Class AAAAA blog: Carver-Riverwood top this week’s big games

The Region 6 championship could be at stake this week when Carver (5-1, 3-0) travels to Riverwood (6-0, 3-0). Carver won the title two years ago and Riverwood is chasing the first title in school history.

Both teams have found a way to succeed, even though they are still young and still in the process of building.

“We’re still young,” said veteran Carver coach Darren Myles, who has only two seniors on offense and four on defense. “We played a lot of these guys last year … because we didn’t have anybody else.”

It’s worked out well for Carver. Myles said the off-season weight program was an emphasis and that their team’s core players made it a priority during the summer.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Jo’Quavious Marks, either.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back has committed to Mississippi State is “the best running back in the state,” Myles said. “He can do so many things. And you know what? He blocks. He’s a complete back.”

Through the first six games, Marks has carried 113 times for 1,387 yards and 20 touchdowns. He rushed for 345 yards against Grady. He averages 231.2 yards per game. For his career, Marks has rushed for 6,259 yards, averaged 11.1 yards per carry, and scored 56 touchdowns.

Marks benefits from running behind an offensive line that’s big and wide, Myles said. Kentavious Williams (6-5, 370), Anthony King (6-0, 280), Yonas Temesgen (6-5, 330), Marquis Bentley (6-5, 360) and Isaiah Conn (6-1, 280) make up a group that’s tough to move.

The on senior starting on defense is Amadi Cofield. That unit continues to improve. Myles said, “They’re getting better at reading and reacting. They’re playing physical and getting to the ball.”

Riverwood is only half a step behind Carver on offense. The Raiders have put 186 points on the board this year, second-best in the league behind Carver.

The Raiders have been led by Avery Smith, who has thrown for 746 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 118 yards and four touchdowns. Burke Cigelske plays there, too, and has completed 26 of 38 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Austin Smith (22 catches, 485 yards, seven TDs) and Timothe Dorce (14 catches, 194 yards) are two of the top targets. Quinterio Lawson leads the team with 577 rushing yards.

The race in Region 6 is hardly over. Riverwood still has to play playoff contender Maynard Jackson and Carver has a game remaining with Decatur.

Riverwood beat Carver 51-33 a year ago. It was the first time the Raiders had defeated Carver in five tries.

The Riverwood-Carver game is not the only game in the state with first-place implications.

Carrollton at Kell, Friday, 7:30 p.m. No. 2 Carrollton (7-0, 5-0) could virtually cement first place in Region 7 with a win. A victory by No. 9 Kell (5-1, 3-1) would create a three-way logjam among the league's three powerhouses. (Hiram, 4-2, 4-0, is the other team in contention.) This game should be determined by who can contain the other team's offense, which is loaded with weapons. Carrollton features quarterback Myles Morris and a deep group of running backs led by Mecose Todd. Kell offers quarterback Corbin LaFrance and freshman running back David Mbadinga. Kell leads the series 3-2 and beat Carrollton 31-10 in 2018.

Thomas County Central at Warner Robins, Friday, 7:30 p.m. Thomas County (5-1) will tangle with No. 4 Warner Robins (6-1, 1-0) in a big Region 1 game. Warner Robins survived a rough first half last week before turning back Harris County a week ago thanks to some tough running from Jahlen Rutherford. Thomas County is led by quarterback Kalique Guyton, who has thrown for 1,156 yards and 14 touchdowns and run for 295 yards. Warner Robins counters with QB Jalen Addie (1,216 yards passing, 12 TDs, 228 yards rushing), Rutherford (608 yards rushing) and James Smith (406 yards rushing). The two iconic programs have met five times, with Warner Robins winning three. The Demons prevailed 42-10 in 2018.

Wayne County at South Effingham, Friday, 7:30 p.m. First place in Region 2 is on the line. South Effingham (6-1, 1-0) has flourished under quarterback Taylor Jackson (1,287 yards passing, 15 TDs; 288 yards rushing, three TDs) and benefited from the transfer of Vanderbilt commit Rocko Williams (646 yards, 12 TDs). Wayne County (5-1, 1-0) is led by running backs Kaliz Hadley and Antwon McBride and first-year quarter Trey Pierce. Wayne County leads the series 7-1 and won 49-12 in 2018.

Ware County at Statesboro, Friday, 7:30 p.m. Ware County (3-3) entered the state rankings at No. 10 this week and will get an immediate test at Statesboro (3-3, 0-1). Ware has played an aggressive non-region schedule, but has nice wins over Glynn Academy, Jonesboro and Burke County. Statesboro physical team that made too many mistakes last week in its region-opening loss to Wayne County. Ware County has won seven of the last 10 meetings against Statesboro.

Columbia vs. Arabia Mountain (Avondale Stadium), Friday, 7:30 p.m. The winner of this game will emerge as the biggest challenge for Southwest DeKalb in Region 5. Columbia is 1-5 (one win taken away) and Arabia Mountain is 1-5. Both are 1-0 in the league. Columbia is led by quarterback Octavious Griffin, who ranks second in DeKalb County with 1,438 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, and has run for 292 yards and four TDs. Arabia Mountain has had trouble scoring points; the Rams have only four touchdowns this season, including one to beat Miller Grove 8-6 in its last game. Columbia leads the series 4-3, but Arabia Mountain has won the last three and won 15-10 in 2018.