Bleckley County at Wilcox County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Donnie Clack Stadium, Rochelle
Record, rankings: Bleckley County is 1-0 and No. 8 in Class 2A; Wilcox County is 0-0 and No. 7 in Class A Public.
Last meeting: Bleckley County won 35-6 in 2017.
Things to know: Both rural south Georgia programs have turned a corner under relatively new coaches. Bleckley County’s Von Lassiter, in his fourth season at his alma mater, inherited a team that had gone 3-17 the previous two seasons. The 2019 playoff appearance was the Royals' first since 2014, and the preseason top-10 ranking was the first in school history, dating to 1977. Rob Stowe, in his first season last year, led Wilcox County to its first winning season and playoff win since 2012. Both teams have major Division I recruits. Bleckley County tackle Amarius Mims, an AJC Super 11 pick, is an uncommitted five-star player. Wilcox County linebacker/running back Martez Thrower is committed to Kentucky. While Wilcox was off, Bleckley opened last week with a 27-19 victory over previous No. 4 West Laurens of Class 4A. Bleckley trailed 19-0 in the first half. Javon Butler scored two touchdowns, one a 53-yarder that gave Bleckley its final 27-19 lead.
Buford at North Cobb
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Emory Sewell Stadium, Kennesaw
Record, rankings: Buford is 0-0 and No. 3 in Class 6A; North Cobb is 1-0 and unranked in 7A.
Last meeting: North Cobb won 25-0 in 1959.
Things to know: This game came about after both teams lost several of their original opponents because of the pandemic. It adds to an already tough workload for North Cobb, which will face three reigning state champions this season – Buford and Region 3-7A opponents Marietta and Harrison. Buford, playing up in 6A this season after winning the 5A title, brings back Gabe Ervin (1,210 yards rushing) and Victor Venn (764) from an offense that rushed for 2,756 yards and 35 touchdowns last season. Ervin (Nebraska) is one of six Buford seniors committed to Division I programs. Others are RB Brandon Castro (Army), OL Jacob Smith (Army), DL Matthew Alexander (Central Florida), DB Malik Williams (Nebraska) and DB Amari Wansley (Florida Atlantic). North Cobb built a 48-17 halftime lead and held on for a 48-30 victory over Sprayberry last week. Sophomore QB Malachi Singleton scored on a 40-yard run and threw an 85-yard touchdown pass on the Warriors' first two plays from scrimmage and accounted for five touchdowns on the night. He finished with 152 yards passing and 100 rushing.
Carrollton at Newnan
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Drake Stadium, Newnan
Record, rankings: Carrollton is 0-1 and No. 9 in Class 6A; Newnan is 1-0 and unranked in 7A.
Last meeting: Carrollton won 51-13 in 2017.
Things to know: Carrollton, which moved up one class to 6A this year, opened its season Saturday with a 46-24 loss to Collins Hill in the Corky Kell Classic. The Trojans entered the season in need of a quarterback after M.J. Morris, the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat QB, according to 247Sports, transferred to Pace Academy. They found a new starter in junior James McCauley, who moved from Bronx, New York, after his state delayed its fall sports season. McCauley was 10-of-23 for 100 yards and a TD against Collins Hill, which passed for 364 yards and outgained Carrollton 509-173. Newnan’s 42-17 victory over Whitewater last week was the Cougars' first season-opening win since 2015, when they last faced Carrollton. Michael Maginnis, a three-star recruit who has committed to Samford, was 11-of-18 passing for 168 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 25 yards on three carries. Running back Bryson Moss (committed to Eastern Michigan) ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. DL Brandon Tolvert has 10 mid-major and FBS offers.
Irwin County at Fitzgerald
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jaycee Stadium, Fitzgerald
Record, rankings: Irwin County is 0-0 and No. 1 in Class A Public; Fitzgerald is 1-0 and No. 3 in 2A.
Last meeting: Irwin County won 35-8 in 2019.
Things to know: Irwin County has won two consecutive games against Fitzgerald, and its 27-point victory last year was its largest ever against the Purple Hurricane. However, Fitzgerald was 17-0-1 in the previous 18 games and holds a 44-19-3 advantage in a series that dates to 1954. This will be the season opener for defending Class A Public champion Irwin, as its original matchup against Class A Private champion Eagle’s Landing Christian was canceled over COVID-19 concerns. The Indians feature three returning players who earned all-state recognition last season – RB/LB Garland Benyard, CB/RB Gabe Benyard and LB/FB Kam Ward. Fitzgerald opened the season with a 21-17 victory over Cairo. Chance Gamble scored on a 56-yard run and 34-yard reception from Rashad David, and Fitzgerald scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half for a 21-14 lead. Gamble was the region offensive player of the year and a first-team all-state selection at defensive back in 2019. Mario Clark, a returning first-team all-region player, scored Fitzgerald’s other touchdown against Cairo on a 2-yard run.
Lovett at Greater Atlanta Christian
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross
Record, rankings: Lovett is 0-0 and No. 5 in Class 2A; Greater Atlanta Christian is 1-0 and No. 6 in 3A.
Last meeting: Lovett won 30-29 in 2019.
Things to know: Lovett won the 2019 game in overtime after rallying from a 23-7 deficit in the fourth quarter. Andrew Pinkston blocked two extra points, the second in overtime to seal the victory. Lovett scored two touchdowns and two conversions to get even in regulation. Blaine McAllister, now at Princeton, passed for 336 yards. Lovett, which went on to finish 7-4, moved down one class into 2A this season. Middle linebacker Stevie Bracey is a preseason all-state player. GAC bounced back from the 2019 Lovett loss to win 12 consecutive games and a region title and reach the 3A semifinals, where the Spartans lost 28-18 to eventual champion Cedar Grove. GAC opened last week with a 20-0 victory over Denmark. GAC intercepted six passes and held the Danes, a Class 7A team, to 31 yards rushing. Aidan Bailey had two tackles for losses and forced a fumble, and Saiku White intercepted three passes. GAC tackle Addison Nichols is a junior four-star recruit. GAC had won seven straight games in the series until last year.
Calhoun at McCallie (Tenn.)
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, UTC’s Finley Stadium, Chattanooga
Record, rankings: Calhoun is 1-0 and No. 7 in Georgia’s Class 5A; McCallie is 2-1 and No. 2 in Tennessee’s Division II Class AAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: These are two of the top programs in the northwest Georgia/Chattanooga area. Calhoun had won a state-record 18 consecutive region championships until finishing second in 6-3A last year and has won three state titles in the past decade. The Yellow Jackets, who moved up two classes to 5A this year, opened the 2020 season with a 41-14 victory last week against Dalton, a playoff team in 6A last season. Christian Lewis was 22-of-28 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns, and Jerrian Hames, a preseason all-state player and 1,500-yard rusher in 2019, ran for 124 yards and scored three TDs. McCallie won a state championship in 2019 and was the top-ranked private-school team in Tennessee this year until a 30-27 loss last week to Brentwood Academy, which moved into the top spot. Running back B.J. Harris (committed to Missouri) is the No. 20 overall player in Tennessee, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. He rushed for 131 yards on 25 carries last week. Twin offensive linemen Austin and Jack Gentle have committed to Harvard.
Prince Avenue Christian at Rabun County
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger
Record, rankings: Prince Avenue Christian is 1-0 and No. 3 in Class A Private; Rabun County is 1-0 and No. 1 in 2A.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: This game attracted ESPNU’s attention because of the teams' quarterbacks, senior Brock Vandagriff of Prince Avenue Christian and junior Gunner Stockton of Rabun County. Both are consensus five-star recruits, Vandagriff committed to Georgia, Stockton to South Carolina. Except for Justin Fields, they would be Georgia’s two highest-rated dual-threat QB prospects this century. Vandagriff has thrown for 6,174 yards and rushed for 1,486 in his career with 99 rushing or passing touchdowns. Stockton has thrown for 6,543 and rushed for 1,916 with 117 combined touchdowns. But both teams were good before either quarterback showed up, so neither is a one-man show. Prince Avenue senior Landon Owens plays running back and receiver and had 165 yards from scrimmage in a 42-7 win over Calvary Day last week. Rabun sophomore Lang Windham rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a 35-0 victory over Ridgeland.
Richmond Hill at Ware County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Waycross
Record, rankings: Richmond Hill is 1-0 and No. 4 in Class 6A; Ware County is 1-0 and No. 5 in 5A.
Last meeting: Ware County won 51-24 in 2015.
Things to know: Ware County is 6-0 in the series since the teams first met in 2010. The Gators' 27-24 victory in 2012 was the only game decided by fewer than 17 points. Ware, whose No. 5 ranking is its highest during the regular season since the first week of the 2016 season, opened with a 38-6 victory over Class 2A Cook last week. Quarterback Thomas Castellanos, an honorable mention all-state selection as a sophomore last season, was 10-of-15 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a team-high 37 yards and two TDs on four carries. Richmond Hill pulled away late last week for a surprisingly comfortable 28-11 victory against a then-ranked Camden County team that was projected as a 14-point favorite by the computer Maxwell Ratings. The Wildcats, having to reshape their backfield after the graduation of 1,700-yard rusher Jalen Rouse, got 115 yards and three touchdowns rushing from Ashaud Roberson and 78 yards and a TD from Kenyan Hunter. Isaiah Allen had four of Richmond Hill’s five receptions for 44 yards.
Wayne County at Pierce County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bearville Stadium, Blackshear
Record, rankings: Wayne County is 1-0 and unranked in Class 5A; Pierce County is 1-0 and No. 7 in 3A.
Last meeting: Wayne County won 30-8 in 2017.
Things to know: Wayne County is the only unranked team from a reconfigured Region 1-5A that includes No. 1 Warner Robins, No. 4 Coffee, No. 5 Ware County and No. 6 Veterans. Still, this is a team that went 28-6 over the past three seasons (the best three-year run in program history) and won two region titles in 2-5A. Fifteen starters return from the 2019 team, which went 8-3 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Key returnees include OL Weston Franklin (6-4, 315, committed to Georgia Tech) and LB Trevin Wallace (Boston College). Pierce County is also in the midst of unprecedented success, posting a 24-2 record with a semifinal appearance in the past two seasons. Senior QB Jermaine Brewton drives the offense. He was 10-of-13 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and a score in a 31-10 victory over Class 6A Brunswick last week. Senior defensive back Ty Myles has committed to Northern Illinois. Pierce County finished tied for sixth in Class 3A defense last season, allowing just 11.75 points per game.
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