Week 4 of the high school football season could best be described as messy. Many games were not played due to weather, but the ones that were continued to teach us about this young season.
Here are five things we learned during Week 4:
1. Mother nature has no regard for high school football
No defense could guard scoreboards in North Georgia football stadiums Friday night as well as a few ill-timed lightning strikes did. Games all over the state were delayed, called early, postponed or outright cancelled thanks to a string of storms that moved through between 7 p.m. and midnight. Locally, six games were either cancelled or postponed (Flowery Branch-Winder-Barrow, Cherokee Bluff-Athens Academy, Jefferson-Southside, East Jackson-Banks County (which played Saturday), Jackson County-Apalachee, Habersham Central-Franklin County), two were called early and the East Hall-Chestatee matchup sat through more than two hours of delay during halftime before finishing after midnight. The only silver lining to the lightning-filled clouds was that none of the games being played in the area were region games, meaning none will have an immediate impact on playoff races. However, Friday was a firm reminder that just like any other outdoor event, football is at the whim of mother nature.
2. Rabun County, Union County again look like the class of 8-2A
Last year, Rabun County and Union County played in the final week of the regular season with the Region 8-2A championship trophy on the line. While region play doesn't begin until this Friday, it looks like the two mountain rivals could again be the teams to beat in the region. Both looked impressive last Friday, with the Wildcats (3-0) rolling past Stephens County in Toccoa 44-7 and the Panthers (3-0) pulling away from an improved Fannin County team 33-14 in Blue Ridge. While Banks County and Elbert County will certainly have their say in the region race, both will have to find a way to contend with the Union and Rabun offenses, which have averaged 47.3 and 38.6 points per game respectively, and are led by two of the top quarterbacks in Georgia, Pierson Allison and Gunner Stockton. The two teams will open Region 8-2A play Friday night, with Rabun County playing host to Putnam County and Union County playing host to Monticello.
3. Riverside Military shows mettle and once again looks like a Class A-Private spoiler
Riverside Military flexed its muscles early in Friday's matchup with Johnson, leading 24-7 in the 3rd quarter against a Class 5A school they lost to in 2018. While the Knights (2-2) showed resolve, battling back to tie the game, the Eagles responded, driving for a game-winning touchdown by quarterback Shad Dabney with just over a minute to play and hanging on for a 32-24 win. The win shows Riverside (2-1) may be ahead of where they were this time last year, which could be a very good sign of things to come. The Eagles started last season 1-3 before winning four of their next five to race into the Class A-Private playoffs where they grabbed their first-ever GHSA playoff win. A win over a Class 5A school is worth its weight in gold for Class A's all-important power ratings, which determine which teams in the classification make the postseason. Perhaps just as important as the power ratings boost, is the confidence boost Riverside may have gained by surviving the Knights' comeback bid for a huge road win.
4. East Jackson keeps improving, looks like an 8-3A dark horse
First year East Jackson head coach Cameron Pettus said he believed the Eagles were a diamond in the rough when he took over the program earlier this year. He looks like a prophet now. The same team that went 1-9 in 2018 and hasn't seen a winning season since 2009 now sits at 3-0 after a dominating 38-0 win over Banks County Saturday night. Not only is East Jackson winning, they're looking better each and every week. They fell behind Lumpkin County early in the opening game before rallying to win by three, then outplayed an improved but still struggling Oglethorpe County team in Week 3 before Saturday's blowout of the Leopards. It was the largest margin of victory for the program since another win over Banks County back in 2010, and it may have been a message that the Eagles could be a factor in what looks to be a highly competitve Region 8-3A. Perennial powerhouses like Jefferson and Hart County may have one more team to worry about.
5. White County has exercised some 2018 demons
The White County Warriors' 2018 season could best be described as frustrating. Despite making the playoffs for the second year in a row, the team finished 3-8 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to a Pickens team that also beat them during the regular season. Most painful were the close losses, White County lost four games they led at halftime. Those frustrations made Friday night's win over Pickens in Cleveland all the more satisfying. White County (2-1) used two big defensive stands to hold off the Dragons 27-20. The Warriors once again led at the half, offering them the opportunity to suffer another 2018-like setback or capture a big early win. They chose the latter. The Warriors will likely need the improvement if they hope to once again compete in an extremely difficult Region 7-4A, but Pickens was one of the best teams in Class 4A in 2018, so they may just be up to the task.