AA's top games of the week

Their identical 4-1 records and 2-0 marks in Region 2 suggest Friday’s game between No. 4 Benedictine and Jeff Davis will be evenly matched. History, however, says Benedictine is a heavy favorite.

The Cadets have won all four previous meetings between the schools by an average score of 41-2, and the Yellow Jackets haven’t scored against Benedictine since the first game of the series in 2008.

Nonetheless, Jeff Davis is off to its best start since 2007 and has taken significant steps toward breaking a 12-year postseason drought, thanks to a defense that’s yielding only eight points per game, good for third-best in AA. Offensively, the Yellow Jackets are led by running backs Wenner Rodriguez (Sr.; 41 carries, 380 yards, 4 TDs) and Jaylene Kirby (Fr.; 42/224/3). Benedictine will be the first team with a winning record Jeff Davis has played since a season-opening loss to Atkinson County, 21-6.

The Cadets have won four straight since dropping their opener to No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian, mostly by wide margins. Benedictine ranks second in Class AA in points per game (40.4) and sixth in points allowed (11.4). On offense, the Cadets are equally comfortable with the run and the pass, averaging 246 yards per game on the ground and 239 through the air.

Back-to-back-to-back-to-?

No. 6 Lamar County (3-1-1) opens its quest for a fourth straight Region 4-AA championship Friday night at Bleckley County (2-3) in the region opener for both teams.

Bleckley County is probably not as bad as its record might suggest, as its three losses this season have come against teams with a combined record of 16-2. Since an 0-3 start, the Royals have won two straight, including a 28-14 victory over Berrien in their last game two weeks ago. Running back Anthony Wright led Bleckley in the win, rushing 19 times for 198 yards and two TDs.

Lamar County, a state finalist last year, is averaging 225 rushing yards per game – that number includes a weather-shortened game against Mary Persons that went as the Trojans’ only loss thus far when the game was interrupted as Lamar County was getting set to attempt the potential game-tying two-point conversion. Led by Noah Eure (54 carries, 438 yards, 4 TDs) and Juan Tucker (42/272/7) the Trojans are averaging 35.2 points per game.

Bulldogs look to avoid let-down performance

Coming off its third straight win and biggest of the season, No. 7 Thomasville (3-3, 2-0 Region 1-AA) brings its highest ranking since 2010 into Friday’s game against Pelham (3-2, 0-1).

Pelham opened the season with three straight wins, but has struggled in its last two games against higher-caliber competition, Colquitt County and Brooks County.

Thomasville is headed in the opposite direction after knocking off then-No. 2 Fitzgerald last week, 22-19. The Bulldogs ran for 238 yards in the win and are now averaging 285 rushing yards per game in two region contests.

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 19-0. The teams first played in 1922, but did not face each other between 1938 and 2001.

Crucial game in 8-AA

Greene County (3-3, 2-0) put itself in thick of the 8-AA title chase – if not in the driver’s seat – with a 16-7 win over defending champ Washington-Wilkes last week. The suddenly muddy playoff picture could become a little clearer if Greene County can knock off Union County (6-0, 2-0) on Friday.

Led by quarterback Joseph Mancuso, the Panthers have AA’s highest-scoring offense, and are off to their best start since 2001. But the toughest games on the schedule remain, starting with the Tigers.

Union County trounced Greene County last year, 42-0, but the Tigers seem to have improved significantly over that team, which finished 3-7.

The focus for the Tigers’ defense will be finding a way to slow Mancuso. The 6-3, 190-pound junior is averaging 250 passing yards per game and has thrown 22 touchdowns with no interceptions in 134 attempts.

Top 10 schedule

1. Greater Atlanta Christian (6-0) at Pace Academy

2. Vidalia (6-0) OFF

3. Lovett (4-2) at Hapeville Charter

4. Benedictine (4-1) at Jeff Davis

5. Brooks county (4-2) at Seminole County

6. Lamar County (3-1-1) at Bleckley County

7. Thomasville (3-3) vs. Pelham

8. Fitzgerald (5-1) OFF

9. Darlington (5-1) vs. Dade County

10. Screven County (6-0) vs. East Laurens

Schedule by region

Region 1

Brooks County at Seminole County

Early County at Berrien

Pelham at Thomasville

OFF: Fitzgerald

Region 2

Bacon County vs. Bryan County

Benedictine at Jeff Davis

Groves at McIntosh County Academy

New Hampstead at Long County

OFF: Vidalia

Region 3

Dublin at Harlem

Metter at Jefferson County

Screven County at East Laurens

OFF: Swainsboro

Region 4

Lamar County at Bleckley County

Monticello at Macon County

Putnam County at Northeast-Macon

Region 5

Chattahoochee County at Stewart County

Greenville at Bowdon

OFF: Bremen, Heard County, Manchester, Temple

Region 6

Greater Atlanta Christian at Pace Academy

Holy Innocents' at K.I.P.P. Atlanta Collegiate

Lovett at Hapeville Charter

Wesleyan at B.E.S.T. Academy

Region 7

Dade County at Darlington

Gordon Lee at Coosa

Model at Armuchee

OFF: Chattooga

Region 8

Oglethorpe County at Rabun County

Social Circle at Crawford County

Union County at Greene County

Washington-Wilkes at Riverside Military Academy