Tuesday October 17th, 2017 2:30PM

WEEK 1: Main course finally arrives for area fans

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
After getting a tasty appetizer last week to open the high school football season, the main course has finally arrived as virtually every team in northeast Georgia will be in action Friday.<br /> <br /> While most teams do not crank up region schedules until next week and beyond, there are some compelling matchups in Week 1 between playoff teams from 2013.<br /> <br /> Most notably is the Flowery Branch-Chestatee tilt slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at War Eagle Stadium. Chestatee won its first-ever playoff game last season while the Falcons advanced to their ninth-straight playoffs before falling in the first round.<br /> <br /> The two schools are also linked by opening in the same year (2002) and playing each other in the opening game ever for both programs that year. Both teams this year will be looking to find some answers with new personnel and Chestatee with a new head coach for the first time in nine seasons.<br /> <br /> Also on tap among playoff matchups will be an interesting game in Cleveland between White County and Pickens. Both teams had dynamic offenses last year and will put both defenses to the test on Friday.<br /> <br /> North Cobb will visit North Gwinnett, which will try to avoid the letdown after stunning No. 1 McEachern last week 52-49 in one of the best high school games in recent memory. The Bulldogs scored the game-winner with :09 left in the game after trailing 21-7 early. North Cobb advanced to the second round last season and North Gwinnett lost in the Class AAAAAA title game.<br /> <br /> Lanier and Lambert, both playoff teams from last season, will tangle in Cumming. Lanier is expected to be one of the rising programs this season and returns the bulk of its team, including 39 seniors, from last season.<br /> <br /> While not a playoff matchup, the Battle of Oakwood will renew for the 21st time at Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium. The Spartans were one of the surprise teams of the 2013 season and are looking to continue their upward trend. The Knights struggled in their opener last week but both teams have split the last 12 meetings with six games decided by a touchdown or less.<br /> <br /> 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 <a href=""><b>Friday Game Night</b></a> 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 <a href=""><b>@FridayGameNight</a></b><br /> <br /> <b>HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR Aug. 29</b><br /> <b>APALACHEE at WOODLAND (HENRY)</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Stockbridge <br /> -- APALACHEE (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- WOODLAND (1-0, 0-0 Region 4-AAAAA): Beat North Springs 28-14 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Wildcats are in the midst of a 10-game losing streak but are 5-2 in their last seven season-openers. ... Woodland has not won back-to-back games since the 2009 season.<br /> <br /> <b>BANKS COUNTY at COMMERCE</b><br /> -- WHEN: 8 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Tiger Field at Ray Lamb Stadium, Commerce<br /> -- BANKS COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener<br /> -- COMMERCE (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-A): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Commerce leads the series 26-2. ... The Tigers won 28-16 last year and have won 11 straight in the series. The last Banks County win came in 1992 in Homer. ... Banks County is in the midst of a 13-game losing streak. The Leopards have won three of their last four season-openers overall. ... The Tigers have lost five of their last six season-openers.<br /> <br /> <b>BERKMAR at BUFORD</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford<br /> -- BERKMAR (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 42-14 to Newton last week.<br /> -- BUFORD (1-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Beat Trinity Christian (Fla.) 17-0 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: Buford leads the series 5-2-1. First meeting since 1981, a 10-6 Buford win. ... The Patriots have lost eight straight games going back to last season. Buford has won 26 straight going back to the 2012 season. ... The Wolves defense has yielded more than 14 points just three times over their past 26 games while the Berkmar offense has scored more than 14 points just four times over its last 17 games.<br /> <br /> <b>DAWSON COUNTY at FORSYTH CENTRAL</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Forsyth County Stadium, Cumming<br /> -- DAWSON COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener<br /> -- FORSYTH CENTRAL (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Forsyth Central leads series 6-5. Dawson County won 23-20 last year in Dawsonville. ... The Tigers have won five of last seven meetings since 2002. They have won three consecutive season-openers. ... The Bulldogs have lost 11 straight season-openers. Their last win to open the season, however, came against Dawson County in 2002, 24-10.<br /> <br /> <b>EAST HALL at WESLEYAN</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Henderson Stadium, Norcross<br /> -- EAST HALL (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener<br /> -- WESLEYAN (1-0, 0-0 Region 6-AA): Beat Walker School (Marietta) 45-7 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: Series tied 1-1. First meeting since 2005, a 29-28 East Hall win. The Wolves beat the Vikings 35-21 in 2004. ... The win for Wesleyan last week snapped a four-game losing streak to end last season. The 45 points is the most they have scored since posting 54 against Twiggs County in 2011. ... The Vikings have been slow starters losing nine of their last 10 openers. They have a tough start to the season in 2014 with four of their first six games on the road. However, they are 6-5 in road games over the past two seasons.<br /> <br /> <b>FANNIN COUNTY at GILMER</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Huff-Mosley Stadium, Elijay<br /> -- FANNIN COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener<br /> -- GILMER (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Gilmer leads series 23-13-2. Gilmer won 22-0 in 2013. ... A streaky series. The Bobcats have won three straight following an eight-game win streak by Fannin County. Gilmer won seven straight before that. The two teams have opened the season against each other every year since 2005. ... The Bobcats are coming off arguably their best season ever tying for the most wins in a season (9), notching their first-ever playoff win, and reaching the second round of the playoffs. ... The Rebels are on their fourth coach in three-plus seasons but return several key skilled players on offense to a new-look spread attack.<br /> <br /> <b>FLOWERY BRANCH at CHESTATEE</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville<br /> -- RADIO: 102.9 FM<br /> -- FLOWERY BRANCH (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- CHESTATEE (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Flowery branch leads series 6-2. The Falcons have won five straight in the series. Flowery Branch won 48-12 in 2009 and its the first meeting since then. ... Both teams are coming off playoff seasons but the War Eagles are under new direction from long-time assistant Bill Forman. Expect to see their staple bruising ground attack for ball control. ... The Falcons will still run their spread attack but look for a little more muscle on the ground game behind sophomore RB Jeremiah Goss while they break-in a new quarterback in sophomore Jasen Johnson.<br /> <br /> <b>GAINESVILLE at GRAYSON</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson<br /> -- RADIO: 1240 AM<br /> -- GAINESVILLE (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- GRAYSON (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools. The Elephants will begin a new era without Deshaun Watson. Mikey Gonzalez takes the reigns of their spread attack. He will have plenty of weapons to work with in sR WR Rodney Lackey (59 receptions, 807 yards, 12 TDs), Sr. RB Michael Byrd (1,003 yards rushing, 13 TDs/627 yards receiving, 4 TDs), and Sr. WR Chris Williamson (24 receptions, 341 yards, 6 TDs). ... The Rams are coming off a losing season (4-6) but are just three years removed from a state title. They should have a solid defense led by SR DE Justin Young, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound Georgia commit.<br /> <br /> <b>HABERSHAM CENTRAL at RABUN COUNTY</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger<br /> -- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (0-0, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- RABUN COUNTY (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AA): Lost 50-14 last week to Jefferson<br /> -- HISTORY: Stunningly, this is the first-ever meeting between the two schools, which are just 20 minutes apart. ... The Wildcats are coming off a rough loss to Jefferson which saw them commit three turnovers and generate just 225 yards offense. Preseason All-state selection Charlie Woerner had just 79 total yards offense and scored once for Rabun last week. ... Habersham Central is glad to be out of Region 7-AAAAAA but is in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and could use a quick start. The Raiders have eight offensive starters returning and get by QB Bennett Black, who missed the entire 2013 season with an injury.<br /> <br /> <b>LAKEVIEW ACADEMY at EAST JACKSON</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Commerce<br /> -- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-A): Season-opener<br /> -- EAST JACKSON (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Lost 35-15 to Hebron Christian last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Lions are prepping for their first region schedule the next two weeks and a quick start would help. They did go 2-2 to finish the 2013 season as they changed offenses. Look for them to open things up even more this season behind QB David Abee and RBs Tate Turner and Jordan Reed. ... The Eagles are trying to get the program back on track after winning just one game over the past two seasons. QB Cody Hardwick, and FBs Taylor Murphy and Michael Seagraves should lead an improved option attack.<br /> <br /> <b>MADISON COUNTY at JACKSON COUNTY</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Panther Stadium, Jefferson <br /> -- MADISON COUNTY (1-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Beat Johnson 31-3 last week.<br /> -- JACKSON COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Season-opener. Coming off a first round playoff loss in 2013.<br /> -- HISTORY: The Red Raiders lead the series 10-0. The last meeting was in 2007, a 40-14 Madison County victory. ... The Panthers have a tough non-region schedule with White County, Rabun County, and East Hall to follow. But they went 3-3 down the stretch last year. Senior QB Jacob Lewis, who passed for 2,579 last season, returns along with JR receivers Antonio Strickland and Chase Wester and SR Caleb Smith. ... The key matchup should be the Panthers spread attack vs. the Red Raiders defense, which allowed over 30 ppg last year. Jackson County averaged just under 30 ppg on offense last year and returns many of its key weapons.<br /> <br /> <b>MILL CREEK at WEST FORSYTH</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Wolverine Stadium, Cumming<br /> -- MILL CREEK (0-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAAA): Lost 31-14 to Colquitt County last week in the Corky Kell Classic<br /> -- WEST FORSYTH (0-0, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAA): Season-opener.<br /> -- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Hawks had the early lead last week but could not hold off a relentless Colquitt offense. The Mill Creek offense, which led Class AAAAAA in scoring in 2013, will need to have a better showing against a Wolverines squad that is always tough. ... West Forsyth, however, is just 1-4 in its last four home games. Mill Creek is 8-3 in its last 11 road games. ... Hawks' QB Daniel David had 193 yards passing in last week's loss.<br /> <br /> <b>NORTH COBB at NORTH GWINNETT</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium, Suwanee<br /> -- NORTH COBB (0-1, 0-0 Region 4-AAAAAA): Lost 38-20 to Northside-Warner Robins last week.<br /> -- NORTH GWINNETT (1-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAAA): Beat No. 1 McEachern 52-49 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Bulldogs will try to avoid the letdown after last week's dramatic win. Bulldogs' QB John Urzua tossed 7 TD passes and had 490 yards passing. ... North Gwinnett is 8-1 in its last nine home games. The Warriors, however, are 4-1 in their last five road games. ... North Cobb is led by Auburn-commit at QB Tyler Queen. ... After allowing just 16.8 ppg through their first 10 games last season, the Warriors have allowed 90 points in their last two games against high-powered offenses. North Gwinnett averaged 37.8 ppg on offense last year and picked up where it left off last week.<br /> <br /> <b>NORTH FORSYTH at CHEROKEE</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Tommy Baker Field, Canton <br /> -- NORTH FORSYTH (0-0, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAA): Season-opener.<br /> -- CHEROKEE (1-0, 0-0 Region 5-AAAAAA): Beat Chattahoochee 42-7 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: North Forsyth leads series 3-1. The Raiders won 34-27 last year in Canton. ... The Raiders will try for another quick start behind SR Jesus Torres and FR Zac Slaton in their double-wing T attack. They were 3-2 on the road in 2013. ... Offense was the key last year for the Raiders. When they scored 17 or more points they were 7-0. Last year the Warriors allowed 25 ppg in their five wins but gave up 37.2 ppg in their five losses. ... Cherokee scored 20 or more points in eight games last season so expect a shootout again this year.<br /> <br /> <b>PICKENS at WHITE COUNTY</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: White County Stadium, Cleveland<br /> -- RADIO:<br /> -- PICKENS (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAA): Season-opener. The Dragons are coming off their first winning season since 2006.<br /> -- WHITE COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Season-opener. The Warriors are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and posted just their second postseason win ever.<br /> -- HISTORY: White County leads series 21-17-2. The Warriors won the last meeting in 2009, 49-7 in Cleveland. ... This should be one of the better games of the week. ... White County QB A.J. Vandiver and SR RBs Maurice Sutton, Sam Turner and Max Taylor return in what should be a devastating triple-option offense that averaged 24 ppg despite being shutout twice by Blessed Trinity and scoring just 6 points against Buford. Take out those those three games and they averaged 29 ppg against everyone else. ... The Dragons were 4-2 on the road in 2013 and averaged 30 ppg on offense. Look for some points to be scored in this one. It may come down to the final possession.<br /> <br /> <b>RIVERSIDE MILITARY at FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Ray Manus Stadium, Roswell<br /> -- RIVERSIDE MILITARY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AA): Season-opener.<br /> -- FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN (1-0, 0-0 Region 6-A): Beat Armuchee 44-17 last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: Riverside leads series 2-0. First meeting since 2005, a 36-7 RMA win. . .Eagles looking to improve on last year's first non-losing season since 2008. Look for a wide-open, high scoring game in this one. ... Riverside scored 23 or more points in eight games in 2013 and return a slew of speedy skilled players. QB Hunter Sims (brother of Blake Sims at Alabama) and Mahlik Faulk (son of former NFL great marshall Faulk) will lead what should be an explosive spread attack. ... The Paladins have scored 38 or more points in five of their last 11 games, including last week.<br /> <br /> <b>STEPHENS COUNTY at FRANKLIN COUNTY</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Ed Bryant Stadium, Carnesville<br /> -- STEPHENS COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Season-opener.<br /> -- FRANKLIN COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Stephens County leads series 35-10-1. Stephens won 21-13 last year and has won 22 of the last 25 meetings. ... Under new coach Frank Barden, the Indians will switch to a spread attack with SR QB Mason Long returning along with SR WR Isiah Mighil and SR RBs Jai Brown and Desmond Wheeler return at running back. ... The Indians need a solid start for confidence before heading into their Region 8-AAAA schedule. ... The Lions have won just three games the past two seasons combined. Defense has been the problem allowing over 37 ppg last year. ... Franklin is 1-8-1 in its last 10 season openers.<br /> <br /> <b>UNION COUNTY at TOWNS COUNTY</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee<br /> -- UNION COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AA): Season-opener<br /> -- TOWNS COUNTY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-A): Season-opener<br /> -- HISTORY: Union County leads series 27-1. The Indians lone win came in 1993. ... Towns is trending upward with win increases each of the last two seasons. But, they have one of the toughest schedules in the area in rugged 8-A and adding in the Panthers, who they have beaten just once in their history, wins may be a little harder to come in 2014. ... The Panthers are coming off their first playoff run in 13 years and return 18 starters from last year's group. JR QB Joseph Mancuso returns for Union, as do the top four receivers, including SR Robert Prunier, who reeled in over 1,000 yards in 2013.<br /> <br /> <b>WEST HALL at JOHNSON</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood<br /> -- RADIO: AM 550<br /> -- WEST HALL (0-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Season-opener.<br /> -- JOHNSON (0-1, non-region schedule): Lost 31-3 to Madison County last week.<br /> -- HISTORY: West Hall leads series 12-7-1. Spartans won 35-0 last year. ... One of the more competitive rivalries around. Each team has 6 wins in the last 12 matchups with six of those being won by a touchdown or less and three by two points or less. ... West Hall is on the rise after its first playoff appearance in 11 years last season. They return the core of last year's team, including the dynamic RB tandem of Tyquan Statham and Kwon Williams, both juniors. ... .Johnson returns 13 starters from last year's group that was just 12 points from posting a .500 record. However, the Knights ran into a good Madison County team last week. Their only score came in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Isaac Henry.<br /> <br /> <b>WINDER-BARROW at JEFFERSON</b><br /> -- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. <br /> -- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson<br /> -- WINDER-BARROW (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Season-opener<br /> -- JEFFERSON (1-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Beat Rabun County 50-14 last week at home.<br /> -- HISTORY: Jefferson leads series 20-11. However, it is the first meeting between the two schools since 1985. Winder-Barrow won last meeting 20-0 in 1985. Jefferson's last win in series was in 1983, 8-7. ... The Dragons showed off their new offense in impressive style last week in an unexpected rout of Rabun County. They scored on five straight possessions at one point in the first half. ... The Bulldoggs are looking to turn things around under new coach Heath Webb. They have increased their win total each of the past two seasons but have a tough start with the Dragons and then Gainesville in Week 3. ... Last year's season-opening win for Winder over Jackson County snapped a five-year losing streak of season-openers.
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