Thursday May 26th, 2022 11:03AM

ICYMI: Week 12 Previews -- Do-or-die for some, playoff positioning for others in season finales

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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The final week of the regular season is upon us and there is much we already know about the upcoming Georgia High School Association playoffs.

We know that 12 teams -- Buford, Jefferson, Flowery Branch, Cherokee Bluff, North Hall, Dawson County, White County, Rabun County, Union County,, Banks County, Commerce, Lanier Christian -- all have clinched playoff spots.

Buford (8-6A) Cherokee Bluff (7-3A), and Rabun County (8-2A) all won their respective regions. Commerce can clinch the Region 8-A Public title on Friday with a win over Lincoln County.

We also know that Gainesville, North Forsyth, Habersham Central, Johnson, East Hall, Lumpkin County, West Hall, Riverside Military, Towns County, and Lakeview Academy all have been eliminated from postseason play.

Chestatee was eliminated in Region 8-4A on Thursday in a gut-wrenching 27-20 loss to Cedar Shoals on a late touchdown.

Two other teams -- Jackson County and East Jackson -- both still have a shot to get in.

And, there is still a lot of wrangling left to do for many of those teams to secure better seeds in the playoffs. (Click here for a story on the playoff possibilities in every region heading into Thursday and Friday’s action.)

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: Dacula, Falcons Field
-- BUFORD (8-1, 5-0 Region 8-6A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A; defeated Winder-Barrow 38-2 last week
-- DACULA (6-3, 5-0 Region 8-6A): Defeated Central Gwinnett 42-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Buford leads series 25-8. The Wolves won 35-0 in 2020 at Tom Riden. ... The game will be for the region championship with the loser taking second place. ... Buford has climbed to 7th in scoring in Class 6A (325, 36.1 ppg) and is the No. 1 defense allowing just 56 points (6.2 ppg). ... The Wolves defense has not given up a point in region play in 2021. A safety last week against the Buford offense was the Bulldoggs’ only score. They held Winder-Barrow to less than 100 yards last week. ... After a 1-3 start, Dacula has won five straight, all in the region. They have allowed just 59 points (11.8 ppg) in region play. ... Offense is the key for Dacula. In their 6 wins, the Falcons are averaging 37.6 ppg. In their 3 losses, just 11.6 ppg.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Warriors Stadium, Cleveland
-- RADIO: 93.9 FM WRWH
-- CHEROKEE BLUFF (9-0, 5-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated North Hall 28-26 last week
-- WHITE COUNTY (4-5, 3-2 Region 7-3A): Defeated Gilmer 52-25 last week
-- NOTABLE: White County leads series 1-0. The Warriors won 48-7 in 2020 in Flowery Branch. ... This game has no bearing on the playoffs. The Bears clinched the region title last week and the Warriors are entrenched in the No. 4 spot. ... The Bears could be looking at a little revenge as White County denied them an unbeaten regular season at the same point last year.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Red Devils Stadium, Lincolnton
-- COMMERCE (6-3, 3-1 Region 8-A Public): Defeated No. 9 Washington-Wilkes 31-20 last week 
-- LINCOLN COUNTY (6-3, 3-1 Region 8-A Public): Defeated Greene County 35-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Lincoln County leads series 14-5. Commerce won 17-7 in 2020 at home to snap a 9-game losing streak to the Red Devils. ... For the 2nd consecutive year, the two teams will play with 8-A Public title on the line. A Commerce win gives the Tigers their second straight title. A Commerce loss and a Washington-Wilkes win over Towns County would give Washington-Wilkes the region title and make Lincoln County the No. 2 seed. ... But the Tigers could finish as low as fourth depending on the other region outcomes.  A Washington-Wilkes win, a Lincoln County win, and a Social Circle win would give Washington-Wilkes the title, Lincoln County the No. 2 seed, Social Circle would be third, and Commerce fourth. ... Greene County is still alive and if it beats Social Circle they would take the No. 4 seed leaving Commerce, Lincoln County and Washington Wilkes with the top three seeds depending on Friday's outcomes. ... Commerce Fr. RB Jaiden Daniels has sparked the Tigers’ turnaround over the past 6 weeks (5-1 record). Daniels, in just 7 games, has 1,271 yards and 12 TDs, which puts him 2nd in Class A Public. ... Lincoln County Sr. RB Tevin Gartrell is 3rd in A Public.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Falcon Field, Flowery Branch
-- EAST HALL (1-8, 0-5 Region 8-4A): Lost 62-18 to Madison County last week
-- FLOWERY BRANCH (6-3, 3-2 Region 8-4A): Defeated Chestatee 30-20 last week
-- NOTABLE: Flowery Branch leads series 7-2. The Falcons won 55-14 in 2020 in Rabbittown. ... The Falcons have won the last seven meetings. The last East Hall win came in 2003, 33-14, in Flowery Branch. ... As for the playoffs, the Vikings have been eliminated and the Falcons have clinched. This game does not affect either of their playoff standings but can affect others. ... A Falcons’ win and they take third leaving the door open for Chestatee. A Falcons loss eliminates Chestatee and Madison County. ... The Vikings have allowed the 2nd-most points in Class 4A (461, 51.2 ppg).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Leopard Stadium, Homer
-- ELBERT COUNTY (4-4, 2-1 Region 8-2A): Defeated Riverside Military 38-2 last week
-- BANKS COUNTY (2-6, 1-2 Region 8-2A): Off last week; defeated Riverside Military 67-6 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Elbert County leads series 4-1. The Blue Devils won 36-6 in 2020 in Elberton. All 5 meetings have come since 2016, which was the Leopards’ only win in the series, 43-29, at home. ... Both teams have clinched a playoff spot. ... Elbert County can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win over Banks County, which would give Union County the No. 3 seed and Banks County fourth. However, a Banks County win over Elbert County by 12 or more points would make it a three-way tie for a second with everyone tied in the tiebreaker.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Raider Valley, Coal Mountain
-- RADIO: 94.5 FM The Lake
-- GAINESVILLE (5-4, 2-3 Region 6-7A): Defeated Denmark 13-7 last week
-- NORTH FORSYTH (5-4, 2-3 Region 6-7A): Lost 28-10 to South Forsyth last week
-- NOTABLE: North Forsyth leads series 6-1. Gainesville won 17-0 in 2020 at City Park. ... Three weeks ago, this looked like it could be a showdown for a possible region title or a home playoff game. Instead, this one has no bearing on the playoffs as both teams have been eliminated from the postseason. ... However, both teams are playing to finish with a winning record.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Mike Colwell Stadium, Blairsville
-- GILMER (3-6, 1-5 Region 7-3A): Lost 52-25 to White County last week
-- UNION COUNTY (2-6, 2-2- Region 8-2A): Lost 56-14 to No. 1 Rabun County last week
-- NOTABLE: Union County leads series 9-8. The Panthers won 7-0 in 2020 in Ellijay. Union County has won three straight in the series. The last Gilmer win came in 1997 in Blairsville. ... This game has no bearing on the playoffs being a non-region battle. The Bobcats have been eliminated and the Panthers already have clinched a playoff spot.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Bethlehem
-- JACKSON COUNTY (5-4, 3-3 Region 8-5A): Defeated Greenbrier 42-27 last week
-- APALACHEE (4-5, 4-2 Region 8-5A): Defeated Loganville 37-14 last week:
-- NOTABLE: Apalachee leads series 4-1. Jackson County won 21-17 in 2020 in Jefferson. It’s been a competitive series with 3 of the 5 games being decided by 7 points or less. ... One more win and the Panthers will have their most wins since 2012. ... The Wildcats already have their most wins since 2012 and a win would clinch their first playoff appearance since 2009. A win coupled with an Eastside loss would give them 2nd place and a home playoff game in the first round. ... The playoff picture in Region 8-5A as a whole is complicated but the Panthers are right in the middle of things.  The easiest thing for Jackson County is to beat Apalachee and have Eastside beat Greenbrier, which would give Jackson County the third seed. However, the Panthers can still get in with a loss to Apalachee and an Eastside win, which would make the Panthers fourth. If both Greenbrier and Jackson County win, it would put both teams in a four-way tie with Apalachee and Eastside. ... Jackson County would be out, however, with a loss to Apalachee and a Greenbrier win over Eastside. ... The key matchup may be the Panthers offense (203 points in region play, 33.8 ppg) vs. the Apalachee defense, which has given up the 2nd-fewest points in region play (96, 16.0 ppg).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Billy Henderson Stadium, Athens
-- JOHNSON (0-9, 0-6 Region 8-5A): Lost 35-7 to West Hall last week
-- CLARKE CENTRAL (7-2, 6-0 Region 8-5A): Defeated Cedar Shoals 42-21 last week
-- NOTABLE: Clarke Central leads series 20-1-1. The two teams did not play in 2020 due to COVID-19. The Gladiators won 48-14 in 2019 in Athens.  ... This game has no bearing on the playoffsThe Gladiators already have clinched the region and the Knights have been been eliminated from the playoffs.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Cumming
-- LANIER CHRISTIAN (7-2, 2-1 GAPPS 8-man, Region 1-2A): Defeated Unity Christian 24-12 last week
-- FIDELES CHRISTIAN (4-5, 1-2 GAPPS 8-man, Region 1-2A): Lost 55-14 Johnson Ferry Christian last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... This is simple for the Lightning. Win and they’re the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs. Lose, and it will send things to a 3-way tiebreaker for the No. 2 seed. The top three teams make the playoffs and the top two get a home playoff game. ...  Fideles is 4th in scoring in GAPPS 8-man (360, 45.0 ppg) while LCA is 5th (363, 40.3 ppg). The difference will be on defense. LCA is No. 1 in GAPPS 8-man allowing just 47 points (5.2 ppg).  The Rangers have given up 273 points (30.3 ppg) on the season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Hot Gates, Oakwood
-- RADIO: www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- LUMPKIN COUNTY (2-7, 1-4 Region 7-3A): Lost 42-8 to Dawson County lat week
-- WEST HALL (3-6, 0-5 Region 7-3A): Defeated Johnson 35-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: West Hall leads series 11-5. The Spartans won 56-13 in 2020 in Dahlonega. ... West Hall has won 5 straight in the series. The last Lumpkin win came in 2011 in Oakwood. ... This game has no bearing on the playoffs as both teams have been eliminated.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- MADISON COUNTY (5-4, 2-3 Region 8-4A): Defeated East Hall 62-18 last week
-- JEFFERSON (8-1, 4-1 Region 8-4A): Ranked No. 4 in Class 4A; lost 11-6 to North Oconee last week
-- NOTABLE: Jefferson leads series 12-5. The Dragons won 47-0 in 2020 in Danielsville. Jefferson has won 3 straight in the series. The last Red Raiders win came in 2001, 14-11, at Memorial Stadium. ... Jefferson already has clinched the No. 2 seed but the Red Raiders need a win and a Chestatee win to clinch a spot. A loss or a Chestatee loss would eliminate them ... The Dragons, however, are struggling on offense due to several key injuries. So. RB Sammy Brown is still out and QB Malaki Starks, is still recovering from an injury.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Tiger Stadium, Dawsonville
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM WDUN; www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
-- NORTH HALL (6-3, 4-1 Region 7-3A): Lost 28-26 to Cherokee Bluff last week
-- DAWSON COUNTY (5-4, 4-1 Region 7-3A): Defeated Lumpkin County 42-8 last week
-- NOTABLE: North Hall leads series 4-3. The Trojans won 34-21 in 2020 at The Brickyard. ... North Hall has won two straight in the series. ... The winner of the one will be the No. 2 seed and the loser will be the third seed in the playoffs. ... North Hall Sr. RB Kevin Rochester, after a 251-yard game last week, climbed back into 2nd place in Class 3A in rushing (1,352 yards, 17 TDs). He trails Mary Persons So. RB Duke Watson (1,370 yards) by just 18 yards heading into the final game of the regular season. The Trojans are the top rushing team in the state and in Class 3A (320 yards/game). ... The Tigers’ Bailey Dameron moved back into the lead in Class 3A in receiving (48 rec., 962 yards, 7 TDs).

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Raider Stadium, Mt. Airy
-- RADIO: 99.3 FM WCON
-- SHILOH (3-6, 3-2 Region 8-6A): Defeated Lanier 18-0 last week
-- HABERSHAM CENTRAL (3-6, 1-4 Region 8-6A): Off last week; defeated Central Gwinnett 20-0 two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: Habersham Central leads series 1-0. The Raiders won 45-37 in 2020 in Snellville. ... This game has no bearing on the playoffs. The Raiders have been eliminated and the Generals will be the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Eagles Stadium, Commerce
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (6-3, 1-3 Region 8-3A): Lost 16-7 to No. 4 Oconee County last week
-- EAST JACKSON (3-6, 1-3 Region 8-3A): Lost 52-18 to No. 9 Hart County last week
-- NOTABLE: Stephens County leads series 1-0. The Indians won 61-12 in 2020 in Toccoa. ... One more win for East Jackson and the Eagles can match their most wins since 2016 and clinch their first playoff spot since 2009. ... This is simple for both teams. The winner takes the No. 4 seed while the loser is out of the playoffs. ... The Eagles have played everyone tough this season. The key will be on offense. In their 3 wins, the Eagles have averaged 34.1 ppg. In their 6 losses, just 12.6 ppg. ... Stephens County is yielding just 13.6 ppg and has allowed more than 20 points just once all season.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee
-- WASHINGTON-WILKES (7-2, 3-1 Region 8-A Public): Lost 31-20 to Commerce last week
-- TOWNS COUNTY (4-5, 0-4 Region 8-A Public): Lost 44-22 to Social Circle last week
-- NOTABLE: Washington-Wilkes leads series 1-0. The Tigers won 41-0 in 2020 in Washington. ... The Indians have dropped four straight and were eliminated last week despite having one of the state’s leading rushers in Kyle Oakes. But 8-A Public continues to be one of the deepest regions in the classification with 6 of the 7 teams with at least 4 wins. ... Washington-Wilkes is still alive for a region despite last week’s loss.

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