Sunday September 24th, 2017 8:42PM

Week 9: Area teams look to keep playoff hopes alive with key matchups

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
  Contact Editor
Several teams find themselves with their backs against the wall heading into Friday night's prep football action around northeast Georgia.

Bottlenecks in Regions 7-AAA and 8-AA make Friday's action crucial as the race for playoff spots intensifies.

Dawson County at White County and West Hall at North Hall highlight a key week in 7-AAA. All four teams are within one game of each other and Friday's losers could find themselves on the outside looking in.

In Region 8-AA, Rabun County travels to Union County trying to snap a two-game losing streak and get back into the playoff race.

Flowery Branch plays host to Clarke Central in 8-AAAAA with the Falcons hoping to set up a showdown with No. 4 Gainesville in two weeks for the region title. The Gladiators, however, are coming off a loss to the Elephants and are trying to stay alive for second place and a home playoff game.

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: Evans Stadium, Conyers
-- APALACHEE (0-7, 0-5 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 35-6 to Cedar Shoals last week.
-- SALEM (2-5, 1-4 Region 8-AAAAA): Bye last week. Lost 58-8 to Gainesville two weeks ago.
-- HISTORY: Apalachee won 20-0 last year. The Wildcats lead the series 4-1. . .Both teams have been struggling, especially on defense. Salem has allowed 30 ppg but has yielded 33 or more in its last four games. . .Apalachee has given up 42.2 ppg on defense. . .The last time Apalachee lost eight straight games was in 2005. . .Salem is still mathematically alive for a playoff spot but would need to win out, beat Loganville, and hope the Red Devils lose the remainder of their games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: East Hall Stadium, Gainesville
-- BANKS COUNTY (0-7, 0-4 Region 7-AAA): Lost 6-0 to Fannin County last week.
-- EAST HALL (3-4, 0-4 Region 7-AAA): Lost 27-7 to West Hall last week.
-- HISTORY: East Hall won 56-20 last year. The Vikings lead the series 14-1-1. . .After starting the season 3-1 and averaging 49 ppg, the Vikings offense has sputtered. They have scored just 38 total points during their current three-game losing streak. . .The Leopards are in the midst of their longest losing streak since 2005. Defensively they have allowed 33 ppg while the offense has scored just 55 points (7.8 ppg) all season. . .With finishing games against North Hall and White County, the Leopards' best shot to avoid their first winless season since 1998 may hinge on tonight's game. . .Banks County has never beaten East Hall at Valhalla, going back to 1959.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Rebels Stadium, Blue Ridge
-- BUFORD (7-0, 4-0 Region 7-AAA): Buford defeated Dawson County 42-10 last week. The Wolves are ranked No. 1 in Class AAA.
-- FANNIN COUNTY (2-5, 1-3 Region 7-AAA): Defeated banks County 6-0 last week.
-- HISTORY: Buford won 51-0 last year in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .Buford is riding a 17-game win streak but is still 30 games shy of the school-record 47-game win streak from 2001- 04. . .Buford coach Jess Simpson, in his ninth season as head coach, needs just three more wins to tie Dexter Wood (118) as the second-winningest coach in Buford history. Ed Cochran won 129 games from 1973-91. . .The Rebels defense has had trouble stopping offenses allowing 40 ppg, including factoring in last week's shutout of Banks County. Buford is averaging 51 ppg on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Raiders Valley, Coal Mountain
-- CENTENNIAL (1-6, 1-3 region 6-AAAAAA): Lost 35-24 to South Forsyth last week.
-- NORTH FORSYTH (4-3, 1-3 Region 6-AAAAAA): Lost 28-7 to West Forsyth last week.
-- HISTORY: Centennial won 27-9 last year. Centennial leads the series 2-1. . .Offense has been hard to find for the Raiders of late. They have scored just 26 total points during a current three-game losing streak after averaging 30 ppg during four straight wins to open the season. . .Offense has not been the problem for the Knights, who have averaged 29 ppg in region contests. However, they have given up 39 ppg on defense. . .North Forsyth is mathematically alive for a playoff berth but one South Forsyth win or North Forsyth loss would eliminate the Raiders. North Forsyth and South Forsyth close out the season in two weeks.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Falcons Field, Flowery Branch
-- RADIO: 550 AM
-- CLARKE CENTRAL (5-2, 4-1 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 56-28 last week to Gainesville.
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (6-2, 6-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Heritage, Conyers 33-0 last week.
-- HISTORY: Flowery Branch won 24-13 last year. The Gladiators lead the series 2-1. . .The Falcons are mirroring last year with six straight region wins after starting the season 0-2. They are still in line to repeat as region champs but need a win tonight and then a win over Gainesville in two weeks. . .Flowery Branch is 7-2 in its last nine home games. Clarke Central knows how to win on the road going 4-5 in its last nine road games. . .Points should be scored in this one. The Gladiators are averaging 29.8 ppg while the Falcons are averaging 37.8 ppg. . .The Falcons defense has played very well over the last four games allowing just 8.5 ppg in that span.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium, Suwanee
-- COLLINS HILL (6-1, 4-1 Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Meadowcreek 68-0 last week. The Eagles are ranked No. 10 in Class AAAAAA.
-- NORTH GWINNETT (7-0, 5-0 Region 7-AAAAAA): Defeated Habersham Central 41-0 last week. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA.
-- HISTORY: North Gwinnett won 38-24 last year. The Bulldogs lead the series 8-4. . .Another battle for first place in Region 7-AAAAAA. . .A win tonight for North Gwinnett would put them at .500 as a program for the first time in school history. They are 267-268-9 since starting the program in 1961. The lost their first nine games as a program. Current coach Bob Sphire, now in his eighth season, is 85-13 since taking over in 2006, easily the winningest coach in school history. . .The Bulldogs have owned the series of late winning five straight over the Eagles. . .North Gwinnett is averaging 44 ppg while Collins Hill is scoring 34.7 ppg. . .The Eagles are only yielding 12.2 ppg and has held five opponents to 13 points or less with two shutouts.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Hebron Stadium, Dacula
-- COMMERCE (5-3, 3-1 Region 8-A): Defeated Athens Academy 28-7 last week.
-- HEBRON CHRISTIAN (2-5, 0-4 Region 8-A): Lost 57-7 to Prince Avenue Christian last week.
-- HISTORY: Commerce won 42-11 last year in first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .After a 2-2 start the Tigers have won three of their last four games. Hebron has lost five straight after opening the season 2-0. . .Offense is the key for the Tigers. When they score more than 14 points, they are 5-0. They are 0-3 when scoring 14 points or less. . .The Lions have scored just 51 total points during their losing streak.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: White County Stadium, Cleveland
-- DAWSON COUNTY (4-3, 2-2 Region 7-AAA): Lost 42-10 to Buford last week.
-- WHITE COUNTY (5-2, 3-1 Region 7-AAA): Defeated North Hall 21-7 last week.
-- HISTORY: White County won 47-42 last year in first meeting since 2001. The Warriors lead the series 4-1. . .White County pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the season last week against the then-fourth ranked Trojans. The Warriors now control their own destiny. If they win out they will finish as the No. 2 seed in the region. . .The Tigers desperately need a win to stay in the playoff race. They sit fifth in the standings but a win tonight and wins over Fannin County and West Hall in the final two weeks would put them in with tiebreakers. . .Offense has been the key for Dawson County. In their three losses, the Tigers have scored just 16 points. They have averaged 30 ppg in their four wins. . .The Warriors defense has been tough all season. They held Buford to 10 points below its season average and have yielded just 10.6 ppg in their other six games, including two shutouts.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: North oconee Stadium, Bogart
-- EAST JACKSON (1-6, 0-4 Region 8-AAA): Lost 38-19 to Morgan County last week.
-- NORTH OCONEE (5-2, 3-1 Region 8-AAA): Lost 28-23 to Elbert County last week.
-- HISTORY: North Oconee won 57-0 last year. The Titans lead the series 4-1. . .The Titans have won three straight in the series and have outscored the Eagles 144-3 in that span. They will be surly tonight after suffering their first region loss of the season last week and possibly a shot at a region title. . .The Eagles have lost six straight and has allowed 45.5 ppg in that span.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Duluth Stadium, Duluth
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (0-8, 0-6 Region 7-AAAAA): Lost 41-0 to No. 1 North Gwinnett last week.
-- DULUTH (1-6, 1-4 Region 7-AAAAA): Lost 43-3 last week to Mill Creek.
-- HISTORY: Duluth won 56-14 last year in the first meeting between the two schools since 1993. Habersham Central leads the series 4-1. . .The Raiders are trying to snap an 11-game losing streak, which is their longest in school history. They have really struggled on offense scoring just 48 total points (6.0 ppg) on the season. . .Duluth is averaging just 15 ppg and is allowing 35 ppg on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Acworth
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (1-6, playing non-region schedule): Lost 14-7 to St. Francis last week.
-- NORTH COBB CHRISTIAN (1-6, playing non-region schedule): Lost 48-10 to Towns County last week.
-- HISTORY: Lakeview won 63-28 last year. The Lions lead the series 3-0. . .Interesting matchup in that neither team scores much and both have had their struggles on defense. . .The Eagles are giving up 38.4 ppg while Lakeview is scoring just 12.4 ppg. . .The Lions are yielding 27 ppg while North Cobb is averaging just 17 ppg on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: War Eagles Stadium, Gainesville
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (1-6, 1-3 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 28-12 to Eastside last week.
-- CHESTATEE (6-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA): Defeated lanier 20-17 in double overtime last week.
-- HISTORY: Chestatee won 49-17 last year. The War Eagles lead the series 5-2. . .Chestatee won a thriller last week behind its defense, which yielded just one scoring play in regulation. They held the Longhorns to below half of their season average. The War Eagles have given up just 24 total points over their last four games. . .One win for Chestatee over its last three games would clinch a second straight playoff berth for the first time in school history. . .A win tonight for the War Eagles would set up a showdown with No. 4-ranked Monroe Area next week for the region title. . .The Indians have made progress on offense. After scoring just 37 total points over their first four games, they have averaged 21.3 ppg over their past three games. Defensively, Lumpkin is allowing 33 ppg on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Panther Stadium, Jefferson
-- OCONEE COUNTY (1-6, 1-3 Region 8-AAA): Defeated Franklin County 38-21 last week.
-- JACKSON COUNTY (2-5, 2-2 Region 8-AAA): Lost 54-14 to Hart County last week.
-- HISTORY: Jackson County won 48-35 last year. Oconee County leads the series 8-1. . .The Panthers are tied with Morgan County for fourth place in standings and the two teams will meet in the final week of the regular season. . .The Panthers offense had been on a roll until last week averaging 40 ppg the previous four games. The Oconee defense has allowed 33.5 ppg on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood
-- PICKENS (4-3, 1-2 Region 7A-AAAA): Lost 17-0 to Gilmer last week.
-- JOHNSON (2-6, playing non-region schedule): Lost 13-9 to Druid Hills last week.
-- HISTORY: Pickens won 35-21 last year. Johnson leads the series 6-5. . .The Johnson offense, despite just nine points last week, has averaged 20 over the last two games after scoring just 34 total points in its previous four games. . Pickens has lost two straight but offensively the Dragons have been solid. They have averaged 31 pgg, despite being shutout last week. They have allowed just 19 ppg on defense with two shutouts.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville
-- RABUN COUNTY (5-2, 2-2 Region 8-AA): Lost 52-7 to Washington-Wilkes last week.
-- UNION COUNTY (5-2, 3-1 Region 8-AA): Defeated Greene County 42-0 last week.
-- HISTORY: Rabun County won 38-10 last year. Rabun County leads the series 32-16. . .The Wildcats win snapped a five-game win streak for Union in the series. . .Both teams are headed in opposite directions. The Panthers hold a one-game lead over Rabun for third place. They have won three straight and averaged over 42 ppg during that span. . .Rabun has lost two straight and scored just 27 total points after averaging 53 ppg over its first five games. However, the Wildcats will be without starting quarterback Wes Holcombe and starting running back Dan Dailey.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- RIVERSIDE MILITARY (3-4, 2-3 Region 8-AA): Defeated Social Circle 56-14 last week.
-- GLASCOCK COUNTY (1-6, playing non-region schedule): Lost 55-20 to Clarkston last week.
-- HISTORY: Lost 22-13 to Glascock County last year. Glascock leads the series 2-0. . .Defense has been the key for the Eagles. In their three wins they have allowed just 16 ppg. In their four losses they have yielded over 44 ppg. . .Glascock has lost five straight and scored just 47 total points and allowed more than 41 ppg during that span.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- SOCIAL CIRCLE (0-7, 0-4 Region 8-AA): Lost 56-14 to Riverside Military Academy last week.
-- JEFFERSON (5-2, 3-1 Region 8-AA): Defeated Oglethorpe County 41-0 last week. The Dragons are ranked No. 10 in Class AA.
-- HISTORY: Jefferson won 47-10 last year. The Dragons lead the series 14-5. . .Jefferson needs a win to keep pace in Region 8-AA. The Dragons currently sit tied for second place with Union County heading into this week's action. . .The Indians are currently mired in a school-record 23-game losing streak going back to the 2011 season. They have scored just 32 total points in 2013.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Longhorns Stadium, Sugar Hill
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-AAAA): Defeated Madison County 35-13 last week.
-- LANIER (5-2, 2-2 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 20-17 to Chestatee in double overtime last week.
-- HISTORY: Stephens County won 27-18 last year in first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .A huge game for both teams, which are tied with Eastside for third place in the region. . .The Indians control their destiny. They would seal a playoff spot for the 17th time in 18 years with wins over Lanier tonight and Eastside next week. . .A win for Lanier would assure them of its first winning season in school history and possible first-ever playoff berth. . .The key for the Indians may be their offense. In their four wins they've averaged over 36 ppg. In their three losses they've scored just seven total points and been shut out twice. . .Lanier was held to a season-low points last week but was averaging over 32 ppg in its first six games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Alpharetta
-- TOWNS COUNTY (2-5, playing non-region schedule):
-- ST. FRANCIS (6-2, playing non-region schedule):
-- HISTORY: Towns County won 35-33 last year in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. . .Both teams are trending upward. Towns County has won two straight while St. Francis has won five straight. . .The Knights have done it with defense allowing just 40 points (8.0 ppg) during their streak. . .The Indians offense has come alive the last two weeks. They have scored 65 points in their two wins compared to just 55 total points in their five losses.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: The Brickyard, Gainesville
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM
-- WEST HALL (5-2, 3-1 Region 7-AAA): Defeated East Hall 27-7 last week.
-- NORTH HALL (6-1, 3-1 Region 7-AAA): Lost 21-7 to White County last week. The Trojans are ranked No. 8 in Class AAA.
-- HISTORY: North Hall won 48-10 last year. The Trojans lead the series 7-4. . .West Hall continues to be the biggest surprise in Region 7-AAA. The Spartans already have matched the win total of the past two seasons and a win tonight would assure them of their first winning season since 2002. They also are in the hunt for their first playoff berth since 2002. . .Both teams are tied with White County for second place in the region and just one game ahead of Dawson County. . .The Spartans control their fate with finishing games against the Trojans tonight, White County, and then Dawson County in the final two weeks. . .The Trojans are still in the race for a region title but need to win tonight and next week against Banks County to set up a showdown with No. 1 Buford in the season finale.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
-- WHERE: Waters-Wilkins Stadium, Athens
-- WINDER-BARROW (1-6, 0-5 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 18-0 o Loganville last week.
-- CEDAR SHOALS (1-6, 1-4 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Apalachee 35-6 last week.
-- HISTORY: Winder-Barrow won 31-21 last year. Cedar Shoals leads the series 5-2. . .A battle to stay out of the cellar of the region standings. . .The Bulldogs offense has struggled of late scoring just seven total points over the past two games. But, the Cedar Shoals defense hs allowed just under 30 ppg on the season. . .The Jaguars snapped a seven-game losing streak going back to last season last week.
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