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Wednesday October 21st, 2020 4:42PM

ICYMI: Week 7 previews: Light schedule, big matchups highlight Week 7

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

It is the lightest night of the season for northeast Georgia area football teams with just 11 games after several games were either canceled or rescheduled due to COVID-19 issues. But it will not be without some heavyweight region matchups.

Region 7-3A will have three monster showdowns as things begin to heat up for the area’s biggest region. Cherokee Bluff and North Hall both face stern road tests against West Hall and White County while Lumpkin County also will see if it can get back in the race traveling to Gilmer.

Gainesville jumps back into Region 6-7A and faces an interesting home tilt against a resurgent Lambert squad. But the Red Elephants, who are looking for their first 2-0 region start since 2015, routed the Longhorns in 2019 and have shown they are much-improved as well.

Buford travels to Habersham Central in a showdown between Region 8-6A unbeatens. It should be a tremendous battle up front between a pair of teams that love to run the ball -- both are averaging well over 300 yards a game rushing. 

Commerce in Region 8-A Public and Lakeview Academy in Region 6-A Private also open up their region schedules while Class 2A No. 3-ranked Rabun County travels to Class 6A Pope putting a 30-game regular season road unbeaten streak on the line.

For a look at all of the weekend'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

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR Oct. 16
(Games listed in alphabetical order of visiting team)
BUFORD at HABERSHAM CENTRAL
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: $7 at the gate; 100 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Raider Stadium, Mt. Airy
-- RADIO: WDUN AM 550; 99.3 FM WCON
-- BUFORD (3-1, 1-0 Region 8-6A): Defeated Central Gwinnett 51-0 last week
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (3-2, 1-0 Region 8-6A): Defeated Winder-Barrow 27-21 last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are not required. Concessions will be available.
-- NOTABLE: Habersham Central leads series 2-0. The Raiders won the last meeting 25-14 in 1983 in Mt. Airy. ... The game will be won on the lines of scrimmage. Both teams are among the state leaders in scoring and rushing. ...  The Raiders, who are 8th in Class 6A inscoring (143, 28.6 ppg) are averaging 325 yards/game behind Joshua Pickett and Jackson Clouatre, who already have over 1,200 yards combined on the season. Buford is 5th in scoring (151, 37.7 ppg) and is averaging 256 yards/game rushing behind Sr. Gabe Ervin Jr. (365 yards) and Victor Venn (328 yards). ... The Wolves have won three straight outscoring their opponents 137-6 with consecutive shutout wins. ... The Raiders rallied for a road win last week against Winder-Barrow to snap a two-game losing streak. ... It will be a tough assignment for the Raiders. Buford is 43-1 in its last 44 region games going back to 2012. However, Buford dropped its last region road game in 2019 to Clarke Central. ... The Raiders have not started 2-0 in region play since being in Region 8-4A in 2007.


CHEROKEE BLUFF at WEST HALL
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: Pre-sale only at each school; 40 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Spartans Stadium, Oakwood
-- RADIO: WDUN AM 550
-- CHEROKEE BLUFF (5-0, 1-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Gilmer 21-6 last week
-- WEST HALL (2-3, 0-1 Region 7-3A): Lost to North Hall 42-13 last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Mask/face coverings and temperature will be required to get into the stadium. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The Bears were expected to be vastly improved in their third season but not sure if anyone figured they would be undefeated at the halfway point. And, they have been as dominant as any team in the area outscoring their opposition 208-20 behind a defense that already has registered three shutouts on the season. ... The Bears are the highest scoring team in Class 3A (41.6 ppg) and have given up the 2nd-fewest points among teams that have played four games (4.0 ppg). ... The Spartans saw their two-game win streak snapped last week against North Hall. Turnovers and penalties continue to plague them. But the key for the Spartans may be if the defense, led by LB Shakye Shaw, who had 18 tackles (3 TFL) last week, can slow down a solid Bears rushing attack after allowing over 300 yards last week to the Trojans. ... Bluff (217/ypg rushing) has five players with 95 yards or more rushing on the season, led by Jayquan Smith (397 yards, 6 TDs) and Charles Tolbert (279 yards, 7 TDs) in limited action. ... West Hall has allowed just 21.2 ppg on defense. ... The Spartans have a balanced attack (23.2 ppg) led by Sr. QB Clayton Jenkins, who is approaching 1,000 yards on the season, and WR Rodrigo Lopez, who is among the Class 3A leaders in receiving yards (463 total) on the season. ... West Hall has dropped seven straight region games going back to a win over Chestatee to close out the 2018 campaign in Region 7-4A.


CHESTATEE at NORTH OCONEE
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: 
-- WHERE: Titan Stadium, Watkinsville
-- CHESTATEE (0-4, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Off last week; lost 48-28 to North Hall two weeks ago
-- NORTH OCONEE (1-4, 1-0 Region 8-4A): Defeated Madison County 41-26 last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are recommended, but no temperature checks. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: North Oconee leads series 2-0. The Titans won 37-15 in 2015 in Gainesville. ... The War Eagles, you are young again, have been battling injuries the entire season, including star QB/DB Christian Charles, who has been out the entire way. ... The Titans played a brutal non-region schedule with a pair of ranked teams and a combined record of 16-4 so they were ready to jump into a tough 8-4A schedule. ... However, both teams sit in the bottom 10 in defense in Class 4A. The Titans are 7th-worst (173, 34.6 ppg) and the War Eagles are 10th-worst (150, 37.5 ppg). ... The difference will be on offense, where North Oconee is averaging 24.6 ppg but has scored 76 points in its last two games. Chestatee, without Charles, has managed just 69 points (17.2 ppg) which is a touchdown less than in 2019.


GREENE COUNTY at COMMERCE
-- WHEN: 8 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: $7 at the gate; 100 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Commerce
-- GREENE COUNTY (0-4, 0-0 Region 8-A Public): Off last week; lost 30-6 to Monticello two weeks ago
-- COMMERCE (4-1, 0-0 Region 8-A Public): Ranked No. 4 in Class A Public; defeated Mount Paran Christian 41-9
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks recommended, no temperature check. Concessions will be available.
-- NOTABLE: Commerce leads series 1-0. Commerce won 28-14 in 1981 in the Class 2A state championship game. ... Hard to believe that the last time these two teams met, Ronald Reagan had not even finished his first year of his first term. ... However, the 2020 editions are far apart heading into this one. ... Greene County has lost 8 straight regular season games and has lost 12 of its last 14 overall. ... Commerce sits 4th in Class A Public in scoring (176, 35.2 ppg) while Green County has scored the 2nd-fewest points (16, 4.0 ppg). Greene County also has allowed the 7th-most points (167, 41.7 ppg) while Commerce has given up just 93 points (18.6 ppg). ... Commerce held Mount Paran to minus-12 yards rushing last week. ... Commerce QB Trey Huff had 58 yards rushing and 113 passing last week. ... Commerce is 12-2 at Tiger Stadium in its last 14 home games. Greene County has dropped 4 straight and 6 of its last 7 overall away from Greensboro.


LAKEVIEW ACADEMY at FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: 
-- WHERE: Paladin Field, Roswell
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (2-2, 0-0 Region 6-A Private): Lost 23-15 to Class 2A Coosa last week
-- FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN (5-0, 1-0 Region 6-A Private): Ranked No. 4 in Class A Private; defeated St. Francis 58-7 last week in their region opener
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are recommended, but no temperature checks. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: Fellowship Christian leads series 3-2. The Paladins won the last meeting, 41-14, in 2013. ... It is the third straight year, and fourth time in the last five seasons, the Paladins have started 5-0 and they are coming off a state semifinal appearance in 2019. They have won 15 consecutive region games going back to the 2017 campaign. ... The Lions are one of the most improved teams in northeast Georgia and already have matched their win total from 2019. This will be by far their biggest test of the season. ... FC is scoring 44.4 ppg and allowing just 11.2 ppg. The Paladins are averaging 318 yards/game rushing behind Sr. RB Murphy Reeves, who has 799 yards, 10 TDs, and 5 100-yard games on the season. The 58 points last week was a new school record. ... Lakeview is averaging 21.7 ppg on offense, almost double their 12.3 ppg output in 2019. And they are yielding just 16.7 ppg, which is more than half the 36.2 ppg the Lions have given up since beginning region play in 2014, covering 59 games. ... Lakeview is 0-13 vs. ranked teams since beginning region play in 2014 and is 0-2 on the road in 2020.


LAMBERT at GAINESVILLE
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: GoFan app only; 25 percent capacity
-- WHERE: City Park Stadium, Gainesville
-- RADIO: 94.5 FM The Lake
-- LAMBERT (4-1, 0-1 Region 6-7A): Lost 44-14 to South Forsyth last week
-- GAINESVILLE (3-2, 1-0 Region 6-7A): Lost 28-27 to Hillgrove last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks/face coverings will be required but no temperature check. Condensed concessions.
-- NOTABLE: Series is tied 1-1. Gainesville won 55-7 in 2019 in Suwanee. The road team has won both games in the brief series as the Longhorns took a 16-15 win in 2018. ... The Longhorns have been one of the biggest surprises in Class 7A. They started 4-0 after coming off a 16-game losing streak back to the 2018 season. But it was slightly misleading as their first four opponents in 2020 are 7-14. ... The keys are the two defenses, which are at the bottom in 6-7A. GHS has given up the most points (108, 21.6 ppg) and the Longhorns are right behind allowing 106 (21.2 ppg). The Red Elephants have faced three of the area’s best offenses while the Longhorns have faced just two teams averaging more than 23 ppg. ... GHS is averaging 35.8 ppg on offense while Lambert is scoring just 29.2 ppg and has managed just 40 points (20 ppg) the past two games. RB Naim Cheeks had 214 yards from scrimmage and a TD for GHS last week. ... The Red Elephants have not started 2-0 in region play since 2015 when they were in 8-5A.


LUMPKIN COUNTY at GILMER
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: 
-- WHERE: Huff-Mosley Stadium, Ellijah
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (0-4, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Off last week; lost 35-7 to Class A St. Francis two weeks ago
-- GILMER (2-2, 0-1 Region 7-3A): Lost 21-6 to Cherokee Bluff last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are recommended, but no temperature checks. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: Gilmer leads series 24-9. Lumpkin County won 29-21 in 2019. The Indians have won two straight and 4 of the last 5 going back to 2007. ... It is the region opener for Lumpkin County. ... Despite the record, and last week’s loss, Gilmer is still one of the remarkable stories over the last year. After a 30-game losing streak, the Bobcats are 6-8 under 2nd-year coach Kevin Saunders. ... The Indians, meanwhile, have lost 10 straight games and are just 1-17 overall in their last 18 games going back to the 2018 season. ... But Lumpkin County is young and has battled injuries and COVID issues the entire season. The Indians have yet to have a full roster available for any game this season. ... Gilmer is a run-heavy team that is averaging just under 200 yards rushing and just 22 yards passing a game. The Indians have had trouble stopping the run giving up more than 300 yards a game on the ground to ground-oriented offenses like Towns County. ... 


NORTH HALL at WHITE COUNTY
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: Online at school and at the gate; 100 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Warriors Stadium, Cleveland
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM WDUN; www.wrwh.com
-- NORTH HALL (2-3, 1-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated West Hall 42-13 last week
-- WHITE COUNTY (4-1, 0-1 Region 7-3A): Lost 42-35 to Dawson County last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are recommended, but no temperature checks. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: White County leads series 24-23. The Warriors won 34-31 in Gainesville in 2019. White County has won 5 of the last 7 meetings since 2013 but is just 2-2 at home in the series in that stretch. ... Typically this is one of the better games of the season in NE Georgia and it should be once again. ... The Trojans have righted the ship with two straight wins, behind their wing-T offense, which has churned out over 800 yards and 90 points the last two weeks. Sr. RB Clark Howell has over 400 yards rushing the last two weeks. ... The Warriors, who  opened the season 4-0 for the first time since 1975, saw their bid for a first-ever 5-0 start dashed in a shootout last week. To make it worse, Sr. QB J. Ben Haynes did not play in the second half and his status for this week is unknown. ... With 7-3A a virtual toss-up among the seven teams, White County will need a win to stay in line for a top seed, and maybe even a playoff berth, in the region. ... White County is in 2nd in Class 3A in scoring averaging 39.8 ppg while North Hall is in the bottom 10 in Class 3A in defense giving up 30.8 ppg. ... The Warriors are yielding 24.6 ppg and the Trojans are averaging 23.8 ppg on offense.


OCONEE COUNTY at EAST JACKSON
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: GoFan app; 50 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Eagles Stadium, Commerce
-- OCONEE COUNTY (5-0, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Ranked No. 3 in Class 3A; defeated Class 5A Veterans 14-6 last week
-- EAST JACKSON (1-3, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Lost 70-36 to Class 2A No. 3 Rabun County last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks are recommended, but no temperature checks. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: Oconee County leads series 6-0. The Warriors won 49-0 in 2015. ... Oconee County is the second straight top three team the Eagles have faced in as many weeks. And the Warriors, who lost in the Class 4A championship game in 2019, are no fluke. They already have beaten four ranked teams and have outscored their  opponents 144-34 so far. ... The East Jackson offense has begun to find its way scoring 70 points the past two games and is averaging 28.0 ppg, which is nearly double last year’s output (15.8 ppg). But this will be the third straight game the Eagles defense, which has given up 42.2 ppg, has faced a top 10 offense. ... East Jackson is 0-18 in its history vs. ranked opponents.


RABUN COUNTY at POPE
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: GoFan app; 30 percent capacity; only 100 tickets available 
-- WHERE: Pope Stadium, Marietta
-- RABUN COUNTY (4-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Ranked No. 3 in Class 2A; defeated East Jackson 70-36 last week
-- POPE (2-2, 2-1 Region 6-6A): Defeated South Cobb 35-7 last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Masks/face coverings will be required and will have temperature checks and screenings. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The Wildcats are jumping four classifications and hitting the road as they continue to put together an impressive non-region schedule. ... The Greyhounds have won two straight and averaged 31 ppg in that span after scoring just 23 total points in 2 losses to open the season. ... The Pope defense has given up just 13 points in the two wins after surrendering 81 points (40.5 ppg) in their 2 losses. ... The Wildcats’ 70 points last week set a new school-record and QB Gunner Stockton also set a career-high with 422 yards and 6 TD passes. He ran for two others. ... Sr. WR Adriel Clark had 5 catches for 117 yards and 3 TDs. ... Pope is 0-1 at home in 2020. ... Rabun has won 21 consecutive regular season road games going back to a game vs. Mt. Pisgah in 2016 that was called for weather. They have won 30 straight completed road games going back to a 50-14 loss to Jefferson to open the 2014 season. ... The Wildcats are 14-2 in their last 16 games vs. higher-classifications teams with both losses coming to Jefferson.


WALNUT GROVE at JOHNSON
-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- TICKETS: Pre-sale only at each school; 40 percent capacity
-- WHERE: Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium, Oakwood
-- WALNUT GROVE (2-3, 1-1 Region 8-5A): Defeated Greenbrier 21-7 last week
-- JOHNSON (0-5, 0-2 Region 8-5A): Lost 59-0 to Loganville last week
-- COVID PROTOCOLS: Mask/face coverings and temperature will be required to get into the stadium. Concessions will be prepackaged.
-- NOTABLE: Walnut Grove leads series 5-1. Johnson won 24-22 in 2019 in Oakwood. ... The numbers-challenged Knights continue to struggle and now face a Warriors program that is starting to show signs of life. After suffering through a 15-game losing streak over parts of three seasons, Walnut Grove has won 2 of its last 3 games overall. ... The Warriors stunned previously-unbeaten Greenbrier last week while Johnson was shutout for the third time this season. The Knights have managed just 10 points on offense while giving up the most points in Class 5A (241, 48.2 ppg) with only North Springs giving up more on average (221, 55.2 ppg) on the season. ... During their long losing streak the Warriors averaged just 5.4 ppg. Over their last three games they have averaged 21.0 ppg. ... However, Walnut Grove is just 1-11 in its last 12 road games.

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