Class 5A blog: Calhoun-Cartersville showdown comes a day earlier than planned

Hurricane Ian causes most of the state to change its plans

The schedule is light this week and has been in flux because of the weather, but that won’t prevent two games featuring a pair of ranked teams from taking place.

No. 8 Calhoun travels to No. 1 Cartersville in a game that could determine the regular-season champion in Region 7. No. 10 Eastside will visit No. 6 Loganville in a game that will shape the landscape in the deep, difficult Region 8 race.

Calhoun at Cartersville, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. There remains half a season to play, but Cartersville (5-0) and Calhoun (3-2) remain the teams beat until someone can prove otherwise. They always have something to say about who wins the state championship, too; Calhoun was runner-up in 2022 and Cartersville finished second in 2021. The game will be shown live on GPB as the Football Fridays in Georgia Game of the Week.

Cartersville has survived an injury to its starting quarterback and watched freshman Nate Russell seamlessly slide into the position. He has thrown for 538 yards and seven touchdowns. He benefits from a top-notch group of receivers that includes sophomore Jamauri Brice (20 catches, 19.4-yard average, four TDs) and senior Collin Fletcher (eight catches, four TDs). Malachi Jeffries has run for 248 yards and six touchdowns. Jonathan Cline, a Central Florida commit, heads a veteran offensive line.

Calhoun features veteran running back Caden Williams, a key player in last year’s drive to the state championship game. Williams is versatile enough to move all over the field. Tight end Emaree Winston, a 6-3, 230-pound sophomore, already has offers from Tennessee and Ohio State, among many others.

Cartersville leads the all-time series 31-6-1. The Purple Hurricanes won last year’s game 21-14 to claim the region championship.

Eastside at Loganville, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Loganville (6-0, 2-0) has plenty of weapons to use. Quarterback Johnny Crowe, a transfer from Eastside, has thrown for 713 yards and 13 touchdowns and running back Solomon Leslie has 907 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Nico Dowdell has 13 receptions and eight have gone for touchdowns. Jason Eligwe leads the defense with 42 tackles, 10 for loss.

Eastisde (5-1, 1-0) relies on the steady hand of quarterback E’sean Arnold, who has thrown for 354 yards and run for 167 yards, and dependable running back Kenai Grier, who has 628 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Eagles prefer to run the ball behind its line, led by center Marcus Metcalf. Eastside’s defense features playmakers Jean Claude Joseph III and D’von Duplessis.

Eastside has won three straight against Loganville, but all have been close, including last year’s 10-9 victory.

Winder-Barrow at Jefferson, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. The No. 9-ranked Dragons (3-2, 1-0) flexed their defensive muscle again last week in the 17-7 win over Clarke Central. It was the third straight game that Jefferson’s defense held the opposition to single-digit points. Two-way standout Sammy Brown leads the veteran defense with 44 tackles and paces the offense with 636 yards and nine touchdowns. Quarterback Max Aldridge has thrown for 709 yards and six touchdowns and run for 108. Winder-Barrow (3-2, 0-1) spins its offense around running back Tyreek Hall, who has 828 yards and nine touchdowns. The Bulldoggs like to keep it on the ground – they average 246.6 yards rushing. The two clubs began playing in 1955 but haven’t met since 2015.

Cambridge at Greater Atlanta Christian, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. This game -- a potential shootout -- should have a big impact on the standings in Region 6. Both teams enter with identical 3-2 records and each won its league opener. This could be a real shootout. Cambridge has one of the deepest offensive lines in the region, which explains why the Bears are averaging 217 yards rushing per game. Christian Isibor (657 yards, eight touchdowns) gets most of the carries and quarterback Preston Clemmer (297 yards rushing, three TDs; 606 yards passing, eight TDs) is a two-way threat. GAC likes to move it in the air behind quarterback Jack Stanton (869 yards, nine touchdowns), who has excellent targets in Braylen Burgess (20 catches) and Xavier Daisy (12 catches, 22.1 average, four TDs). This is the first meeting between the schools.

King vs. Chamblee at North DeKalb, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Chamblee will celebrate its homecoming in the Region 4 opener. Chamblee (3-1) has the most prolific offense in DeKalb County and has gotten great production from QB Fabian Walker (804 yards, 13 TDs) and receiver Jordan Thornton (20 catches), who became the school’s all-time leading receiver earlier this year. Larry Harris (260 yards rushing) is a dependable back and Walker has also run for 146 yards. King (1-4) is led by junior quarterback Antonio Anderson (267 yards passing, 253 yards rushing.) This will be the first meeting between the two teams.

Lithonia vs. Arabia Mountain at Hallford Stadium, Thursday, 7 p.m.: Arabia Mountain (2-3) looks to continue to build its case for the postseason against the winless Lithonia (0-5) in the Region 4 opener for both teams. Arabia Mountain is led by quarterback Julian Shanks (459 yards passing, six TDs) and running back Solomon Rayton (500 yards rushing, three touchdowns). Lithonia is led by quarterback Amante Hardin, who has thrown for 454 yards and rushed for 142. Arabia Mountain leads the series 4-3 and has won the last two games, including the 20-9 decision in 2021.

Hurricane Ian has huge impact on schedule

With the heavy rain expected on Friday due to Hurricane Ian, most of the Class 5A schools have made changes to their schedule The majority of the games have been moved to Thursday. Here is a region-by-region look.

Check back later for updated information, as decisions are still being made. (

Region 1: The region caught a break with the weather. All the teams in the league are off.

Region 2: Only two games were scheduled and both have been move to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. – Jones County at Eagle’s Landing and Warner Robins at Ola.

Region 3: The Harris County at Sandy Creek game is moving to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Heard County-McIntosh game remains scheduled for Friday.

Region 4: The Arabia Mountain-Lithonia game is moving to Thursday at 7 p.m. at Hallford Stadium and the King-Chamblee game will be Thursday at 7:30 at North DeKalb Stadium. The Tucker at Decatur game remains on Friday.

Region 5: The Mays at Creekside game will move to Thursday at 8 p.m. at Henderson Stadium and the Banner at Tri-Cities game will be Thursday at 8 p.m. The Chapel Hill at Maynard Jackson game will be Saturday. Remaining on Friday are Midtown at Temple and Villa Rica at Lithia Springs.

Region 6: All three games were moved to Thursday – Centennial at Chattahoochee (7:30 p.m.), Cambridge at Greater Atlanta Christian (7 p.m.), and Northview at North Springs (7:30 p.m.).

Region 7: All three games were moved to Thursday – Calhoun at Cartersville (7:30 p.m.), Dalton at Hiram (7 p.m.), and Cass at Woodland (7:30 p.m.).

Region 8: All three games were moved to Thursday – Clarke Central at Flowery Branch, Winder-Barrow at Jefferson, and Eastside at Loganville. All will start at 7:30 p.m.