Here’s what to look for during Week 5 of the high school football season.
Mill Creek and Peachtree Ridge are ranked in the Top 10, but each could use a signature victory to make their case as serious Region 7-AAAAAA and state contenders. Both are 3-0 entering their game Friday at Mill Creek.
Peachtree Ridge, 4-6 in 2012, has several Division I recruits, including running back Jordan Ellis, who committed to Virginia and has rushed for 314 yards in three games.
Mill Creek, 9-4 in 2012, graduated a 2,000-yard rusher, Jacory Lewis, but is well-stocked at running back with DeVozea Felton (202 yards rushing), Carter Governale (164) and Johnathan Hawkins (123). Each has at least one touchdown in every game.
Other things to watch this week in AAAAAA:
- West Forsyth’s 63-42 victory against Alpharetta in 2012 was the catalyst toward the Wolverines’ first region title. It also is where the Region 6 title defense will begin.
- Marietta is down one in the Region 4 standings after losing to No. 9 Hillgrove last week. Next is a visit from No. 2 McEachern. Expect a running back duel between Marietta’s KirVonte Benson (463 yards rushing) and McEachern’s Taj Griffin (456).
- Archer is 3-0, and Parkview is 0-3, but this game at Parkview remains a critical Region 8 game for both. Parkview, coming off a 9-4 season, hasn’t been 0-4 since 1986. Archer is a four-year-old school that looks ready for a breakthrough season.
- East Paulding and New Manchester will find out a lot about their playoff chances in 5-AAAAA when they meet in Dallas. Defending region champ East Paulding already has lost to North Paulding and has little margin for error in a balanced league. New Manchester, 4-0 in its second full varsity season, beat North Paulding two weeks ago and has a half-game lead on No. 7 Allatoona for first place.
- Mays has a chance to solidify its status as one of the elite teams in 6-AAAAA, when it takes on longtime-nemesis Southwest DeKalb. Mays, which beat defending region champion M.L. King 36-28 last week, is 1-12 all-time against the Panthers, and its 14-7 loss last year essentially cost the team a playoff berth.
- Pope has to hope that things will get easier once it takes on somebody its own size. The Greyhounds have taken a beating in their first three games against AAAAAA schools Marietta, Wheeler and Etowah, losing all three by an average score of 54-13. This week Pope returns to its classification to take on Northview, which has played two AAAAAA schools and enters the game 1-1 after a 16-12 victory against Lambert last week.
- Ware County and Jenkins will get a head start on their 3-AAAAA rivals when they begin region play Friday, a week earlier than the other six teams in their league. Ware County, the defending champion, went 7-0 in region play last year and advanced to the AAAAA championship game.
- Ridgeland held Cedartown Super 11 running back Nick Chubb to roughly 120 yards last season during a 42-21 victory. Chubb averaged 288 yards rushing in the Bulldogs’ other nine games. Ridgeland travels to Cedartown Friday night. “It’s going to take all 11 guys to stop (Chubb),” Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis said, “and even then, if he finds a crease, we don’t have anyone that is going to catch him.” Chubb committed to Georgia.
- Undefeated and ninth-ranked Statesboro takes on its toughest challenge so far, when dynamic quarterback Donquell Green and No. 6 Burke County visit Friday. Statesboro coach Steve Pennington believes Green is one of the best he has faced. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years and have seen some good ones, like Cam Newton,” Pennington said. “When I watch this guy (Green), pound-for-pound, he’s got it.” Look for Statesboro linebacker Anthony Gore, who Pennington describes as a “pleasant surprise,” to meet up with Green.
- Cairo has won 23 consecutive region games, a streak that dates to 2009. The Syrupmakers open 1-AAAA play Friday against Crisp County. Cairo has won the past 10 meetings against the Cougars.
- After giving up 35 points in an opening victory against Dutchtown, No. 5 Griffin has posted back-to-back shutouts. The Bears host Woodland. The Wolfpack were blanked 34-0 by Woodward Academy last week.
Most of the regions in AAA don’t start league play for another week, which leaves a lot of games that don’t count in the big picture, but may provide bragging rights. It’s especially true among the private schools. There are two big games involving ranked and near-ranked teams from AAA going against rivals in another classification. Both promise to be interesting contests that could swing either way.
Westminster at Woodward Academy: Woodward Academy has been impressive the past two weeks against schools from higher classifications. The War Eagles (2-1) are led by the versatile Terry Googer, who committed to South Carolina, at quarterback and defensive back. Googer ran for 83 yards and passed for 47 last week against Woodland. Quincy Wolff and Elijah Holyfield add additional punch at tailback. Westminster is coming off a victory against Thomasville, where Rankin Woley stepped in at quarterback to lead a second-half comeback.
Blessed Trinity at White County: These two teams met twice last year. Blessed Trinity (1-2) won the regular-season game 21-19 and took the first-round playoff game 35-14. White County (3-0) hasn’t opened the season with three consecutive victories since 1974, when the Warriors started 4-0 and went 9-1. Blessed Trinity coach Tim McFarlin would win his 100th career game with a victory.
- The Lovett Lions, Class AA’s No. 2-ranked team, host the No. 2-ranked team of AAA, the St. Pius Golden Lions. Both teams are 3-0, with the Lions coming off a dramatic 41-38 double-overtime victory against Marist, who at the time were ranked No. 5 in AAAA. The Golden Lions are coming off a 41-14 victory against Thomson. This will be the third AAA school in four games for the Lions, who have catapulted to the No. 2-ranking based on their impressive wins and strength of schedule. They began the season ranked No. 8. The Golden Lions blanked Lovett 24-0 last year in what was the first meeting between the two schools since 1983, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.
- Region 2-AA already has been playing its region schedule and will feature two teams in the top 10, when No. 7 Vidalia (3-0) travels to No. 9 Benedictine (3-0). Vidalia is 2-0 in 2-AA, having outscored the region 77-14, including a 42-7 victory against Long County last week. Benedictine defeated Metter — also by a 42-7 score — last week in its region opener. Vidalia beat Benedictine last year at home 12-7 on its way to a region championship, while Benedictine finished fourth for the region’s final playoff spot. Both teams advanced to the second round. Last year’s matchup was the first between the two schools.
Mount Paran Christian School (2-1) at Trion (3-0): This crossover game in Region 6 probably is the top Class A game of the weekend. Upstart Mount Paran battled hard, but came up short last week at undefeated (4-0) No. 2 Landmark Christian, losing 14-7. Now quarterback Jake Allen, running back Dorian Walker and wide receiver Emoni Williams will try to rebound against a Trion team that has averaged 40 points per game, while yielding just nine. The Bulldogs — led by their hard-running backfield of Malik Martin, Devonya Farmer, Bradley Womack and Chandler Latham — manhandled Walker (2-1) last week 42-7.
No. 8 Seminole County (3-0) at Pelham (3-0): Seminole County will try to knock off a AA team that is just as hot. Seminole County held off Clinch County (1-3) last week 21-14, as Seminole County running back Robert Speights scored on a 66-yard touchdown run and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Peters. Quarterback Alex Fudge also scored on a 3-yard run.
No. 10 Pace Academy (3-0) at First Presbyterian Day (0-2): Pace Academy will look to continue its “revenge tour” this week. The Knights trounced King’s Ridge Christian last week 39-6 after losing to the Tigers 48-20 last season. The previous week, Pace smashed Athens Academy 42-9, a year after being beaten 42-9 by the Spartans. Last season, FPD defeated Pace Academy 24-20. The Knights are led by Stanford-bound defensive back/running back Denzel Franklin, senior wide receiver Kameron Uter and junior quarterback Kevin Johnson.
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The ajc.com high school bloggers include Todd Holcomb (Class AAAAAA), Chip Saye (AAAAA), David Purdum (AAAA), Stan Awtrey (AAA), Adam Krohn (AA) and S. Thomas Coleman (A).