Monday August 15th, 2022 9:21AM

ICYMI: Week 9 previews -- Playoff jostling continues for area teams

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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It should be just another one of your typical nights around Northeast Georgia as area teams continue their quest, and jostling, for playoff positions, on Friday night.
Several teams find themselves with a chance to perhaps clinch a playoff spot while others face must-win scenarios to stay alive.
Flowery Branch, for instance, is winless in a brutal Region 8-4A but can stay alive with a victory against a much-improved Cedar Shoals squad at Falcons Field. Also in 8-4A, Chestatee faces a big road matchup with Madison County and a win could put them in the upper-tier of the region standings.
West Hall in Region 7-3A, Habersham Central in Region 8-6A, and East Hall in Region 8-4A all face must-win scenarios to stay alive in their playoff chases. North Hall can clinch with a win and a Dawson County win on Friday. Gainesville is right in the middle of the playoff race in Region 6-7A but any chance of claiming its first region title since 2013 will have to include a win over South Forsyth at home.
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, 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: Falcons Field, Flowery Branch
-- CEDAR SHOALS (2-3, 2-1 Region 8-4A): Lost 34-9 to No. 1 Jefferson last week
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (3-3, 0-2 Region 8-4A): Lost 14-7 to North Oconee last week
-- NOTABLE: Flowery Branch leads series 9-0. The Falcons won 27-20 in 2020 in Athens. Last year’s game was the only one to be decided by 7 points or less. ... This is almost a must-win for the Falcons, who would find themselves no better than two games out of a playoff spot with just three games remaining with a loss. ... Branch also has not started 0-3 in region play since 2004, their 3rd season of existence. ... Offense has been the issue for the Falcons. They have scored the fewest points in region play (14) after averaging 35.7 ppg in non-region action. ... It’s much the same for the Jaguars. In their two wins, they have averaged 34.5 ppg. In their three losses, they have scored just 46 total points (15.3 ppg). ... The Falcons defense has continued to be stellar holding 5 of their first 6 opponents to fewer points than they average.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Broncos Field, Gainesville
-- CHAMBLEE (5-1): Off last week; defeated Dunwoody 38-7 two weeks ago
-- EAST FORSYTH (2-5): Defeated Druid Hills 49-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. Both teams are playing non-region schedules. ... The Broncos set a new school-record in points last week and also secured their first-ever shutout on defense. ... The Bulldogs will be their biggest challenge so far. Chamblee is 2nd in Class 5A in scoring (307, 51.1 ppg) behind Jr. QB Fabian Walker (69-109, 1327 yards, 20 TD, 3 INT) whose 20 TDs lead Class 5A. The Bulldogs also are in the top 10 in defense allowing just 9.6 ppg. ... The first-year Broncos have shown steady improvement. After scoring just 7 total points in their first four games, they have averaged 30 ppg in their last three. After surrendering 165 points (41.2 ppg) in their first four games, they have allowed just 46 points (15.3 ppg) in their last three.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Red Raider Stadium, Danielsville
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM WDUN
-- CHESTATEE (3-3, 1-1 Region 8-4A): Defeated East Hall 62-50 last week
-- MADISON COUNTY (3-3, 0-2 Region 8-4A): Off last week; lost 27-20 to Cedar Shoals in OT two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Madison County leads series 3-2. The Red Raiders won 44-21 in 2020 in Gainesville. Madison County has won three straight. Chestatee’s last win in the series came in 2013 in Danielsville. ... Chestatee could climb into third place in the region with a win and a Cedar Shoals loss to Flowery Branch. They have not made the playoffs since 2016. ... The War Eagles offense may hold the key to this one. In their 3 wins, they have scored 145 points (48.3 ppg) but just 62 points (20.6 ppg) in their 3 losses. ... Sr. QB Luke Bornhorst had another strong game with 261 yards and 5 TDs against East Hall. East Hall. ... However, the Chestatee defense, which is improved from 2020, is still 44th out of 54 Class 4A teams allowing 218 points (38.6 ppg). ... The Red Raiders, after a 2-0 start, have dropped 3 straight. They have scored just 34 points (11.3 ppg) and given up 74 points (24.6 ppg) in that span. ... Madison is trying to avoid its first 0-3 start to region play since 2018. ... The Red Raiders are just 2-5 in their last 7 home games. But Chestatee has dropped 10 straight road games going back to a win over East Hall in 2019.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Commerce
-- FRANKLIN COUNTY (3-3, 0-2 Region 8-3A): Lost 37-0 to Stephens County last week
-- COMMERCE (4-2, 2-0 Region 8-A Public): Defeated Towns County 28-20 last week
-- NOTABLE: Commerce leads series 17-9. This is the first meeting between the two teams since 2011, a 10-7 Tigers win in Commerce. ... This game was scheduled after Commerce lost its game with Athens Academy on Sept. 3. ... After a rough start for a young team, the Tigers are beginning to find their footing. They have won 3 straight as their patented triple-option attack has come around. They have averaged over 300 yards during the win streak behind Fr. Jaiden Daniels and Sr. Dreylan Martin. Daniels has more than 500 yards rushing the last two games while Martin has nearly 400 yards over the last three games. ... The Lions have dropped two straight and been shutout in both games after averaging 28.2 ppg during a 3-1 start to the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Brickyard, Gainesville
-- GILMER (2-4, 0-3 Region 7-3A): Lost 52-21 to Dawson County last week
-- NORTH HALL (5-2, 3-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Lumpkin County 37-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: North Hall leads series 10-5. The Trojans won 33-13 in 2020 in Ellijay. This is the 10th meeting since 2002 and the Trojans have won 9 straight. The last Bobcats win in the series came in 1977, 22-0, at The Brickyard. ... Two teams headed in the opposite direction. North Hall has won four straight as its wing-T has gotten cranked up behind Sr. RB Kevin Rochester (1,083 yards, 14 TD) who is 3rd in Class 3A in rushing. North Hall leads Class 3A in rushing at 304 yards/game. ... But the Trojans defense has made huge strides. They have held teams to 15.5 ppg during the win streak after allowing 104 points (34.3 ppg) in their first three games. ... After a 2-1 start, the Bobcats have lost 3 straight allowing 41.3 ppg on defense. A loss would put the Bobcats on the brink of elimination from the playoffs.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Ranch, Sugar Hill
-- RADIO: 99.3 FM WCON 
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (2-5, 0-3 Region 8-6A): Lost 35-17 to Dacula last week
-- LANIER (2-3, 1-1 Region 8-6A): Defeated Central Gwinnett 48-14 last week
-- NOTABLE: Lanier leads series 4-1. Habersham Central won 36-15 in 2020 in Mt. Airy. ... The Raiders need a win just to stay alive in the playoff race. They have struggled on both sides during a current 4-game losing streak. The defense has given up the 7th-most points in Class 6A (220, 31.4 ppg) but has allowed 173 points (43.2 ppg) during the streak while the offense has scored just 49 points (12.2 ppg) in that span. ... Typically known for its defense, Lanier is on pace to allow the most points in a season in program history. The Longhorns have given up 26.8 ppg so far. They are 2-0 when allowing 14 or less and 0-3 when giving up more than 14. ... Turnovers have been an issue for the Raiders. Three different QBs have combined for 11 INTs. The defense has generated 10 turnovers so far.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: R. Harold Harrison Stadium, Bethlehem
-- JOHNSON (0-6, 0-4 Region 8-5A): Lost 63-0 to Jackson County last week
-- APALACHEE (1-5, 1-2 Region 8-5A): Off last week; lost 23-21 to Greenbrier two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Apalachee leads series 1-0. The Wildcats won 45-0 in 2020 in Oakwood. ... The rebuilding Knights continue to struggle having been shutout in four consecutive games, all in region play. Johnson also has allowed the most points in Class 5A (314, 52.3 ppg). ... Apalachee is beginning to make headway under former West Hall coach Tony Lotti. The Wildcats last two region games have been decided by just 3 points, including an upset win over Eastside three weeks ago. They also still have Walnut Grove, a team they beat last year. Wins over the next two weeks would put them in line for their first playoff appearance since 2009.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Patriots Stadium, Alpharetta 
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (1-5, 0-2 Region 6-A Private): Lost 42-6 to King’s Ridge last week
-- MOUNT PISGAH (3-3, 0-0 Region 6-A Private): Off last week; defeated East Forsyth 40-14 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Mt. Pisgah leads series 1-0. The Patriots won 31-15 in 2020 in Gainesville. ... A young Lions team is still trying to put things together. They are only averaging 11.6 ppg game on offense but defensively has been the biggest issue. Lakeview is giving up the 5th-most points in Class A Private (233, 38.8 ppg). ... After an 0-2 start, Mt. Pisgah has won 3 of its last 4. Defense has been the key for the Patriots> In their 3 wins, they have allowed just 33 points (11.0 ppg). In their 3 losses, they have surrendered 112 points (37.3 ppg). ... A loss would not eliminate Lakeview but would put the Lions in a must-win scenario against St. Francis in two weeks for the final playoff spot.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: McDonough
-- LANIER CHRISTIAN (5-2, GAPPS 8-man): Lost 15-14 to Horizon Christian last week
-- NEW CREATION CHRISTIAN (2-4, GAPPS 8-man): Lost 18-6 to Kings Way last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The Lightning remain 3rd in GAPPS in scoring (287, 41.0 ppg) and statistically they are No. 1 GAPPS in defense giving up just 35 points (5.0 ppg). ... The Warriors are 7th in defense allowing just 96 points (16.0 ppg) and have scored 130 points (21.6 ppg). But in their 4 losses they are averaging just 10 ppg. ... It’s the same for LCA. In their 2 losses they have scored just 20 points (10.0 ppg). ... The Lightning have forced 25 turnovers, including 10 INTs. ... LCA Fr. RB Zeke Clanton has 901 yards and 10 TD rushing.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Bears Stadium, Flowery Branch
-- RADIO: www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (2-4, 1-1 Region 7-3A): Lost 37-7 to North Hall last week
-- CHEROKEE BLUFF (6-0, 2-0 Region 7-3A): Ranked No. 10 in Class 3A; off last week, defeated West Hall 37-7 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Cherokee Bluff leads series 2-1. The Bears won 41-6 in 2020 in Dahlonega and have won two straight. ... The Indians have been one of the surprise stories of the season with more wins already this year than the last the two years combined. But may face their toughest test yet vs. the Bears. ... Bluff leads Class 3A in scoring (311, 51.8 ppg) and is 2nd in 3A in defense allowing just 41 points (6.8 ppg). Only Chestatee has scored more than 7 points in any game vs. the Bears in 2021. ... The Indians defense has cut more than 15 points off its 2020 average allowing 30.1 ppg so far. The Lumpkin offense (17.0 ppg) is averaging more than double its 2020 output (7.6 ppg). ... Bluff is 3-0 at home in 2021 and has won 8 of its last 10 at home. The Indians have lost 13 straight on the road. Their last road win came in 2018 vs. Cherokee Bluff.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Lambert Stadium, Suwanee
-- RADIO: www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- NORTH FORSYTH (5-2, 2-1 Region 6-7A): Defeated Forsyth Central 23-0 last week
-- LAMBERT (5-2, 1-2 Region 6-7A): Lost 17-14 to Denmark last week
-- NOTABLE: Lambert leads series 5-4. North Forsyth won 34-20 in 2020 in Coal Mountain. ... All 9 meetings have been since 2012 and it’s been a streaky series. The Longhorns won the first five while the Raiders have won the last four and only one game in the series has been decided by fewer than 7 points. ... A huge game for both teams in a wide-open region. North can climb to within one-half game of idle Denmark with a win while Lambert needs a win to avoid dropping to the bottom of the standings. A Lambert win puts the Longhorns into third and holding tiebreakers over the Raiders and Gainesville. A Raiders loss would knock them out of the top four. ... The Raiders are 4th in Class 7A in defense allowing just 11.85 ppg on the season. However, the key is the offense. They are just 1-2 when scoring 17 or less. They are 4-0 when scoring more than 17. ... The Longhorns are 9th in offense averaging 32.4 ppg and are yielding 17.0 ppg on defense.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: East Hall Stadium, Rabbittown
-- NORTH OCONEE (4-3, 3-0 Region 8-4A): Defeated Flowery Branch 14-7 last week
-- EAST HALL (1-6, 0-3 Region 8-4A): Lost 62-50 to Chestatee last week
-- NOTABLE: North Oconee leads series 1-0. The Red Raiders won 48-7 in 2020 in Bogart. ... Defense again is the issue with the Vikings. They have given up the 2nd-most points in Class 4A (344, 49.1 ppg), including 63 and 62 in the last two games. ... The Titans offense has been invigorated by So. QB Max Wilson, who has led them to 3 straight wins and averaging 30 ppg in region play. They are giving up just 9.0 ppg in region play. ... The Vikings can still score with the best of them averaging 24.2 ppg behind Sr. QB Clete Cooper and Sr. RB Marcus Holmberg. ... The Vikings need a win to stay alive for a possible playoff spot. A loss would eliminate them. A Titans win clinches a playoff spot.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Leopards Stadium, Homer
-- RABUN COUNTY (6-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 2A; defeated Grovetown 45-14 last week
-- BANKS COUNTY (1-5, 0-1 Region 8-2A): Lost 36-14 to Union County last week
-- NOTABLE: Rabun County leads series 21-10. The Wildcats won 71-0 in 2020 in Tiger. ... It has been a streaky series. Rabun has won five straight since 2016. The Leopards won five straight from 2007-11 and Rabun five straight from 2002-06 before that. ... The Wildcats have dominated during its current win streak over the Leopards outscoring them 282-26 in that span. ... Rabun sits No. 1 in Class 2A in scoring (325, 46.4 ppg) while Banks County has allowed 122 points (40.6 ppg) during its current 3-game losing streak. ... Wildcats QB Gunner Stockton knocked off one state record last week. Stockton threw 5 TD passes and ran for another last week to give him 215 total in his career, breaking the old mark of 214 held by former Gainesville standout Deshaun Watson. Stockton’s teammate Jaden Gibson also leads the state in receiving 40 rec., 966 yards, 9 TD) but Stockton has thrown 30 TDs to 7 different receivers.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
-- SHILOH (2-4, 2-0 Region 8-6A): Defeated Winder-Barrow 9-0 last week
-- BUFORD (5-1, 2-0 Region 8-6A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A; off last week, defeated Habersham Central 58-0 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Buford leads series 3-2. The Wolves won 44-0 in 2020 in Snellville. ... This looks like a mismatch on paper as the Generals have scored the 8th-fewest points in Class 6A (70, 11.6 ppg) while the Wolves are 4th in defense in Class 6A allowing just 9.0 ppg. ... However, Shiloh is 10th in defense allowing just 14.0 ppg. They are 3rd in 6A in INTs with 9, led by Jr. Brice Pollock (4) and Sr. Xaiver Wright (3) and also have 10 sacks on the season. ... Buford loves Region 8-6A. The Wolves are a perfect 8-0 since joining the region last year and have averaged 44.5 ppg in region play. They have allowed just 24 points (3.0 ppg) and pitched 5 shutouts in 8 games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: City Park Stadium, Gainesville
-- RADIO: 94.5 FM The Lake
-- SOUTH FORSYTH (5-1, 2-0 Region 6-7A): Defeated West Forsyth 30-24 last week
-- GAINESVILLE (4-2, 1-1 Region 6-7A): Off last week; lost 37-28 to Lambert two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Gainesville leads series 3-2. The Red Elephants won 28-14 in 2020 in Cumming. Just the 2nd meeting since 2001. ... Another huge game in 6-7A. The War Eagles can cement themselves in the upper-tier with a win while the Red Elephants can pull into a tie with the War Eagles and get the tiebreaker with a win. ... The War Eagles already have matched their 2020 win total. And a current 5-game win streak is their longest since 2017. ... The War Eagles have been a tough road team. They are 3-1 and have won 3 straight, 2 in the region, so far in 2021. ... GHS is 3-1 at home in 6-7A play since joining the region last year. ... A key matchup will be the GHS defense, which has been hawkish with 12 turnovers created, including 7 INTs, vs. War Eagles Jr. QB Ty Watkins. Watkins has thrown for 1,058 yards and 11 TD and no INTs. ... The GHS offensive line also will have a big task trying to slow down a War Eagles front-7 that has 35 TFL and 11 sacks so far.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Granite Bowl, Elberton
-- UNION COUNTY (2-4, 2-0 Region 8-2A): Defeated Banks County 36-14 last week
-- ELBERT COUNTY (2-3, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Off last week; lost 26-21 to Haralson County two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Union County leads series 2-1. Elbert County won 31-10 in 2020 in Blairsville. ... After a slow start, Union County has won two straight. The offense has begun to find some rhythm averaging 42 ppg during the win streak after scoring just 66 total points (16.5 ppg) in their first four games. They piled up a season-high 473 yards last week. .. The Panthers defense (202, 33.6 ppg) still sits in the bottom 10 in Class 2A but has yielded just 28 points in its last two games. ... The Blue Devils played one of the more difficult non-region schedules in the region. Offensively they are averaging a TD more a game than in 2020 while defense is still giving up 30.4 ppg. They are just 1-2 at home so far this season. ... Elbert is very balanced on offense averaging 169 yards passing and 161 yards rushing on the season. ... The Panthers will clinch a playoff berth with a win or a Banks County loss to Rabun County.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville
-- WEST HALL (2-4, 0-3 Region 7-3A): Lost 42-0 to White County last week
-- DAWSON COUNTY (3-3, 2-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Gilmer 52-21 last week
-- NOTABLE: Series is tied 6-6. Dawson County won 38-21 in 2020 in Oakwood. This is the 10th straight year the two teams have played and the Tigers have won 3 straight. ... Another pair of teams headed in opposite directions. The Tigers have won 3 straight while the Spartans have dropped 4 straight. ... West Hall needs a win to stay in the playoff race. Another loss would put the Spartans on the brink of elimination. The Spartans have struggled on both sides of the ball during the losing streak. They have scored just 28 points (7.0 ppg) and given up 157 points (39.2 ppg) in that span. ... The Tigers can keep the pressure on in the region with a win and a huge road trip looming to Cherokee Bluff next week. Offense has driven the Tigers win streak. After scoring just 43 total points (14.3 ppg) in an 0-3 start to the season, they have averaged 45.0 ppg in the last three games. ... Dawson County WR Bailey Dameron is having a breakout season. He had 6 catches for 134 yards last week - his fourth straight over 100 yards - and sits 2nd in Class 3A and in the top 10 in the state in receiving.

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