Benedictine at Swainsboro
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tiger Field, Swainsboro
Records, rankings: Benedictine is 3-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 2-AA and No. 1; Swainsboro is 3-0, 0-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Benedictine won 47-8 in 2016.
Things to know: This is the region opener for both teams. Benedictine and Swainsboro are two of five undefeated teams in 2-AA, but the computer Maxwell Ratings have them ranked as the two best, meaning this game ultimately could determine the region champion. Bacon County, Toombs County and Jeff Davis also are undefeated heading into region play. Benedictine has run for at least 300 yards in all three of its games, including 340 in a 48-7 victory over Southeast Bulloch last week. The leader is Travis Blackshear, who has rushed for 350 yards and three touchdowns this season and caught a 36-yard TD pass last week. QB Nick Iannone passes for about 150 yards per game and has thrown for seven TDs. Benedictine, the defending state champion, has won 18 consecutive games and 26 straight regular-season games. Swainsboro gets about 80 percent of its offense from the running game. Jayln Williams is the workhorse. He had 218 yards against Jackson in the opener and 166 and three TDs in a 26-7 victory over Emanuel County Institute on Aug. 25. Swainsboro has won seven of its last eight regular-season games since starting 0-5 in 2016.
Clinch County at Irwin County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Indian Field, Ocilla
Records, rankings: Clinch County is 2-1 overall, 0-0 in Region 2-A and No. 1 in Class A public; Irwin County is 2-1, 0-0 and No. 5.
Last meeting: Clinch County won 39-19 in 2016.
Things to know: This is the region opener for both teams. Region 2-A has two other ranked teams – No. 8 Turner County and No. 10 Charlton County. The Clinch-Irwin series, which began in 1952, is tied 20-20-1. This is the fourth consecutive time they’ve met when both were ranked. Clinch won two of the previous three, including a 24-7 victory in the 2015 Class A public-school championship game. Clinch County averages 318.7 yards rushing, 67.7 passing. QB Charles McClelland has rushed for 258 yards and six touchdowns. He’s only 16-of-39 passing for 202 yards. DE/LB Tahj Williams is the leading tackler. Clinch’s best player, LB/RB/QB Trezmen Marshall, a four-star recruit, has not played this season because of injury but hopes to be cleared for this game. Irwin County was impressive in its 38-26 victory over defending state champion Macon County on Sept. 1. Irwin trailed 14-0 in the first quarter but had rolled up 355 yards rushing before it was over. D.J. Lundy ran for 190 and four touchdowns. Steven Thomas had 70 on 12 carries. It came behind an offensive line that had only 15 total starts entering this year, 13 by the tight end.
Colquitt County at Brookwood
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Brookwood Community Stadium, Snellville
Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 4-0 and No. 2 in Class AAAAAAA; Brookwood is 1-2 and unranked in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Colquitt County won 66-35 in 2016.
Things to know: Colquitt County, under new defensive coordinator Mo Dixon, is allowing less than 175 yards a game against a solid schedule. In winning 28-0 last week, the Packers became the first team to shut out Roswell in 221 games dating to 1998. The five leading tacklers are underclassmen. Colquitt typically is a balanced team, if not a lean to the passing game, but rushed for 296 yards against Roswell. Ty Leggett rushed for 185. That was partly because of an early game-ending injury to QB Steven Krajewski, who will return Friday. He has thrown for 510 yards. Colquitt is 15-7 all-time against Gwinnett County teams. Brookwood opened the season ranked No. 6 largely on the strength of 10 returning offensive starters from an 8-4 team. But the Broncos lost close games to Archer and Walton, which are now ranked, before beating South Gwinnett handily. Dante Black has rushed for 135 and 107 yards the past two games. RB/WR Matthew Hill, an AJC Super 11 pick, had 171 yards rushing vs. Walton. Brookwood wasn’t able to practice until Thursday because of Gwinnett schools closing.
Lovett at Cedar Grove
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Buck Godfrey Stadium, Decatur
Records, rankings: Lovett is 1-2 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-AAA and No. 9; Cedar Grove is 3-0, 0-0 and No. 1.
Last meeting: Cedar Grove won 28-21 in 2016.
Things to know: Four teams from the current Region 5-AAA have won state championships in the past four seasons. They include Cedar Grove (2016 AAA) and Lovett (2013 AA) as well as Westminster (2015 AAA) and Pace Academy (2015 AA). Lovett led Cedar Grove 21-20 in the fourth quarter last year, but the Saints got a 42-yard TD pass and a two-point conversion with 4:17 remaining to pull out the victory. Lovett gets about two-thirds of its offense from a passing game that averages 190.3 yards per game. Four players have at least one completion, but the primary passers are Crawford Schwieger (19-of-38, 151 yards, one TD) and Blaine McAllister (18-of-32, 337, three). Trent Beavor is the leading rusher with 70 yards on eight carries. Peyton Ringer has 10 catches for 237 yards and two TDs. Cedar Grove is giving up just 94 yards per game, including 47 to Columbia last week in a 33-0 victory, the Saints’ ninth shutout since 2015. QB Xavier Dennis is 27-of-39 passing for 323 yards and has rushed for 125 yards. Jadon Haselwood, the No. 1 WR prospect nationally among juniors, has four TD receptions and returned a punt for a score last week. Senior RB Darrell Neal is the team’s leading rusher.
Marietta at Lassiter
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Frank Fillmann Stadium, Marietta
Records, rankings: Marietta is 3-0 and unranked in Class AAAAAAA; Lassiter is 3-0 and unranked in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Lassiter won 21-14 in 2016.
Things to know: Lassiter trailed Marietta 14-0 in the third quarter last season but scored 21 points in the final 15 minutes to pull out the victory. QB Bradley Riopelle threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Taz Holt with 3:37 remaining for the winning score. Marietta is 3-0 for the first time since 2007. Sophomore QB Harrison Bailey passed for a school-record 464 yards in a 24-20 victory over Pebblebrook last week but was injured in the process, suffering a reported broken collarbone. “He will miss a few games, but we will have him back for the stretch run and playoffs,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. Bailey is 64-of-97 passing for 963 yards and 11 TDs this season. Sophomore Rashun Bass (1-of-2, 27 yards) is expected to start in Bailey’s absence.
Lassiter started the season 5-0 last year but stumbled down the stretch, going 1-4 in region play but still earning the Class AAAAAAA wild-card playoff berth. Riopelle is 37-of-64 passing this season for 532 yards, including a season-best 222 yards against Kell two weeks ago in a 38-35 victory, the Trojans’ only close game this season. He also has rushed for a team-best 190 yards on 28 carries. Lassiter’s best player is DB/WR Derrik Allen, who is committed to Notre Dame.
Norcross at Archer
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Archer Community Stadium, Lawrenceville
Records, rankings: Norcross is 1-2 and unranked in Class AAAAAAA; Archer is 3-0 and No. 4 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Norcross won 35-16 in 2016.
Things to know: Archer has bounced back from a 4-7 finish in 2016 and is playing more like its 11-win teams the previous three seasons. Archer’s best player is probably CB/WR Andrew Booth, a top-250 national prospect among juniors. He has a team-leading nine solo tackles and one catch on offense, a 41-yard touchdown. QB Carter Peevy, who started as a freshman, is 28-of-41 passing for 304 yards. The leading rusher is Semaje Banks (27-205-2). Top defenders include LB Jordan Roman (five QB pressures) and DT Will Choloh (two sacks). Norcross is hoping to avoid its first 1-3 start since 2009, the last time the Blue Devils did not make the playoffs. The previous losses were to No. 2 Colquitt County and No. 7 North Gwinnett. Norcross has struggled to run the ball, with only about 125 rushing yards total in its first three games. Louis Williams, a first-year starter, is 38-of-67 passing for 396 yards. Norcross had five turnovers last week against North Gwinnett. The team’s strengths are defense and kicking. Specialists Jake Camarda and Cole Hanna have gotten all-state recognition.
Peach County at Mary Persons
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dan Pitts Stadium at Mitchell Field, Forsyth
Records, rankings: Peach County is 2-1 and No. 2 in Class AAA; Mary Persons is 3-1 and No. 10 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Peach County won 20-19 in 2016.
Things to know: Mary Persons won six of the first seven meetings between the teams but has since lost six consecutive games in the series. Last year, Peach County trailed 19-0 in the fourth quarter but scored the game’s final 20 points, including the game-winning touchdown on a 15-yard pass on a fourth-and-12 play with 3:16 remaining. Peach County is the passing team of the two, averaging 239.7 yard through the air while rushing for 136.7. QB Antonio Gilbert had his best game of the season in a 47-19 victory over Perry last week, completing 24 of 37 passes for 279 and a touchdown and rushing for 40 yards and a TD on seven carries. His top target is AJC Super 11 pick Kearis Jackson (committed to Georgia), who has 13 catches for 299 yards and averages 83 yards per game in kick returns. RB Chris Gibson has 218 yards rushing and 111 receiving. Mary Persons is more balanced but leans on the running game. Bralen Harvey leads with 281 yards and three TDs on 34 carries. QB J.T. Hartage is 41-of-60 passing for 536 yards with seven TDs. LB Jatorian Hansford averages 7.5 tackles per game and has 4.5 sacks.
South Pointe (S.C.) at Buford
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Riden Stadium, Buford
Records, rankings: South Pointe is 2-0 and the No. 1 overall team in South Carolina (MaxPreps); Buford is 2-0 and No. 2 in Georgia’s Class AAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Things to know: Buford is 9-0 all-time against out-of-state opponents, but this will be the Wolves’ toughest challenge on that front. South Pointe, South Carolina’s best team, is ranked No. 8 nationally by USA Today. The school, located in the Charlotte suburb of Rock Hill, opened in 2006 and has won five state titles in football, including one in 2017, and was runner-up three other times. South Pointe is the alma mater of NFL player Jadeveon Clowney. South Pointe has six seniors that Scout.com awards two stars or better as recruits. Among them are WR Derion Kendrick (Clemson commit), DE Eli Adams (Virginia Tech) and PK B.T. Potter (Clemson). Buford’s top prospects are two-way starters Anthony Grant and Christian Turner. Turner (Michigan) has rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Grant (Tennessee) has rushed for 160 yards. Grant, also a linebacker, is more conspicuous on defense, where he has six solo tackles, three stops for losses and one interception. Buford freshman QB Aaron McLaughlin is 23-of-43 passing for 270 yards in just two games as Buford’s matchup last week against International School of Broward County was canceled.
Starr’s Mill at Sandy Creek
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Battlefield, Tyrone
Records, rankings: Starr’s Mill is 3-0 and No. 8 in Class AAAAA; Sandy Creek is 3-0 and No. 3 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Sandy Creek won 35-21 in 2016.
Things to know: This will be the sixth time these Fayette County rivals have played each other but the first in which both teams are ranked. Starr’s Mill won the first two games in 1998 and 1999, but Sandy Creek has won the past three. Starr’s Mill is a run-dominated team that averages 308.3 yards rushing and 67.3 passing. Five players have at least 20 carries and 100 yards rushing, but the leader is sophomore Kalen Sims with 29 carries for 286 yards and four TDs. Others are seniors Cole Gilley (25-175-7), Mitchell Prowant (33-168-2), Nick Brown (21-120-1) and QB Joey Deluca (22-116-1). Deluca attempts about nine passes per game and has thrown for 202 yards. Sandy Creek has allowed just 17 points this season, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter of a 23-17 victory over Allatoona on Sept. 1, and its three highest-profile senior prospects come from the defensive side of the ball. DE Nick Fulwider is a three-star recruit with a reported 27 offers, including several from ACC and SEC schools. DL Taylor Hodge has received interest from Georgia State and Furman, among others, and LB T.J. Peavy has a reported five offers, including Air Force and Eastern Michigan.
Woodward Academy at Marist
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Hughes Spalding Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Woodward Academy is 3-0 and No. 7 in Class AAAA; Marist is 3-0 and No. 5 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Woodward Academy won 32-0 in 2016.
Things to know: These metro Atlanta private schools resumed their rivalry in 2015 after a 20-year hiatus. Woodward has proceeded to beat Marist 42-14 and 32-0 – two of the three worst Marist defeats of the past 20 years. This matchup should be much closer, though, as Woodward has a younger team than those that went 35-6 over the past three years. Woodward has been a passing team this season with rotating quarterbacks Christian Wylder (16-of-25, 224 yards) and Mike Wright (22-of-33, 250 yards). Both have three TD passes. But the team’s top offensive weapon is junior RB Tahj Gray. He has 193 yards receiving and five touchdowns on just eight catches. He also has rushed for 78 yards and scored on a punt return. Sophomore LB Aaron Washington has six of Woodward’s seven tackles for losses. Marist averages 231.0 yards rushing, 70.7 passing, which matches tradition. QB Chase Abshier has rushed for a team-best 200 yards. John FitzPatrick is a Georgia commit who is projected to play tight end and has eight of Marist’s 21 receptions, but he is perhaps more valuable in high school at defensive end. With a Marist victory, coach Alan Chadwick (353-67-0) would tie Robert Davis (354-74-1) as the second-winningest coach in Georgia history.
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