Dalton at Calhoun
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Phil Reeve Stadium, Calhoun
Records, rankings: Dalton is 0-0 and No. 4 in Class AAAAAA; Calhoun is 1-0 and No. 4 in AAA.
Last meeting: Dalton won 28-13 in 2016.
Things to know: This is one of northwest Georgia’s top rivalries, although Dalton has dominated it until recently. The Catamounts lead the series 35-10-1, but their victory last season snapped Calhoun’s seven-game winning streak. It also propelled Dalton to a 13-1 season and its first appearance in the state semifinals since 2001. Dalton must replace 18 starters from the team that won the 6-AAAAAA title last season. Among the key losses was RB Ahmaad Tinker, now a freshman at Austin Peay. He rushed for 1,560 yards and 23 touchdowns on 239 carries. QB J.P. Tighe (committed to play baseball at Georgia Southern) returns for his senior season after passing for 2,127 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2016. Look for Nasir Love-Porter, primarily a cornerback last season, to be all over the field on the offensive side as well. Calhoun hasn’t lost a regular-season game to a team other than Dalton, Cartersville (next week’s opponent) or Carrollton since 2007. The Yellow Jackets return seven starters on both sides of the ball, including junior QB Gavin Gray, who passed for 157 yards in a 17-14 victory over Douglass last week. LB Davis Allen leads another strong Calhoun defense.
Harrison at Rome
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Barron Stadium, Rome
Records, rankings: Harrison is 1-0 and No. 2 in Class AAAAAA; Rome is 0-0 and No. 1 in AAAAA.
Last meeting: Harrison won 22-20 in 2016.
Things to know: Rome had a chance to win last year’s matchup, but the Wolves fumbled on second-and-goal at the Harrison 2-yard line with less than four minutes remaining. It was one of two losses (the other came against Kell) during Rome’s state-championship season. Turnovers played a key role in both losses. Harrison QB Justin Fields on Tuesday moved up to the No. 1 spot on the 247Sports Composite national prospect rankings. He passed for 228 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 153 yards and two TDs in a 44-14 victory over East Paulding last week. Fields’ top target is preseason all-state pick Steven Peterson, who had 1,362 receiving yards in 2016 and 157 yards and three touchdowns last week. Harrison outgained East Paulding 465-293. Rome has four players – DL Jamarcus Chatman, DL JaQuon Griffin, LB/DE Adam Anderson and RB Jalynn Sykes – on the preseason all-state team. The best of the group is Anderson, the nation’s No. 2-ranked outside linebacker prospect and the Region 7-AAAAA defensive player of the in 2016. Sykes and Jamious Griffin combined for 2,535 yards and 41 touchdowns rushing last season.
Hoover (Ala.) at Grayson
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson
Records, rankings: Hoover is 0-0 and ranked No. 1 in Alabama’s Class 7A (MaxPreps); Grayson is 0-0 and No. 1 in Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Grayson won 36-14 in 2016.
Things to know: This is a game between reigning state champions from the highest classifications. Hoover has won 10 state titles since 2000, five under current coach Josh Niblett, five under Rush Propst, now at Colquitt County. Hoover is 2-3 against Georgia teams – 1-1 each against Colquitt County and Camden County and 0-1 against Grayson. In the 2016 game played at Hoover in late October, Grayson scored on a blocked punt and two short TD drives after Hoover turnovers. Will van Pamelen, who returns, kicked three field goals. Hoover’s top players this season are WR Shedrick Jackson (Auburn), WR George Pickens (Auburn) and OL Michael Maye (Georgia Tech). Jackson is a nephew of Bo Jackson. Pickens is the younger brother of Oakland Raiders CB Chris Humes. Grayson graduated eight seniors who got some all-state recognition, two that were AJC Super 11 picks (Jamyest Williams to South Carolina, DeAngelo Gibbs to Georgia). But the Rams have nine of the top 55 junior recruits in Georgia, according to 247Sports. Chief among those are LB Owen Pappoe, the No. 1 OLB prospect nationally among juniors.
McIntosh County Academy at Clinch County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Donald Tison Field at Panther Stadium, Homerville
Records, rankings: McIntosh County Academy is 1-0 and No. 8 in Class A public; Clinch County is 1-0 and No. 1 in Class A public.
Last meeting: McIntosh County Academy won 24-8 in the 2016 Class A public semifinals.
Things to know: Clinch County beat MCA 32-7 in the 2016 regular season as QB/S Charles McClelland rushed for 249 yards, and Clinch County held MCA to minus-21 yards rushing in the second half. But MCA won the rematch in the semifinals as RB/FS J.P. Palmer rushed for 108 yards, caught a 56-yard TD pass and returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown. Both McClelland and Palmer are back for their senior seasons. But Palmer is the only one of eight MCA players who made first-team all-subregion to return. That includes rising senior QB Major Robinson, whose father, head coach Robby Robinson, was forced out amid allegations of hazing. The new quarterback, sophomore Denver Anthony, is a good runner but was 2-for-13 passing in his debut against Brantley County, a 14-6 win. For Clinch, McClelland is a Class A player-of-the-year candidate. Recently committed to Cincinnati, he rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-14 victory over Bleckley County last week. He was 6-of-12 passing for 51 yards.
Mount Paran Christian at Fellowship Christian
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bob Lord Field, Roswell
Records, rankings: Mount Paran Christian is 1-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-A Div. B and No. 5 in Class A private; Fellowship Christian is 1-0, 0-0 and No. 4.
Last meeting: Fellowship Christian won 45-13 in the 2016 Class A private quarterfinals.
Things to know: These two teams played each other twice last season, and Fellowship Christian won both games. The first was a 14-7 game on Aug. 26 that essentially decided the subregion title in 6-A Div. B. Fellowship went on to reach the state finals for the first time. Mount Paran’s top three rushers from 2016 – Cam Moore, Chandler Webber and Jack Allen – return to the Eagles’ run-dominated offense. Webber led the way in a 35-19 victory over Our Lady of Mercy last week with 167 yards on 14 carries and touchdown runs of 69 and 52 yards. Junior Kyle Terry and sophomore Niko Vangarelli shared time at quarterback. Mount Paran gained 363 yards last week but turned the ball over four times. Fellowship Christian lost its top two rushers from a year ago (Andrew Johnson, 1,149 yards, and Andrew Minkert, 997), but Merrick Haigler appears ready to fill the void. Haigler had 408 yards a year ago but ran for 134 yards and two TDs in a 47-14 victory over Atkinson County last week. DE Billy McCurry had 12 tackles, two sacks, four tackles for losses and one forced fumble.
Mount Pisgah Christian at Rabun County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Frank Snyder Stadium, Tiger
Records, rankings: Mount Pisgah Christian is 1-0 and No. 9 in Class A private; Rabun County is 0-0 and No. 5 in AA.
Last meeting: Rabun County won 35-10 in 2015.
Things to know: Mount Pisgah QB Jacob Cendoya passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 155 yards and three TDs in a 49-35 victory over Holy Innocents’ last week. His top target was Kai Williams, who had 169 yards and a touchdown receiving and 31 yards rushing. Both were preseason all-state selections. Cendoya had 2,410 yards passing and 1,014 rushing last season. Rabun County QB Bailey Fisher had similar numbers to Cendoya’s last season, when he was named first-team all-state in Class AA. He passed for 2,671 yards, rushed for 1,001 and had a hand in 50 TDs. Rabun County has won three consecutive region titles. The Wildcats had won just one before the arrival of coach Lee Shaw, an alumnus, in 2012. Shaw’s winning percentage of .763 (45-14) is the best in school history. Last year’s matchup between these teams was stopped with 2:52 remaining in the first half because of bad weather. Rabun County led 21-14 at the time, but it did not count as an official game. Fisher had passed for 103 yards and rushed for 92; Cendoya had rushed for 50 yards and passed for 101.
Stockbridge vs. Mays
When, where: 8 p.m. Saturday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Stockbridge is 0-0 and No. 3 in Class AAAAA; Mays is 0-0 and No. 5 in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: Stockbridge won 35-34 in 2016.
Things to know: Stockbridge won last year’s game on a 13-yard touchdown run by QB Kenderick Duncan with 2:22 remaining. Mays had taken a 34-28 lead with 4-yard run by Armis Stokes with 6:39 left, but a missed extra-point attempt opened the door for the Tigers. It was the only loss during the regular season for either team. Stockbridge went on to reach the AAAAA semifinals, and Mays advanced to the quarterfinals in AAAAAA. Stockbridge lost Duncan (Georgia Southern) and leading rusher Jalen Holston (Virginia Tech) to graduation but have two key returnees in 1,000-yard receiver Marquez Ezzard (Florida State commit) and DL Brenton Cox (Ohio State), the region’s defensive player of the year. Gabe McKenzie is expected to take over for at quarterback. Mays’ top player is LB Antonio Grier (South Florida commit), who is the team’s leading returning tackler. Stokes returns for his senior year after leading the team in rushing. The Raiders must replace QB B.J. Phillips, who passed for 2,087 yards, rushed for 606 and had a hand in 32 TDs last season.
Thomasville at Thomas County Central
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Jackets’ Nest, Thomasville
Records, rankings: Thomasville is 1-0 and No. 7 in Class AA; Thomas County Central is 1-0 and No. 8 in AAAAA.
Last meeting: Thomas County Central won 16-14 in 2016.
Things to know: The 2016 game gave Thomas County Central its first lead in the series (25-24) between schools just three miles apart. Central took a 16-7 lead in the first half. Trailing by two, Thomasville lost a fumble at Central’s 30-yard line with two minutes left. Thomasville RB Trey Tillman rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries last week in a 37-9 win over Cairo. J.T. Rice was 9-of-16 passing for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Carl Blackmore made a school-record 53-yard field goal. Thomasville has not beaten Cairo and Thomas County Central in the same season since 1991. Thomas Central RB Imond Hobbs had 108 of his team’s 281 rushing yards in a 30-13 victory over Worth County last week. Central completed just one pass – a 63-yard touchdown to Tay Cooksey.
Vista Murrieta (Calif.) at Colquitt County
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Mack Tharpe Memorial Stadium, Moultrie
Records, rankings: Vista Murrieta is 0-0 and No. 12 in California’s Southern Section Div. 1 (MaxPreps); Colquitt County is 1-0 and No. 2 in Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Things to know: Vista Murrieta opened in 2003 outside of Murrieta, a Southern California inland city that doubled in population in the past decade. The football program has averaged nearly 12 wins over the past 10 seasons, though dipped to 9-3 in 2016. WR Khalil Shakir and CB Elisha Guidry are major-college prospects. The Broncos’ trip to Georgia includes taking in a Falcons game Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Colquitt County opened with a 20-17 victory over Norcross last week. New starting QB Steven Krajewski was 13-of-20 passing for 138 yards. Ty Leggett rushed for 82 yards, and sophomore Daijun Edwards ran for 53, each on 13 carries. But the young defense was the story. Colquitt held Norcross to minus-12 yards rushing and sacked QB Louis Williams six times. Colquitt’s five leading tacklers were underclassmen.
Westminster at GAC
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross
Records, rankings: Westminster is 0-1 and No. 6 in Class AAA; Greater Atlanta Christian is 1-0 and No. 2 in AAA.
Last meeting: Greater Atlanta Christian won 19-16 in overtime in 2016.
Things to know: GAC has won four consecutive games in the series. In the 2016 matchup, GAC’s Kyler McMichael rushed for 109 yards on 26 carries and scored the winning touchdown in overtime on a 13-yard run. GAC made a 53-yard field goal in the game. GAC was playing without five-star quarterback Davis Mills, now at Stanford. Josh Rose, Mills’ replacement, was 11-of-14 passing for 176 yards and four touchdowns in a 46-16 victory over Lovett last week. McMichael, an AJC Super 11 pick who also starts in the secondary, had 96 rushing yards on 15 carries. Lovett had not been beaten so badly or allowed so many points since 2010. Westminster graduated its all-time leading rusher, Zay Malcome, now at Penn, and his absence was evident in the opener, when Westminster lost to Blessed Trinity 28-0. Westminster had gone a school-record 42 games without a shutout, a span covering Malcome’s entire sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Westminster’s best player is DL Truman Jones, who is going to Harvard despite offers from Big Ten, SEC and ACC schools.
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