NOTE: Jefferson County had been slated to play Swainsboro on Friday, but had to cancel due to a confirmed COVID-19 case within the program. On the Jefferson County High School homepage, it’s noted that football activities will resume Sept. 14.
Troup Tigers at Callaway Cavaliers
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Callaway Stadium, LaGrange
Records, rankings: Troup is 0-1 and unranked in 4A; Callaway is 0-0 and No. 2 in 2A.
Last meeting: Callaway won 56-45 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Callaway by 6
Notes: Last year’s game was a high-scoring affair and, going in, they were both ranked No. 3 in their respective classifications. The Tigers were ranked heading into this season but lost 28-14 to unranked Harris County of 5A. Now, the Tigers are in pursuit of redemption and the opportunity to knock the Cavaliers a few pegs down in the rankings. The Cavs didn’t play last week so they will becoming in fresh, and how prepared they are to face a team that’s already gone to battle the week prior could be the difference in what should be a tightly-contested game between teams that always appear to be evenly matched. The all-time series, which dates back to 2008, is knotted at 5-5. The Tigers have AJC preseason all-state selection Royce White, a senior lineman and 3-star committed to Memphis and Zy Varner, a senior 3-star athlete with offers from Cincinnati and Nebraska. The Cavs are led by senior 3-star Demetrius Coleman, in his third year starting at quarterback. He holds four Power 5 offers in Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and North Carolina. Senior 3-star Charlie Dixon, with offers from Mississippi State, Nebraska and West Virginia, is the team’s starting running back and senior 3-star Jalin Shephard, whose five offers including Auburn, Colorado and Nebraska, is a preseason all-state selection at defensive back. Coleman and senior defensive lineman Keshawn Suggs are also preseason all-state picks.
Thomas County Central at Thomasville Bulldogs
When, where: 8 p.m., Veterans Memorial Stadium, Thomasville
Records, rankings: Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets is 0-0 and unranked in 4A; Thomasville is 0-1 and ranked No. 6 in 2A.
Last meeting: Thomas County Central won 31-17 in 2019.
Watch the game: NFHS Network
Maxwell’s projection: Thomasville by 6
Notes: This crosstown rivalry between schools three miles apart dates back to 1962, with the all-time series tied at 26. The Yellow Jackets are 6-2 against the Bulldogs since 2010, with the Bulldogs' wins coming 2017 and 2018. The Bulldogs, who lost 20-14 against former Region 1-2A rivals Brooks County last week in their opener, are looking to avoid their second 0-2 start in a row. However, they might not be discouraged should they lose, because last year they started 0-3 and 2-4, but managed to win the region title and advance all the way to the semifinals, where they lost 55-45 to eventual champions Dublin. It was the Bulldogs' deepest run since 1993, when they reached the 3A title game and lost 14-12 to...Thomas County Central. The Bulldogs are led by senior quarterback Ronnie Baker, who threw for 2,579 yards and rushed for 616 last year, and preseason all-state selections Ricardo Johnson, a senior receiver, and junior linebacker Ty Anderson — a 3-star with Power 5 offers from Georgia Tech and South Carolina. This will be the season opener for the Jackets, who haven’t had a winning season or playoff appearance since going 8-4 in 2016. Though they don’t have any preseason all-state selections, sophomore receiver Adam Hopkins has nine Power 5 offers including Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Penn State and South Carolina. Sophomore defensive end Gabriel Harris has eight Power 5 offers including Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Penn State and Tennessee.
Heard County Braves at Pepperell Dragons
When, where: 7:30 p.m., Dragon Stadium, Lindale
Records, rankings: Pepperell is 0-1 and unranked; Heard County is 1-0 and ranked No. 10.
Last meeting: Pepperell won 27-7 in 2019.
Maxwell’s projection: Heard County by 4
Notes: Both schools rest relatively close to the Alabama border, with Pepperell 75 miles north of Heard County. This is a series with little history, with their three meetings spread out between 2013, 2017 and last year. The Braves won the first two contests, first 27-14 and then 41-28, when the Dragons were members of 3A. The Dragons played their opener last week — a 28-10 loss to Haralson County — without starting quarterback Gage Moses, who was injured during the preseason, according to the Rome News-Tribune. It’s unclear Moses' status for this week and moving forward, but whether he plays could prove the difference this week. Pepperell has a preseason all-state selection in junior offensive lineman Clay Crawford. The Braves are looking to bounce back from a down year in which they went 4-7 a season after winning the only state title in their program’s history. They’re off to a good start, having beaten South Atlanta 20-6, earning themselves a spot in the polls. Senior Alex Boyd led the Braves with 159 yards and a 40-yard score on 12 carries, according to HeardCitizen.com.
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