Monday October 3rd, 2022 9:08PM

Games2Watch: One region opener and two huge non-region games have the potential to be good ones

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Week 5 was a night of the offense, including two of our last week's Games2Watch. 

We were nearly as close on our predictions as in Week 4, but it wasn't a total wash. 

Cherokee Bluff proved they had enough defense to slow down Chestatee. Although the War Eagles scored 21 points, the Bears' offense was tough to tame in a 42-21 win. 

Carver-Atlanta was good enough to hang for a half, beating the No. 1 team in Class 7A 16-15 at the break. But Buford turned the jets on to cruise to a 44-16 win. And North Forsyth and Jackson County made it interesting in the Region 8-6A defensive struggle. The Raiders pulled off the win, 14-3 in Hoschton. 

This week, we think we have found three more Games2Watch that should provide several fireworks in Week 5. 

Commerce at Banks County

In the past, this game has never been one to watch. The Tigers have dominated the Leopards over the 34-game series, leading 32-2. But this year should be different as the Leopard are rolling into this one on a winning high, having won four straight. 

You'll have to stroll back to the heydey of Leopard football to find the last time they beat the Tigers. It was 1992, a 28-0 win. The Leopards' two wins in the series came in the 90s. The other was 1990, a 29-24 win. 

On paper, Banks County is the better team, giving up 10 ppg, third in Class 2A, and scoring 34.5 ppg, which is eight in Class 2A. Commerce is ranked 21st in offense and 24th in defense in Class A D1. 

When you look at the body of work by both teams, Commerce has played the tougher schedule. Will that translate in this one? Not sure.

What we do know is this will feature two fierce rushing attacks. Commerce has Jaiden Daniels, who rushed for 122 yards and two scores in the win over Lincoln County, and Jacari Huff, who put up his best numbers last week as well -- 155 yards rushing and two scores.  

Banks County has Andrew Shockley, second in Class 2A in rushing, with 775 yards and 11 TDs. We think this one will be all about defense. Who will stop who last to win this one? Not going to pick it just yet. 

Jefferson at Clarke Central

It's the Region 8-5A opener for both, and it has the potential of being a good one, maybe.

Jefferson has continuously improved defensively since the first two weeks of the season. In those two games, the Dragons gave 37.5 ppg. Since then, they are yielding just 4.5 ppg, including a shutout win over St. Pius in Week 3.

Meanwhile, Clarke Central is struggling on defense, giving up close to 30 ppg, which could spell trouble for the Gladiators against a Jefferson team scoring 33 ppg.

The Dragons have been somewhat balanced offensively but like to run it more with Power 5 athlete Sammy Brown. He's rushed 65 times for 544 yards and 9 TDs -- half of the team's total rushing yards. Don't sleep on senior quarterback Max Aldridge. He has passed for 556 yards and 5 TDs, giving the Dragons options on offense. 

Clarke Central is a run-first team, using five backs to pile up the team's 865 yards. So, could this one be a rushing attack? Most likely. Who has the edge? We believe Jefferson has it. 

Whitefield Academy at Rabun County

What do you get when you toss a lot of offense and stingy defense into the mixing bowl? The potential of an old-fashioned slugfest. Yes, this one will be a good one.

Looking at the numbers, the Wildcats average 44.25 points per game -- tops in Class A D1; The Wolfpack are fifth best in Class A D1 with 36.75 ppg.

On defense, the Whitefield is fourth, giving up just 11 ppg, while Rabun is 10, yielding 14.75 ppg.

So, what can we expect? Honestly, we're not sure. The Wildcats are favored by 18 points and have played the tougher schedule of the two, going 4-0. They have Class A's top receiver in Jaden Gibson and second-best quarterback in Keegan Stover. They also have a pretty good rushing attack. On the other hand, the Wildcats will face possibly the best secondary they have seen all season. The quartet of Ayden Duncanson, Jonathan Cassady, Wyman Shaheen and Mac Wotton all have two interceptions.

So, will this become a defensive struggle, or will one or the other put up some big offensive numbers? Remember what happened in the Stephens County game? Rabun County won the game on a Pick 6, 14-7. Will that be the case Friday night in Tiger? Possibly. 

Follow Friday Game Night's Twitter page for score updates, stories, highlights and more. 

September 22

Flowery Branch at Eastside (SH)*

September 23

Commerce at Banks County
Buford at Marietta
Cherokee Bluff at North Hall*
North Oconee at Chestatee*
West Hall at Dawson County* 
Walnut Grove at East Forsyth*
East Hall at Cedar Shoals*
Johnson at East Jackson
Lanier at Habersham Central*
Jackson County at Apalachee*
Jefferson at Clarke Central*
Strong Rock Christian at Lakeview Academy
Pinecrest Academy at Lanier Christian*
Pickens at Lumpkin County*
Shiloh at North Forsyth*
Whitefield Academy at Rabun County
Oglethorpe County at Riverside Military

(Gainesville off, Towns County off, Union County off, White County off)

Region 8-5A, 7-3A, and GAPPS (LCA) gets under way this week

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