Monday March 18th, 2019 5:59PM

Week 4 previews: 8-2A begins region play; GHS, Habersham look to break series streaks

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
  Contact Editor

As the non-region schedule winds down for most northeast Georgia programs, Region 8-2A jumps fully into league play this week as all three area teams -- Banks County, Rabun County, Union County -- face long road trips to open their push toward the playoffs.

Two Region 8-A teams, Commerce and Towns County, also have big region contests this week. Meanwhile, there are several huge rivalry games on tap as well as the rest of the area looks to build momentum for their region slates that will begin over the next two weeks.

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

Among the more interesting non-region tilts on Friday sees Gainesville travel to Jefferson in a battle of two of northeast Georgia’s -- and the state's -- most successful programs (NOTE: Here's a video feature on the contest). The Dragons are coming off a big win over a South Carolina team, while the Red Elephants are still looking for their first win in the Heath Webb-era after back-to-back gut-wrenching losses in the final moments.

North Hall and White County will play for the 46th time in Cleveland with the Warriors entering on the back of a two-game losing skid. However, White County has beaten the Trojans two consecutive years and won four of the last five in the series.

Meanwhile, Habersham Central heads to Toccoa to face arch-rival Stephens County with its best chance in years to snap what is now a 13-game losing streak to the Indians in the storied series. The Raiders (3-1) have won three straight this campaign.

(Games listed in alphabetical order of visiting team)
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Redskin Stadium at Stephens Park, Social Circle
-- BANKS COUNTY (1-2, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Defeated East Jackson 50-10 last week
-- SOCIAL CIRCLE (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Bye last week; defeated Cross Keys 62-0 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Banks County leads series 17-5. Banks County won 38-6 in 2017 in Social Circle. The two teams met every year from 1978 to 1995 and this is the just the fifth meeting since then, all since 2010, with the Leopards winning the last four overall. Banks County has won 10 of the last 11, with the last Redskins win in the series coming in 1995 in Social Circle. ... The Redskins have outscored their first two opponents 93-0 but Stone Mountain and Cross Keys are a combined 0-8 on the season and have allowed 46.1 ppg combined. ... Banks County coach Jay Reid got his first win as a head coach last week as their new wing-T offense finally took flight after being shutout by a pair of solid defenses in Jackson County and Franklin County. Terrance Walker scored 5 touchdowns on runs 35, 2, 2, 48 and 65 yards. ... Since returning to 8-2A in 2016, the Leopards are 9-0 against teams not named Rabun County (0-2) or Elbert County (1-1). Meanwhile, Social Circle is 4-8 in region play over the same span with all four wins coming against Oglethorpe County and Putnam County. The Indians are 0-8 against the rest of the region. ... Social Circle is averaging 250 yards a game rushing behind RB Chandler Ball (23 car., 200 yards).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Rebel Stadium, Blue Ridge
-- CHESTATEE (0-3, 0-0 Region 7-4A): Lost 56-41 to East Hall last week
-- FANNIN COUNTY (1-2, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Lost 49-7 to Union County last week
-- NOTABLE: Series is tied 3-3. Chestatee won 31-7 in 2017 in Gainesville. The War Eagles have won three straight in the series. The last Fannin win came in 2004 in Blue Ridge. ... Both teams need a win for momentum heading into region play. Chestatee opens 7-4A next week against Denmark while Fannin has a week off before taking on Cherokee Bluff in 7-3A in two weeks. ... Something will have to give, however, as the Rebels have lost 5 straight at home while the War Eagles have dropped four consecutive road games. ... Chestatee So. QB Christian Charles had a huge game last week rushing for 292 yards and five touchdowns and was 20 of 44 passing for 253 yards. On the season Charles has 858 of the War Eagles’ 978 total yards (87 percent of the offense) but he also has accounted for all 6 Chestatee TOs in the first three games, 5 fumbles and 1 INT. ... WR Seth Pressley had 11 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown last week for the War Eagles. ... The Rebels defense has created 4 turnovers (3 fumbles) in the first three games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood
-- CROSS KEYS (0-4, 0-0 Region 5-5A, playing non-region schedule): Lost 50-0 to Class 2A No. 2-ranked Callaway last week
-- JOHNSON (3-1, 0-0 Region 8-5A): Defeated Riverside Military Academy 30-14 last week
-- NOTABLE: Johnson leads series 3-0. The two teams have not since 1973, a 27-12 Johnson win in Atlanta. ... The Knights are off to their best start since opening 4-0 in 2003. A win over the Indians would also match the 2003 season’s 4-1 start. ... Sr. QB Sam Corbett and Jr. RB  Jacob Cadle combined for 304 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 57 carries for Johnson last week. ... The Knights’ defense forced two first quarter safeties and held a good RMA offense scoreless through the first three quarters. ... Cross Keys has lost 14 straight and continues to struggle. The Indians are yielding a whopping 51.2 ppg so far, have scored just 12 total points, and have been shutout in three consecutive games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Denmark Stadium, Alpharetta
-- DAWSON COUNTY (3-0, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated West Hall 45-14 last week
-- DENMARK (3-0, 0-0 Region 7-4A): Defeated Forsyth Central 7-3 last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... Denmark is in the midst of its inaugural season and started strong. However, the Danes wins have come against teams that are 3-8 so far on the season. ... The Tigers are by far the best Denmark has faced. Their spread option attack has been devastating and explosive. They are averaging 45 ppg and over 400 yards on the ground with 6 different players, led by SeVaughn Clark (42-334, 6 TDs) and Ahmad Kamara (33-336, 4 TDs) already with 100 yards or more on the season. They have 10 runs of 40 or more yards and have just 2 fumbles in 127 attempts on the season. ... The Danes had their biggest test so that week holding an undefeated Bulldogs team that was averaging 33 ppg to just one field goal. However, they managed just a touchdown after scoring 82 points (41 ppg) in their first two games. ... It is the final non-region game for both teams as they head to region play next week.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- RADIO: 94.5 FM/1240 AM The Lake
-- GAINESVILLE (0-3, 0-0 Region 8-6A): Bye last week; lost 16-15 to Class 7A Lambert two weeks ago
-- JEFFERSON (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Ranked No. 8 in Class 3A; defeated Southside (S.C.) 31-7 last week in home opener
-- NOTABLE: Jefferson leads series 2-0. The Dragons won 33-3 in 2017 at City Park. All three meetings have come since 2016. ... The Red Elephants are off to their worst start since opening the 1992 season 0-2-1 but they also are just two defensive stops from being 2-1. They lost their last two games by a total of 4 points, including a game-winning field goal by North Forsyth on the final play. ... Gainesville has not opened a season 0-4 since 1964 and only twice (also in 1950) have the Red Elephants ever dropped their first four games to start a season. Jefferson has not opened a season 2-2 since 2010. ... Jefferson was expected to roll out a new spread attack in 2018. But instead the Dragons have relied on their powerful run game averaging 242 yards yards rushing with four players -- Colby Clark (44-242), Donsha Gaither (15-168), Jacob Thompson (14-105), Kade McNally (17-102) -- all having rushed for over 100 yards and combined for 9 TDs so far on the season. However, Jefferson is minus-1 in turnover ratio on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Reservation, Toccoa
-- RADIO: WCON 99.3 FM
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (3-1, 0-0 Region 8-6A): Defeated Franklin County 35-20 last week
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (2-2, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Lost 41-14 to Rabun County last week
-- NOTABLE: Stephens County leads series 29-11. The Indians won 49-46 in 2017. Stephens County has won 13 straight overall and 8 straight at The Reservation. The last Raiders win in Toccoa was in 1993 (6-3). It is one of the oldest rivalries in northeast Georgia. ... The Raiders are riding a 3-game win streak behind a balanced offensive attack that is averaging 440 yards a game and 34.7 ppg. Sr. QB Tre Luttrell has 10 TD passes (5 to Dontarius Bailey) and has added a pair of rushing TDs as well. ... The Indians had the lead in the third quarter against Rabun last week but gave up 28 unanswered points, including a long punt return for a touchdown and several big runs to the Wildcats. ... Stephens has lost two straight to ranked teams but has not lost three consecutive games in a season since dropping four in a row in 2009. The Indians were held to half of their season rushing average last week gaining just 71 yards on the ground. ... The Indians also are minus-2 in turnover ratio on the season with 4 INTs and 4 fumbles on offense in their first four games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Eagle Stadium, Commerce
-- MADISON COUNTY (1-3, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Lost 24-14 to Hart County last week
-- EAST JACKSON (1-2, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Lost 50-10 to Banks County last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... East Jackson needs a win to garner some momentum before opening a tough region slate next week on the road against Jefferson. The Eagles have struggled on offense scoring just 20 points (6.7 ppg) and have allowed 99 points (33.0 ppg) on defense. ... The Red Raiders are in the exact same position as last season when they eventually advanced to the state playoffs. But they too have struggled on offense averaging just 18 ppg and have yielded 25.7 ppg on defense.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
-- NEWTON (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-7A): Defeated Arabia Mountain 41-21 last week
-- BUFORD (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-5A): Ranked No. 3 in Class 5A; bye last week; lost 19-14 to Deerfield (Fla.) two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two schools. ... The Wolves have had two weeks to detox from a tough loss in a battle of national powers. Now they get the first of two consecutive Region 8-7A teams in the Rams, who have made the playoffs each of the past two seasons in a tough region that features Grayson and Archer. ... The Rams have a 2-headed QB attack in Neal Howard and LT Stowers, who both are averaging over 125 yards passing a game with three WRs -- Robert Lewis, Jerrol Hines, Michael Mathison -- with 20 combined catches and 448 yards and 4 TDs (through 2 weeks of stats). They also have Sr. RB Adarius Thomas, who is averaging 94 ypg on the ground. The are averaging 32.7 ppg on the season. Buford counters with a defense that is allowing just 13.3 ppg. ... The Wolves offense has gone back to more of its roots with a punishing ground game paced by Derrian Brown, who has 400 yards and 8 TDs on the young season as the featured back. The Rams defense is allowing just 17 ppg and has 18 TFL and 10 sacks with 4 turnovers so far in 2018. ... The danger for the Wolves is not looking ahead to next week’s titanic showdown with Class 7A No. 7 Archer on the road.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Warrior Stadium, Cleveland
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM
-- NORTH HALL (3-0, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Bye last week; defeated Cherokee 27-17 two weeks ago
-- WHITE COUNTY (1-2, 0-0 Region 7-4A): Lost 42-35 to Pickens last week
-- NOTABLE: White County leads series 23-22. The Warriors won 28-18 in 2017. White County has won two straight and 4 of the last 5 meetings. The two teams have played every season since 2002 and the Trojans are 11-5 vs. the Warriors in the span. ... White County has dropped two straight to begin a 5-game stretch against teams that are 15-1 so far in 2018. They need some momentum with 2017 Class 4A state runner-up and No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Marist heading to Cleveland next week. ... Defense has been the issue for the Warriors, who have allowed 76 points (38 ppg) during the losing streak. But that has come facing teams in Habersham Central (6A) and Pickens (4A) who are among the state leaders in offense in their respective classifications. ... The Trojans will offer another huge challenge for the White County defenders as they are averaging 41.7 ppg in their devastating wing-T attack that features David Seavey, Daniel Jackson, Drew Faulkner, and JT Fair, who are averaging 288 yards rushing a game combined. ... The Warriors spread attack, led by So. QB J Ben Haynes, has averaged 32.7 ppg but is facing a North Hall defense that has allowed just 24 total points (8.0 ppg ). ... Both teams open region play next week.

-- WHEN: 8 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Commerce
-- PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN (2-1, 0-1 Region 8-A): Lost 63-7 to Class A No. 5 Prince Avenue Christian last week
-- COMMERCE (1-2, 1-0 Region 8-A): Ranked No. 10 in Class A; bye last week; defeated Hart County 33-20 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Commerce leads series 4-0. The Tigers won 55-0 in 2017. The Tigers have dominated the series outscoring The Storm 212-10 in the four contests. ... After a 2-0 start The Storm was blown away by the Wolverines last week and faces another huge challenge in the Commerce wishbone attack. The Tigers are averaging more than 35 ppg behind a bruising ground game that is paced by QB Nate Ray and RB Dylan Deaton. The Tigers rushed for nearly 350 yards against Class 3A Hart County. ... Commerce has won 19 straight home games against unranked teams going back to the 2013 playoffs. Providence Christian is 1-21 all-time on the road, though The Storm did pick up their first-ever road victory two weeks ago against King’s Ridge Christian.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: War Eagle Stadium, Eatonton
-- RABUN COUNTY (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Ranked No. 6 in Class 2A; defeated Stephens County 41-14 last week
-- PUTNAM COUNTY (1-2, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Bye last week; lost 31-14 to Greene County two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Rabun County leads series 2-0. The Wildcats won 59-0 in 2017 in Tiger. They took a 57-0 win in 2016 in Eatonton. ... The Wildcats are 6-0 in region openers under Lee Shaw. ... This could be a favorable matchup again for the Wildcats, whose offense is beginning to take shape behind Fr. QB Gunner Stockton averaging 46.5 ppg the last two games. The War Eagles’ defense has allowed 32 ppg on the season but in their two losses they have given up 89 points (44.5 ppg). ... Rabun’s frontline defense has yielded just 34 points in the first three games in 2018 (11.1 ppg) which is down from last year’s 17.6 ppg over the same stretch. The Wildcats’ defense allowed just 7.0 ppg in region play in 2017 and only Elbert County managed more than 7 in any one game. ... The War Eagles have not beaten a team with a winning record since knocking off Oconee County in 2015.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Keith Henderson Stadium, Monroe
-- TOWNS COUNTY (2-1, 0-0 Region 8-A): Defeated Andrews (N.C.) 21-19 last week
-- GEORGE WALTON ACADEMY (3-0, 0-0 Region 8-A): Defeated Hebron Christian 35-14 last week
-- NOTABLE: George Walton leads series 4-0. The Bulldogs won 17-7 in 2017. ... The Indians begin a brutal 5-game 8-A stretch against teams that are 12-3 in the first three weeks of the season. They have 2017 Class A Private semifinalist Athens Academy next week at home. ...  The Indians have played the Bulldogs the last two seasons with game being just a one possession game until late the fourth quarter. ... The Indians have the offensive weapons to with QB Trent Bradshaw (19-for-30, 257 yards, 3 TD, 4INT passing; 20-238, 1 TD rushing), RB/WR Alan Gillis (23-237 rushing; 7-96 receiving), Tyler Swanger (25-100 rushing) to move the ball but the Bulldogs defense has allowed just 14 total points. ... The George Walton offense scored on its first three possessions, last week, each on long drives, and never trailed. ... The Bulldogs are averaging 28.7 ppg while the Indians defense has given up 88 points (29.3 ppg) but 45 points came against a powerful Union County spread attack.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Rose Bowl, Monticello
-- UNION COUNTY (3-0, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Defeated Fannin County 49-7 last week
-- MONTICELLO (1-2, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Lost 27-23 to North Cobb Christian last week
-- NOTABLE: Monticello leads series 2-0. The Purple Hurricanes won 35-6 in 1995 and 54-9 in 1994 when both were members of Region 8-A. ... The first meeting between the two teams in 23 years. The Panthers are off to another hot start beginning the season 3-0 for the fifth straight campaign. And they are doing it with new pieces in place like Jr. QB Pierson Allison, who is averaging 204 yards a game with 5 TDs passing so far. Jr. WR Kyle Morlock has 12 catches through his first two games in 2018 after catching just 12 total passes in all of 2017. ... The Union defense has given up just 20 points (6.7 ppg) in its first three contests. Panthers’ DB Chayton Schafer had 11 solo tackles, three tackles for losses and an INT against Fannin County. ... The Hurricanes two losses have been by a total of just 8 points to Mount de Sales (3-0) and North Cobb (3-0). They have dropped three straight region openers and are just 2-16 in their last 18 region openers going back to the 2000 season.

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