Wednesday June 20th, 2018 1:15AM
12:57AM ( 18 minutes ago ) News Alert

Week 3: Several area teams have chance to prove mettle in big night of football

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

This could be the week that several notheast Georgia area teams find out just what they are made of in light of several key showdowns that await Friday night.

Highlighting the action will be Class AA No. 5 Rabun County traveling to White County in a battle of unbeaten teams -- our AccessWDUN/Friday Game Night Game of the Week. The Wildcats (2-0) are coming off an impressive win over Class AAAA Stephens County while the Warriors (3-0) are perhaps the biggest surprise of the young season, having already tripled their win total from all of last year after knocking off Class AAAAAA Habersham Central last week. Both offenses have been rolling behind two of the areas most dynamic players -- senior quarterback Bailey Fisher for Rabun County and senior running back Kaleb Crane for the Warriors -- so whichever defense can contain the other's offense will be the matchups to watch.

Another intriguing area showdown sees Jackson County headed to Oakwood to face West Hall. The Panthers (3-0) are looking for their first-ever 4-0 start to a season while a young Spartans (2-1) group has turned things around since a season-opening loss to Gainesville. The key matchup will be can the West Hall defense slow down the Panthers' Noah Venable  (101 carries, 608 yards, 5 TDs, 3 100-yard games) who is on pace to shatter his own single-season rushing record (1,381 yards, 10 TDs) set last year.

Meanwhile, Archer travels to Mill Creek in a battle of top-ranked Class AAAAAAA programs. The seventh-ranked Tigers (2-0) have never beaten the third-ranked Hawks (3-0) and are coming off a bye week after handing Peachtree Ridge its second-worst defeat (52-7) in school history two weeks ago. But, the Mill Creek defense, despite losing its defensive coordinator Bill Stewart to North Gwinnett in the off-season, has not missed a beat yielding just 20 points and only two touchdowns over its last 10 quarters of work.

Also, Lanier will see if it can vault itself onto the state scene playing host to Class AAAAAA No. 6-ranked Northside-Warner Robins. It will be a test of wills between the Eagles vaunted ground game and a Lanier defense that has produced 18 tackles for loss and four turnovers in two games.

For a look at all of the night's contests involving area teams, simply scroll down. And be sure to check back with AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night 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

(Games listed in alphabetical order of visiting team)

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Mike Colwell Memorial Stadium, Blairsville
-- ANDREWS (N.C.) (2-2, 0-0 Smoky Mountain 1A): Defeated Lake View (San Angelo, Texas) 75-21 last week
-- UNION COUNTY (2-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Defeated Hayesville (N.C.) 60-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: Union County leads the series 15-1-1. The Panthers won 45-20 in 2016. The two teams are meeting for the sixth consecutive season after taking a 30-year hiatus. The only Andrews victory in the series came in 1981 (21-6) in Blairsville. The two teams tied 6-6 in 1969. ... The Wildcats have won two straight outscoring their opposition 117-21 in that span. But, they will face a Panthers offense that has scored 116 points (58 ppg), which leads all of Class AAA in scoring, in their first two contests behind Sr. QB Cole Wright, who has amassed 305 yards passing and 190 yards rushing and 8 combined TDs in just over 4 quarters of work. ... The Union County defense has six players with double-digit tackles so far and has recorded 7 TFL and forced 7 turnovers (6 fumbles, 1 INT) in its first two games. ... It is the first of three consecutive home games for the Panthers, which concludes with their region opener against No. 1-ranked GAC.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Mill  Creek Community Stadium, Hoschton
-- ARCHER (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAAAA): Ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAAAA, bye last week; defeated Peachtree Ridge 52-7 two weeks ago
-- MILL CREEK (3-0, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAAA): Ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAAAA, defeated Dacula 20-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: Mill Creek leads series 2-0. The Hawks won 31-10 in 2016. ... This is perhaps the marquee matchup of the week in the state and surely will be the toughest challenge the Hawks have faced so far. Archer put together one of the more impressive wins in the state with its thrashing of Peachtree Ridge, handing the Lions their worst defeat since a 47-0 loss to Central Gwinnett in 2004. They used a 31-point second quarter to blow open a tie game and scored the final 45 points. ... A ball-hawking Archer secondary picked off three passes and held the Lions to 9-of-16 and just 61 yards passing for the game. ... The Tigers are averaging 38.5 ppg but Mill Creek forced three Dacula turnovers last week and has allowed just 39 points (13 ppg) on the season. Mill Creek safety and South Carolina commit Jonathan Gipson had an interception, caused a fumble, then recovered it against Dacula. ... Despite just 2 returning starters and a new defensive coordinator, Mill Creek’s defense has allowed just 20 total points and only two touchdowns over its last 10 quarters.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: R. Harold Harrison Stadium, Bethlehem
-- DISCOVERY (1-2, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAAAA): Defeated Class A Pinecrest Academy 24-0 last week
-- APALACHEE (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAAA): Lost 28-12 to Union Grove last week
-- NOTABLE: Discovery leads series 1-0. The Titans won 27-10 in 2016. ... The Wildcats have had a tough schedule to start. A young offense is still trying to find its way scoring just 12.5 ppg in the early going. But, the Titans gave up 65 points to Jefferson and Cedar Shoals in the first two weeks before last week’s shutout win. ... The Titans secondary has been ball hawks with 5 INTs in their first three games. Apalachee QBs A.J. Forbing and A.J. Millbrooks have combined for 4 INTs so far on the season. ... A big fumble recovery scoop and score for a TD by Union Grove helped break open a close game in the fourth quarter.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Bill Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood
-- EAST HALL (1-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Bye last week; defeated Chestatee 59-37 two weeks ago
-- JOHNSON (0-3, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Lost 47-6 to Banks County last week
-- NOTABLE: Johnson leads series 22-16-1. East Hall won 47-21 in 2016. The Vikings have won four straight and 6 of the last 7 meetings overall in the series. ... East Hall is second in Class AAA in scoring (114, 57 ppg) sitting only behind fellow Region 7-AAA foe Union County. It looks like a bad matchup for the Knights, who have allowed the most points (148, 49.3 ppg) in AAAAA. ... However, defensively East Hall has allowed the 3rd-most points (109, 54.5 ppg) in AAA. Johnson runs a power-run attack, vastly different than the first two spread offenses the Vikings faced, which can give defenses fits. ... Neither Habersham Central nor Chestatee could find a way to slow down Vikings Sr. QB Austin Parker (the focus of our weekly Year of the Quarterback series) or Jr. RB Cambren Harrison. Johnson will need to grind out long drives on the ground to shorten the game and give East Hall fewer possessions.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: War Eagles Stadium, Gainesville
-- FANNIN COUNTY (1-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Lost 31-0 to Ringgold last week
-- CHESTATEE (1-2, 0-0 Region 7-AAAA): Lost 43-7 to Flowery Branch last week
-- NOTABLE: Fannin County leads series 3-2. Chestatee won 47-30 in 2016. The War Eagles have won the last two meetings. The last Fannin County victory came in 2004 in Chestatee’s third season. ... After a stellar performance in the season opener (12 points allowed vs. North Hall) the War Eagles defense has been roughed up the past two weeks against spread-like attacks (102 points, 51 ppg). They will get no break against the Rebels, who also employ a spread offense. ... However, Fannin County was shut out last week for the first time since 2014 (West Hall, 49-0). New QB Jr. Tyler Norton threw 3 TD passes while Cody Jacobs had a pair of TD runs in a win over Gilmer three weeks ago. ... The Chestatee defense has been hit-or-miss so far in the early going. They have given up some big plays for touchdowns but also have 10 sacks and recorded 24 TFL in three games. They have forced 10 turnovers, but 7 came in their win over North Hall. ... The Chestatee offense is averaging 28.7 ppg behind Sr. RB Nick Lyles (44-336, 5 TDs rushing; 3-97 2 TDs receiving) and Sr. QB Storm Yarbrough (31-54, 481 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INT). ... Fannin has dropped its last four road contests.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Maginnis Field, Gainesville
-- GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY (2-0, 1-0 Region 8-A): Defeated Towns County 17-7 last week
-- RIVERSIDE MILITARY ACADEMY (0-2, 0-1 Region 8-A): Lost 17-14 to Providence Christian last week
-- NOTABLE: George Walton leads series 6-3. The Bulldogs won 28-0 in 2016. George Walton has won three straight in the series. All 10 meetings have been since 2002. ... It has not been a good matchup for the Eagles in recent years being outscored 118-6 during the current losing streak to the Bulldogs. ... The Eagles showed vast improvement on defense last week holding Providence to 17 points after being torched by Prince Avenue for 56 the previous week. But, the offense is still finding its way under a new system and the Bulldogs pose another tough task as they have yielded just 7 points all season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Carnesville
-- RADIO: 99.3 WCON
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (1-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAAA): Lost 24-21 to White County last week
-- FRANKLIN COUNTY (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Bye last week; lost 28-0 to Stephens County two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Habersham Central leads series 16-3. The Raiders won 21-14 in 2016. It is just the fourth meeting between the two teams since 1987. ... The Raiders trailed most of the game to White County but got 4th quarter TD runs from Baylor Hinshaw and A.J. Curry to get within a field goal. But the Raiders were stopped on downs in Warriors territory in the final moments as the comeback came up short. Curry completed 19 of 31 passes for 235 yards. Jim Barnett had 8 catches for 79 yards and Hinshaw added 94 yards rushing. ... A young, rebuilding Lions offense, meanwhile, has struggled mightily and has yet to score in 2017. But, they had a week off to work out the kinks and the Raiders defense, which showed improvement last week after yielding 55 points in their opener to East Hall, will need another solid performance.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Spartan Field, Oakwood
-- RADIO: 1029 FM
-- JACKSON COUNTY (3-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Defeated Lumpkin County 35-7 last week
-- WEST HALL (2-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAAA): Defeated Washington-Wilkes 20-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: West Hall leads series 6-5. The Spartans won 42-0 in 2016. ... West Hall has won 5 straight in the series going back to 1994 but last year was the first meeting between the two schools since 1999. ... This should be a tremendous matchup between the Spartans defense, which has yielded just one touchdown since a loss to Gainesville in their opener, and the Panthers’ ground attack and Noah Venable. ... Jackson County is averaging over 250 yards a game rushing behind Venable (101 carries, 608 yards, 5 TDs, 3 100-yard games) who is on pace to shatter his own single-season rushing record (1,381 yards, 10 TDs) set last year. ... The Spartans defense gave up just 122 yards rushing to a powerful Tigers ground game last week. The West Hall offense, behind a slew of new faces, has been showing steady improvement each game. RB Quentin Smith ran for one score and threw for a TD on a halfback pass while QB Michael Thompson also had a touchdown run. ... A win for the Panthers would give them their first 4-0 start to a season in program history.

-- WHEN: 8 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Field, Commerce
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (1-1, 0-1 Region 8-A): Lost 48-0 to Athens Academy last week
-- COMMERCE (2-0, 1-0 Region 8-A): Defeated Hebron Christian 29-26 last week
-- NOTABLE: Commerce leads series 5-0. The Tigers won 42-7 in 2016. ... Commerce was pushed to the limit last week by a much-improved Hebron squad having to rally from a 12-10 halftime deficit. ... The Lions were blitzed by the Spartans yielding all 48 points in the first half as Athens Academy scored on all 7 first half possessions. ... Lakeview’s spread attack behind Alec Bornhorst was shut out for the first time since last October. ... It won’t get any easier for the Lions this week facing a Tigers option attack that piled up 239 yards last week, getting three scored from Dylan Deaton and one from Easley Smith.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega
-- MADISON COUNTY (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 42-20 to Elbert County last week
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (0-2, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Lost 35-7 to Jackson County last week
-- NOTABLE: Madison County leads series 2-1. The Red Raiders won 27-7 in 2016. All four meetings have been since 2012. ... Both teams came into 2017 with high hopes and have struggled against tough schedules to this point. The Indians have allowed the 5th-most points in AAA (101, 50.5 ppg) and have scored the 9th-fewest points (21, 10.5 ppg) on offense. Madison County has been held to just 26 points (13.0 ppg) by two good defenses (Jackson County, Elbert County) after averaging just under 20 ppg in 2016. ... Turnovers have been a problem for Lumpkin County, which had 5 in a loss to White County that lead to 35 points. ... The Indians have not started a season 0-3 since 2013.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Dragon Stadium, Jasper
-- NORTH HALL (0-2, 0-0 Region 7-AAA): Bye last week; lost 38-0 to Flowery Branch two weeks ago
-- PICKENS (1-1, 0-0 Region 6-AAAA): Lost 39-28 to Pepperell last week
-- NOTABLE: North Hall leads series 17-9. The Trojans won 16-8 i 2016. ... North Hall has won 8 of the 9 meetings since the series resumed in 2002. The Trojans have won five straight overall and are 7-5 all-time in Jasper. ... A rebuilding North Hall defense has struggled in the early going allowing 80 points (40 ppg). The Dragons are averaging 41 ppg so far and are piling up nearly 550 yards per game in a very balanced attack. Jr. RB Robert Davis is averaging 13.7 yards per carry and also has a 94-yard kickoff return for a TD this season. ... The 12 points for the North Hall offense so far is the worst two-game stretch for the Trojan since scoring just 6 points combined in losses to North Oconee and Buford in 2014. But, the current Trojans are reworking an offensive line and RBs Jack Brown and Cutter Sanford are slowly returning from offseason injuries.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Norcross Stadium, Norcross
-- NORTH GWINNETT (2-1, 0-0 Region 6-AAAAAAA): Defeated Hillgrove 33-9 last week
-- NORCROSS (1-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAAAA): Bye last week; defeated Collins Hill 18-10 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Norcross leads series 15-8. The Blue Devils won 38-24 in 2016. Norcross has won four straight and 5 of the last 6 meetings between the old region rivals. ... The Bulldogs have shown steady improvement under new coach Bill Stewart. They have increased their scoring each week (28-31-33) while the defense has allowed fewer points each week (31-28-9). ... Although the Blue Devils have dominated the series of late, North Gwinnett has won 3 of the last 4 played at Norcross Stadium. However, they will still be without starting QB Cade Fortin (Texas A&M-commit), who is out indefinitely after suffering a leg injury two weeks ago. Fellow Sr. QB Jimmy Urzua has filled in nicely. He was 8-for-14 for 102 yards and 2 TDs passing and added another 38 yards rushing against Hillgrove. ... The Norcross ground game has struggled so far. The Blue Devils were held to minus-10 yards against Colquitt County and had just 35 yards rushing on 21 attempts against Collins Hill.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Lanier Community Stadium, Sugar Hill
-- NORTHSIDE, WARNER ROBINS (2-1, 0-0 Region 7-AAAAAA): Ranked No. 6 in Class AAAAAA, defeated Westside-Macon 17-3 last week
-- LANIER (1-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAAA): Bye last week; lost 17-3 to South Gwinnett two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Northside leads series 1-0. The Eagles won 38-7 in 2016. ... The Longhorns have gotten the balance they want on offense with 318 yards passing behind Jr. QB Zach Calzada and 313 yards rushing behind a trio of RBs with 65 or more yards each. However, Calzada also has 6 INTs over the first two games, which killed potential scoring drives, especially against South Gwinnett, and put the defense in some short-yardage holes. ... The Eagles defense has righted itself after allowing 28 points in their opener to arch-rival Warner Robins surrendering just 9 points in their two wins since. Offensively Northside is led by Jr. RB Daniel Neal, who has 290 yards and 4 TDs and 47 carries in three games. The Eagles throw only when necessary. ... The Lanier defense has been stellar as well. The Longhorns have 18 TFL to go with 4 turnovers.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: East Jackson Stadium, Commerce
-- OGLETHORPE COUNTY (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-AA): Lost 43-0 to Temple last week
-- EAST JACKSON (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-AAA): Bye last week; lost 42-13 to Lakeview Academy two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: East Jackson leads series 4-1. The Eagles won 28-14 in 2016. ... A young Eagles squad struggled in its first two games so last week’s bye should have given them time to work out some of the kinks. They also get a Patriots team that has been struggling for some time. ... Oglethorpe County has lost 13 straight, 19 of its last 20 games, and is just 3-37 overall since 2013. ... The East Jackson defense has yielded 90 points in its first two games but was replacing 9 starters coming into the season. The Patriots offense has not scored more than 13 points in any of its last eight games going back to last season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: White County Stadium, Cleveland
-- RADIO: www.wrwh
-- RABUN COUNTY (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AA): Ranked No. 5 in Class AA, defeated Stephens County 28-6 last week
-- WHITE COUNTY (3-0, 0-0 Region 7-AAAA): Defeated Habersham Central 24-21 last week
-- NOTABLE: Rabun County leads series 25-10. The Wildcats won 49-7 in 2016. Rabun County has won 8 of the last 9 meetings going back to 1988. The last White County win came in 2001 in Tiger. ... It is just the fourth meeting between the two school’s since 1997, when current Rabun County coach Lee Shaw was coaching the Warriors. ... White County has been one of the biggest surprises of the young season, already tripling their win total from a year ago. They have done it with a new spread attack that features Coca-Cola United Player of the Week Kaleb Crane, who has 352 yards rushing and 7 TDs to this point. Fr. QB J Ben Haynes has been efficient running the Warriors attack. ... The Warriors defense has been opportunistic forcing 10 turnovers so far but will get its biggest test of the season so far in a Wildcats attack that is among the most explosive in the state. ... Rabun County is led by Sr.QB Bailey Fisher (20-of-29 for 368 yards and 4 TDs passing; 226 yards, 4 TDs rushing and a pair of 100-yard games). But it was the Wildcats defense that sparked the win last week holding a potent Stephens County offense to 244 yards and just one late score after the Wildcats led 28-0.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Falcons Field, Flowery Branch
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (1-1, 0-0 Region 8-AAAA): Lost 28-6 to Rabun County last week
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-AAAAA): Defeated Chestatee 43-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: Series is tied 2-2. Stephens County won 41-7 in 2016. ... The Falcons could not have asked for a better start with a new coach and new systems on both sides of the ball. The offense, behind So. QB Elijah Gainey and Jr. RB Malik Damons, has been nearly unstoppable averaging 40.5 ppg and nearly 350 yards a game. Damons already has two 100-yard games in limited action and Gainey has thrown for 190 yards and 3 TDs so far. The Flowery Branch defense has yielded just 7 points and that came with just 3 seconds left in the game to the War Eagles last week. ... The Indians ran into a Wildcats buzzsaw in Bailey Fisher and Co. last week after shutting out Franklin County in their opener. Sr. QB Jackson Bell and RBs Hassan Brown and Tracy Lowery managed 244 yards of offense but could not find the end zone until late in the game. ... Both teams could get caught looking past this week with huge matchups next week. The Indians take on arch-rival and rejuvenated Habersham Central while the Falcons will travel to Jefferson in Ben Hall’s return to where he coached the past four seasons.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Wolverine Field, Watkinsville
-- TOWNS COUNTY (1-1, 0-1 Region 8-A): Lost 17-7 to George Walton last week
-- PRINCE AVENUE CHRISTIAN (3-0, 2-0 Region 8-A): Ranked No. 2 in Class A, defeated Athens Christian 30-24
-- NOTABLE: Prince Avenue leads series 5-0. The Wolverines won 47-13 in 2016. All five meetings have been since 2006. ... It has not been a favorable matchup for the Indians, who have been outscored by an average of 46-7 in the series’ history. But, they gave a good George Walton team all it could handle last week in the closest game ever in that series. ... The Indians managed just 31 total yards of offense but trailed just 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter. Towns County got its only points on a Cole Ledford 90-yard kickoff return. ... The Wolverines trailed 14-0 before rallying for the victory last week. ... Prince Avenue QB Grant Roland had two TD runs and a TD throw for the Wolverines. They needed a Christian Parrish INT in the end zone late in the game to preserve the victory.

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