Thursday September 21st, 2017 6:39AM

Week 8: Home stretch for playoff spots, region titles begins

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
  Contact Editor
As the regular season heads for the home stretch, several area teams are still in the running for region titles and the playoffs while others had title dreams and playoff hopes crippled or dashed last week.

There are some huge matchups this week that will go a long way to making the picture clearer.

None may be bigger than the Region 8-AAAAA showdown in Athens between No.4 Gainesville and Clarke Central. The Red Elephants are rolling again scoring 51 or more points in every game except against No. 1 Buford. In contrast, the Gladiators defense has not allowed more than 29 points in any game this season. The winner will be in line for a region title but both must still play Flowery Branch.

In Region 8-AA, Jefferson dealt Rabun County a big blow in the Wildcats' shot at a region title with a classic victory in overtime. This week, Rabun County can get back in the picture but will have to pull off a big road win at No. 4 Washington-Wilkes.

In Region 8-AAAA, Chestatee's march toward its first-ever region title will be tested this week at high-powered Lanier on the road. The War Eagles can set up a season-ending showdown with No. 4 Monroe Area with a win tonight. A loss, however, could put a shot at a home game in the playoffs in jeopardy.

In Region 7-AAA, Class AAA No. 4 North Hall will travel to White County with a chance to move closer toward its season-ending game against No. 1 Buford with a win. West Hall can keep its shot at a top two region finish alive but will have to get by a high-scoring East Hall squad.

For a look at all of the night's contests involving area teams, simply scroll down. And be sure to check back with Access North Georgia and our Friday Game Night page throughout the night for score updates and game stories and video highlights. You can also check for scores and highlights on our Twitter feed @FridayGameNight


-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Ray Lamb Stadium, Commerce
-- ATHENS ACADEMY (4-2, 1-1 Region 8-A): Defeated Pinecrest Academy 24-17 last week.
-- COMMERCE (4-3, 2-1 Region 8-A): Lost 28-14 to No. 5 Prince Avenue Christian last week.
-- HISTORY: Athens Academy won 45-7 last year. The Tigers lead the series 11-10. . .The Spartans have owned the series recently winning six of the last seven and nine of the last 12 going back to 2001. . .IOt's a key game for the region with both teams tied for second with Pinecrest and just one-half game ahead of George Walton Academy. . .Commerce is just 3-3 in its last six home games going back to last season. . .The Spartans are 6-1 in their last seven road games. . .Offense is the key for both teams. The two teams combined are 8-0 when scoring 19 or more points and 0-5 when they don't.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville
-- BUFORD (6-0, 3-0 Region 7-AAA): Defeated White County 42-6 last week. The Wolves are ranked No. 1 in Class AAA.
-- DAWSON COUNTY (4-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAA): Defeated Banks County 42-19 last week.
-- HISTORY: Buford won 34-3 last year. The Wolves lead the series 16-1-1 overall. . .The Tigers' only win in the series came in 1991 in Dawsonville. . .Dawson County is 3-0 at home this season averaging 24 ppg compared to just 11.9 ppg on the road. The Tigers, however, have scored just six total points in their two losses. . .Buford is still rolling averaging 50.8 ppg on offense and has allowed just 27 total points on the season. . .The Wolves lost a bid for their fourth consecutive shutout last week when White County scored with just 1:32 left in the game.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: W. Clair Harris Stadium, Winder
-- CEDAR SHOALS (0-6, 0-4 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 51-6 to No. 4 Gainesville last week.
-- APALACHEE (0-6, 0-4 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 29-21 to Loganville last week.
-- HISTORY: Apalachee won 27-23 last year. The Wildcats lead the series 4-1. . .Something will have to give here between two winless teams. The winner will climb out of the cellar in the region standings. . .The Wildcats have struggled on both sides of the ball averaging just 15.6 ppg and allowing more than 43 ppg on the season. The Jaguars have not been much better averaging just 14.8 ppg while yielding 33.3 ppg on defense. . .Cedar Shoals is 4-4 in its last eight road games going back to last season. . .Apalachee has lost four straight at home.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Lanier Stadium, Sugar Hill
-- CHESTATEE (5-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA): Defeated Walnut Grove 27-0 last week.
-- LANIER (5-1, 2-1 Region 8-AAAA): Defeated Eastside 40-10 last week.
-- HISTORY: Chestatee won 43-36 in overtime last year in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .A huge game in Region 8-AAAA. A win for the War Eagles will keep them atop the region standings. Lanier needs a win to keep its hopes of finishing in the top two in the region alive. The Longhorns already have lost to Monroe Area while Chestatee still must play the fourth-ranked Purple Hurricanes in two weeks. . .The War Eagles defense is playing perhaps its best ever allowing just seven total points over the past three weeks, including two shutouts. They will have their hands full against a Longhorns team that is averaging 32.5 ppg. . .Take out 56 points the Longhorns gave up to Monroe Area and the their defense has yielded just 39 points in the other five games. . .The Chestatee offense will try to keep control of the ball and clock with Zac Cheshire and its ground attack.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Mill Creek Community Stadium, Hochston
-- DULUTH (1-5, 1-3 Region 7-AAAAAA): Bye last week. Lost 52-21 to North Gwinnett two weeks ago.
-- MILL CREEK (4-3, 2-3 Region 7-AAAAAA): Lost 50-47 to No. 1 North Gwinnett last week.
-- HISTORY: Mill Creek won 56-21 last year. The Hawks lead the series 7-0. . .The Hawks may still be reeling after last week's gut-wrenching loss where they led by 16 points with 6:30 left in the game. They still have an outside shot at the playoffs but will need some help. They need to win out, including a win over Collins Hill, and then hope that Collins Hill losses one more to sneak in with the tiebreaker. . .Mill Creek is averaging 37.7 ppg while Duluth is yielding 33.8 ppg on defense.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood
-- RADIO: 550 AM
-- EAST HALL (3-3, 0-3 Region 7-AAA): Bye last week. Lost 56-31 two weeks ago.
-- WEST HALL (4-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAA): Bye last week. Lost 63-0 to No. 1 Buford two weeks ago.
-- HISTORY: East Hall won 28-27 in overtime last year. The Vikings lead the series 10-8. . .It's a must-win for the Vikings to stay alive in the playoff race. They have lost two region games by a total of eight points. . .West Hall needs a win to keep pace with White County and Dawson County in standings. The Spartans can still finish second in the region if they run the table. But they have a tough finish with games against No. 4 North Hall, White County, and Dawson County in the final three weeks. . .West Hall is 4-0 when scoring 16 points or more. The Spartans defense had allowed just 50 total points until the Buford game. . .Take out the shutout against White County when the Vikings lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter, East Hall is averaging 45.4 ppg in the other five games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Bill Corey Stadium, Madison
-- EAST JACKSON (1-5, 0-3 Region 8-AAA): Bye last week. Lost 57-20 to Hart County two weeks week.
-- MORGAN COUNTY (4-2, 1-2 Region 8-AAA): Lost 40-0 to Elbert County last week.
-- HISTORY: Morgan County won 36-20 last year in first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .The Eagles are trying to snap a five-game losing streak. Defense has been a problem for East Jackson having allowed 54 or more points in three of its last four games. Meanwhile, they have scored just 66 total points in that span. . .The Eagles can play spoiler. Morgan County needs a win to stay alive in the playoff race.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Leopard Stadium, Homer
-- FANNIN COUNTY (1-5, 0-3 Region 7-AAA): Lost 62-7 to North Hall last week.
-- BANKS COUNTY (0-6, 0-3 Region 7-AAA): Bye last week. Lost 42-19 to Dawson County two weeks ago.
-- HISTORY: Banks County won 47-46 last year. The Rebels lead the series 4-3 but Banks County has won two straight in the series. . .Two of the last three games in the series have been decided by one point. . .The two teams are tied with East Hall at the bottom of the region so the winner will stay out of the cellar. . .defense has been the problem for both teams. The Rebels are allowing 46.8 ppg while the Leopards are yielding 38.8 ppg so far. . .Fannin County has scored just 14 total points in its last two games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Evans Memorial Stadium, Conyers
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (5-2, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Winder-Barrow 44-7 last week.
-- HERITAGE, CONYERS (4-3, 3-2 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 23-3 to Clarke Central last week.
-- HISTORY: Flowery Branch won 35-27 last year. The Falcons lead the series 3-0. . .Flowery Branch has won five straight but all five came against the bottom five teams in the region with a combined 6-25 record. The Falcons now close out their season against the top teams in the region beginning tonight. . .The Falcons, however, have gotten their offense rolling scoring 42 ppg in that span, primarily behind quarterback Jackson McDonald. . .The Patriots are in a fight with Loganville, which they play next week, for the fourth playoff spot and a win is crucial. Their offense has found points hard to come by. They have not scored more than 23 points in any game this season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Billy Henderson Stadium, Athens
-- RADIO: 1240 AM
-- GAINESVILLE (6-1, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Salem 58-8 last week. The Elephants are ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA.
-- CLARKE CENTRAL (5-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Heritage, Conyers 23-3 last week.
-- HISTORY: Gainesville won 49-28 last year in the first meeting between the two schools since 1975. The Elephants lead the series 5-2. Gainesville is one of just six schools with more than five meetings against the Gladiators to have a winning record against them. . .It's the first of three huge battles down the stretch for the region title. Gainesville is tied with Flowery Branch atop the standings with the Gladiators one-half game behind. All three teams will play each other over the next four weeks. . .The Gainesville offense against the Clarke defense will be the key to the game. The Gainesville offense is again looking unstoppable. The Elephants have scored 51 or more points in every game except against No. 1 Buford. The Gladiators defense has not allowed more than 29 points in any game this season. . .The Gainesville has yielded just 27 points during the five-game win streak and just 13 ppg overall. The Gladiators are averaging 30 ppg. . .Clarke Central is 12-2 at Billy Henderson Stadium since 2011.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville
-- GREENE COUNTY (2-4, 1-2 Region 8-AA): Lost 56-16 to Washington-Wilkes last week.
-- UNION COUNTY (4-2, 2-1 Region 8-AA): Defeated Riverside Military Academy 40-24 last week.
-- HISTORY: Greene County won 37-19 last year in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .A huge game in the region with three teams, including Union County, tied for second place. The Tigers are just one game behind in the standings. . .The Panthers have gotten their offense going averaging 43 points during a current two-game region win streak. . .The Greene County defense been hot-and-cold allowing just 13 total points in two wins but giving up 47.5 points in its four losses.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Panthers Stadium, Jefferson
-- HART COUNTY (6-0, 3-0 Region 8-AAA): Defeated Oconee County 44-14 last week. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 7 in Class AAA.
-- JACKSON COUNTY (2-4, 2-1 Region 8-AAA): Bye last week. Defeated Franklin County 56-12 two weeks ago.
-- HISTORY: Hart County won 31-16 last year. The Bulldogs lead the series 10-0. . .The Panthers have turned things around with two wins in their last three games after an 0-3 start. The offense has led the way scoring 121 points and scored the most points of anyone (27) against North Oconee in their only loss during that span. . .The Bulldogs already have matched last years win total and defense has been the key. They are yielding just 15 ppg in an offensive region. . .The Panthers need a win sitting in fourth place but just one game ahead of Morgan County. They still must play Elbert County and Morgan County in the final three weeks.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Patriot Stadium, Lexington
-- JEFFERSON (4-2, 2-1 Region 8-AA): Defeated Rabun County 26-20 in overtime last week. The Dragons are ranked No. 10 in Class AA.
-- OGLETHORPE COUNTY (1-5, 1-2 Region 8-AA): Defeated Social Circle 28-0 last week.
-- HISTORY: Jefferson won 43-0 last year. The Dragons lead the series 31-8 and have won 11 straight in the series. . .Jefferson is just 2-2 in its last four games but both losses were to ranked opponents. . .A huge game in the region with three teams, including Jefferson, tied for second place. The Patriots are just one game behind in the standings. . .The Dragons' defense has played well all season. Take out 41 points give up against North Hall and they have allowed just 10 ppg in the other five games, including two shutouts. . .Oglethorpe's win last week snapped a nine-game losing streak. The Patriots' offense has improved scoring 24.9 ppg the last three weeks after scoring just 24 total points the first three games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Adams Stadium, Atlanta
-- JOHNSON (2-5, playing non-region schedule): Defeated Clarkston 31-21 last week.
-- DRUID HILLS (2-4, 0-3 Region 2-AAAAAA): Lost 25-7 to Newton last week.
-- HISTORY: Johnson won 42-15 last year in first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .The Knights' win last week snapped a four-game losing streak. The 31 points was almost as many as the Knights had scored in the previous four games combined. . .Druid Hills is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and has scored seven points in that span. Defensively the Red Devils have allowed 31 ppg this season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: W. Clair Harris Stadium, Winder
-- LOGANVILLE (3-3, 2-2 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Apalachee 29-21 last week.
-- WINDER-BARROW (1-5, 0-4 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 44-7 to Flowery Branch last week.
-- HISTORY: Loganville won 28-14 last year. The Red Devils lead the series 10-1 and has won seven straight in the series. . .The Bulldogs have lost five straight since winning the opener but has played one of the toughest schedules in the area. The defense has been beat up yielding 47 ppg during their losing streak. The offense has scored just 16 ppg on the season. . .Loganville needs a win to keep pace for a playoff spot. The Red Devils are in fifth, just one-half game out of fourth place.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Sharp Stadium, Covington
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (1-5, 1-2 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 28-21 to Madison County last week.
-- EASTSIDE (3-3, 1-2, Region 8-AAAA): Lost 40-10 to Lanier last week.
-- HISTORY: Eastside won 52-16 last year in first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .Both teams are coming off losses and are tied for fourth place in the standings. The Indians can stay in the playoff hunt with a win tonight but have a tough finish with games against Chestatee, Lanier, and Stephens County. All three teams sit ahead of Lumpkin County in the standings. . .The Indians' offense has improved averaging 26 ppg the last two weeks after scoring just 37 total points the first four games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: The Reservation, Toccoa
-- MADISON COUNTY (3-3, 1-2 Region 8-AAAA): Defeated Lumpkin County 28-21 last week.
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (3-3, 1-2 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 47-0 to Monroe Area last week.
-- HISTORY: Stephens County won 49-0 last year. The Indians lead the series 25-8 and have won 11 straight and 14 of the last 15 in the series. . .A huge game for both teams as they are tied with Lumpkin County and Eastside for fourth place in the region. . .The Indians have fallen on hard times offensively being shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since 1967. . .Last week's win for the Red Raiders snapped a three-game losing streak and are allowing just 26 ppg on defense. . .Stephens County is 11-5 all-time against Madison County in Toccoa.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: West Forsyth Stadium, Cumming
-- NORTH FORSYTH (4-2, 1-2 Region 6-AAAAAA): Lost 45-6 to Alpharetta last week.
-- WEST FORSYTH (4-2, 2-1 Region 6-AAAAAA): Defeated John's Creek 42-13 last week.
-- HISTORY: West Forsyth won 38-3 last year. The Wolverines lead the series 3-2. . .The two teams are on opposite streaks. West Forsyth has won two straight while the Raiders have lost two straight after opening with four consecutive wins. . .After averaging 30 ppg the first four games, North Forsyth has scored just 19 total points during its losing streak. . .Six teams are within a game of each other in the region standings. . .The Wolverines are allowing 29 ppg on defense.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Raider Stadium, Mt. Airy
-- NORTH GWINNETT (6-0, 4-0 Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Mill Creek 50-47 last week. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA.
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (0-7, 0-5 Region 7-AAAAAA): Lost 21-14 to Meadowcreek last week.
-- HISTORY: North Gwinnett won 44-6 last year. The Bulldogs lead the series 3-2. . .The Raiders continue to struggle as their losing streak reached 10 after last week. They have scored just 48 points on the season and are allowing 40.9 ppg. . .North Gwinnett is averaging 45 ppg

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: White County Stadium, Cleveland
-- RADIO: 1029 FM
-- NORTH HALL (6-0, 3-0 Region 7-AAA): Defeated Fannin County 62-7 last week. The Trojans are ranked No. 4 in Class AAA.
-- WHITE nm bjCOUNTY (4-2, 2-1 Region 7-AAA): Lost 42-6 to No. 1 Buford last week.
-- HISTORY: North Hall won 42-7 last year. The Trojans lead the series 21-20 going back to 1957. . .While the series is even wins-wise, it has been a streaky series. North Hall has won 18 of the last 19 meetings going back to 1988. White County won 19 of the first 22 meetings between 1957 and 1987. The last win in the series for White County was in 2010. . .The Trojans offense is running on all cylinders averaging 51 ppg. Defensively they are allowing 16.5 ppg. . .The White County offense has been struggling of late. After averaging 38 ppg in their first three games, the Warriors have scored just 12 total points in their last three games. Defensively they are allowing 16.5 ppg. . .A win for the Trojans will give them just their fourth-ever 7-0 start. The also started 7-0 in 2012, 2007, and 2004.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Tiger Field, Washington
-- RABUN COUNTY (5-1, 2-1 Region 8-AA): Lost 26-20 in overtime to Jefferson.
-- WASHINGTON-WILKES (7-0, 4-0 Region 8-AA): Defeated Greene County 56-16 last week. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in Class AA.
-- HISTORY: Washington-Wilkes won 41-12 last year. The Tigers lead the series 4-1-1. . .The Wildcats have their hands full against their second straight top 10 team. They will need to regain their offensive swagger after being held to more than 30 points below their average last week. . .The Tigers also are explosive scoring over 50 three times and averaging 42 ppg. . .The Wildcats also need a win to keep pace with Jefferson and Union County for second place in the region.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Maginnis Field, Gainesville
-- SOCIAL CIRCLE (0-6, 0-3 Region 8-AA): Lost 28-0 to Oglethorpe County last week.
-- RIVERSIDE MILITARY (2-4, 1-3 Region 8-AA): Lost 40-24 to Union County last week.
-- HISTORY: Riverside won 35-34 last season. Social Circle leads the series 7-6. . .The Eagles have lost two straight allowing 103 points to two of the top offenses in the region. Social Circle, however, has scored just 18 points in 2013 and has been shut out each of the last three games. . .A win for Riverside would match the entire win totals of the previous two seasons combined.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Lakeview Stadium, Gainesville
-- ST. FRANCIS (5-2, playing non-region schedule): Defeated Baconton Charter 41-0 last week.
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (1-5, playing non-region schedule): Defeated Cross Keys 42-0 last week.
-- HISTORY: Lakeview won 35-0 last year in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .The Lions offense finally got untracked last week scoring more points than the first five games combined. . .St. Francis has won four straight and has set a new school record for wins in a season and is averaging 41 ppg during the streak. . .Lakeview is allowing 28 ppg.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Acworth
-- TOWNS COUNTY (1-5, playing non-region schedule): Defeated Copper Basin (TN) 17-8 last week.
-- NORTH COBB CHRISTIAN (1-5, playing non-region schedule): Defeated Providence Christian 41-21 last week.
-- HISTORY: Towns County won 38-6 last week. The Indians lead the series 3-0. . .Both teams snapped long losing streaks last week. North Cobb had lost nine straight and Towns County five straight before last week. . .The Indians have not scored more than 17 points in any game this season but North Cobb is yielding 35 ppg in 2013.
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