Tuesday October 26th, 2021 9:01AM

Coaches Corner: Key region games headline Week 7

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Week 6 definitely showcased a bunch of talent around northeast Georgia. 

Jefferson proved its the No. 1 team in Class 4A with a big win over No. 8 Flowery Branch in a steady downpour, Dawson County showed off in the rain, beating No. 7 White County, North Hall's offense continue churning behind a massive run game led by Clark Howell and Cherokee Bluff kept rolling in the win over Gilmer. 

Week 7 is sure to provide more fireworks with the annual rival battle between North Hall and White County headlining the action. This year, the game means just a bit more with region positioning on the line. Buford will try to keep the offense rolling against an athletic Habersham Central, Commerce opens region play against Greene County, and Bluff travels down McEver Road to take on Region 7-3A foe, West Hall. 

Friday Game Night checked in with the area’s coaches to find out how Week 5 played out, and what are the keys to getting a win this week.

You can track these games on the FGN twitter page @FridayGameNight  or the live scoreboard at Below are comments from the area’s coaches:

Buford's Bryant Appling on playing Habersham Central ... 

"I know that they are a very athletic, tough, and disciplined team that is playing really good football right now. Coach [Benji] Harrison has done a great job since arriving at Habersham and definitely has our respect."

On the keys to a win ...

"Keys are to neutralize their backfield starting with their quarterback. They run the offense through him and he is one of the most Athletic QB's we will see all season. Play efficient and mistake-free on special teams, control the clock on offense by running it and taking the throws they give us." 

Chestatee's Shaun Conley says the off week came at a perfect time ... 

"We had several players banged up from the first 4 games. We were able to slow things down a bit in practice and work on the details as well as limit the contact thru the week. It was a productive week for us."

On playing a solid North Oconee team ... 

"North Oconee is arguably one of the best teams in our classification. They have played some extremely strong competition leading up to the region schedule (I think 3 of the 5 teams they have played are ranked in the top 10 in their respective classifications). They have good size up front on both sides of the ball as well as a good deal of athletic ability on both sides at the skill positions. Their QB [Bubba Chandler] is being recruited by Clemson to play both football and baseball.  It will be a great challenge for us. Our players are excited about the challenge as well as the opportunity to get to play another Friday night."

Cherokee Bluff's Tommy Jones playing West Hall ...

"West Hall has a well-coached and talented football team. In order for us to be successful, it is imperative that we eliminate some costly mistakes that are taking too many yards away and potential points off the board. We need to play as fundamentally clean as possible at a high level of speed." 

Commerce's Michael Brown on playing Greene County to open Region 8-A play ... 

"Greene is very athletic and well-coached. They play hard on both sides of the ball. We will need to continue to improve on both sides of the ball and improve our practice habits which are not as consistent as we would like."

East Jackson's Cameron Pettus on playing No. 3 Oconee County ... 

"I know that Oconee might look even better than they did last season when they finished 2nd in the state in 4A -- by far the best team we have faced so far. They are very solid in all areas, they are big, strong, fast, and fundamentally sound."

On the keys to the game ... 

"We have to continue to get better offensively. I feel each week we are getting more consistent which allows us to capitalize and score points. The defense of Oconee does not give up yards or points so we have to have our best game yet with execution to score points. Defensively, we just have to play more physical, play faster and tackle better.  Special teams have to be solid in all areas. I felt last week, we did some really good things but we also had breakdowns. This week to be in this game we have to play our best game in all three phases."

Gainesville's Heath Webb on playing Region 6-7A foe Lambert ... 

Lambert has greatly improved since we played them last season. The new coaching staff there has done a great job as evidenced by their 4-1 start to the season. They play a physical brand of football on both sides of the ball that we will have to match.

On the keys to the game...

"To beat them, we will have to limit their big-play wide receiver Kojo Antwi. He's a game-changer. We've also got to contain an athletic QB. Our offensive line must win their individual battles and we've got to win the turnover battle."

Lakeview's Lee Shaw on playing No. 4 Fellowship Christian to open region play ... 

"This will be a tremendous challenge for us. Fellowship is a program that really sets the benchmark in our region. They are ranked No. 4 in the state and for good reason. They are talented and very well-coached in all three phases of the game. They run the wing-T very well and have several running backs that are dang good ballplayers. Defensively, they are very sound in their scheme and play great technique. You certainly don’t stop a team like this, you just hope you can slow them down enough to give your team a chance for success. We were without four starters versus Coosa last Friday and it showed. But we still had a chance to win that one. We will be without them again against Fellowship. We could make all kinds of excuses not to play well but that’s not in our identity. We will play with Relentless Effort and that in itself will give us a chance to compete."

Lumpkin County's Caleb Sorrells on playing Gilmer ... 

"We have to keep focusing on us. The more disciplined we can be, the better our chances. You can tell that Gilmer has had a year under Coach [Kevin] Saunders and that they have a better understanding of their schemes on both sides of the ball -- we have to match that."

North Hall's David Bishop on White County ... 

"The key to our offensive improvement has been simple, get better each day by focusing on the things we need to work on, and put ourselves in the best situations with down and distance."

On the keys to the game ...

"The keys to beating White County are to limit our turnovers on offense, control the pace of the game while on offense as well as the clock and keep pace with scoring.  On defense, we have to limit big plays and make them drive the ball and make plays when you have the opportunity."

Rabun's Jaybo Shaw on playing Class 6A Pope ... 

"Pope is a very well-coached team that plays extremely hard and their coaching staff does a really good job of putting their guys in spots to be successful. We will have to play with relentless effort and ultimately play our brand of football."

West Hall's Krofton Montgomery on Cherokee Bluff ... 

"Cherokee Bluff is well-coached by Coach [Tommy] Jones and he does a great job of putting players in positions to make plays. Offensively they rely a lot on No. 28 [Jayquan Smith] and he is a really good running back that gets better as the game goes on. The new quarterback [Sebastian Irons] they had moved in does a good job of distributing the ball and not making mistakes. Defensively, they are playing at a high level and Coach [Chris] Griffin, their defensive coordinator, has done a great job at this point in the season. Their D-line is very athletic and relentless with their motors. The transfer player [Shad] Dabney has really helped them on the back half of their defense by just having that type of speed and shut down one side of the field on you."

On the keys to the game ... 

"We have to improve upon the same things I’ve been saying since Week 1. We outgained North Hall by five yards and get beat 42-13 because we turn the ball over, don’t handle a snap cleanly, have self- inflicted penalties and lose the field position battle because of it. We have to win the turnover battle, field position is vitally important, execute our game plan and tackle in space to be successful."

White County's Tim Cokely on playing North Hall ...


"The North Hall game is always going to be a tight game because of the rivalry. The key for us is to keep our emotions in check so we can execute on both sides of the ball."



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