Class AAA blog: Liberty County-Appling County will bring clearer focus to Region 2

The Region 2 pecking order will come into clearer focus Friday when No. 5 Liberty County plays host to No. 8 Appling County in the 10th meeting between the programs.

Three high school football programs from 2-AAA – Liberty, Appling and No. 3 Pierce County -- are ranked in the top-10 and tied at the top of the region standings at 1-0. Pierce faces Long County on Friday, and the Bears are the favored, so the Appling-Liberty game will have an impact on the region seedings.

Appling holds a 5-4 lead in the series, including a 34-0 victory last season, but this game should be more closely contested. Appling is coming off a 45-0 victory against Long County last week; Liberty beat Tattnall County 40-0.

Appling's Pirates feature a run-heavy offense which averages 315.3 rushing yards and just 51.2 receiving yards. Junior quarterback Jeremiah Holmes is 15-of-37 passing for 278 yards and two touchdowns with 37 carries for 343 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Keyshawn Walker is 2-for-3 passing for 28 yards and one touchdown with 17 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Sharode Roberts leads the running game with 57 carries for 408 yards and six touchdowns. Senior R.J. Conaway has 60 carries for 361 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Matthew Nails has 32 carries for 259 yards and two touchdowns with four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. Senior receiver Keon Williams has five receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Liberty County runs is balanced, averaging 286 rushing yards and 157 receiving yards. Senior quarterback Dionte Bowens is 29-of-46 passing for 624 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has added 18 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown. Senior Markel Johnson leads the team with 55 carries for 410 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore Marques Johnson has 13 carries for 165 yards and one touchdown. Senior L.D. Mack has two carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns with five receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Anthony Parker has eight catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Nicholas Bennett has nine catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Meon McCleod, Marques Johnson and Markel Johnson each have one touchdown reception.

Here are some other games worth watching:

-- Westminster vs. No. 2 Cedar Grove: Both teams are unbeaten in 5-AAA play, and Westminster could make a state-shaking statement with a victory against the Saints. But, for lack of better words, it is a long-shot. The programs have met four times and split 2-2. Cedar Grove has won the past two seasons – 30-3 in 2018 and 41-10 in 2017. Westminster won the first two meetings – 24-8 in 2015 in the semifinals and 42-21 in 2016. The Saints have played to form since entering region play, moving to 3-0 last week with a 60-0 victory against Towers. Westminster is 2-0 after it defeated Pace Academy 36-21 last week. It defeated Towers 51-6 in its region opener Sept. 27.

-- No. 9 Jefferson at Morgan County: Both programs are 3-0 in region play, so the winner will move to the top of the 8-AAA standings. The teams have met 20 times dating to 1948. Morgan County leads the series 11-7, and there have been two ties. Jefferson has won the previous four games, including a 35-14 victory last season and a 17-0 victory in 2015. In 2014, Jefferson won 51-16 in the first meeting between the teams since 1969. Last week, Jefferson took a large step toward a region title with its 28-23 victory against then-No. 5 Hart County. Morgan County is coming off a 35-16 victory against Franklin County. Morgan averages 160 receiving yards and 157 rushing yards. Jefferson runs the ball, averaging 328 rushing yards and only 58 receiving yards.

Class AAA top-10 schedule

1. Peach County (5-1) is at home against Rutland in a Region 4 game.

2. Cedar Grove (5-2) vs. Westminster in a Region 5 game.

3. Pierce County (6-0) at Long County in a Region 2 game.

4. Greater Atlanta Christian (6-1) is at home against Lumpkin County in a Region 7 game.

5. Liberty County (4-0) is at home against No. 6 Appling County in a Region 2 game.

6. Appling County (5-1) is at No. 5 Liberty County in a Region 2 game.

7. Crisp County (4-3) vs. Monroe in a Region 1 game.

8. Lovett (5-2) is at Pace Academy in a Region 5 game.

9. Jefferson (5-1) is at home against Morgan County in a Region 8 game.

10. Hart County (5-1) is at Monroe Area in a Region 8 game.

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