Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

What to watch for Week 3

The Cairo Syrupmakers will look to avoid the program’s first 0-3 start since the 2001 season this Friday night as they host 2-0 Northside-Columbus for their Region 1-AAAA opener. Northside-Columbus opened the season with a 48-15 win over Shaw in region action and then followed it with a 20-19 non-region win over Spencer. This is a strong start by first-year head coach David Nurberg and the ascending Patriots program that already carries a 4-year playoff streak (the longest in school history) this season. Cairo’s resume includes a 15-year playoff streak, but there are areas of improvement needed that both of the early losses revealed that will need to be resolved before taking on its eight Region 1 opponents in the weeks ahead. The Syrupmakers fell 15-14 to Thomasville to open the season and dropped a 15-7 contest with Bainbridge before taking a Week 3 bye. Can Cairo’s offense start making plays, and if so, who is going to be the guys to make them. That is a two-part question that Cairo will need to answer to win this game. 

Hardaway vs. Carver-Columbus 

Yet to allow a single point this season, Hardaway has outscored Kendrick (49-0) and Fayette County (28-0) by a combined 77-0 heading into this matchup. As impressive as this start is, Hardaway hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010 and last year’s 38-31 loss to Carver-Columbus proved to be the difference when the Tigers earned the No. 4 seed over Hardaway with a matching 3-4 region record. This year’s Carver-Columbus team is led by first-year head coach Corey Joyner and they are off to a promising 2-0 start with victories over Class AAAAA Harris County (20-16) and Class AA Spencer (17-10). The first key to this game will be the Carver defense against the Hardaway running game, which is led by senior Ja’Ron Early, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back that has paced the offense with 222 rushing yards and five touchdowns through the first two games. The second key will be the Carver offense against a Hardaway defense that has already shutout two opponents. 

Chapel Hill vs. Starr’s Mill

Chapel Hill sits at 2-0 and gets ready to host Class AAAAA’s Starr’s Mill this Friday. This will be the third straight year that the Chapel Hill Panthers and the Starr’s Mill Panthers have squared off, and Starr’s Mill has won both meetings (28-27 in 2016 and 56-21 in 2017). In last year’s blowout loss, Chapel Hill gave up 342 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Offensively, Chapel Hill quarterback KJ Burton (who was a junior during last year’s matchup) passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns, but he completed just 8-of-20 pass attempts and threw three interceptions. This year’s Chapel Hill team has been stout on the defensive side of the ball so far, scoring a 10-7 win over Class AAAAAAA Newnan to open the season and securing a 28-0 shutout against Ola Week 2. Coming off the bye, expect Chapel Hill to be highly competitive in this game and put themselves in position to beat Starr’s Mill for the first time with an improved defense from last year

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