth
North Gwinnett at Habersham Central
North Hall at White County
Rabun County at Washington-Wilkes
St. Francis at Lakeview Academy
Social Circle at Riverside Military
Towns County at North Cobb Christian
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