Sunday July 3rd, 2022 10:53PM

ICYMI: Week 10 previews -- Several teams can clinch on huge night around NEGa area

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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More than a half-dozen Northeast Georgia area teams could find out their playoff fate on Friday -- some good and some, well, not what they were looking for at the start of the 2021 campaign.

Three teams -- Habersham Central, Johnson, and West Hall -- will be trying to avoid elimination with huge road games. Commerce can clinch a spot outright in Class A Public with a win while several others, with some help, can punch their playoff tickets as well.

The playoff picture in Region 7-3A in particular could become a little more clearer but much-improved teams like Lumpkin County could make things quite fuzzy with upset wins.

In the always-volatile Region 6-7A anything is possible and Gainesville will try to get back in the hunt for a home playoff spot with a monster road showdown with last year’s region champion West Forsyth in Cumming. A loss for either, however, would be devastating for their playoff chances.

After a week off Jackson County will try and get separation in a crowded Region 8-5A field, where six teams are tied for second place. The Panthers play host to 2020 quarterfinalist Eastside in a huge contest for both teams.

In Region 8-4A, Chestatee and Flowery Branch can either improve their playoff chances or find themselves in dire straits while No. 1 Jefferson can clinch a spot with a win and a Madison County loss.

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: Maginnis Field, Gainesville
-- BANKS COUNTY (1-6, 0-2 Region 8-2A): Lost 63-0 to No. 1 Rabun County last week
-- RIVERSIDE MILITARY (1-5, 0-2 Region 8-2A): Off last week; forfeited game to Rabun County two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Banks County leads series 13-5. First meeting between the two teams since 2011. The Leopards won the 2011 contest 21-0 in Homer. ... The Eagles have not played a game since Sept. 24. ... The winner of this game most likely will clinch a playoff spot barring an upset over the last couple of weeks. ... It’s anybody’s guess on how this one will go. Neither has put up big numbers on offense. The Eagles are 41st in Class 2A (11.8 ppg) while the Leopards are 48 out of 53 scoring just 7.5 ppg. ... Both defenses have been roughed up as well. Banks is 45th in Class 2A giving up 34.5 ppg while RMA is 50th out of 53 allowing 37.8 ppg.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Bears Stadium, Flowery Branch
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM WDUN; www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- DAWSON COUNTY (4-3, 3-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated West Hall 51-0 last week
-- CHEROKEE BLUFF (7-0, 3-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Lumpkin County 55-8 last week
-- NOTABLE: Dawson County leads series 2-1. Cherokee Bluff won 28-27 in 2020 in Dawsonville. ... The teams come in tied for 2nd in the region behind North Hall. The two teams were in the same spot a year ago and the Bears’ win helped catapult them to the region title. The winner this year may get the same boost. .. The Bears have been dominating all season. They lead Class 3A in scoring (366, 52.1 ppg) and are 2nd in 3A in defense, allowing just 7.0 ppg. ... Sr. RB Jayquan Smith had 166 yards on just 6 carries as part of 331 yards rushing for the Bears last week. ... The Tigers, meanwhile, are as hot as any team in Class 3A right now. They have averaged 46.5 ppg during a 4-game win streak and given up just 56 points (14.0 ppg) in that same span. ... It should be a classic showdown of Bluff’s punishing ground attack vs. the Tigers high-powered spread passing attack. Sr. WR Bailey Dameron leads Class 3A in receiving and sits in the top five in the state overall with 855 yards. It was his seventh 100-yard receiving game. ... Several playoff scenarios surround this game but Cherokee Bluff can clinch a playoff berth with a win AND a White County loss to Lumpkin County. ... The Tigers can’t clinch with a win but would set themselves up with finishing games against Lumpkin and North Hall.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Panthers Stadium, Jefferson
-- EASTSIDE (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-5A): Off last week; defeated Loganville 10-9 two weeks ago
-- JACKSON COUNTY (4-3, 2-2 Region 8-5A): Off last week; defeated Johnson 63-0 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Eastside leads series 7-2. The Eagles won 27-0 in 2020 in Covington. The Panthers only wins in the series came in back-to-back victories in 2004 and 2005. ... It can’t be said enough that every game in this region will be huge over the final month of the season. Six teams, including both the Panthers and Eagles, are tied for second coming into this week. The winner gets the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker as well. ... Both teams come in with victories over Johnson and Loganville. The Panthers two region losses have been by just 6 points while the Eagles’ two losses have been by just 8 points. ... The Panthers are in the top 14 in offense in Class 5A (212 points, 30.2 ppg) led by Sr. RB Trey Ransom, who has 808 yards and 6 TDs with 4 100-yard games so far. The Panthers defense, which is allowing 17.2 ppg, has generated 45 TFL, 15 sacks, and 6 INTs. ... The Eagles offense is only averaging 12.3 ppg over the last three games but on the season they have only committed 2 turnovers. The Eastside defense is 8th in Class 5A (100, 14.2 ppg) but has only generated 3 turnovers on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger
-- ELBERT COUNTY  (3-3, 1-0 Region 8-2A): Defeated Union county 52-29 last week
-- RABUN COUNTY  (7-1, 2-0 Region 8-2A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 2A; defeated Banks County 63-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Rabun County leads series 5-0. All five meetings have been since 2016. ... The winner of this game clinches a home playoff game and would need one win to clinch the region title. ... The Wildcats have dominated the series winning by an average score of 47.4-10.4. It could be more of the same. ... The Blue Devils are surrendering 30.0 ppg on the season while Rabun leads Class 2A and the entire state in scoring (388, 48.5 ppg) behind Sr. QB Gunner Stockton, who recently set the all-time Georgia record for touchdowns. ... Jr. Wildcats WR Jaden Gibson leads the state in receiving as well. He had 11 receptions for 236 yards and 2 TDs last week and now has 1,202 yards on the season. Throw in Sr. TE Baxley O’Brien and Jr. RB Lang Windham and the Wildcats just have a plethora of weapons. ... Elbert has allowed 40.7 ppg in their three losses... The Rabun defense has allowed just 13.25 ppg after a brutal non-region schedule. Elbert is averaging 30.7 ppg.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Red Raider Stadium, Danielsville
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (4-3, 1-2 Region 8-4A): Defeated Cedar Shoals 34-14 last week
-- MADISON COUNTY (4-3, 1-2 Region 8-4A): Defeated Chestatee 24-21 last week
-- NOTABLE: Flowery Branch leads series 3-0. The Falcons won 49-7 in 2020 in Flowery Branch. ... A huge game for both teams. Both are locked in a three-way tie with Chestatee for third place. Chestatee takes on No. 1 Jefferson so the winner of this one is likely to have sole possession of third with two games left. ... The Falcons finally got their offense going last week. After managing just 14 total points in losses to Jefferson and North Oconee, they rushed for 224 yards, with So. Malik Dryden accounting for 110 yards and a score and Jr. Myles Ivey having 63 yards and a TD. ... The Branch defense also held the Jaguars to just 38 yards rushing and under 200 for the game. ... The key number for the Red Raiders is 20. When scoring more than 20, they are 3-0. When scoring 20 or less, they are 0-3.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Eagles Stadium, Commerce
-- FRANKLIN COUNTY (3-4, 0-2 Region 8-3A): Lost 30-0 to Commerce last week
-- EAST JACKSON (2-5, 0-2 Region 8-3A): Off last week; lost 40-10 to No. 8 Monroe Area two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Franklin County leads series 9-0. The Lions won 27-12 in 2020 in Carnesville. ... It’s pretty simple for both these teams this week. A win keeps you alive for a playoff spot. The loser will either be out or on the brink of elimination depending on the other two games in the region. ... The Eagles have been much-improved this season despite a two-game losing streak to a pair of top 10 teams in Class 3A. The defense is yielding two touchdowns less in 2020 (25.2 ppg) from the last two seasons (37.8 ppg). ... Sr. QB Tyler Crow is in the top 10 in Class 3A in rushing with 797 yards. ... The Lions (113 points, 16.1 ppg) are the lowest scoring team in 8-3A and have allowed the most points (183, 26.1 ppg) in the region.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Wolverine Stadium, Cumming
-- RADIO: 94.5 FM The Lake
-- GAINESVILLE (4-3, 1-2 Region 6-7A): Lost 17-9 to South Forsyth last week
-- WEST FORSYTH (3-4, 1-2 Region 6-7A): Defeated Forsyth Central 42-10 last week
-- NOTABLE: Gainesville leads series 3-2. West Forsyth won 14-7 in 2020 at City Park. ... The road team has won the last three meetings in this series. ... The two teams are already in playoff mode. They are tied for fifth-place in the standings. Beginning this week, the Red Elephants have the toughest finish in the region with games still left against first place Denmark and North Forsyth. It is almost a must-win as a result. ... A win would keep GHS alive and tie them with idle North Forsyth for fourth. GHS and North Forsyth close out the season in Coal Mountain. ... Offense continues to be the main issue for the Red Elephants. They were held to just a field goal until the waning seconds last week. So. QB Baxter Wright was injured late in the game against South Forsyth but is expected to be ready on Friday. ... Defensively GHS is in the top third in Class 7A (129, 19.4 ppg) but have struggled against power rushing teams. The Wolverines are 12th in 7A in scoring average (31.8 ppg) behind a bruising rushing attack (178 yards/game) led by Jr. Peyton Streko, who is 6th in 7A in rushing (659 yards, 11 TD).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee
-- GREENE COUNTY (3-4, 0-2 Region 8-A Public): Off last week; lost 34-6 to Washington-Wilkes two weeks ago
-- TOWNS COUNTY (4-3, 0-2 Region 8-A Public): Off last week; lost 28-20 to Commerce two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Towns County leads series 1-0. The Indians won 20-0 in 2020 in Greensboro. ... Both teams are coming off bye weeks after physical games two weeks ago. With the region split among three 2-0 teams and three 0-2 teams, the winner of this has the quick upper-hand to grabbing the fourth spot with two weeks left. The Indians could seal a playoff spot with a win on Friday and a win over Social Circle next week. ... Sr. RB Kyle Oakes (1,066 yards) dropped to 2nd in Class A Public in rushing after having the week off last week. Omari Arnold of Brooks County (1,094 yards) is now the leader in the classification. ... Towns County WR Collin Crowder is 3rd in Class A Public in receiving with 549 yards. ... The Indians are averaging 25.0 ppg while the Tigers are giving up 26.4 ppg on defense. ... The Tigers are 3-0 when scoring 16 or more points and 0-4 when scoring less than 16. They are averaging just 17.1 ppg while the Indians are yielding 22.2 ppg on defense.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tally Johnson Field, Lawrenceville
-- RADIO: 99.3 FM WCON
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (2-6, 0-4 Region 8-6A): Lost 28-10 to Lanier last week
-- CENTRAL GWINNETT (1-7, 0-4 Region 8-6A): Lost 35-7 to Winder-Barrow last week
-- NOTABLE: Series is tied 7-7. Habersham Central won 62-14 in 2020 in Mt. Airy. The Raiders have won 3 straight in the series going back to 2000. The last Black Knights win in the series came in 1999, 38-20, in Lawrenceville. ... It’s pretty simple for both teams: lose and you’re eliminated from the playoffs. The Raiders can stay alive with a win but would need a lot of help from Shiloh and Winder-Barrow over the final two weeks. ... Defense has been the issue for both teams, who are in the bottom 10 in Class 6A. The Black Knights have allowed 249 points and the Raiders 248 points (35.5 ppg). ... The difference should be a Raiders offense that has scored almost twice as many points (132, 18.7 ppg) as Central Gwinnett (69, 9.7 ppg).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Lynn Cottrell Complex, Gainesville
-- JEFFERSON (7-0, 3-0 Region 8-4A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 4A; off last week, defeated Cedar Shoals 34-9 two weeks ago
-- CHESTATEE (3-4, 1-2 Region 8-4A): Lost 24-21 to Madison County last week
-- NOTABLE: Jefferson leads series 1-0. The Dragons won 67-12 in 2020 at Memorial Stadium. ... Jefferson can clinch a playoff spot with a win AND a Madison County loss to Flowery Branch. The War Eagles need a win to stay in the race for a playoff spot. ... The Dragons will be without injured RB Sammy Brown and Sr. QB and Georgia-commit Malaki Starks has been out due to injury but is expected back on Friday in a limited capacity. ... Still, it will be a daunting task for the War Eagles. Jefferson is 2nd in 4A in scoring average (274, 39.1 ppg) and 2nd in defense in 4A allowing just 8.1 ppg ... The War Eagles have shown they have the ability to score on anyone averaging 32.5 ppg. Defensively Chestatee has improved but has struggled against power rushing teams like Cherokee Bluff (60) and North Oconee (48). Jefferson is the No. 1 rushing team in Class 4A and the state piling up over 336 yards/game.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Brierpatch, Evans
-- JOHNSON (0-7, 0-5 Region 8-5A): Lost 42-0 to Apalachee last week
-- GREENBRIER (3-4, 2-2 Region 8-5A): Lost 76-34 to Clarke Central last week
-- NOTABLE: Greenbrier leads series 1-0. The Wolfpack won 49-0 in 2020 in Oakwood. ... Johnson is trying to snap a 14-game losing streak in region play. ... The Wolfpack gave up a school-record in points last week, beating the old mark in 2015 in a 70-7 loss to Jones County. ... Johnson has been shutout in 5 consecutive weeks, a new school record unfortunately. ... Greenbrier’s defense is in the bottom 10 in Class 5A allowing 33.1 ppg. ... The Johnson defense has given up the most points in Class 5A (356, 50.8 ppg) while the Wolfpack offense is averaging 30.0 ppg. Greenbrier QB Brooks Pangle had a huge game last week despite the loss passing for 469 yards and 4 TDs. ... Johnson would be officially eliminated from the playoffs with another loss. The Knights could deal the Wolfpack a huge playoff setback if they can pull the upset. Greenbrier is one of six teams tied for 2nd place in the region standings.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tom Riden Stadium,
-- LANIER (3-3, 2-1 Region 8-6A): Defeated Habersham Central 28-10 last week
-- BUFORD (6-1, 3-0 Region 8-6A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A; defeated Shiloh 37-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Buford leads series 1-0. The Wolves won 38-10 in 2020 at Tom Riden Stadium. ... The Wolves defense continues to dominate region opponents, having yet to surrender a single point in region play in 2021. Last week was their third consecutive shutout, the first time they have done that since 2017. ... Statistically, the Buford defense leads Class 6A allowing just 7.71 ppg . The Lanier defense is allowing 24.0 ppg, which would be the highest average ever for a Lanier defense over a season since the Longhorns began playing a varsity schedule in 2012. ... The Wolves are now 10th in 6A in offense scoring 33.0 ppg. Lanier is averaging 25.1 ppg, which would be the Longhorns’ highest average since 2015. ... Both teams are still in line to win the legion. Buford controls its own destiny while the Longhorns would need to win out, including knocking off the No. 1 Wolves and hope Buford beats Dacula in the season finale to capture the region title. ... The Longhorns are 3-11 all-time vs. ranked opponents and 0-2 all-time vs. No. 1-ranked teams.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Commerce
-- SOCIAL CIRCLE (3-4, 0-2 Region 8-A Public): Off last week; lost 28-27 to Lincoln County two weeks ago
-- COMMERCE (5-2, 2-0 Region 8-A Public): Defeated Franklin County 30-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Commerce leads series 16-2. The Tigers won 48-22 in 2020 in Social Circle. ... Commerce is riding a 4-game win streak and it’s no coincidence that began once Fr. RB Jaiden Daniels was inserted into the starting lineup. Daniels has been explosive with 857 yards and 8 TDs, almost all over the past month, to power their triple-option. ... The Tigers have compiled over 300 yards and averaged 28.2 ppg in each of the last four games after scoring just 32 total points and averaging less than 200 yards rushing in their first three games. ... The Redskins defense is allowing 20.4 ppg while the Tigers have given up 20.7 ppg. But Commerce has allowed just 40 points (10.0 ppg) during its 4-game win streak. ... Commerce holds the fate of the region title in its hands. With a win over the Redskins, the Tigers can set up a two-week showdown with Washington-Wilkes and Lincoln County to close out the season for the title.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Huff-Mosley Stadium, Ellijay
-- WEST HALL (2-5, 0-4 Region 7-3A): Lost 51-0 to Dawson County last week
-- GILMER (2-5, 0-4 Region 7-3A): Lost 47-6 to North Hall last week
-- NOTABLE: West Hall leads series 5-4. The Spartans won 35-7 in 2020 in Oakwood. ... These two teams in the early going looked like they would be serious challengers for the playoffs. But injuries have plagued both teams over the past month putting both on the brink of elimination. The loser will be eliminated while the winner stays alive, at least for one more week. ... Defense has been the main issue for both. The Bobcats have lost 4 straight and given up 42.7 ppg in that span. West Hall has lost 5 straight and allowed 42.0 ppg in that span. ... The Bobcats have been able to muster a little more offense averaging 21.5 ppg while the Spartans are averaging 12.8 ppg but have scored just 21 points (5.2 ppg) in region play and have been shutout in their last two games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Burial Grounds, Dahlonega
-- RADIO: 93.9 FM WRWH; www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- WHITE COUNTY (2-5, 1-2 Region 7-3A): Off last week; defeated West Hall 42-0 two weeks ago
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (2-5, 1-2 Region 7-3A): Lost 55-8 to Cherokee Bluff last week
-- NOTABLE: White County leads series 39-11. The Warriors won 49-13 in 2020 in Cleveland. White County has won 4 straight and 11 of the last 13 meetings going back to 2006. The last Lumpkin County win in the series came in 2016 at home and their only two wins since 2006 have been at home (2011). ... This is the biggest game of the season for both teams to this point. The winner takes over fourth place and will own the head-to-head tiebreaker with just two games remaining. The loser will not be eliminated but would need some serious help down the stretch. ... The Indians have been the surprise team still in 7-3A but ran into the top two teams the last two weeks and were outscored 92-15. Now they get perhaps the most athletic offensive team in the region in the Warriors, who are starting to heat up. ... After scoring just 16.2 ppg in their first four games, the Warriors are averaging 30.0 ppg over their last three behind the play of WR Darius Cannon and RB Silas Mulligan. ... The key will be the Lumpkin offense. In the Indians’ two wins, they have averaged 31 ppg. In their five losses, they have scored just 44 total points (8.8 ppg).

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