Class 5A blog: Ware, Region 1 comrades continue tough non-region schedule

This week’s top games

Region 1 was already the toughest league in Class 5A. The region is small, with only five teams, but each one made the playoffs last year and played well in the playoffs. Warner Robins has been to the state championship game for three years running.

But instead of scheduling a bunch of cupcakes for the non-region portion of their schedule, the members of Region1 went out and arranged some difficult opposition. It’s the sort of games you expect to see in Week 13 instead of Week 2.

Last week Warner Robins played Valdosta, the No. 1 team in Class 6A. Wayne County got a last-minute date with Hart County, then the No. 7 team in Class 3A. Ware County played Cook, a perennial playoff team. Veterans mixed it up with cross-county rival Northside Warner Robins.

This week there’s more of the same. No. 1 Warner Robins will host Archer, the No. 10 team in Class 7A. No. 4 Coffee is at Bainbridge, the No. 3 team in Class 4A. No. 5 Ware County will host Richmond Hill, the No. 4 team in Class 6A. No. 6 Veterans will play West Laurens, the preseason No. 4 team in Class 4. Wayne County, the only unranked team in the region, will host Pierce County, the No. 7 team in Class 3A.

“Part of it is getting ready to play and a lot of it is getting ready for the brand of coaching you’ll see in the playoffs,” said Ware County coach Jason Strickland. "We’ve got a lot of good coaches n Georgia and a lot of guys down here were looking to schedule games against good coaching.

“What you want is one or two big brands on the schedule to create some excitement in the community. We’ve got about nine of those on the schedule.”

Ware opened with a 38-6 win over Cook, the only non-region opponent on its schedule that is unranked. Strickland said his Gators showed they could make the adjustments needed during the game. He saw improvement on the young offensive line, but still has questions about the defensive line. There are no questions, however, about junior quarterback Thomas Castellanos.

Castellanos completed 10 of 15 for 194 yards and two touchdowns and rushed four times for 37 yards and two touchdowns. Strickland said Castellanos missed three calls on protections, but still completed all three passes. But that’s just nit picking.

“For two years he’s been an athletic guy who was put in the quarterback position,” Strickland said. “Now you’re starting to see he’s becoming a quarterback who happens to be an athlete. I’m pleased with his development and his commitment to be the sort of quarterback he can be.”

In the opener, Castellanos was asked to execute a two-minute drill and to start a possession on his own 2. He distributed the ball effectively, finding eight different receivers.

In other interesting games this week:

Archer at Warner Robins, Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Neither of these heavyweights are backing away from a fight: Warner Robins played at Valdosta the first week and Archer opened against Lowndes. Warner Robins will try to get its running game going against Archer’s stout defense. The Demons ran for 154 yards last week, but 88 came on one play.

Griffin at Lowndes, Friday, 8 p.m.: The Bears (1-0) will have their hands full with Class 7A No. 2 Lowndes, especially on the road. Griffin’s top performers the first week were wide receiver Prince Green, defensive end Donovan Westmoreland and kicker Josh Galvez. Green last week announced his commitment to play at Illinois.

Douglas County at Stockbridge, Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Stockbridge (0-1) will try to bounce back from a 49-23 loss to Gainesville in the opener. The Tigers will need to take a big step forward on special teams, as they had two punts blocked in the opener. The Douglas County offense is led by quarterback Jimmy Inman, who threw for 138 yards and two touchdowns in the 47-7 win over rival Lithia Springs.

Cartersville at West Forsyth, Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Cartersville was dominant in its opening 40-0 win over Morrow. Brandon Tripp got his first start at quarterback for the Purple Hurricanes and completed 11 of 16 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. West Forsyth hammered highly regarded Mays 42-6 in its opener.

Calhoun at McCallie, Tenn., Friday, 7:30 p.m.: Calhoun (1-0) needed a game and found one against the Tennessee state champions. The Yellow Jackets got of to a great start with a 41-14 win over Dalton. Calhoun quarterback Christian Lewis completed 22 of 28 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns and Jerrian Hames rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns to lead the offense.

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