Westlake-Newton, East Coweta-Lowndes top 7A schedule

A Buford football is shown on the field during their game against St. Frances Academy at Tom Riden Stadium, Friday, August 18, 2023, in Buford, Ga. Buford won 18-0. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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A Buford football is shown on the field during their game against St. Frances Academy at Tom Riden Stadium, Friday, August 18, 2023, in Buford, Ga. Buford won 18-0. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

What might be the three best undefeated but unranked teams in Class 7A will get their chance to make a case Friday.

One is Newton, a 4-0 team playing at home against No. 7 Westlake. The others – Lowndes and East Coweta – are playing each other.

Below are previews of those games followed by an interview with Lowndes coach Adam Carter and the Maxwell Ratings projections of all games this week involving Class 7A teams.

Westlake at Newton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Homer Sharp Stadium, Covington

Records, rankings: Westlake is 4-0 and No. 7 in Class 7A; Newton is 4-0 and unranked in 7A.

Last meeting: Westlake won 42-14 in 2022.

Things to know: Newton is 4-0 for the first time since 2015 and can become 5-0 for the first time since 1950, its second full varsity season. The Rams have allowed only 14 points total, although the competition has been three smaller schools, then McEachern, a 13-7 victory that was stopped in the second quarter and not finished. The offense is led by Zion Johnson, a junior with Division I offers and 464 yards rushing in the three completed games, and Georgia Southern-committed WR Keon Davis. Sophomore QB Deron Benson had 442 yards passing, 92 rushing. Westlake can roll out seven defensive players who are seniors committed to Division I schools. They include DB Christian Peterson (Central Florida), CB Rae’mon Mosby (Louisville) and DL DeMarius Hines (East Carolina). They go with an offense that’s averaging 51.3 points per game. In the 2022 game between these two, Newton was within 21-14 at halftime before it got away.

East Coweta at Lowndes

When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Martin Stadium, Valdosta

Records, rankings: East Coweta is 4-0 and unranked in Class 7A; Lowndes is 3-0 and unranked in 7A.

Last meeting: East Coweta won 49-34 in 2022.

Things to know: These are two of the most conspicuous among the 11 undefeated, unranked teams in Class 7A. In the 2022 game between them, East Coweta got 362 yards passing from a sophomore quarterback who has transferred to Buford. The new guy, Cohen Peeples, is 39-of-72 passing for 740 yards and seven touchdowns. Seth Gritton (18 receptions, 372 yards) is among the top five receivers in 7A. Dionte Jones rushed for 137 yards while Dural Thompson ran for 110 last week in a 31-14 victory over Sandy Creek. Lowndes QB Marvis Parrish passed for 253 yards in the 2022 East Coweta game, but Lowndes couldn’t get its run game going. Parrish is back, and the run game is better. Jacarre’ Fleming rushed for 111 and 186 yards with three touchdowns each in his first two games. He was limited to one carry last week in a win over Rock Creek Christian of Maryland but will be ready Friday. Lowndes hasn’t been swept in a non-region home-and-home series since McEachern did it in 2010-11.

Lowndes coach Carter talks decision to leave Grayson, current team

This is an interview with first-year Lowndes coach Adam Carter, whose team is 3-0 and facing 4-0 Newton at home Friday night. Carter was Grayson’s coach the previous four seasons and won the Class 7A title in 2020. He’s a Paulding County native but with experience in South Georgia as a former defensive coordinator at Camden County and Valdosta and head coach at Bradwell Institute.

1. What persuaded you to leave one good job for another? What was most attractive about Lowndes? “First, Grayson is an amazing job with even better people. My time there is something I will always cherish. My son was born in that community, and we made lifelong friends there. My goal after leaving South Georgia was to one day come back. My wife and I had many conversations about the Lowndes job. We knew if there was ever an opportunity to raise our son here, I would jump on it. Everyone knows the history of Lowndes football, but for me it was much more. I was looking for a place to raise our son, Steele, and to call home for a long time. This is a retirement job, community, school system, program. Lowndes checks off all the boxes for a football coach – past success, facilities, support and hard-nose football. The most attractive thing about this job is the people. Our administration, board of education and community are all about Lowndes. The motto here is OneLowndes, and each school in our system embraces that.”

2. What has Lowndes done facilities-wise since you were hired, and how important are facilities becoming in Georgia? What’s the future here? “Lowndes’ facilities are second to none. The Concrete Palace is a special place that everyone should experience. A few months after I started here, we were able to get into our new indoor facility. This facility rivals most in the country at any level. Around our campus ,though, you will find a year-old three-story academic building, new tennis courts, turf baseball/soccer fields and a new building almost complete for our band and track programs. Facilities are a huge plus in our profession. In South Georgia, the heat and weather can be tough. This indoor facility allows all of our sports to practice during any season. I think everyone likes new things. I also think the school systems understand that buildings get old and outgrown. That investment into our kids and facilities is unmatched here at Lowndes.”

3. How would you assess your team after three games? “It’s hard to complain when you are 3-0. We are an inexperienced football team, so every game creates new learning experiences for our kids. With a mostly new staff, we are still figuring out our team and what they can do on Friday nights. We have been a bend-but-don’t-break team on defense. We have created 14 turnovers in just three games, so that is a huge positive. Our offense is coming along. We have a few dynamic players over there, and we will continue to grow offensively each week. I will say this about our kids: They have not quit. We have been down at halftime the last two weeks, and our kids have responded well in the second half.”

4. What are some of the changes that you and your staff have made that players are having to adjust to? “I think everything has changed for our kids. We have changed the way we lift, eat, practice, etc. When you have a large staff turnover, things are going to be different. I tell people this all the time, it is not about right or wrong, just about how we do things. We have changed schemes in all three phases of the game. This does take some time. The install of schemes is one thing. The in-game adjustments and how we fix issues is totally different. I think they have enjoyed how we practice. It is continuously moving parts. We do not stay in one spot very long. The tempo in the weight room was a little different for them. Once they figured out the system, it was an easy transition, and now they are starting to see some results in their numbers.”

Maxwell Ratings projections of Class 7A games:

Archer at Shiloh -22

Brookwood vs Carver-Columbus -12

Buford vs Carver-Atlanta -41

Carrollton vs Jenkins -41

Clarke Central at South Forsyth -7

Collins Hill vs Sandy Creek -9

Denmark vs Pebblebrook 0

East Coweta at Lowndes 0

Habersham Central vs Forsyth Central -6

Harrison vs Kennesaw Mountain -27

Hillgrove at Campbell 0

Lambert vs Flowery Branch -7

McEachern vs Tucker -6

Mill Creek vs Cedar Grove -17

Miller Grove at Central Gwinnett -17

Milton vs Alpharetta -41

Mountain View at Lanier -1

Norcross vs Discovery -45

North Atlanta vs Wheeler -18

North Cobb vs Northside-Warner Robins -14

North Gwinnett at Duluth -28

North Paulding vs Pope -27

Osborne vs Clarkston -50

Parkview vs St. Pius -29

Peachtree Ridge at Berkmar -42

Richmond Hill vs New Hampstead -15

South Gwinnett vs Decatur -18

Walton vs Marietta -26

West Forsyth at Cherokee -10

Westlake at Newton -18

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