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Monday August 3rd, 2015 11:24PM

5 things: What we learned from week 10 of high school football

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Here's a look at five things we learned from week 10 of the high school football season...

1. We are lucky to live in an area in which the final week means so much for several teams

We'll be showing our age here, but we can easily remember a time when this time of year often meant looking forward to basketball season. Now, while we're still excited about hoops cranking up in the coming weeks, we're just as excited about the final week for the regular season and what the upcoming football playoffs have to offer. Not only do we have three defending state champs that are already back in the postseason -- but we have plenty of teams that can make some playoff noise playing for the best seed possible (including those three defending champs). There are two region-defining showdowns set for Friday, including the 8-AAAAA (de facto) championship battle at City Park between Flowery Branch and Gainesville, and the game that will determine the 7-AAA crown between Buford and North Hall at The Brickyard. Jefferson must also head to Blairsville and secure its No. 3 seed with a win at Union County. Meanwhile, there are several other contests that will decide the playoff futures of some programs -- including a huge battle between West Hall and Dawson County in Dawsonville, in which the winner plays on and the loser stays home. Jackson County will be doing the same in Region 8-AAA against Morgan County. North Forsyth also must win to have a shot at the postseason, while seeding is still up for White County and Rabun County -- and Commerce will want to keep improving its win total to help in the Class A power ratings. It will be a huge final week of the season, and there are other places where they can only dream of such a meaningful finale -- as well as what's to come.


2. Turnovers are unforgiving, but Chestatee is legit

It's an old cliche, but it's as true as they come: turnovers decide football games. Unfortunately the War Eagles saw that play out last week in a 28-21 loss at fourth-ranked Monroe Area. Chestatee had control of the contest until two gut-wrenching second half giveaways turned the game on its head and helped the Purple Hurricanes to tie and go ahead for good. Look past those mistakes (including four fumbles for the game), however, and you see a War Eagles team that was every bit as good as Monroe -- if not a little bit better. We know that the Purple Hurricanes were missing five starters, including quarterback Stanton Truitt. But Monroe wasn't exactly going into battle with blanks, fielding two talented players under center in Jacob Olson and Michael Gallup -- and the War Eagles had the answers for both of those players, and standout running back Kwan Brooks, and it showed. Chestatee held Monroe well under its season average of 54.5 points per game and showed a disciplined, tenacious defense that should have opposing offenses nervous come playoff time. Maybe now the War Eagles can actually get a vote in the Class AAAA rankings?


3. White County's playoff bid built on defense -- but Vandiver developing as a passer

Speaking of defense, the Warriors knew that their team would be built on defense in 2013 -- and it turns out that foundation is rock solid. The unit, which returned nine starters from last season, is allowing just 12.8 points per game -- 9.2 against every team not named Buford -- and has been particularly tough over the last three weeks, allowing just 17 total points. Consider that number has come against three teams all in the playoff hunt in Region 7-AAA (North Hall, Dawson County and West Hall) and it paints an impressive picture indeed. The Warriors have a great chance at snagging the No. 2 seed from 7-AAA, and the defense is a big reason why. BUT don't sleep on an offense that is also starting to gain some momentum -- thanks in large part to the progression of quarterback A.J. Vandiver. The junior is showing that opposing defenses stack the box to stop the Warriors' triple option run game at their own peril, throwing big touchdown passes in the wins over North Hall and West Hall -- including the only two scores in the defeat of the Spartans. It's a development that has to please the Warriors coaching staff and could mean big things over the coming weeks.


4. North Forsyth has plenty of playmakers... and heart

The Raiders had plenty of questions to answer prior to the 2013 campaign -- and most of them have been answered in the affirmative. In fact North Forsyth has gone above and beyond the expectations for most of those outside the Raiders program, especially considering it is the first season in charge for coach Jason Galt. The most impressive thing is that North Forsyth is doing it -- and giving themselves a shot at the playoffs -- via a number of different playmakers. Just look at this past week, when quarterback Cody Gottberg and do-everything standout Luke Slaton came up with play after play to help key a 38-21 victory over Johns Creek -- after being down 21-0. That fight not only kept North Forsyth alive in the postseason race (they must win this Friday and get some help from West Forsyth) but ensured the program's first winning regular season record sine 2009. If this is just the start, Raider backers must be thrilled indeed about the future of a Galt-led North Forsyth.


5. Stephens County can keep playoff streak going with one more win

It has not been an easy season for the Indians and yet they persevere. Currently 5-4, Stephens County can get back into the postseason this week with a win over 1-8 Lumpkin County. The Indians have reached the playoffs in three straight seasons and 16 of the last 17 -- the only miss coming in a 3-7 campaign in 2009. And it looked like that impressive run could be in jeopardy midway through the season. But Stephens County dusted itself off and claimed a huge 30-14, Region 8-AAAA win over Eastside this week to take control of its playoff destiny. Another victory this week, and the Indians will be back in the postseason. Considering that the Indians returned just two starters on both sides of the ball this season, that speaks volumes for the current Stephens roster and coaching staff.


NOV. 1 AREA FOOTBALL FINALS

Buford 70, East Hall 6

Clarke Central 13, Winder-Barrow 7

Dawson County 45, Fannin County 14

Elbert County 48, Jackson County 27

Franklin County 27, East Jackson 18

Gainesville 63, Loganville 0

Heritage, Conyers 47, Apalachee 21

Jefferson 62, Riverside Military Academy 23

Lanier 41, Lumpkin County 7

Mill Creek 62, Habersham Central 0

Monroe Area 28, Chestatee 21

North Forsyth 38, Johns Creek 21

North Gwinnett 40, Mountain View 7

North Hall 63, Banks County 7

Rabun County 40, Greene County 14

Stephens County 30, Eastside 14

Towns County 10, Lakeview Academy 7

Union County 47, Social Circle 6

White County 14, West Hall 0


AREA FOOTBALL SCHEDULE, NOV. 8
Buford at North Hall
Collins Hill at Mill Creek
Commerce at Pinecrest Academy
East Jackson at Oconee County
Fannin County at East Hall
Flowery Branch at Gainesville
Jefferson at Union County
Johnson vs. Region 7-AAAA team, TBA
Lumpkin County at Stephens County
Madison County at Chestatee
Morgan County at Jackson County
Peachtree Ridge at North Gwinnett
Rabun County at Oglethorpe County
Riverside Military at Greene County
South Forsyth at North Forsyth
Towns County at Hebron Christian
Walnut Grove at Lanier
West Hall at Dawson County
White County at Banks County
Winder-Barrow at Apalachee
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