Wednesday July 24th, 2024 1:51PM

ICYMI: Week 7 previews — FGN moves to Thursday in wake of Ian disruption

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

We have reached the backend of the 2022 season, and Week 7 already has offered every team in Northeast Georgia the biggest challenge of the season -- Hurricane Ian.

As early as Monday, teams began talking and preparing for Ian’s expected landfall this week somewhere on the west side of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico and to eventually wind its way into Georgia on Friday. As a result, 17 of the 20 games involving Northeast Georgia teams were moved from Friday to Thursday, giving everyone a short week of preparation.

Only Buford, which is playing Collins Hill on ESPN, Gainesville, which is traveling to Lanier on the Longhorns Homecoming Week, and Riverside Military Academy, which will be at home against Druid Hills, are still scheduled to play on Friday as of this posting.

But regardless of the weather, Week 7 could be pivotal for several area teams as they try to stay alive in the playoff race in their respective regions, or in trying to solidify playoff spots.

For a look at all of the week's contests involving area teams, simply scroll down. And be sure to check back with AccessWDUN's Friday Game Night throughout the night on Friday for score updates, game stories, and video highlights. You can also check for scores and highlights on our Twitter feed: @FridayGameNight

(North Forsyth and Union County are off this week.


HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE FOR Sept. 29
(Games listed in alphabetical order of visiting team)
BANKS COUNTY at EAST JACKSON
Records: Leopards (4-1, 0-0 Region 8-2A); Eagles (3-2, 0-0 Region 8-2A)
Last week: Banks County lost 17-14 to Commerce; East Jackson beat Johnson, 45-0.
Where: Eagles Stadium, Commerce
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: East Jackson leads the series 7-5. This is the fifth straight year they have played with the Eagles riding a three-game win streak over the Leopards. The last Banks County win came in 2018 in Homer. This will be the first time since 2009 the two teams have been in the same region. Both teams already have matched their win totals from last season. The two teams’ sit 1 and 2 in defense with the Leopards giving up just 57 points (11.4 ppg) and the Eagles allowing 58 points (11.6 ppg). Both units are in the top 9 in Class 2A. The edge on offense may go to the Leopards, who have scored 152 points (30.6 ppg) compared to just 113 points (22.6 ppg) for East Jackson.
What to watch for: Banks County offense vs. the Eagles defense. The Leopards ground game, which was averaging over 300 yards/game behind Andrew Shockley, was held to just 98 yards last week and they threw 3 INTs. Shockley (94-827 yards, 11 TDs) dropped to 4th in rushing in 2A with his lowest output of the season (52 yards, 0 TD) last week. The Eagles have forced 8 turnovers on the season and have allowed just 17 total points with two shutouts the last three weeks.


CEDAR SHOALS at CHEROKEE BLUFF
Records: Jaguars (2-3, 2-1 Region 8-4A); Bears (2-3, 2-1 Region 8-4A)
Last week: Cedar Shoals beat East Hall 49-21; Cherokee Bluff lost 14-12 to North Hall.
Where: Yonah Field, Flowery Branch
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. Both teams are among a group of four tied for second place in the region. The Jaguars have improved every week, allowing fewer points and scoring more with each game. After allowing 120 points (40 ppg) during a three-game losing streak Cedar has given up 24.5 ppg during its two-game streak, both in the region. The Bears are still the highest scoring team in the region (147, 29.4 ppg) despite their lowest output over their past 20 games, going back to 2020. Meanwhile, the defense has gone from allowing 89 points in their first two games to just 54 points (18.0 ppg) in their past three. The Jaguars offense is averaging less than 250 yards/game.
What to watch for: The Bears offense vs. the Cedar Shoals defense. Among teams playing a region schedule, only East Hall (188, 39.6 ppg) has given up more points than Cedar (169, 36.2 ppg). 


CHESTATEE at MADISON COUNTY
Records: War Eagles (1-4, 1-2 Region 8-4A); Red Raiders (1-3, 0-2 Region 8-4A)
Last week: Chestatee lost 52-7 to North Oconee; Madison County was off.
Where: Red Raider Stadium, Danielsville
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Madison County leads the series 4-2 and has won four straight. The last Chestatee win in the series came in 2013. Both teams desperately need a win to stay in the playoff, especially the Red Raiders, who would fall to 0-3. The schedule for the War Eagles should cool off considerably after already playing both North Oconee and Cherokee Bluff, the top two projected teams in the region. Their first 5 opponents are 15-8 combined.
What to watch for: The Chestatee offense vs. the Madison County defense. The War Eagles are averaging 24 ppg in region play while the Red Raiders have surrendered 110 points (36.6 ppg) during their three-game losing streak.


CLARKE CENTRAL at FLOWERY BRANCH
Records: Gladiators (1-4, 0-1 Region 8-5A); Falcons (2-3, 0-1 Region 8-5A)
Last week: Clarke Central lost 17-7 to Jefferson; Flowery Branch lost 34-14 to Eastside
Where: Falcons Field, Flowery Branch
Radio: WDUN AM 550
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Flowery Branch leads the series 6-4 with all 11 meetings being since 2010. The Falcons won the last meeting, 38-0, in 2019 and won three straight and 6 of the last 8 overall. Two teams projected to make the playoffs before the season began now face a almost must-win scenario to stay in the playoff race in a much better than expected region. The Glads have lost 4 straight for the first time since 2001 while the Falcons have lost 3 straight for the first time since 2016.
What to watch for: The Glads offense vs. the Branch defense. The Falcons have given up 104 points (34.6 ppg) during their losing streak while the Glads had been averaging 25.75 ppg until last week.

COLLINS HILL at BUFORD, Sept 30
Records: Eagles (2-3, 0-0 Region 8-7A); Wolves, ranked No. 1 in Class 7A (5-0, 0-0 Region 8-7A)
Last week: Collins Hill lost 23-20 to Westlake; Buford beat Marietta, 14-0.
Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. On paper, it looked like a dream matchup before the season started with two defending state champions. But the Eagles have suffered some key injuries, several lost for the season, and have struggled, especially on offense, where they are down to 15.8 ppg from their 39 ppg in 2021. The Eagles are 0-2 this season vs. ranked opponents. Buford has won 135 straight games vs. unranked opponents at Tom Riden going back to a loss to GAC in 1998. That does not include a pair of forfeit losses at home in 2012 due to an ineligible player.
What to watch for: The Buford defense vs. the Eagles offense. The Wolves are 3rd in 7A in defense allowing just 8.8 ppg while Collins Hill is averaging just 223 yards/game on offense, and only 81 on the ground. Buford is yielding less than 50 yards rushing/game.


COMMERCE at FIRST PRESBYTERIAN
Records: Tigers (3-2, Region 8-A Division 1); Vikings (1-4, GAPPS Region 4-3A)
Last week: Commerce beat Banks County, 17-14; First Presbyterian lost 35-28 to Mount Pisgah Christian.
Where: George S. Johnson Memorial Stadium, Macon
Time: 7 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. Commerce got a 25-yard game-winning field goal from Ivey Tolbert last week to hand the Leopards their first loss of the season. This is another game for the Tigers against a 2021 playoff team. The Vikings advanced to the Class A Private quarterfinals last year. They are a young team this season, however, and have dropped 4 straight. But three of the losses have been by 7 points or less. Commerce has won two straight.
What to watch for: The Commerce defense vs. the Vikings offense. After allowing 80 points in their first three games (26.6 ppg), the Tigers have allowed just 26 (13.0 ppg) in their last two games. The Vikings are averaging 26.4 ppg and have scored less than 28 just once on the season. However, they are 0-3 in games decided by 7 points or less.


DAWSON COUNTY AT at WHITE COUNTY
Records: Tigers (3-2, 1-0 Region 7-3A); Warriors (2-2, 0-0 Region 7-3A)
Last week: Dawson County beat West Hall, 56-7; White County was off.
Where: Warriors Stadium, Cleveland
Radio: 93.9 FM WRWH; www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: White County leads the series 6-4. But Dawson County has won two straight and 3 of the last 4 since the series resumed in 2016. A huge region game right off the bat for the Warriors as both teams were projected to make the playoffs. The Tigers have been tough on the road in region play going 4-2 over the past two seasons, including a 31-28 win over White County last year in Cleveland. The Warriors, however, are 2-0 at home in 2022. 
What to watch for: The Tigers offense vs. the Warriors defense. It’s been pretty simple for the Tigers. In their three wins, they’ve averaged 38.0 ppg. In their two losses, they’ve scored just 16 total points. It’s defense for the Warriors. In their two wins, they’ve allowed just 21 points (10.5 ppg). In their two losses, they’ve given up 95 points (47.5 ppg).


DRUID HILLS at RIVERSIDE MILITARY, Sept 30
Records: Red Devils (1-3, Region 6-4A); Eagles (0-5, GIAA Region 4-3A)
Last week: Druid Hills lost 30-17 to Southeast Whitfield; Riverside lost 63-12 to Oglethorpe County.
Where: Maginnis Field, Gainesville
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Riverside won the only meeting between the two teams in 2021, 32-26. Both teams are struggling. The Eagles have lost 11 straight since beating Druid Hills last season. They are averaging just 10.2 ppg on offense and giving up 54.4 ppg, both of which are at the bottom in GIAA Class 4A. The Red Devils are 1-22 in their last 23 games going back to 2019. 
What to watch for: The offenses. Both teams have scored exactly 51 points on the season. Whichever unti can get some traction should win. Druid Hills is yielding more than 4 TDs less than RMA on the season (28.25 ppg).


EAST FORSYTH at EAST HALL
Records: Broncos (3-1, 1-1 Region 8-4A); Vikings (2-3, 0-3 Region 8-4A)
Last week: East Forsyth lost 7-6 to Walnut Grove; East Hall lost 49-21 to Cedar Shoals
Where: East Hall Stadium, Rabbittown
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season in gut-wrenching style, having a potential game-winning field goal blocked in the final moments.  The injury-riddled Vikings put up a good fight last week but have lost 3 straight. East Forsyth leads Class 4A in defense allowing just 5.25 ppg while East Hall is 54th out of 60 in 4A giving up 188 points (37.6 ppg). 
What to watch for: The East Hall offense vs. the East Forsyth defense. The Broncos have not allowed more than 14 in any game this season while East Hall has scored 21 or more just once. The Vikings will have to find a way to keep pace to have any chance to break their losing streak.


GAINESVILLE at LANIER, Sept 30
Records: Red Elephants, ranked 3rd in Class 6A (5-0, 1-0 Region 8-6A); Longhorns (2-3, 1-0 Region 7-3A)
Last week: Gainesville was off; Lanier beat Habersham Central, 25-21.
Where: The Ranch, Sugar Hill
Radio: 94.5 FM The Lake
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Lanier leads the series 6-0. The Longhorns won the last meeting in 2019, 41-38. Old region foes are back together and the Red Elephants may have their best chance to end the streak against the Longhorns. It looks like a huge mismatch on paper as Gainesville leads 8-6A in scoring (185 points, 37.0 ppg) and in defense (69, 13.5 ppg) while Lanier is 6th in the seven-team league in both, averaging just 10.0 ppg on offense and giving up 28.2 ppg on defense. But Lanier's Kaden Beard leads 8-6A in rushing with 632 yards and 5 TDs.
What to watch for: The Gainesville defense vs. the Lanier offense. The Red Elephants defense has forced 7 turnovers, has 24 TFL, including 5 sacks so far. The Longhorns are 2-0 when scoring 19 or more, and 0-3 when scoring less than 19.


GILMER at WEST HALL
Records: Bobcats (4-1, 1-0 Region 7-3A); Spartans (1-4, 0-1 Region 7-3A)
Last week: Gilmer beat Wesleyan, 35-20; West Hall lost 56-7 to Dawson County.
Where: West Hall Stadium, Oakwood
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: The series is split 5-5. The two teams have split the last four meetings with each winning at home. The Spartans have been hit hard by injuries, which has contributed to their three-game losing streak. They have been outscored 128-14 in that span. Gilmer is off to its best start since 2014. The Bobcats' Will Kiker had a breakout game last week with 243 all-purpose yards, including over 100 on returns.
What to watch for: The Gilmer rushing attack vs. the Spartans defense. The Bobcats are 2nd in 7-3A in scoring (30.6 ppg) and averaging over 230 yards/game on the ground. West Hall is giving up 31.2 ppg.


GREENE COUNTY at TOWNS COUNTY
Records: Tigers (3-2, 0-0 Region 8-A Division 2); Indians (1-3, 0-0 Region 8-A Division 2)
Last week: Greene County lost 34-33 to Oglethorpe County; Towns County was off.
Where: Frank McClure Stadium, Hiawassee
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: The series is tied 1-1. This is the third straight season the two teams have played, with each winning on the road. The Indians, against a very tough schedule, are averaging 14.0 ppg and giving up 23.25 ppg on the season. The Tigers are averaging 27.4 ppg and allowing just 21.6 ppg. Greene County is 1-9 in its last 10 8-A games, with its only win over Towns last year. The Indians are looking to snap a 7-game losing streak in 8-A going back to their win over Greene County in 2020.
What to watch for: The Tigers offense vs. the Towns defense. Greene is averaging 340 yards/game (181 passing) with just 4 turnovers on the season. The Indians will have to find a way to slow down So. QB Steve Miller (907 yards, 13 TD, 4 INT passing) and Sr. RB Malik West (75 car., 453 yards, 2 TD, 3 100-yard games).


HABERSHAM CENTRAL at JACKSON COUNTY
Records: Raiders (2-3, 0-1 Region 8-6A) Panthers (2-4, 1-1 Region 8-6A)
Last week: Habersham Central lost 25-21 to Lanier; Jackson County beat Apalachee, 28-10.
Where: Panther Stadium, Hoschton
Radio: WCON 99.3 FM
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Habersham Central leads the series 8-0. This is the first meeting since 2007. There’s a lot riding on this one for teams as two losses in the region will force almost must-win scenarios. The Raiders are still having trouble finishing games. They have led all five games in the fourth quarter but were outscored 49-0 in the fourth in their three losses. The Panthers snapped a 3-game losing streak last week. Habersham Central QB Carson Parker had a huge game last week with 145 yards rushing and 167 yards passing. Jackson County RB M.J. Spurlin is 2nd in 8-6A in rushing with 357 yards and 5 TDs. Panthers' QB Chase Berrong is 2nd in 8-6A in passing (1,074 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT). The Raiders have not lost back-to-back games this season.
What to watch for: The Jackson County defense. The Panthers are only allowing 12.0 ppg in region play and have forced 10 turnovers so far. The Raiders offense has 7 turnovers for the season, not including stopped on downs.


JOHNSON at LAKESIDE-DEKALB
Records: Knights (0-5, non-region); Vikings (3-2, Region 4-6A)
Last week: Johnson lost 45-0 to East Jackson; Lakeside lost 30-0 to Dunwoody.
Where: Adams Stadium, DeKalb County
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. Johnson, which has now lost 27 straight, has played better than its record. The Knights trailed West Hall by just 2 points in the 4th quarter and lost to East Hall on a missed PAT. But after averaging 13.3 ppg in their first three games, they have scored just 3 points since. Lakeside has been shut out each of the past two weeks.
What to watch for: The Johnson defense vs. the Vikings offense. The Knights have been effective forcing 14 turnovers on the season. Lakeside has committed 8 turnovers so far. If the Knights can create some turnovers, they could help their offense with some short field possessions.


LAKEVIEW ACADEMY at BETHLEHEM CHRISTIAN
Records: Lions (3-2, 0-0 GIAA Region 4-3A); Knights (6-0, 0-0 GIAA Region 4-3A)
Last week: Lakeview beat Strong Rock Christian, 27-19;. Bethlehem beat King’s Ridge, 48-21.
Where: Bethlehem
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. They do have one common opponent, King’s Ridge. The Lions beat King’s Ridge 35-28 in their season-opener. The Knights lead this GIAA region in scoring (175, 29.1 ppg) and in defense (80, 13.3 ppg). They are a whopping +15 on turnover ratio having snagged 8 INTs and recovered 9 fumbles on the season.
What to watch for: The Lakeview offense vs. the Knights defense. Bethlehem has not allowed more than 21 in any game so far. Lakeview, which has won two straight, has found its rhythm on offense, scoring 69 points (34.5 ppg) in that stretch. The Lions are 3-0 when scoring more than 14 points.


LANIER CHRISTIAN at NOTRE DAME ACADEMY
Records: Lightning (4-1, GAPPS Region 1-2A); Irish (0-0, GIAA Region 1-2A)
Last week: Lanier Christian beat Pinecrest Academy, 69-7; Notre Dame beat St. Mary’s Academy, 37-6.
Where: Duluth
Time: 4 p.m.
The Statisticals: Notre Dame Academy won the  only meeting between the two teams, 21-18 in 2019 in Gainesville. They have one common opponent, Pinecrest Academy. Notre Dame lost to Pinecrest 21-0 in its season-opener.
What to watch for: The LCA offense vs. the Irish defense. The Irish are yielding just 18.8 ppg despite the record. But the Lightning still lead GAPPS in scoring averaging an astounding 58.4 ppg. Fr. QB C.J. Britt is completing 65% of his passes for 789 yards, 15 TDs, and no INTs so far on the season. Seven different receivers have caught TD passes. So. RB Zeke Clanton has 508 yards and 9 TDs so far with 3 100-yard games.


LUMPKIN COUNTY at WESLEYAN
Records: Indians (5-0, 1-0 Region 7-3A); Wolves  (1-4, 0-1 Region 7-3A)
Last week: Lumpkin County beat Pickens, 42-7; Wesleyan lost 35-20 to Gilmer.
Where: Henderson Stadium, Norcross 
Radio: www.northgeorgiasportslink.com
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Wesleyan leads the series 4-0. It’s their first meeting since 2005. The two teams show the early-season craziness of 7-3A. The Indians were not predicted to be in the playoff race while the Wolves were picked to finish second. Lumpkin is off to its best start since 1988 and is the only unbeaten team left in the region and just one of four left in all of Class 3A. Meanwhile, the Wolves are having their worst start since 2014 and face an almost must-win scenario this week with White County and Dawson County to follow. Lumpkin County WR Cal Faulkner had his best game of the season last week with 10 catches for 209 yards and 3 TDs. 
What to watch for: The Wesleyan offense vs. the Indians defense. Lumpkin County leads 3A in defense, giving up just 40 points (8.0 ppg) on the season. The Wolves are averaging 20.2 ppg but have scored just 42 total points (14.0 ppg) in their last three games.


NORTH HALL at NORTH OCONEE
Records: Trojans (2-3, 2-1 Region 8-4A); Titans, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A (4-0, 2-0 Region 8-4A)
Last week: North Hall beat Cherokee Bluff, 14-12; North Oconee beat Chestatee, 52-7.
Where: Titans Stadium, Bogart
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: The series is tied 1-1 with both teams winning on the road. North Hall won the last meeting in 2015, 31-0. The Titans are No. 2 in defense in 4A yielding just 6.5 ppg. The Trojans defense has really picked it up giving up just 12 points the last two weeks (6.0 ppg) after allowing 34.1 ppg in their first three games. North Forsyth is averaging 29.25 ppg on offense while North Hall is averaging 26.0 ppg.
What to watch for: North Hall RBs Tate Ruth and Ajay Jones. If they can get the speedy duo the ball in space, they both have big-play capability. The pair is averaging just under 150 all-purpose yards/game combined with 6 TDs combined.


RABUN COUNTY at FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN
Records: Wildcats, ranked 2nd in Class A Division 1 (5-0, Region 8-A Division 1); Paladins (2-2, Region 8-2A)
Last week: Rabun County beat Whitefield Academy, 28-14; Fellowship beat Lovett, 21-10.
Where: Paladin Field, Roswell
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: First-ever meeting between the two programs. The Wildcats ridiculous non-region schedule continues against a Paladins program that has won 64 games over the past 6 seasons with 5 quarterfinals appearances. Rabun senior WR/FS Cory Keller is putting together an impressive season. He has 367 all-purpose yards, leads the team in return yards. . Fellowship Christian RB Nick Persiano rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown and had three tackles and a sack in a 21-10 victory over Lovett.
What to watch for: Rabun County’s Jaden Gibson. The senior wide receiver continues to lead the state’s receiving list with 776 yards. Gibson, a Georgia Southern-commit, is now just 527 yards from Stan Rome’s record of 4,477 yards.


WINDER-BARROW at JEFFERSON
Records: Bulldoggs (3-2, 0-1 Region 8-5A); Dragons, ranked 9th in Class 5A (3-2, 1-0 Region 8-5A)
Last week: Winder-Barrow was off ; Jefferson beat Clarke Central, 17-7.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Jefferson
Radio: 102.9 FM WDUN
Time: 7:30 p.m.
The Statisticals: Jefferson leads the series 17-10 but this is only the third meeting since 1985. The Dragons won the last meeting, 32-17 in 2015, and have won two straight. The last Bulldoggs win came in 1985. Dragons’ QB Max Aldridge and WR Elijah Dewitt are becoming a formidable combo. Dewitt, who now leads 8-5A in receptions (20) and yards (543), has 10 catches for 249 yards the past two games. Winder RB Tyreek Hall is 2nd in rushing in 8-5A with 828 yards but is averaging a region-best 165 yards/game.
What to watch for: The Bulldoggs defense vs. the Jefferson offense. The Bulldoggs are yielding just 14.2 ppg and have forced 9 turnovers so far. But they have given up 62 points the past two games, both losses. After scoring 102 points (51.0 ppg) in the first two games, the Dragons have averaged just 15.6 ppg in their last three.

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