Class 2A blog: What to watch — Week 8

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Perhaps the name of this blog post series should be changed to “What you can’t watch”, with all of the cancellations taking place on a weekly basis this season. Unfortunately for this week, two of the most highly-anticipated games involving 2A schools have been canceled.

The showdown between the top-ranked Callaway Cavaliers and the No. 5 Haralson County Rebels, in what was supposed to be the Region 5 opener for both teams, is no more. Here’s The LaGrange Daily News' Kevin Eckleberry with the bad news:

There’s been no announcement on if the pivotal region game will be rescheduled.

UPDATE, 2:16 P.M: Eckleberry reports the game has been rescheduled.

Also, the Pace Academy Knights' game at 1A Private’s No. 3 Eagle’s Landing Christian has been canceled. Knights coach Chris Slade said they forfeited the game, meaning Pace falls to 3-3. The game was a rescheduling from Sept. 18, when the Knights backed out then too, claiming their wet field conditions made the game unplayable.

In better news, Episode 7 of The Class 2A Blogcast is live. Topics discussed include Region 6, the Atlanta Braves choking in the postseason as is tradition, the then-0-5 Atlanta Falcons losing the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes by winning a meaningless game in Minnesota, and the inspirational story of Jefferson Dragons assistant Devon Gales — as told to me by the Gales family, players, coaches, school officials and others.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio and other platforms. Thanks for listening!

Now, onto some of the games that actually will be played:

Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane at Early County Bobcats

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Standifier Stadium, Blakely

Records, rankings: Fitzgerald is 6-0, 1-0 in Region 1 and No. 2; Early County is 3-1, 0-1 and No. 9.

Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 42-17 in 2019.

Maxwell’s projection: Fitzgerald by 28

Notes: The Bobcats jumped to a 3-0 start that included a win over 1A Public’s then-No. 4 Pelham, which catapulted them into the rankings for the first time since 2012. However, last week when region play began, Thomasville — a rival that has traditionally beat them — won convincingly, 31-14. Now the Bobcats face another rival that seems to have their number in the Purple Hurricane, who have beaten them in each of the last six seasons and are 13-1 against them since 2006. Since 2017, when the current Bobcats seniors were freshman, the Purple Hurricane have outscored them 107-20. Should the Bobcats lose again Friday, not only would they leave the rankings, they’d be in an uphill battle for a playoff spot with Fitzgerald, Thomasville, Cook and Worth County all looking to lock up a finish within the top four in a tight Region 1. The Purple Hurricane, on the other hand, are rolling, off to their best start since 2015 when won their first six, finished 13-2 and reached the 2A title game. Three of their wins have come against ranked teams, including AAA’s No. 6 Pierce County last week, which they beat 27-17. The Purple Hurricane have a good chance at their first region title since 2016, which was Jason Strickland’s last season before current coach Tucker Pruitt took over.

Bacon County Red Raiders at No. 7 Toombs County Bulldogs

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Pit at Booster Stadium, Lyons

Records, rankings: Bacon County is 4-2, 0-1 in Region 2 and unranked; Toombs County is 4-1, 0-0 and No. 7.

Last meeting: Toombs County won 38-0 in 2019.

Maxwell’s projection: Toombs County by 24

Notes: The Red Raiders, who went 1-9 last season, are off to their best start since 2017, when they started 4-0 but finished 6-4 and lost a mini-game tiebreaker that prevented them from reaching the playoffs. After losing 25-6 to 1A Public’s Atkinson County in their opener, they won four straight by a combined score of 164-43 over 3A’s Long County, Brantley County and Tattnall County, and Berrien from Region 1. Their 42-0 win over Brantley County was their first shutout since beating Toombs County 18-0 in 2013. However, it’s worth noting that the Red Raiders' four wins are against opponents with a combined 2-25 record, because Jeff Davis beat them 41-14 last week in their region opener. They’re 0-4 against the Bulldogs since 2016 and the Bulldogs lead the all-time series, which dates back to 1996, 6-2. The Bulldogs started 2-0 to enter the polls at No. 7 for the first time since 2001, with their most notable win being 26-20 over Dodge County. However, the following week, they lost 27-7 to 4A’s unranked West Laurens and fell back out for two weeks. They then beat Berrien 49-0 and 1A Public’s No. 3 Macon County 17-14 to reclaim their No. 7 ranking. That both the Bulldogs and Red Raiders shutout Berrien by similar scores may serve as an indicator that this game could be closer than Maxwell’s projections have forecasted.

Temple Tigers at Heard County Braves

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Staples Stadium, Franklin

Records, rankings: Temple is 4-2, 0-0 in Region 5 and unranked; Heard County is 4-2, 0-0 and unranked

Last meeting: Heard County won 41-13 in 2019.

Maxwell’s projection: Even

Notes: The Tigers are off to a strong start for the fourth time in the last five years. The question now becomes if they take that momentum into region play, where they haven’t had a winning record since 2011. The Tigers are 0-10 against the Braves since 2003, and all of those games have been blowouts by at least three scores — save a Braves 33-21 win in 2011. The Tigers have beaten 1A Public’s Bowdon and B.E.S.T. Academy, 4A’s Central-Carrollton and Region 7′s Pepperell. They were also competitive in losses to 4A’s Heritage-Ringgold (14-6) and 5A’s Cass (17-14). The Braves, who started 4-0 but have dropped two straight, have been in and out of the rankings this season, climbing as high as No. 6 after a 35-30 win over 1A Private’s then-No. 10 Darlington on Sept. 25. However, they were booted from the rankings the following week after a 48-14 loss to 4A’s unranked Cedartown, and they then lost 32-13 to a Central-Carrollton opponent that Temple already beat 14-7. That common opponent may be a major factor in Maxwell’s projections not computing a favorite.

Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets at Vidalia Indians

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday,

Records, rankings: Jeff Davis is 5-0, 1-0 in Region 2 and unranked; Vidalia is 2-2, 0-0 and unranked.

Last meeting: Vidalia won 35-17 in 2019.

Maxwell’s projection: Vidalia by 1

Notes: The Jackets are off to a 5-0 start for a second year in a row and this time they’re hoping the strong start results in a playoff appearance, which has happened in two of the last three seasons since Lance Helton took over in 2017. Last season they started 6-0 but finished 7-3 and missed the playoffs in a tightly-contested Region 2 that nearly ended in an unprecedented five-way tie for first place. This game will be a great barometer for how far the Jackets have come, because they’re 0-12 against the Indians dating back to 1999. The Jackets beat Bacon County 41-14 last week in their region opener and their most notable win came in their opener against 1A Public’s then-No. 10 Lincoln County, who is led by first-year coach Lee Chomskis, in his first season there after spending the previous 13 at Vidalia. Taking over for Chomskis is first-year coach Jason Cameron, who comes to the program after a short-but-successful tenure at Jenkins. The Indians missed the first two weeks of the season due to quarantine after COVID-19 cases within the program and then came out of the gate slowly, losing to 1A Public’s Emanuel County Institute and No. 4 Bleckley County, though both losses were by a touchdown or less. Since then, they’ve evened their record with wins over 3A’s Richmond Academy and Tattnall County.

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