Here are the six most telling results from Friday’s nights games involving Class 7A teams.
*Cherokee 14, Cartersville 12: Cherokee ended Cartersville’s 62-game regular-season winning streak, but to be shocked would be patronizing. Cartersville was only a seven-point favorite, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings, and Cherokee is an undefeated team from the highest classification. Now 5-0 for the first time since 2007, Cherokee brought back young talent, especially on offense, from an 8-4 team. The Warriors expected to be a factor in 7A this season, and they are.
*Archer 14, North Gwinnett 13: Archer started the season ranked No. 7 but lost its first three games to teams that are ranked No. 1 or No. 2 – Lowndes, Warner Robins and Grayson. So beating No. 9 North Gwinnett, even on the road, is not earth-shattering. Similarly, North has no reason to panic for its back-to-back losses that started last week vs. Lovejoy. It’s perhaps a wakeup call that North has lost two straight home games after winning 27 straight, and the offense needs to get better, but the defense remains one of the state’s best. Neither of these teams can expect to be ranked Sunday, but there’s a good chance that both will advance multiple rounds in the playoffs one they get their teeth into the season.
*Cedar Grove 14, Milton 7: Milton, ranked No. 7, lost to the two-time 3A champion playing its first game. But perhaps only Grayson in 7A has more major Division I recruits on defense than Cedar Grove, so the Eagles will just need to shake this one off. Don’t bet against them to win Region 5 despite the presence of Roswell (3-0) and Cherokee (5-0)
*Hillgrove 42, Westlake 21: There’s probably no 7A team that consistently meets or exceeds expectations than Hillgrove, and that apparently won’t change under new coach Byron Slack, the former Lowndes assistant. Westlake came in ranked No. 3 in Class 6A and possessing more high-end talent as five senior Lions are committed to major Division I schools. Hillgrove has to believe it has a shot to win Region 3. North Cobb is probably the early favorite.
*Parkview 50, Marietta 28: Marietta, the defending champion, is 1-3 and probably the underdog three more times this season, including next week against No. 4 Brookwood. But the Blue Devils remain talented, just young and inexperienced after some eight players off the 2019 team moved on to ACC or SEC schools. Parkview has to feel better about its offense – shut out vs. North Gwinnett but putting up a Kennedy half dollar against Marietta.
*South Forsyth 44, Lambert 14: Lambert started 4-0 after an 0-10 finish, and South Forsyth entered 2-0, so those facts made this game intriguing. But while Lambert is in good hands under new coach Tommy Watson, another former Lowndes assistant, it was too good to be true that Lambert was in the upper tier of the county on such short notice. Denmark, in beating North Forsyth 20-10, made the biggest statement in Region 6 on Friday. Watch out for the Danes now that QB Aaron McLaughlin is healthy. And South is generally always there. Should be a good race.
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