Heard County Braves at Rockmart Yellow Jackets*
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Rock, Rockmart
Records, rankings: Heard County is 1-1 and No. 3 in Class AA; Rockmart is 2-0 and No. 8 in AA.
Last meeting: Rockmart won 42-0 in the first round of the 2016 Class AA playoffs.
Maxwell’s projection: Rockmart by 6
Notes: Rockmart was ranked No. 9 in the final 2016 poll and No. 10 in the preseason 2017 poll, but this is the longest sustained presence in the rankings for the Yellow Jackets since 1989. It has come in the third season under coach Biff Parson, whose Rockmart record is 18-4. Rockmart was 8-22 in the previous three seasons. Rockmart's offensive leaders are senior RB Zabrion Whatley (17 carries, 106 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore RB Javin Whatley (19-99-2). Both are small but fast. Heard County is coming off a 33-3 loss to No. 1 Hapeville Charter. Heard was down only 7-3 late in the third quarter and had driven inside Hapeville's 5-yard line twice without scoring. Heard's marquee player is Aaron Beasley, a two-way starter committed to Tennessee and arguably the best all-around Class AA player. He has rushed for 259 yards on 45 carries in two games. Alijah Huzzie, converted to quarterback from wide receiver this season, is an athletic game-manager but doesn't throw much (9-of-15 for 137 yards). DL Zaylin Wood is a preseason all-state player who is committed to Temple.
*Courtesy of GHSF Daily
Bremen Blue Devils at Cedartown Bulldogs
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Doc Ayres Field at Cedartown Memorial
Records, rankings: The Blue Devils are 2-0 and ranked No. 5 in AA; the Bulldogs are 1-1 and unranked in AAAAA.
Last meeting: The Bulldogs won 18-12 in 1948.
Maxwell’s projection: Cedartown by 9
Notes: You read that right — this rivalry renews after 70 years. Generations ago, Bremen and Cedartown played regularly — 10 times between 1934-48 — with Cedartown leading the all time series 7-2-1. The schools are only 25 miles apart, so maybe this the beginning of a new chapter in the procrastinated rivalry. The Bulldogs appear to have picked up where they left off last year, when — under first-year coach O. Doyle Kelley — they finished 10-2 for their first winning season since 2013. They’re 1-1, but their loss was 20-14 to No. 8 Rockmart in their opener. They rebounded from that with a 33-7 win over AAAAAA’s Alexander. The Blue Devils are coming off a bye after winning their first two games, including against then-No. 3 Rabun County, 13-10. They beat Bowdon 41-7 the next week.
Appling County Pirates at Dodge County Indians
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium at John M. Peacock Field
Records, rankings: The Pirates are 1-1 and unranked in AAA; The Indians are 2-0 and No. 6 in AA.
Last meeting: Appling County won 41-34 in 2016.
Maxwell’s projection: Dodge County by 21
Notes: These teams have scheduled each other every season going back to 2010 and played 19 times before that between 1957-1993, with Appling County owning the all-time series, 14-11. Last season’s game was cancelled thanks to Hurricane Irma, so the rivalry resumes after taking a year off. This rivalry game is likely one of those in which the Maxwell projections go out the window, with the Indians a three-touchdown favorite. Not only have the last three meetings been decided by a touchdown or less, but the Pirates are coming off a 21-0 shutout of Charlton County, the then-No. 4 team in A-public. The Pirates rushed for 276 yards in the win. The Indians are still searching for a statement win after beating Bradwell Institute 23-15 and West Laurens 22-10, climbing the rankings thanks to other teams losing more so than looking dominant.
Stephens County Indians at Rabun County Wildcats
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Frank Snyder Stadium
Records, rankings: The Indians are 2-1 and unranked in AAAA; the Wildcats are 1-1 and No. 7 in AA.
Last meeting: Rabun County won 28-6 in 2017.
Maxwell’s projection: Rabun County by 13.
Notes: We’re still learning how competitive a team the Wildcats will be this year after their roster overhaul from last year’s state runner-up finish. They lost their opener to then-unranked Bremen 13-10 and, last week against North Murray, they won 52-42 but had a 38-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Though some of those North Murray points likely came against subs, the game should never have gotten that close and that’s concerning. Freshman quarterback Gunner Stockton seems to be filling in well for the graduated Bailey Fisher, throwing for 257 yards and four touchdowns last week, while Brison Bech rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns. After staring 2-0, the Indians are playing a ranked team for the second week in a row, having lost 28-7 to A-private’s No. 3 Athens Academy last week.
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