Wednesday December 8th, 2021 1:26PM

ICYMI: Week 3 previews -- COVID causes scheduling changes for NEGa area teams

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

Week 3 of the Georgia High School Association, at least for Northeast Georgia area teams, is the lightest in the early going as just 12 games are on tap for Friday night.

It was a higher number for sure, but Commerce, Flowery Branch and Rabun County were all forced to cancel their games because of COVID. Those were part of 30 games statewide were wiped out for the week.

The West Hall-Johnson showdown, originally scheduled for this week, had been moved last month due to West Hall’s field not being ready. That game has been rescheduled for Oct. 29 at Spartan Field.

The Red Elephants-Falcons battle at City Park was by far the marquee matchup of the week, locally. That game is not being made up, despite both teams having a week off next week. Branch would not have time to reacclimate for the mandatory 5-day recovery period for next week, and Gainesville has its Region 6-7A opener the following week against Forsyth Central.

Class 2A No. 2-ranked Rabun County was set to continue its most ambitious non-region schedule ever. The Wildcats were headed to McDonough to take on Class A-Private No. 2 Eagles Landing Christian Academy, but the Wildcats were forced to cancel late Wednesday due to COVID. It would have been the second top-two ranked team Rabun County had faced in the opening three weeks.

Still, there are three contests involving first-ever meetings on Friday, which offer some intriguing matchups. 

Most of the games involving area teams involve road trips. East Jackson, Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee, Jefferson and Lakeview Academy are the only five teams set to kick off in front of home crowds this week.

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: Eagles Stadium, Commerce
-- BANKS COUNTY (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Forfeited last week vs. Franklin County due to COVID; lost 10-0 to Commerce two weeks ago
-- EAST JACKSON (0-2, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Lost 26-0 to Jackson County last week
-- NOTABLE: East Jackson leads series 6-5. The Eagles won 23-22 in 2020 in Homer. East Jackson has won two straight, which followed three straight Banks County wins. The Leopards' last win came in 2018 in Homer. East Jackson is 3-2 vs. the Leopards at home in the series. ... Region 8-2A had a rough beginning going 1-4 through the first two weeks with four games being canceled as well. ... Despite the 0-2 start, the Eagles have been tough on defense. So far they are allowing just 20 ppg after surrendering 38.4 ppg in 2020. ... Banks County was shutout in its only game but had one touchdown called back vs. Commerce and another drive stopped in the second half. ... The Leopards are trying to avoid their 5th 0-2 start in the last 6 years. East Jackson is trying to avoid its first 0-3 start since 2012.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Raider Valley, Coal Mountain
-- DALTON (1-1, 0-0 Region 5-6A): Defeated Ridgeland 49-0 last week
-- NORTH FORSYTH (1-1, 0-0 Region 6-7A): Lost 19-6 to Harrison last week
-- NOTABLE: Dalton leads series 1-0. The Catamounts won 20-17 in 2005 in the 2nd round of the Class 4A playoffs. ... The Raiders rushing attack has struggled in the early going averaging just over 100 yards/game so far. QB Drew Aucoin has 3 rushing TDs and the rest of the team has just 1 (Lake Heffington). Patrick Corrigan leads the team with 78 yards rushing. ... Aucoin has passed for 285 yards so far with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. ... Dalton held Ridgeland to less than 100 yards of offense last week. ... The Raiders have not started a season 1-2 since 2015.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: War Eagle Stadium, Cumming
-- DAWSON COUNTY (0-2, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Lost 31-7 to Flowery Branch last week
-- SOUTH FORSYTH (0-1, 0-0 Region 6-7A): Last week’s game vs. Cambridge was canceled due to COVID; lost 45-26 to Roswell two weeks ago
-- NOTABLE: South Forsyth leads series 2-0. The War Eagles won 63-49 in 2020. ... Last year’s game was an offensive shootout. But both teams lost several key pieces to graduation and transfer coming into this season. ... Sr. QB Zach Holtzclaw, who led Class 3A in passing in 2020, returns for the Tigers but they lost their entire WR group. The War Eagles lost star QB Kyle Durham to Johns Creek. ... Dawson County has scored just 26 total points (13 ppg), the worst 2-game stretch in the Sid Maxwell-era, after averaging 35.8 ppg last season. A reworked defense, especially the secondary, is yielding 29 ppg in 2021. ... Going back to last season, South Forsyth has allowed 33.6 ppg over its last 6 games.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Yonah Field, Flowery Branch
-- EAST FORSYTH (0-2, non-region, Region 7-3A): Lost 45-7 to Rabun Gap last week
-- CHEROKEE BLUFF (2-0, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Defeated Chestatee 60-21 last week
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The two newest programs in the Northeast Georgia area will meet for the first time. ... The Broncos managed their first points in their history last week on a TD by Fr. Adrian Reyes. ... The Bears continue to set records. They set a program record in points in Week 1 with 57 in a win over Johnson and that record lasted just one week as they broke it again that last week vs. Chestatee. They lead the entire state in scoring with 117 points after the first two weeks. ... Sr. QB Sebastian Irons (148 yards passing, 2 TD) and Sr. RB Jayquan Smith (185 yards rushing, 4 TD) have picked up where they left off in 2020. ... The Bluff defense has allowed just 28 points (14 ppg) and forced three turnovers.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Ed Bryant Stadium, Carnesville
-- EAST HALL (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Lost 48-21 to West Hall last week
-- FRANKLIN COUNTY (1-0, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Game last week vs. Banks County was canceled due to COVID
-- NOTABLE: Franklin County leads series 10-5. The Lions won 31-21 in 2020. East Hall last won 34-27 in 2015 in the last of a three-game win streak in the series. ... A matchup between two teams in a pair of power regions. Region 8-4A is 6-4 so far in non-region play while Region 8-3A is 9-2 in non-region play. ... The Lions are looking for their 2nd consecutive 2-0 start. That has not happened since the 1982-83 seasons. ... A revamped East Hall offense found some rhythm in the second half but QB Clete Cooper was only 8-of-24 passing for 142 yards and 2 TDs. ... The Vikings defense, which allowed 35.1 ppg in 2020, is still a work-in-progress after allowing 518 yards last week.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: The Reservation, Toccoa
-- JACKSON COUNTY (1-0, 0-0 Region 8-5A): Defeated East Jackson 26-0 last week
-- STEPHENS COUNTY (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Defeated North Hall 42-0 last week
-- NOTABLE: Stephens County leads series 6-1. The Indians won 24-10 in 2020 in Jefferson. The only Panthers win in the series came in 2009, 26-23, at The Reservation. ... The Panthers are looking for their first 2-0 start since 2017, the last time they made the playoffs. The Indians have not started a season 3-0 since 2012. ... Jackson County’s Tre Ransom had 143 total yards of offense -- 111 rushing yards and 32 receiving yards -- to give them plenty of versatility. ... The defense is the key for the Panthers under Rich McWhorter. In their 8 wins since he took over in 2019, 6 have been by shutout, and they have allowed just 35 points (4.75 ppg) in those games. However, they have given up 32 ppg in the other 13 games. ... They will have their work cut out for them vs. an Indians offense that piled up more than 400 yards of offense behind Jr. QB Ben Stowe and Jr. RB TJ Everett.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Pete Herndon Stadium, Hartwell
-- RADIO: FM 94.5/AM 1240 The Lake
-- NORTH HALL (1-1, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Lost 42-0 to Stephens County last week
-- HART COUNTY (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-3A): Defeated White County 49-13 last week
-- NOTABLE: Hart County leads series 11-2. The Bulldogs won 55-22 in 2020 at The Brickyard. The last North Hall win in the series came in 2008, 10-9, in the 1st round of the Class 3A playoffs. ... The Trojans’ high-powered wing-T was grounded last week by the Indians amassing just a paltry 155 yards. The Bulldogs defense has surrendered 17 ppg but their offense has been nearly unstoppable. ... The Hart County offense is averaging 51.5 ppg in the early going, which is 2nd in Class 3A. Sr. RB JL Lackey has led the way with nearly 400 yards. He scored 5 TDs last week vs. the Warriors. ... The Trojans defense was run over by a bigger Stephens County line and will need to make some adjustments vs. what may be the best rushing attack in a tough Region 8-3A. ... Region 7-3A is just 5-9 so far in non-region action. Region 8-3A is 9-2 in non-region play.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Lions Stadium, Gainesville
-- RABUN GAP (1-1, NCISAA): Defeated East Forsyth 45-7 last week
-- LAKEVIEW ACADEMY (0-1, 0-0 Region 6-A): Game last week vs. Darlington was canceled; lost 48-13 two weeks ago to Mt. Paran on the road
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The Indians play in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association, the only Georgia team to do so. ... The Indians have been tough on Georgia teams of late winning their last three, including last week. They sport four players listed in the top 94 by 24/7 Sports in Georgia. ... The rebuilding Lions have had two weeks to shake off a tough opener. The 13 points were just the 2nd time in their last 9 games they have scored less than 14 but they are breaking a new QB and several other key parts.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: North DeKalb Stadium, Chamblee
-- RIVERSIDE MILITARY (0-0, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Game with St. Anne-Pacelli was canceled due to COVID
-- DRUID HILLS (0-2; Region 6-4A, non-region schedule): Lost 49-0 to Redan last week 
-- NOTABLE: First-ever meeting between the two programs. ... The Eagles still have not played a game since Nov. 8, 2019, 672 days, their longest stretch without playing since not playing the 1916 season during World War 1. ... RMA, which began playing football in 1908, has one of the most extensive opponent lists in the country. Druid Hills becomes the 205th different school they have faced in their 111 seasons and the 159th different Georgia program in that time. They have played programs from 7 different states and two countries in that span. ... Region 8-2A had a rough beginning going 1-4 through the first two weeks with four games being canceled as well. ... Consistency has been an issue for the Red Devils, who are under their third coach in three seasons and fourth in five seasons. Traditionally they are one of the losingest programs in the state. They have not won more than 4 games in any season since 1985 and have not made the playoffs since 1956. ... They have been shutout in 5 straight and 8 of their last 9 games going back to October of 2019. ... Their only win since September of 2019 was by forfeit last season. ... RMA is still piecing together its roster but should have most of its projected starters available. ... Sr. ATH Max Vogelbacher, who may play at WR, RB, and QB at times, may be poised for a breakout season for the Eagles.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
-- RADIO: 102.9 FM WDUN
-- SOUTHSIDE (S.C.) (0-2): Lost 14-9 to Woodmont last week
-- JEFFERSON (2-0, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Ranked No. 1 in Class 4A; defeated Central Gwinnett 42-7 last week
-- NOTABLE: Jefferson leads series 1-0. The Dragons won 31-7 in 2018 in Jefferson. ... The two teams were scheduled to play in 2020 but the game was canceled due to COVID. ... A rebuilding Tigers team has struggled, scoring just 9 points (4.5 ppg) on offense while allowing 55 points (27.5 ppg) on defense. ... The Dragons have been rolling behind their super-charged rushing attack. Behind So. RB Sammy Brown, who has become the featured back in their option and has rushed for over 300 yards 4 TDs, they have amassed over 700 yards on the ground so far.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: War Eagle Stadium, Gainesville
-- UNION COUNTY (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A): Game canceled last week; lost 34-7 to Fannin County two weeks ago
-- CHESTATEE (0-1, 0-0 Region 8-4A): Lost 60-21 to Cherokee Bluff last week
-- NOTABLE: Union County leads series 1-0. The Panthers won 39-19 in Blairsville in 2020. ... Region 8-2A had a rough beginning going 1-4 through the first two weeks with four games being canceled as well. ... Two teams are primarily known for their explosive offenses over the years. But the defenses, or the one that can show it can make stops, will probably decide this one. ... The Panthers are under a new coach in Michael Perry, known for his Air Raid offenses, but they are reworking a young-ish defense that has given up 180 points over its last six games (30 ppg) going back to last year. ... The War Eagles bought back a lot of experience from last year’s young group which gave up 46.9 ppg but struggled last week vs. a balanced Bears attack. ... Chestatee is also trying to snap an 11-game losing streak.

-- WHEN: 7:30 p.m. 
-- WHERE: Dragon Stadium, Jasper
-- RADIO: 93.9 FM WRWH
-- WHITE COUNTY (0-2, 0-0 Region 7-3A): Lost 49-13 to Hart County last week
-- PICKENS (1-0, 0-0 Region 7-4A): Defeated Commerce 37-8 last week
-- NOTABLE: White County leads series 24-20-2. The Warriors won 42-7 in 2020. White County has won two straight in the series. ... It has been an even series throughout with Pickens holding a slim 11-9-1 edge at Dragons Stadium. However, the Dragons have won three straight and are 9-2 in the last 11 meetings in Jasper going back to 1990. The last White County win at Dragon Stadium came in 2008, 26-10. ... The issues on both sides of the ball have been plenty for the Warriors. They are averaging just 16.5 ppg as they try to break in several guys at key positions. The defense has struggled, yielding 83 points (41.5 ppg) the 2nd-most in Class 3A so far. ... The Dragons offense scored its most points last week since the 2019 regular season-finale vs. Lafayette (49). They averaged just 15.5 ppg in 2020.

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