Tuesday April 16th, 2024 10:19PM

Week 10 notebook: Record breaker; playoff movers and shakers in key week

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

What better way to start off this week’s notebook than with a record-breaker.

“TWO, TWO...TWO RECORDS IN ONE” (say it using the old Doublemint commercial jingle!): Rabun County wide receiver Jaden Gibson had the 8th-highest game in state history last week with 285 yards receiving, including 4 TD catches against Elbert County. Both efforts turned out to be record-setting state performances.

The 285 yards give Gibson 4,537 for his career, breaking the 49-year-old record of 4,477 set from 1970 to 1973 by Stan Rome of Valdosta. 

The four touchdowns gave Gibson 49 for his career. Gibson broke the old mark of 48, set last year by Travis Hunter of Collins Hill (2018-2021). It's the fourth time the receiving TD record has been broken in the last five years. 

With at least three more games left in the season, as every team in the four-team Region 8-A Division 1 will make the playoffs, Gibson can and probably will add on to both of those totals.

(Check out our Gaining The Edge feature on Gibson put together by AccessWDUN’s Seth Chapman here.)

CLOSE AND COULD GET A CIGAR: While not close to any state records at the moment, Buford’s Justice Haynes has a chance to do something only two other running backs in the state's history have ever done: reach the 8,000-yard rushing plateau.

Haynes sits at 6,850 yards, which puts him 11th on the all-time list. The senior Alabama-commit, who played three seasons at Blessed Trinity, has 1,006 yards with 11 TDs and six 100-yard games so far this season. He is averaging 125.8 yards/per game in 2022. 

At that pace, and having Buford advance to the Class 7A title game for eight more games, he would finish with 7,856 yards. Only six players have ever hit the 7,000-yard mark, the latest being Nick Chubb. 

But if Haynes can average 144 yards/game the rest of the way, and the Wolves get into the title game, he could reach the 8,000-yard barrier. Monte Williams of Commerce holds the all-time rushing record of 8,844 yards. Washaun Ealey of Emanuel County Institute is the only other player to reach that level with 8,108 yards.

To understand just how difficult it will be to break Williams’s record, Haynes would have to average 250 yards/game, and Buford make the championship game.

PLAYOFF MOVES: Week 10 saw several area teams covered by AccessWDUN make a serious move toward the playoffs and put in motion some huge matchups this week and next for possible region titles.

Bo Wilson looked at the wackiness that is Region 7-3A. You can read about that here.

As for the rest of the regions, some things appear easy. Others do not.

In Region 8-7A, Buford took the initial control with last week's win over Mill Creek. Add that to the Wolves' win over Collins Hill three weeks ago, and there would have to be some significant upsets for Buford not to win the region at this point.

In Region 8-6A, Gainesville and North Forsyth both can clinch playoff spots with wins this week. If both do, that would set up the basic region title game next week at City Park. The other two spots are up for grabs, though Jackson County can take a serious step forward with a win over Lanier tonight.

In Region 8-5A, Loganville and Jefferson meet tonight at Memorial Stadium with a lot riding on the outcome. The Red Devils clinch a playoff berth and the region title with a win. Meanwhile, Jefferson would clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Winder-Barrow loss to Heritage-Conyers. However, the Dragons would still have to beat Eastside to close out the season to win the region title. Struggling Flowery Branch would be eliminated with a Winder-Barrow win AND a Clarke-Central win.

In Region 8-4A, North Oconee can clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight. The other three playoff spots will likely come down to the final play and then go to tiebreakers. East Forsyth was dealt a big blow on Thursday as Madison County rallied for a 42-34 win at Half-Mile High Stadium. The ending will get messy.

In Region 8-2A, Union County can clinch with a win AND Banks County and Providence Christian losses. Fellowship Christian also can clinch a playoff spot with a win AND Banks County and East Jackson losses. Everyone will have to wait.

And, in Region 8-A Division I, No. 3 Rabun County can clinch a home playoff game with a win AND an Elbert County loss. Commerce can clinch a home playoff game with a win over Elbert County AND an Athens Christian loss. If both of those happen, Commerce and Rabun County will meet next week in Tiger for the region title.

THE LINES

As always, there are more than a few interesting lines this week involving Northeast Georgia area teams.

No way! Really?

Elbert County is favored by 11 points on the road against Commerce...Really?

On the surface, it seems to make sense. The Blue Devils are ranked 7th in Class A Division 1, and the Tigers are unranked. But both have played tough non-region schedules.

Elbert County is a perfect 4-0 on the road, while Commerce is just 1-2 at home. But Commerce traditionally is one of the toughest teams in the state at home.

Also, the Tigers’ home losses came early in the season as they were still trying to put things together. They have. The Tigers have won five straight -- four straight on the road as well -- and this will be their first home game in over a month.

It just appears to be WAY too many points. Plus, The Tigers are 4-1 in games decided by four points or less. AND they have Ivy Tolbert, who has already kicked two game-winning field goals.

Expect a much closer game than the line indicates.

Shocking line of the week

Jackson County (-5) vs. Lanier in Hoschton

It was tough to find a truly shocking line this week. But this one is certainly interesting enough.

The Panthers are 4-30 all-time vs. teams from Gwinnett County. Yes, we know these two teams have never met. But still, it has not been a pretty history for Jackson County against its bordering neighbors.

Jackson County had lost eight straight to Gwinnett County teams going back to a 41-12 win over GAC in 1991 before knocking off Duluth, 22-7, in their second game this season. That’s right; it had been 31 years since they had beaten any team based in Gwinnett. They also have just one win each over Buford (1986) and North Gwinnett (1985) in their history as well.

And since the win over Duluth? The Panthers have dropped two straight to Gwinnett teams -- Central Gwinnett and Shiloh.

Again, not the most shocking line we’ve seen this year, but having the Panthers favored over ANY Gwinnett team, studying their history, is something to take note of for sure.

Scattered, smothered...and will cover!

We went 3-1 in our COVER picks last week, moving us to 12-4 overall for the season. We hit the .750 mark for the season. Pretty good if we do say so ourselves!

As always, it was a challenge this week with several key games and several toss-up lines to match. However, once again, we have braved taking on an interesting line involving Buford. This week we took on the huge showdown between Jefferson and Loganville, which is deemed a veritable toss-up. We love a challenge!

Here goes...

Buford vs. Dacula (+50): The Wolves are riding high after knocking off Mill Creek last week. Dacula is struggling. However, only three times in the 44-game series history has either team beaten the other by more than 50 points (all by Buford, by the way). There could/maybe/not sure be a slight letdown for the Wolves, who are expected to win handily. Judging by the history, though, we’re going to take a chance and take the 50 points. Buford wins, but Dacula COVERS!

Loganville at Jefferson (+1) at Memorial Stadium: These two teams have not played since 1987, so there is no real recent history to draw on. With the Red Devils favored by just 1, it’s basically a toss-up. So, based on just this season, the Dragons are playing at home, and with a defense that has been as dominant as any in the state over the past month, we’re going to take Jefferson to win it outright. Give us the 1 point as well. Jefferson COVERS!

Elbert County at Commerce (+11): This one had us shaking our heads for sure for all the reasons we mentioned above. Expect a close game, which definitely favors this Tigers squad. Few teams ever go into Tigers Stadium and blow them out. Won’t happen tonight, either. In fact, we’re picking Commerce to pull the upset over the seventh-ranked Blue Devils, so again, we’ll take the points; thank you very much! Commerce COVERS!

Jackson County (-5) vs. Lanier: For the reasons we mentioned above about this game, this one seems a little odd. But the Panthers have been tough at home, going 2-2 and allowing just 14.5 ppg. Despite the history, we’re taking Jackson County to win. And, we THINK? They will COVER the 5 points. (We hope!)

AREA TOP PERFORMERS: Rabun County Sr. WR Jaden Gibson not only has two state records, but he extended his lead atop the state receiving stats to over 500 yards with his performance last week. Gibson now has 1,363 yards on the year. B.J. Gibson of Wilcox County, who leads Class A Division 2, is a distant second in the state with 801 yards.

Gibson’s teammate, Keegan Stover, remains second in the state overall with 2,400 yards. He is just 38 yards behind state leader Tate Morris of  McIntosh (Class 5A), who has 2,438 yards. He leads Class A D1 by a wide margin as Jack Cendoya of Mount Pisgah Christian is second with 1,950 yards.

Union County’s Caiden Tanner moved up to second in Class 2A with 1,614 yards and is 20th overall now in passing. However, Seth Griffin of North Murray is third in the state overall and leads Class 2A with 2,278 yards, a whopping 664-yard lead.

On the rushing list, Commerce’s Jaiden Daniels continues to climb the chart, moving nine spots to 15th overall with 1,217 yards. The junior remains 3rd in Class A D1 but is now just 74 yards behind classification leader Quan Moss of Elbert County (1,291). The two teams meet tonight in Commerce.


SCHEDULE FOR WEEK 10

FRIDAY, Oct. 21
Athens Christian at Rabun County*
Banks County at Athens Academy*
Cherokee Bluff at East Hall*
Chestatee at Cedar Shoals*
Dacula at Buford*
Druid Hills at Johnson
East Jackson at Union County*
Elbert County at Commerce*
Gainesville at Shiloh*
Gilmer at Dawson County*
Habersham Central at North Forsyth*
King's Ridge at Lanier Christian
Lanier at Jackson County*
Loganville at Jefferson*
Lumpkin County at White County*
Pickens at West Hall*
Riverside Military at Lakeview Academy*
Warren County at Towns County*


THURSDAY'S SCORES
Madison County 42, East Forsyth 34*

(Flowery Branch and North Hall are off)

(* -- denotes region contest)

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