Top 10 games of Week 9

August 20 , 2022 Atlanta - Mill Creek's Caleb Downs (2) runs for a touchdown during the 2022 Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Saturday, August 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /



August 20 , 2022 Atlanta - Mill Creek's Caleb Downs (2) runs for a touchdown during the 2022 Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Saturday, August 20, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /

Aquinas at Lincoln County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buddy Bufford Field/Larry Campbell Stadium, Lincolnton

Records, rankings: Aquinas is 5-1 overall, 1-0 in Region 8-A Division II and No. 8; Lincoln County is 4-2, 1-0 and unranked.

Last meeting: Aquinas won 10-7 in 2019.

Things to know: These are two of three Region 8-A Division II teams without a region loss. The other is Greene County (5-2, 2-0). Aquinas has won six of the past seven in the series that had been played annually from 2000 to 2019 and most years before that. Lincoln County had won 26 straight until Aquinas’ win in 2013. Aquinas’ loss this season came against Harlem, a Class 3A school. Lincoln County has lost to Class A schools Commerce and Emanuel County Institute but put itself in contention for the region title last week with a 41-14 victory over then-No. 5 Washington-Wilkes. QB Trey Huff rushed for 129 yards on 12 carries, and Semaj Jenkins scored four touchdowns. The 332 rushing yards were a season high for a team that attempts only about eight passes per game. Aquinas is perhaps the best passing team in Division II. Sophomore QB Jim Franklin has passed for 1,355 yards, most in the class, with 16 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Kevin Douglas has 551 receiving yards. Aquinas’ average score is 34-17 against the class’s 21st-toughest schedule, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings. Lincoln County’s average score is 29-22 against the ninth-toughest schedule.

Brooks County at Early County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Standifer Field, Blakely

Records, rankings: Brooks County is 4-1 and No. 4 in Class A Division I; Early County is 7-0 and No. 1 in Class A Division II.

Last meeting: Brooks County won 28-13 in 2019.

Things to know: Early County is the first Georgia team to clinch a region title this season. The Bobcats swept through their region slate 6-0 and will finish with Class A Division I powers Brooks County and Irwin County sandwiched around Eufaula, a good Alabama team. Brooks County’s schedule is odd in a different way. The Trojans, the 2021 Class A Public champions, are playing for the first time since Sept. 16 because an Alabama school, Pike Liberal Arts, canceled their only game in the meantime. Early County is ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1995. The Bobcats have never won a state title, although predecessor school Blakely-Union did in 1964. Early is a run-dominant wing-T team that completes only three passes per game. Charles Williams leads the team in rushing with 503 yards. Brooks County’s offense runs through Jamal Sanders, who has thrown for 332 yards and rushed for 410. His passing numbers are deceivingly low as he threw for 2,310 yards in 2021 with 28 touchdowns. Brooks’ other leading rushers are running backs Chris Cole (386 yards) and Kamari Blankumsee (304). Brooks County has won 12 consecutive games in this series.

Cambridge at Kell

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, C.J. Kell Stadium/The Stockyard, Marietta

Records, rankings: Cambridge is 5-2 overall, 3-0 in Region 6-5A and No. 8; Kell is 6-0, 2-0 and No. 5.

Last meeting: Cambridge won 36-14 in the first round of the 2020 Class 6A playoffs.

Things to know: These are the only two teams in the region without a region loss. Kell, with its 6-0 start, has matched its victory totals of the past two seasons. The Longhorns are in position to win their first region title since 2014. Kell is coached by Bobby May, who came over from Westlake in the offseason. Junior QB Bryce Clavon, a first-year starter, has emerged as one of the state’s best at his position. He is 93-of-130 passing (71.5%) for 1,422 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 493 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also an elite baseball prospect. Cambridge is coming off its best season in history, a 9-2 finish in Class 6A. The Bears are chasing their first region title in their 11th season of football. They’ve lost to Denmark and West Forsyth of Class 7A in close games. Cambridge’s offensive star is Christian Isibor, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound back who has rushed for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cambridge’s average score is 37-17 against the 12th-toughest schedule in 5A, according to the Maxwell Ratings. Kell’s average score is 38-16 against the 41st-toughest schedule.

Cartersville at Hiram

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

Records, rankings: Cartersville is 6-1 overall, 1-1 in Region 7-5A and No. 7; Hiram is 4-3, 1-1 and unranked.

Last meeting: Cartersville won 34-14 in 2021.

Things to know: This region once had two top-five teams, seemingly distanced from the pack – Cartersville and Calhoun – but now both are a game behind unsuspecting Dalton (4-3, 2-0) because of Hiram’s high jinks, that is, a 44-34 upset of 42-point favorite Calhoun last week. After a 1-9 finish last year, Hiram is proving to be a program on the rise with three highly recruited juniors. Those are tight end Walter Matthews and offensive linemen Clinton Richard and Jameson Riggers. They help grease the running game, and running backs Jemarion Whatley (830 yards) and Kaden Hamilton (614) have 1,000-yard seasons within sight. The Hornets have topped 40 points five the past six games, even in a 52-45 loss to Dalton. Cartersville bounced back from a three-overtime loss to Calhoun on Sept. 29 to beat Cass 35-13 last week. Paul Gamble passed for 171 yards and a season-high 91 rushing yards. Cartersville hasn’t lost two region games in a season since 2011. Both teams average 39.3 points per game. Cartersville allows 14.1 while Hiram is giving up 28.3.

Dublin at Dooly County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bobcat Stadium/The Grove, Vienna

Records, rankings: Dublin is 3-2 and No. 10 in Class A Division I; Dooly County is 4-2 and No. 7 in Class A Division II.

Last meeting: Dooly County won 31-28 in 2021.

Things to know: Dooly County started 0-2 with losses to bigger schools Crisp County and Irwin County but has won four straight games, with three wins against Class A Division II teams that have been ranked at some point this season. The Bobcats are averaging 52 points in those four games. Antwan Clayton has thrown for 1,341 yards (second in Class A D-II) and 18 touchdowns (first in A D-II). Lorenzo “Tay Tay” Clayton, Antwan’s cousin, has run for 693 yards and has another 206 receiving yards. Jalen “Bull” Hall has 24 receptions for 452 yards and seven touchdowns. Dublin has lost to Lamar County and Metter but got in the top 10 after last week’s 31-13 victory over then-No. 4 Bleckley County, making the Irish co-favorites in the region with No. 2 Swainsboro. Dublin’s defense has been solid, allowing 13.4 points per game against the 10th-toughest A D-I schedule. Desmond Gilbert and Ramontei Dardie are outstanding two-way linemen. Dublin’s offense has been erratic, though. Demari Foster rushed for 335 yards and four touchdowns against ECI, and Jaquarius Evans has a couple of 100-yard games, but it has been a struggle at times. With only 147 yards passing on the season, Dublin is a vintage wing-T team.

Mill Creek at Buford

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Records, rankings: Mill Creek is 6-0 overall, 1-0 in Region 8-7A and No. 3; Buford is 6-0, 1-0 and No. 1.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: Both are ranked in the top 25 of seven national polls, with Buford peaking at No. 2 (High School Football America) and Mill Creek at No. 9 (Massey Ratings and CalPreps). These teams’ school districts bordered each other in Gwinnett County until this year, when newly opened Seckinger provided a buffer. When Mill Creek opened in 2004, Buford was a Class 2A school, and it’s only now that they’ve been in the same classification. These teams arguably have the leading player-of-the-year candidates in Class 7A if not the state. Buford’s Justice Haynes has rushed for 870 yards on 100 carries and scored 15 touchdowns, one on a kickoff return. Mill Creek’s Caleb Downs has 525 all-purpose yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions (17 for his career). Both are AJC Super 11 picks committed to Alabama. Mill Creek leads Class 7A in scoring at 46.5 points per game. Buford is second in fewest points allowed at 7.8 per game. For all practical purposes, this is for the region title. The only other team without a region loss, Mountain View, lost to Mill Creek 56-0 last season.

North Cobb Christian at South Atlanta

When, where: 7 p.m. Saturday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta

Records, rankings: North Cobb Christian is 7-0 overall, 3-0 in Region 6-2A and ranked; South Atlanta is 6-0, 3-0 and No. 2.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Things to know: These are the only teams without a region loss in 6-2A. North Cobb Christian, which started football in 2007, has never won a region title. South Atlanta, a 29-year-old school, won its first two in 2020 and 2021. Both teams are run-dominant. North Cobb Christian spreads the carries more, with no runner averaging more than eight per game. Jadin Coates has run for a team-leading 516 yards. Also a good receiver and return man, Coates has another 426 all-purpose yards. Coates was the final ball carrier in North Cobb Christian’s viral five-lateral touchdown play that beat Wesleyan 19-15 on Sept. 2. South Atlanta averages 334 yards rushing per game, getting most of that from AJC Super 11 RB Keyjuan Brown, a Purdue commit. Brown has rushed for 1,381 yards and 15 touchdowns for the season and 6,151 yards and 68 touchdowns for his career. Both teams have preseason all-state linebackers. North Cobb Christian’s Jacob Cruz is committed to Georgia Tech. South Atlanta’s Tay Seymore is committed to East Carolina.

Rabun County at Elbert County

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Granite Bowl, Elberton

Records, rankings: Rabun County is 7-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 8-A Division I and No. 3; Elbert County is 7-0, 0-0 and No. 6.

Last meeting: Rabun County won 45-7 in 2021.

Things to know: These teams play in a four-team region that includes unranked Commerce (5-2) and Athens Christian (3-3). Rabun County leads the series with Elbert County 6-0, all played in the past six years and none closer than 28 points. But this is the first time they’ve played when both were ranked, and Elbert County is off to its best start since 2011. At No. 6, Elbert is the highest-ranked region opponent Rabun has faced during its 47-game region winning streak. Rabun County gets more than 75% of its total yards passing as Keegan Stover has thrown for 2,034 yards and Jaden Gibson has a state-leading 1,078 yards receiving, but Lang Windham has 12 100-yard rushing games in his career. Elbert County will try to control the ball with feature back Quan Moss, who has 1,170 yards rushing (second-most in the class) and 15 touchdowns. He’s had more than 25 attempts five times this season and had 39 last week in a 35-24 victory over Whitefield Academy. Rabun County’s average score is 35-15 against Division I’s sixth-toughest schedule. Elbert County’s average score is 33-20 against the 11th-toughest schedule.

Sandy Creek at Carver (Atlanta)

When, where: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta

Records, rankings: Sandy Creek is 6-1 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-3A and No. 4; Carver is 5-1, 0-0 and No. 2.

Last meeting: Carver won 36-29 in 2021.

Things to know: The 2021 Carver-Sandy Creek matchup produced arcade-like numbers. Carver led in total yards 742-567. Sandy Creek QB Geimere Latimer was 24-of-38 passing for 474 yards and rushed for 78 yards. Carver QB Bryce Bowens passed for 390 yards and threw a 92-yard TD pass to Deandre Buchannon with four minutes left for the winning touchdown. All those players are back this season. Latimer, the reigning Class 3A offensive player of the year, has thrown for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 326 yards. WR/DB Kaleb Cost has 837 total yards. He’s committed to North Carolina. Carver had two 1,500-yard rushers last season, but the 2022 team relies more on the senior Bowens, who has thrown for 1,022 yards. Buchannon and Zyeek Mender are two of the region’s top receivers. These two teams are from a four-team region that includes No. 1 Cedar Grove and Douglass. Sandy Creek recovered from its Carver loss last season to beat Cedar Grove, but Cedar Grove won the state title, beating Carver in the final.

Walton at Kennesaw Mountain

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cobb EMC Mustang Stadium, Kennesaw

Records, rankings: Walton is 4-2 overall, 0-1 in Region 5-7A and unranked; Kennesaw Mountain is 6-0, 1-0 and No. 10.

Last meeting: Walton won 15-14 in 2007.

Things to know: This is the let’s-prove-it game for Kennesaw Mountain, which is 6-0, but against the 39th-toughest Class 7A schedule, according to the computer Maxwell Ratings. Walton has lost to No. 3 Mill Creek and No. 6 North Cobb and has played the ninth-toughest schedule. Kennesaw Mountain is coming off its first region title in history, though it was in Class 6A. Walton is the more traditionally strong program in Cobb County and made the Class 7A semifinals last season. These teams have a common opponent, North Paulding. Kennesaw Mountain won 37-36 while Walton won 51-49. This game pits two of Class 7A’s best quarterbacks. Kennesaw Mountain’s Cayman Prangley is 95-of-143 passing for 1,519 yards and 18 touchdowns with five interceptions. Walton’s Jeremy Hecklinski is 99-of-153 for 1,912 yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions. Walton is a game down in the region standings after the North Cobb loss. Kennesaw Mountain is tied with North Cobb and Wheeler (4-2, 1-0) for the region lead. The winner realistically would be favored to get a home playoff game while the loser is more likely to travel in the first round.

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