There will be a definite playoff feeling in the air at Hallford Stadium on Friday when rivals Arabia Mountain and Miller Grove meet in an important Region 5 game.
“They have a good following and we always bring a good crowd,” Arabia Mountain coach Stanley Pritchett said. “It’s going to be a good atmosphere.”
This game should have a definite bearing on the Region 5 playoff race. The winner will take a big advantage, although both teams still must play Southwest DeKalb. It is the region opener for both teams.
Miller Grove (3-2) broke a two-game losing streak by beating Lakeside on a blocked field goal. The Wolverines opened the season with lopsided shutout wins over outmanned Clarkston and Stone Mountain, but played well in a loss to Class AAAAAA King.
The Wolverines are led on offense by quarterback Jamaal Roach (482 yards, seven TDs) and running back Richard Young (218 yards, three TDs). The defense features leading tackler Mustafa Arnold and Caleb Tanner and Aaron Miller, who both have four sacks.
Arabia Mountain (3-2) has lost two straight games against teams from higher classifications. The Rams breezed through the first three opponents – including a 33-7 spanking of King – but were shutout against Class AAAAAA Dacula and Class AAAAAAA East Coweta.
“Those two games definitely helped us,” Pritchett said. “I knew we were a young team and I knew Dacula and East Coweta were going to be big tests. Even though we lost those games, I think it helped. It made is grow up and learned we had to prepare even harder.”
The Arabia Mountain offense is led by quarterback Bryson Williams (761 yards passing, seven TDs), running back Joshua Campbell (320 yards, seven TDs) and receiver Corey Rolle (17.3 yard average, three TDs). On defense, linemen Thomas Rayton and Demetric Barnes each have three sacks.
The Arabia Mountain defense allowed 23 points against East Coweta, more than the Rams had allowed in the previous four games combined.
“That’s a life lesson. When you get knocked down, you have to get back up,” Pritchett said. “I know our defense is looking forward to the opportunity to come back.”
Arabia Mountain won the Region 5 championship last year, the school’s first, and advanced to the second round. Miller Grove made the playoffs for the first time a year ago, placing sixth in Region 5. The Wolverines were beaten in the first round by Rome, the eventual state champions.
Arabia Mountain has won two of the three games played against Miller Grove, including a 44-6 decision last year.
Other games of interest this week:
Whitewater at Starr’s Mill: Whitewater (4-2) has won two straight since back-to-back losses to Banneker and Chapel Hill, including a decisive victory over Griffin. The Wildcats can take a big step toward locking up the Region 3 championship by beating Starr’s Mill (5-1), which is coming off a heart-breaking loss to Griffin.
This game features two run-oriented offenses.
Starr’s Mill has a powerful running attack led by all-state back Cole Gilley (360 yard, 10 TDs), sophomore Kalen Prowant (516 yards, six TDs), Nick Brown (292 yards, four TDs) and Mitchell Prowant (245 yards, four TDs). Quarterback Joey Deluca has thrown for 370 yards and rushed for 184.
Whitewater’s offense is led by sophomore Miles Montgomery (718 yards, seven TDs), Kyris Barnett (460 yards, two TDs) and sophomore quarterback Maddox Mueller, who has rushed for 427 yards and seven touchdowns and thrown for 596 yards and six touchdowns.
Columbia vs. Lithonia (Avondale Stadium):. Lithonia (1-4) is led by quarterback Tariq Shaw, who has thrown for 768 yards, 400 of it to Kevan Brantley. Rayshad Baldwin has rushed for 455 yards. Columbia (3-2) has its own passing connection with Tremaine Calloway and Giovanni Dyer, who have hooked up 16 times for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Columbia leads the series 12-5, but Lithonia won 21-7 last year to snap a four-game losing streak to the Eagles.
Southwest DeKalb vs. Chamblee (North DeKalb): Southwest (3-2) has prospered under quarterback Justin Tomlin, who has thrown for 1,057 yards and rushed for 394 and produced 13 touchdowns. Running back Francisco Hunter (614 yards rushing, five TDs) ran for nearly 200 against Rockdale County two weeks ago. Chamblee (1-4) has lost four straight and has struggled on defense. Southwest leads the series 11-2, won 49-12 in 2016, and hasn’t lost to Chamblee since 1952.
McIntosh at Fayette County: The running game will be on display in this contest. Fayette County (2-3) features Jalil Dabney (457 yards) and Cory Andrews (422 yards), as well as the passing skills of sophomore Jakobe Coleman (400 yards passing). Fayette County needs to slow McIntosh running back Bradley Ector, who ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the homecoming win over Riverdale. In the oldest rivalry in Fayette County, McIntosh (5-0) has won two of the last three meetings and three of the last five, but Fayette County claimed a 7-3 win a year ago. Fayette County leads the series 23-8.
Griffin at Morrow: Griffin (5-1) solidified its playoff position with a gutty comeback win over Starr’s Mill last week. Shondarius Mayes had six catches for 181 yards and three touchdown, as well as a 70-yard kickoff return and 21-yard punt return to set up the winning drive. Morrow (3-3) has lost three straight and must win to remain relevant in the playoff picture. Griffin leads the series 16-7 and won last year 36-6.