Dooly County at Marion County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Eagle Field, Buena Vista
Records, rankings: Dooly County is 4-2 overall, 3-0 in Region 4-A and unranked; Marion County is 6-0, 3-0 and No. 7.
Last meeting: Marion County won 12-7 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Marion County has at least three all-state candidates. RB Johnny Royal has rushed for 818 yards, a little more than half of Marion's total offense, and scored 10 touchdowns on 129 carries. WR/DB Lorenzo Smothers has 108 yards rushing, 229 yards receiving and 367 yards returning. He has scored seven touchdowns and intercepted three passes. PK A.J. Wells has 31 touchbacks in 36 kickoffs and averages 43.5 yards per punt. He made two field goals in last year's victory over Dooly. 2. Dooly County graduated its front four, including five-star DL Montravius Adams (now at Auburn), from last year's public-school state runner-up. But Dooly returned three preseason all-state players: WR Courtney Clark, OL Larry Glover and DB Tay Daniels. The team's strength now is probably at running back. RB Chanin Hamilton (1,400 yards rushing in 2012) is sharing more carries this season with seniors Mark Clark (quick, shifty) and Mark Lloyd (powerful). The team had 370 yards rushing against Central of Talbotton last week. 3. These are the only unbeaten teams in the region. Marion County is No. 1 in the GHSA public-school ratings that will determine seeding for the state playoffs. Dooly is No. 11. Though Marion won last year's game and was higher-seeded, it was Dooly that reached the state final against ECI.
Elbert County at North Oconee
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Titans Field, Bogart
Records, rankings: Elbert County is 4-2 overall, 3-0 in Region 8-AAA and unranked; North Oconee is 5-1, 3-0 and No. 8.
Last meeting: North Oconee won 27-26 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Elbert County sophomore QB Mecole Hardman has rushed for 980 yards on 88 carries (11.1 ypc) and scored at least two touchdowns in every game except the opener against Buford. He also has passed for 364 yards and caught a 31-yard TD pass. And he is the team's punter. 2. North Oconee RB Kawon Bryant has 1,551 yards rushing and accounts for about 63 percent of his team's total offense, but North Oconee is much more likely to pass than Elbert. QB Tate Adcock has thrown for 953 yards. 3. These are two of three unbeaten teams in region play. The other is Hart County (6-0, 3-0). In the 2012 game, Elbert County lost by one point after missing an extra point with 4:01 left. North Oconee then ran out the clock. Hardman went down with an ankle injury earlier in the game. Elbert County missed the playoffs by one game.
Gainesville at Clarke Central
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Billy Henderson Stadium, Athens
Records, rankings: Gainesville is 6-1 overall, 5-0 in Region 8-AAAAA and No. 5; Clarke Central is 5-1, 4-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Gainesville won 49-28 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson, the state's all-time leader in career passing yards with 11,442, had one of the best games of his record-breaking junior season against Clarke Central in 2012. He was 23-of-32 passing for 239 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 174 and a TD on 23 carries. Clarke Central led 21-7 in the first quarter before Gainesville took over. 2. Clarke Central sophomore RB Jaqua Daniels set a school record when he scored five touchdowns in a victory against Apalachee earlier this season. He also ran for a touchdown last week when the Gladiators built a 20-0 first-quarter lead in a 23-3 victory against Heritage of Conyers. 3. Gainesville, Clarke Central and defending champion Flowery Branch are the three remaining unbeaten teams in 8-AAAAA play. Flowery Branch, which plays at Heritage on Friday, will face Clarke Central and Gainesville in its final two games. Clarke Central, Flowery Branch and Heritage shared the region title in 2011, the year before Gainesville joined.
Lee County at Thomas County Central
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Jackets' Nest, Thomasville
Records, rankings: Lee County is 6-0 overall, 1-0 in Region 1-AAAAA and No. 10; Thomas County Central is 6-1, 2-0 and No. 6.
Last meeting: Thomas County Central won 41-35 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The quarterbacks in this game rank 1-2 in total offense in the region. They have similar statistics, only in reverse. Lee County's Stephen Collier has passed for 1,125 yards, while Thomas County Central's Adam Choice has rushed for 1,141 yards. Collier has rushed for 478 yards, while Choice has passed for 440 yards. Both have scored 10 touchdowns. 2. Thomas Central's second threat is RB Deondre Cooksey, who has rushed for 739 yards on 100 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Lee County doesn't have another rusher with more than 205 yards, but receivers J.Q. Quimbly (23 catches, seven touchdowns) and Devonte Seay (19, four) have been the targets on 11 of Collier's 12 TD passes. 3. In the 2012 game, Choice rushed for 188 yards and Thomas Central led 34-14 in the fourth quarter but won by only six. Collier passed for 253 yards. Lee County entered that game 6-0 but lost four of its final five, three by seven points or less.
McEachern at North Cobb
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Emory Sewell Stadium, Kennesaw
Records, rankings: McEachern is 7-0 overall, 5-0 in Region 4-AAAAAA and No. 2; North Cobb is 5-1, 4-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: McEachern won 49-27 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. McEachern's Ty Clemons, who shared the quarterback duties in 2012 but has them all to himself this year, passed for 66 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 93 yards and a TD and caught a 27-yard scoring pass against North Cobb last year in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. McEachern had 490 yards in total offense and led 35-6 in the second quarter. 2. North Cobb's Tyler Queen was more of a dual-threat quarterback last season, when he passed for 2,398 yards and rushed 155 times for 918 yards. This year, he has been asked to run less (163 yards on 37 carries) but has kept up the passing pace (60-for-112, 1,120 yards and 14 touchdowns). J'Vonte Herrod is the leading rusher with 628 yards on 57 carries. 3. McEachern and North Cobb are the two remaining teams that are undefeated in 4-AAAAAA play, and the winner is likely to win the region championship, particularly if North Cobb wins. McEachern's final two games are against Harrison and Hillgrove, the teams that are tied for third place with one loss each in region play.
Rabun County at Washington-Wilkes
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tiger Stadium, Washington
Records, rankings: Rabun County is 5-1 overall, 2-1 in Region 8-AA and unranked; Washington-Wilkes is 7-0, 4-0 and No. 4.
Last meeting: Washington-Wilkes won 41-12 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Both teams have faced defending state and region champion Jefferson in the past two weeks, and both games were close. Washington-Wilkes won 21-14 two weeks ago when Javoris Grant intercepted a pass at the 5-yard line with 2:27 remaining to stop Jefferson's final drive. Rabun County let a 20-13 lead slip away in the final minutes last week and lost 26-20 in overtime. 2. Rabun County's Lee Shaw, who started the Flowery Branch program in 2002, has made a huge impact since returning last season to coach at his alma mater. Shaw is 11-6 since taking over at a program that had not had a winning season since 2000 (6-4). Shaw recently told the AJC's Adam Krohn, "There's no more moral wins in Rabun County. That ended when I came back." 3. Washington-Wilkes can virtually wrap up the region title with a victory. Rabun County would move into a tie for first place with a victory as the Wildcats seek their second region championship in school history and first since 1998, when they won a school-best 11 games.
Richmond Hill at Ware County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Waycross
Records, rankings: Richmond Hill is 6-0 overall, 3-0 in Region 3-AAAAA and unranked; Ware County is 5-1, 3-0 and No. 9.
Last meeting: Ware County won 27-24 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. QB Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 194 yards and scored four touchdowns on 32 carries last week in a 35-20 victory over Effingham County. He was 1-for-1 passing for 28 yards. Fitzgerald has rushed for 707 yards and scored at least two touchdowns in every game. 2. Comparative scores are encouraging to Richmond Hill. The Wildcats beat Glynn Academy 47-12 while Ware struggled to a 21-19 victory two weeks ago. But Ware County led in total yardage 445-181. Glynn Academy returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown and left Ware to stop a two-point try that would have tied the game. 3. Ware County and Richmond Hill first played each other in 2010, and Ware won the first two games easily. The 2012 game down to the final seconds as Richmond Hill missed a 49-yard field goal that would have tied the game after Ware County drove 80 yards on 12 plays for the winning touchdown. Ware wouldn't lose until the state final against Gainesville.
St. Pius at Cedar Grove
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Panthersville Stadium, Decatur
Records, rankings: St. Pius is 5-1 overall, 2-0 in Region 6-AAA and No. 7; Cedar Grove is 6-1, 3-0 and No. 9.
Last meeting: St. Pius won 38-28 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Run-oriented St. Pius has been true to form in lopsided victories against Towers and McNair to open region play. In those two games, the Golden Lions have rushed for 506 yards on 76 carries while going 4-for-10 passing for 72 yards. Dalton Wilson, Jack Pelt and QB Joey Connors are all averaging about 50 rushing yards per game. 2. DeKalb County has not released official statistics that include Week 8 games, but Cedar Grove entered last weekend with the leading rusher (Deion Sellers, 907 yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries), leading receiver (Brandon Norwood, 30 catches for 531 yards and eight TDs) and third-leading passer (James Hatfield, 60-for-84, 876 yards, 11 TDs) in the county. 3. The winner will be the only 6-AAA team that is undefeated in region play and favored to take the title, although both thave to face third-place Woodward Academy, which is 2-1 in league play. Cedar Grove is seeking its fourth region championship but first since 1991. St. Pius is the defending champ.
Vidalia at Bryan County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bryan County High School, Pembroke
Records, rankings: Vidalia is 5-1 overall, 4-1 in Region 2-AA and No. 10; Bryan County is 5-1, 4-1 and unranked.
Last meeting: Vidalia won 42-7 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. Bryan County has three players that stand out statistically. RB Nick Scott has rushed for 744 yards (124.0 per game) and scored 11 touchdowns. WR/DB Raekwon Love (5-10, 155) has seven TD receptions, at least one in each game, despite an offense that passes only about 10 times per game. LB/RB Damion Dixon has 15 tackles for losses. 2. Vidalia RB/DB Tra Hardy is a candidate for offensive player of the year in Class AA. He has rushed for 889 yards on 70 carries and scored 18 touchdowns in six games. In just six carries against Atkinson County two weeks ago, Hardy had 245 yards and TD runs of 26, 72, 80 and 63 yards. He also returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown. 3. Region leader Benedictine beat Vidalia 28-0 and Bryan County 39-6. Vidalia and Bryan have not lost otherwise, but Vidalia (11-1 last season) is heavily favored in this game. If Bryan County win two of its last four regular-season games, as it did last season against the same schedule, the Redskins would have their first seven-win season since 1991.
Wilkinson County at Aquinas
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aquinas Stadium, Augusta
Records, rankings: Wilkinson County is 3-3 overall, 3-0 in Region 7-A and unranked; Aquinas is 6-0, 3-0 and No. 2.
Last meeting: Wilkinson County won 42-14 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. This game will play a huge role in Wilkinson County's playoff fate. The Warriors are currently No. 17 among public schools in the Class A power rankings, and only the top 16 reach the postseason. However, a victory makes them the favorites to win 7-A, and region champions get automatic berths and the top seeds in the bracket. Wilkinson County beat Hancock Central 30-26 last week and comes into the game on a three-game winning streak after starting the season 0-3. 2. Aquinas broke a 32-game losing streak against Lincoln County last week, winning 42-14 for its first victory in the series since 1972. The 42 points were the third-most scored against a Lincoln County team since Larry Campbell became coach for that 1972 season, and it was just the fourth time a Campbell team has given up at least 40 points. 3. Aquinas junior RB Ruben Garnett rushed for 284 yards on 41 carries and scored four touchdowns in the victory against Lincoln County. He had scoring runs of 2, 58 and 2 yards, caught a 29-yard TD pass and intercepted a pass.
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