When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Markham Field at Mill Creek Community Stadium, Hochston
Records, rankings: Archer is 2-0 and No. 6 in Class AAAAAAA; Mill Creek is 3-0 and No. 4 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Mill Creek won 31-10 in 2016.
Things to know: These schools are 30 miles apart and aren’t natural rivals, though both are in Gwinnett County. The link is that Archer head coach Andy Dyer was on Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis’s staff when Mill Creek started up in 2004. Dyer then started Archer’s program in 2009. They’ve played each other the past two seasons. Mill Creek has won both. Mill Creek has won 28 consecutive regular-season games after opening with quality wins over McEachern, Stephenson and Dacula. Mill Creek has three major Division I prospects – OL John Harris (Virginia Tech commitment), LB Shaka Howard (Duke) and CB Jonathan Gipson (South Carolina). QB Brady Longenecker, a first-year starter, is 36-of-54 passing for 393 yards and four touchdowns, but also four interceptions. Leading rushers are Uriah Leverette (41-181-1) and Rafael Morales (35-167-0). Archer, after three straight 11-win seasons, fell to 4-7 in 2016, but the program is clearly headed back up with a 2-0 start and wins over Brookwood (25-17) and Peachtree Ridge (52-7). The Tigers have eight major Division I prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. That’s more than any other Class AAAAAAA school but Grayson. They’re on the young side, as CB Andrew Booth, WR Braylen Weems, FS Jalyn Phillips and DE Colby Wooden are juniors with major-college offers. Sophomore QB Carter Peevy started as a freshman.
Cartersville at Westlake
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Westlake Stadium, College Park
Records, rankings: Cartersville is 3-0 and No. 1 in Class AAAA; Westlake is 1-1 and unranked in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Cartersville won 31-0 in 2016.
Things to know: Cartersville has won 33 consecutive games. Another win would tie Cartersville with Southeast Bulloch (1972-74) for the 12th-longest streak of its kind in GHSA history. Trevor Lawrence threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns in the 2016 game, although he was intercepted twice. Westlake managed less than 100 yards of total offense. Lawrence, of course, is back. He’s throwing for 309 yards per game so far. He has picked up some help in the backfield. RB Rico Frye has 212 yards rushing and 213 receiving and nine touchdowns. WR E.J. Turner, a Rutgers commit, is Cartersville’s next most highly rated player, although WR T.J. Horton has a team-leading 14 receptions. Westlake has two players committed to Big Ten schools, both in the secondary. They are Myles Smith (Michigan) and Tyrese Ross (Michigan State). Westlake lost its opener to Hughes 16-13 after Hughes ran a kickoff for a touchdown and blocked Westlake’s potential tying field goal in the final seconds.
Grayson at John Curtis Christian (La.)
When, where: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Independence Stadium, Shreveport, La.
Records, rankings: Grayson is 2-0 and No. 1 in Class AAAAAAA; John Curtis Christian is 1-0 and No. 1 overall in Louisiana (MaxPreps).
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Things to know: This is the second of four out-of-state opponents this season for Grayson. The first, Hoover, was Alabama’s No. 1 overall team, according to MaxPreps. Grayson won 35-26. John Curtis Christian is Louisiana’s No. 1 overall team, per MaxPreps. John Curtis beat Louisiana’s No. 2 team, Landry Walker, 27-18 in the opener last week. John Curtis has won 26 state titles, most recently in 2013, and claimed a consensus national title in 2012. Its coach is J.T. Curtis, the son of the school founder. Curtis, now the school’s headmaster, has a record of 560-62-6, including 11-1 last season. John Curtis TE Glenn Beal is a four-star recruit. Grayson has reloaded since its 2016 state title. D.J. Irons (25-of-41 passing, 307 yards) has stepped in for all-state QB Chase Brice. Grayson gets 61 percent of its offense rushing. The leading rusher is Florida State commit Ronald Thompkins (38-238-2). LB Owen Pappoe, Grayson’s top prospect, has nine solo tackles and two blocked punts. CB Jalen Alexander, a three-star recruit, has a team-leading 15 solo tackles.
Hapeville Charter at Wesleyan
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Henderson Stadium, Peachtree Corners
Records, rankings: Hapeville Charter is 2-1 and No. 2 in Class AA; Wesleyan is 3-0 and No. 3 in Class A private.
Last meeting: Wesleyan won 31-14 in 2016.
Things to know: Wesleyan QB Banks Ramsey threw two third-quarter TD passes in the 2016 game, which was tied 14-14 at halftime before the Wolves pulled away. Ramsey ran for two second-quarter scores and finished with 189 yards passing and 62 rushing. It was part of a three-game losing streak for Hapeville Charter, which rebound with nine consecutive victories to reach the state quarterfinals. This season, Ramsey is 41-of-57 passing for 545 yards and nine touchdowns and has a team-leading 243 yards and four TDs rushing. Almost half of his completions have gone to WR Zach Peterson, who has 20 catches for 194 yards and three TDs. The Wolves are seeking their third consecutive 4-0 start. Hapeville Charter has four seniors who are three-star prospects or better. The best known is DB Chris Smith, a Georgia commitment who is rated as the nation’s No. 29 cornerback. Others are DE Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina), WR Rory Starkey (Pennsylvania) and LB Caleb Kelly (18 offers). The team’s success, however, revolves around QB Hajj Malik-Williams. He is 44-of-72 passing for 714 yards on a team that throws on about two-thirds of its plays.
Kell at Rome
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Barron Stadium, Rome
Records, rankings: Kell is 0-2 overall, 0-0 in Region 7-AAAAA and No. 9; Rome is 2-0, 0-0 and No. 1.
Last meeting: Kell won 33-30 in 2016.
Things to know: In last year’s game, Kell squandered a 30-7 third-quarter lead but salvaged a win on a 23-yard field goal with 58 seconds remaining. The Longhorns built their lead on an interception return, a kickoff return, a safety and an interception that set up another score. Rome finished with a 417-204 advantage in total offense. This is the teams’ region opener. Kell’s two losses this season have been to Class AAAAAA No. 1 Tucker (28-27 in overtime) and undefeated AAAAAAA team Lassiter (38-35). QB Evan Conley, a transfer from Pope, is 22-of-39 passing for 208 yards and three TDs. RB Josiah Futral averages 153.5 yards rushing after a 242-yard effort against Lassiter, and Dre Houston has 116 yards on 17 carries. Rome’s two losses in its 2016 state-championship season both came against Cobb County schools (Harrison and Kell). The Wolves avenged the Harrison loss 33-21 two weeks ago. Rome’s three top offensive players return from that title team. They are QB Knox Kadum (17-of-25 passing for 355 yards and four TDs this season) and RBs Jalynn Sykes (17 carries, 191 yards, two TDs) and Jamious Griffin (24-164-2). The team’s best player, though, is Adam Anderson, the nation’s No. 2-rated outside-linebacker prospect.
Macon County at Fitzgerald
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jaycee Stadium, Fitzgerald
Records, rankings: Macon County is 1-1 and No. 6 in Class A public; Fitzgerald is 1-2 and No. 4 in AA.
Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 70-42 in 2016.
Things to know: J.D. King scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) and James Graham passed for 300 yards and two TDs in Fitzgerald’s victory last season. The 70 points were the most by a Fitzgerald team since 1933. Macon County QB K’hari Lane passed for 343 yards and five of his state single-season-record 56 TDs. Macon County lost to fifth-ranked Irwin County 36-28 last week, its first loss to a Class A team since 2012. The QB job has gone to senior Jadarrius Hicks, who is 18-of-31 passing for 359 yards with seven touchdowns. Akeevious McLendon has run for 244 yards, and Trey Brown has 219 receiving yards on eight catches. Fitzgerald’s two losses have come against Class AA No. 2 Hapeville Charter and AAAAAAA Camden County by a total of six points. King is playing for Oklahoma State now, but Graham returns to run the offense. Graham had a 48-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard TD pass against Camden County, but he was replaced late in the game by Matthew Howell, who threw a 23-yard TD pass with 48 seconds left.
Mays at Hughes
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Panthers Stadium, Fairburn
Records, rankings: Mays is 1-1 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-AAAAAA and No. 5; Hughes is 2-0, 0-0 and No. 6.
Last meeting: Mays won 47-28 in 2016.
Things to know: This game is the region opener for both teams, and it could go a long way toward eventually deciding who takes the title in 5-AAAAAA. Mays won the region title in 2016, its first since 2003, and advanced to the state quarterfinals. Hughes finished in fourth place and advanced to the second round, losing to Northside of Warner Robins. Mays was held to 61 total yards (25 rushing, 36 passing) in its 2017 opener, a 9-0 loss to AAAAA No. 3 Stockbridge, but bounced back with 436 yards (105 rushing, 331 passing) in a 41-0 victory over Peachtree Ridge last week. QB Jahquez Evans is 17-of-32 passing for 333 yards with four TDs and two interceptions and is the leading rusher with 54 yards on 13 carries. All of his yardage came against Peachtree Ridge. Hughes has averaged 202.5 yards rushing and 122.5 passing in victories over Mundy’s Mill (28-7) and Westlake (16-13). Christian Royalston has been the workhorse, rushing for 282 yards and three TDs on 36 carries. Junior QB Jacquez Milam is 14-of-29 passing for 246 yards and a TD. Junior LB Dequavious Parker has a team-leading 27 tackles, including six for losses, and 4.5 sacks.
North Gwinnett at Norcross
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Norcross Stadium, Norcross
Records, rankings: North Gwinnett is 2-1 and unranked in Class AAAAAAA; Norcross is 1-1 and No. 7 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Norcross won 38-24 in 2016.
Things to know: These schools were members of the same region from 2000 through 2015. At least one has been ranked in each of their last 14 meetings. In 10 of those, both were ranked, although not this time. North Gwinnett has beaten Milton (31-28) and Hillgrove (33-9) and lost to Walton (31-28). North Gwinnett QB Cade Fortin, who is committed to Texas A&M, was lost for the season with a broken leg suffered in the second game. Jimmy Urzua has taken over, and he’s 15-for-26 for 254 yards. He’s the brother of John Urzua, a former North Gwinnett quarterback now at Middle Tennessee. North Gwinnett head coach Bill Stewart is in his first season. He had been Mill Creek’s defensive coordinator and a head coach at Etowah. Norcross has beaten Collins Hill (18-10) and lost to Colquitt County (20-17). Norcross has only 28 yards rushing. QB Louis Williams is 27-of-44 passing for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Terrion Dangerfield has been credited with eight tackles for losses. PK/P Jake Camarda has put eight of nine kickoffs in the end zone and four of 11 punts inside the 20-yard line with a 47.0-yard average. He’s made both field-goal tries, one from 52 yards.
Roswell at Colquitt County
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Mack Tharpe Memorial Stadium, Moultrie
Records, rankings: Roswell is 1-1 and unranked in Class AAAAAAA; Colquitt County is 3-0 and No. 2 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Roswell won 34-3 in 2016.
Things to know: Colquitt County and Roswell met in the 2015 Class AAAAAA championship game. Colquitt won 30-13. Roswell won the rematch at Roswell last season. Both teams have new quarterbacks. Roswell’s Cordell Littlejohn is 17-of-35 passing for 199 yards and a touchdown. He recently committed to Illinois. Roswell’s feature player on offense is RB Kamonty Jett, who has rushed for 322 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries in two games. Other key players are TE Tyneil Hopper (three-star recruit, six catches), and LB Tyron Hopper (four-star recruit, three tackles for losses). Roswell’s first two games have gone to overtime – a 17-14 loss to South Forsyth and a 27-21 win over Central Gwinnett. Colquitt’s new quarterback is Steven Krajewski. He’s 43-of-64 for 501 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Krajewski has mid-major Division I offers. Daijun Edwards, a sophomore with offers from Georgia and Tennessee, has rushed for 198 yards (6.0 ypc) and three touchdowns. Colquitt’s defense, led by four-star LB J.J. Peterson, is allowing less than 175 yards per game against three ranked opponents.
Valor Christian (Col.) at GAC
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross
Records, rankings: Valor Christian is 2-0 and No. 2 in Colorado’s largest classification (5A); Greater Atlanta Christian is 2-0 in Georgia’s Class AAA.
Last meeting: Valor Christian won 21-17 in 2016.
Things to know: The 2016 game was a matchup of two of the nation’s top-rated senior quarterbacks. GAC’s Davis Mills (No. 1 on the 247Sports Composite ratings, Stanford) returned earlier than expected from an injury and ran for a touchdown and passed for 44 yards in the loss. Valor Christian’s Dylan McCaffrey (No. 9, Michigan) threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 7:53 remaining. Valor has two of the top players in Colorado, both with rich football heritage, sharing time at the QB position this year. One is Luke McCaffrey, the state’s top-rated junior. He is the son of former Broncos star Ed McCaffrey as well as the brother of Dylan, Max (Duke/Packers) and Christian (Stanford/Panthers). Stenstrom’s father, Steve, played five seasons in the NFL. In two games this season, Stenstrom (the state’s No. 2-rated senior, committed to Colorado) has passed for 128 yards and rushed for 53 yards, while McCaffrey has passed for 160 and run for 146. Valor Christian runs the ball about two-thirds of the time. Josh Rose has taken over at quarterback for GAC and is 21-for-27 passing for 340 yards and eight touchdowns in two lopsided victories. Kyler McMichael (committed to Clemson, where he is projected to play DB) has rushed for 176 yards and a TD on 27 carries.
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