Here’s a look at some of the top games in AA this week, and what a week it’s shaping up to be …
No. 2 Vidalia (6-0, 3-0) at No. 4 Benedictine (5-1, 3-0)
First place in Region 2-AA is at stake in Class AA’s first game pitting two top-five opponents since Week 1. Benedictine was also involved in that one, a 24-21 loss to top-ranked Greater Atlanta that came down to the waning moments of the fourth quarter. Friday’s date with the Indians could be similarly competitive as the teams appear evenly matched on paper.
Both teams rank in AA’s top three in terms of points scored and points allowed. Vidalia, which has posted four straight shutouts, leads the classification, allowing only 3.8 points per game. The Indians have yielded just 168 yards per game and have intercepted 10 passes. Defensive standouts include high-level linebacker prospect Nathan McBride and defensive backs Blake Corbett (four INTs) and Quantrell Yarbrough (3 INTs).
Benedictine is giving up just 9.5 points per game, thanks to an aggressive defense that has posted 13 interceptions, 15 sacks and 39 tackles for losses. Junior linebacker Tru’self Cooper leads the team in tackles (72) and is tied for the team lead in sacks (3).
Offensively, the Cadets boast some of the state’s gaudiest numbers, averaging 480 yards per game (259 passing, 221 rushing) and 40.7 points per game. Senior quarterback Stevie Powers is enjoying a breakout season, throwing for 1,552 yards with 13 TDs and 2 INTs. Brad Stewart, who has offers from Marshall and Cincinnati, among others, leads the team with 34 catches, 687 yards and seven touchdowns. Chance Jackson (409 yards) and John Kennedy (364) lead the team in rushing, with Kennedy also accounting for 306 yards and four TDs receiving.
Vidalia’s triple-option offense is spearheaded by preseason All-State pick Jordan Black. The senior multi-sport standout has run for 483 yards and 10 touchdowns on 46 carries.
This is just the third meeting between the schools. Benedictine, the defending region champ, won last year, 28-0. Vidalia won 12-7 in 2012.
No. 7 Fitzgerald (5-1, 1-1) at No. 5 Brooks County (5-2, 3-0)
Fitzgerald was up to No. 2 in the state before falling to Thomasville, 22-19, in its last game two weeks ago. The Purple Hurricanes still have a shot to win the region for the first time since 2011, but will almost certainly need a win over Brooks County to get back in the mix.
Brooks County has won the last two meetings between the schools, as well as the last two region titles.
The Trojans have breezed through the first three weeks of region play, winning by an average score of 38-9. They defeated Seminole County last week, 42-13, led by quarterback Demontay Jones’ 232 passing yards and five touchdowns.
Fitzgerald is led by quarterback Gerald Morgan, who has run for 904 yards on the season.
Swainsboro (3-3, 2-0) at Screven County (7-0, 3-0)
Screven County took a big step toward reclaiming the region title it last won in 2012 with a 12-7 win over Jefferson County three weeks ago. The next step comes Friday, as the Gamecocks face the only other team unblemished in Region 3-AA play.
Swainsboro started 0-3 against a tough non-region slate, falling to teams with a current combined record of 18-1. The Tigers have rebounded nicely since, winning three straight by lopsided margins.
Screven County is No. 2 in AA in points allowed (8.9) and No. 5 in points scored (34.2). Tailback Malik Prescott leads the team with 535 rushing yards (7.5 per carry) and 10 touchdowns.
Series history between these schools dates back to 1951, with Swainsboro holding a 33-19-2 all-time advantage, including wins in the last seven.
Rabun County (5-2, 3-0) at Union County (7-0, 3-0)
With a 42-27 win over Greene County last week, Union County set up an unlikely showdown for sole possession of first place in Region 8-AA. Though both Rabun County and Union County have improved in recent years, the schools have just three combined region titles in their histories, and neither team has cracked the state’s top 10 since 1998. But at this point, the past is immaterial, at least as it relates to this game.
Union County enters with the top-scoring offense in AA (44.1 points per game), led by quarterback Joseph Mancuso. The junior has thrown for 1,884 yards with 25 touchdowns and only one interception in 165 attempts.
Rabun County will be just the second team the Panthers have faced this season that currently sports a winning record. Charlie Woerner (6-foot-5, 220) leads the Wildcats in rushing (560 yards, 6 TDs) and receiving (356 yards, 3 TDs), and is third on the team in tackles (53). Defensively, Rabun County excels at rushing the passer, posting 20 sacks through seven games.
Bleckley County (2-4, 0-1) at Macon County (4-2, 1-0)
Macon County slipped slightly below the radar following a 41-34 loss to Fitzgerald on Sept. 19, but the Bulldogs still figure to be a major factor in Region 4-AA.
Bleckley County gave a scare to region favorite, No. 8 Lamar County, last week before falling, 21-19. The Royals appear to be better than their record, which is understandable considering their losses came against teams with a current combined record of 23-3-1.
Macon County is led by senior Roquan Smith, one of the top linebacker prospects in the country.