7A blog: Previewing top games as 5 regions get underway

Five of Class 7A’s eight regions begin region play this week while the other three regions are off.

Here are the four most outstanding Class 7A games in the eighth week of the high school football season. Some have a championship feel from the start.

Also find below the computer Maxwell Ratings projections for 7A’s week-eight games.

Kennesaw Mountain at Osborne: Both are 5-0. Kennesaw Mountain has been in and around the top 10 much of the season. Osborne hasn’t been ranked in decades, so it’s been a feel-good story for the Cardinals under second-year coach Luqman Salam. Osborne has some explosive players at skill positions. They include QB Edward Burr, who has thrown for 1,097 yards and 15 touchdowns, and RB Khalif Walters, who has rushed for 676 yards and has 17 receptions for 401 yards. Kennesaw Mountain has been a feel-good story also, but it’s tale is more mature. The Mustangs reached the playoffs for the first time in 2020, then won its first-ever playoff game in 2021. That was in 6A, but this is a senior-dominated team that was expected to make noise in 7A this season. Kennesaw Mountain has a great QB-WR pair. Cayman Prangley has passed for 1,224 yards and 14 touchdowns. Cayden lee has 40 receptions for 590 yards and nine touchdowns. This is probably a must-win game for either if they want to win tough Region 5, which also houses No. 6 Walton and No. 8 North Cobb, teams that play each other Friday.

North Cobb at Walton: These are the only top-10 teams in their region. They also were ranked when they played last season, and the game ultimately decided the region championship. North Cobb QB Malachi Singleton scored four touchdowns in that game. He’s injured and questionable for a 2022 return. Nick Grimstead was 13-of-15 passing for 203 yards in his first start, against Northside of Warner Robins, but the Warriors leaned on Michigan-committed RB Ben Hall in the next game as Hall rushed for 174 yards in a 17-7 victory over Milton. Walton is mostly a passing team, although Makari Bodiford has rushed for 140 yards or more three times. Jeremy Hecklinski, a junior quarterback, has thrown for 1,705 yards, the most in Class 7A, with 18 touchdowns. Six of those came last week in a 51-49 victory over North Paulding. Four receivers have more than 350 yards. Walton’s lone loss came against No. 3 Mill Creek 47-41 in the opener. North Cobb has lost to No. 1 Buford 21-14 and Northside. Both defeated a common opponent, Marietta, by two touchdowns.

Valdosta at Lowndes: This is the first time these teams have played as ranked opponents from the same region since 2010. That didn’t seem likely about a month ago. Valdosta was 4-6 last season in Class 6A. Lowndes was No. 8 in preseason but started 2-2 until beating then-No. 2 Grayson 24-14 in the Vikings’ most recent game. Lowndes held Grayson to 30 rushing yards, and sophomore QB Marvis Parrish was 8-of-9 passing for 131 yards. Parrish, a sophomore taking over for four-year starter and all-state QB Jacurri Brown, has passed for 707 yards and rushed for a team-leading 281 yards and nine touchdowns. Unlike Brown, the Miami freshman who was 6-4, 210 pounds, Parrish is 5-10, 165. Valdosta also has a dual-threat sophomore quarterback, Todd Robinson. He’s thrown for 462 yards and rushed for a team-leading 346. Valdosta’s strength is its defensive front. Eric Brantley Jr. and Omar White have 32 tackles for losses between them. Valdosta is allowing 4.8 points per game, lowest in 7A. Lowndes has won the past five games in the series but trails 37-23 all-time.

East Coweta at Carrollton: These two, plus Westlake, are the region teams that have been ranked this season, though only Carrollton remains in the top 10. Up from Class 6A this season, Carrollton was unranked in preseason, but the Trojans are perfect so far, averaging 46 points per game behind freshman quarterback Julian Lewis. A top college prospect, he’s thrown for 1,598 yards and 23 touchdowns. RB Bryce Hicks has 927 yards from scrimmage on 96 touches. The Trojans’ best victories came against South Paulding and Rome, Class 6A teams that were ranked when Carrollton played them. East Coweta has victories over Lowndes and Sandy Creek and losses to Starr’s Mill and Lambert. East Coweta, like Carrollton, gets about 60% of its total yards by passing. East Coweta sophomore QB Christian Langford has thrown for 1,430 yards and 18 touchdowns, though he’s been intercepted nine times. WR Brady Tillman is having an all-state season with 35 receptions for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns. Carrollton leads the series 4-0 with games played in 1988-89 and 2018-19.

Maxwell Ratings projections for this week’s 12 Class 7A games:

Region 1

Valdosta at Lowndes -14

Richmond Hill vs Camden County -19

Region 2

Carrollton vs East Coweta -13

Westlake at Pebblebrook -10

Region 3

Marietta vs Hillgrove -21

McEachern at Harrison -10

Region 4

Off

Region 5

Kennesaw Mountain at Osborne -23

Walton vs North Cobb -10

Wheeler vs Cherokee -7

Region 6

Denmark vs West Forsyth -9

Lambert at Forsyth Central -44

Milton at South Forsyth -11

Region 7

Off

Region 8

Off