Top 10 games of Week 2
American Heritage (Fla.) at Colquitt County
When, where: 8 p.m. Saturday, Mack Tharpe Memorial Stadium, Moultrie
Records, rankings:American Heritage (0-0) is No. 1 in Florida’s Class 5A and No. 6 nationally by USA Today; Colquitt County is 0-1 and No. 6 in Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to watch: 1. American Heritage of Plantation, Fla., has eight seniors rated as 3-star recruits or better. The most highly regarded are OG Tedarrell Slaton (23 offers), OT Kai-Leon Herbert (committed to Michigan) and CB Marco Wilson (committed to Florida). American Heritage lost to Florida power Booker T. Washington 27-7 in a scrimmage last week. 2. Colquitt County trailed Mill Creek 20-0 at the Corky Kell Classic on Saturday before making a game of it, eventually losing 34-27. The Packers rushed for just 36 yards on 16 carries, but Jay Saunders, taking over at quarterback after the graduation of all-state selection Chase Parrish, was 26-of-43 passing for 315 yards and three touchdowns. 3. Colquitt County, located about 50 miles from the Florida border, has played just two Florida teams in its history, defeating Plant (Tampa) 42-8 in 2015 and Madison County (Madison) 20-19 in 2011. The Packers will face another Florida team at home on Sept. 30 when they meet International School of Broward.
Calhoun at Dalton
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Harmon Field at Bill Chappell Stadium, Dalton
Records, rankings: Calhoun is 1-0 and No. 1 in Class AAA; Dalton is 0-0 and unranked in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: Calhoun won 28-7 in 2015.
Three things to watch: 1. Calhoun had two 100-yard rushers in a 28-0 victory over Douglass last week. QB Baylon Spector rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, and RB Olico Dennis ran for 111 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. LB Bailey Lester made 14 tackles, including two for losses, and CB Malik Lawrence had an interception and five tackles. 2. Dalton is likely to start as many as eight seniors on offense, but it will all start with junior QB J.P. Tighe. He was 57-for-122 passing for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, when he shared the position with senior Jase Chastain. Senior RB Kyric McGowan is the leading returning rusher (26 carries, 182 yards) and receiver (16 catches, 315 yards). 3. Dalton has a 34-10-1 record against its northwest Georgia rival, but Calhoun has won seven consecutive games in the series and eight of the past nine. Calhoun’s 21-point victory last season was its largest since a 32-0 win in 1932, when it beat Dalton for the first time.
Greater Atlanta Christian at Westminster
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Greater Atlanta Christian is 1-0 and No. 3 in Class AAA; Westminster is 0-1 and No. 7 in AAA.
Last meeting: GAC won 49-3 in 2013.
Three things to watch: 1. GAC was impressive in a 31-6 victory over Lovett last week. Jonathan Rose played in place of AJC Super 11 QB Davis Mills (likely out for the season, knee injury) and was 7-of-12 passing for 53 yards. RB Kyle McMichael rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns. PK/P Brooks Buce hit a 54-yard field goal, had five touchbacks and put three punts inside the 20-yard line. 2. Westminster lost its opener to Woodward Academy, the No. 2 team in AAAA, 36-17. RB Zay Malcome, a preseason all-state pick, was limited to 65 yards on 10 carries. Westminster was 14-of-21 passing for 114 yards using three quarterbacks as the Wildcats search for the right replacement for Rankin Woley, a central figure in the 2015 state-championship team. 3. The schools are in the same classification for the first time since 2008-13, when they shared the same region. But they are not region rivals now. Westminster is in 5-AAA with No. 2 Pace Academy, No. 4 Cedar Grove and No. 9 Lovett. GAC, the only metro Atlanta AAA school not included, is in weaker Region 7, where its nearest rival is about an hour’s drive away.
Houston County at Peach County
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Anderson Stadium, Fort Valley
Records, rankings: Houston County is 1-0 and No. 1 in Class AAAAAA; Peach County is 0-0 and No. 5 in AAA.
Last meeting: Houston County won 33-20 in 2005.
Three things to watch: 1. Houston County QB Jake Fromm passed for 4,099 yards in 13 games last season, and he’s already ahead of that pace after going 25-for-35 for 412 yards and four touchdowns in a 26-14 victory over Mary Persons last week. Amari Colbert caught all four TD passes and finished with 10 receptions for 169 yards. The Bears had 577 yards of total offense. 2. Peach County has two preseason all-state picks – LB Kyle Nixon and P Omar Cervantes. Nixon was the team leader in total tackles last season, averaging 11 per game. QB Antonio Gilbert has experience after splitting time with all-state player Tyrique McGhee, and the top four receivers return, including four-star junior WR Kearis Jackson. The Trojans will be playing with heavy hearts after a weekend auto accident that killed senior Raekwon Smith and injured three other players, one critically. 3. Houston County and Peach County have played 10 times but not since 2005, when Houston County got its only victory in the series. Ironically, that’s the same year that Peach County went on to win the Class AAA championship, setting off a streak of three state titles in five seasons.
IMG Academy (Fla.) at Grayson
When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday, Grayson Community Stadium, Grayson
Records, rankings: IMG Academy is 0-0 and No. 1 overall in Florida; Grayson is 0-0 and No. 1 in Georgia’s Class AAAAAAA. IMG is ranked No. 2 nationally by High School Football America, and Grayson is No. 2 in USA Today and MaxPreps rankings.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to watch: 1. IMG, a boarding school that started football in 2012, has nine of the top 120 senior recruits in the country, according to Scout.com. They include former Norcross DE Robert Beal (committed to Georgia) and former Archer DB Isaiah Pryor (Ohio State). 2. Grayson has as many as 10 seniors of its own that are major Division I prospects. They include DB DeAngelo Gibbs, DB/RB Jamyest Williams and OT Tony Gray, all uncommitted players ranked in the top 300 nationally. QB Chase Brice (Clemson commit), OL Will Taylor (Duke) and RB Kurt Taylor (Michigan) are others. 3. The GHSA recently changed a bylaw that will prevent Georgia schools from playing IMG in the future. IMG can recruit and scholarship its student-athletes and is not a traditional member of the Florida High School Athletic Association and can’t compete for Florida state titles.
Irwin County at Fitzgerald
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jaycee Stadium, Fitzgerald
Records, rankings: Irwin County is 1-0 and No. 5 in Class A public; Fitzgerald is 0-0 and No. 1 in AA.
Last meeting: Fitzgerald won 35-14 in 2015.
Three things to watch: 1. These programs were state runners-up last season, Fitzgerald in Class AA to Pace Academy and Irwin in Class A public to Clinch County. Fitzgerald, playing in a higher classification than Irwin for the past 10 seasons, is 15-0-1 in the series since 2000. 2. Irwin County RB/WR/LB Jeremiah Ashley had 75 yards rushing and 84 receiving in a 42-7 victory over Berrien last week. QB Will Stephens was 8-of-16 passing for 153 yards. RB Ziaire Andrews, the Class A 100-meter champion, is another player to watch. 3. Fitzgerald RB J.D. King rushed for 2,432 yards last season and had another 238 yards receiving. QB James Graham rushed for 1,536 yards and was 36-of-85 passing for 836 yards. The two had a hand in 58 touchdowns.
Jones County at Washington County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, House of Pain, Sandersville
Records, rankings: Jones County is 0-1 and No. 9 in Class AAAAA; Washington County is 0-0 and No. 10 in AA.
Last meeting: Jones County won 37-13 in 1991.
Three things to watch: 1. Washington County and Jones County have played each other only three times, all in 1990-91 when they were members of Region 6-AA. 2. Jones County QB Brad Hunnicutt, who was 20-of-32 passing for 271 yards in a 21-14 loss to Lee County last week, is doubtful for the game because of a sprained ankle. That’s not good because Jones County had minus-41 yards rushing in the game. WR Nick Singleton caught 11 passes for 197 yards, and OLB Jacquez Washington had 12 tackles and forced two fumbles. 3. Washington County, the AAA runner-up in 2014, is trying to bounce back from its first losing season (5-6) since 2007. RB Darius Tucker, an all-region player last season, was injured in his team’s scrimmage and is questionable. But defense is a bigger question mark. The Golden Hawks averaged 27.8 points even in their six losses last season but surrendered 40.1 in those games.
Lee County at Bainbridge
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Centennial Field, Bainbridge
Records, rankings: Lee County is 1-0 and No. 5 in Class AAAAAA; Bainbridge is 0-0 and No. 3 in AAAAA.
Last meeting: Lee County won 38-14 in 2013.
Three things to watch: 1. Lee County allowed 271 yards passing by Jones County’s Brad Hunnicutt last week, but the Trojans held Jones to minus-41 yards rushing, had three sacks and made nine tackles for losses in a 20-13 victory. LB Akileis Leroy, a transfer from Monroe who has an offer from LSU, had a team-leading eight tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. 2. Bainbridge returns a 2,000-yard rusher and 2,000-yard passer from a team that went 13-1 and reached the Class AAAA semifinals last season. RB Dameon Pierce, who is committed to Alabama, had a sensational sophomore year, rushing for 2,060 yards and 33 touchdowns on 308 carries. QB Brett McLaughlin was 146-for-297 passing for 2,055 yards and 14 touchdowns. 3. Bainbridge is 12-4 all-time against Lee County and has scored at least 21 points in all but two games in the series. A victory by Lee County would give the Trojans their first two-game winning streak in the series, which has been played sporadically since 1982.
Mays’ victory over Stockbridge in 2014 was the only prior meeting between the schools.(Branden Camp/Special to AJC)
Stockbridge at Mays
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Stockbridge is 0-0 and No. 2 in Class AAAAA; Mays is 0-0 and unranked in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: Mays won 30-15 in the 2014 Class AAAAA semifinals.
Three things to watch: 1. Mays’ victory over Stockbridge in 2014 was the only prior meeting between the schools. Mays led 16-15 entering the fourth quarter and drove for two touchdowns to put the game away. Both teams featured big-name defensive ends – Charles Wiley of Stockbridge (now at Ole Miss) and Natrez Patrick of Mays (Georgia). 2. Stockbridge RB Jalen Houston, a power back who lists Virginia Tech as his college favorite, rushed for 1,403 yards on 170 carries last season. He and DL Kelton Dawson, who has several mid-major offers, made the GHSF Daily preseason all-state team. Another top player is WR Marquez Ezzard, a junior who has 89 catches for 1,264 yards in his two seasons. 3. Mays’ best player is QB Bardene “B.J.” Phillips, who threw for 2,356 yards and 30 touchdowns in just 10 games. Another key player is FS/WR Ferlando Jordan, who had five interceptions last season. Mays lost eight defensive starters and its top three rushers and receivers.
Woodland (Stockbridge) at Valdosta
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, Valdosta
Records, rankings: Woodland is 1-0 and No. 10 in Class AAAAA; Valdosta is 1-0 and No. 3 in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Three things to watch: 1. Woodland, ranked for the first time in its history, is the only team in Class AAAA to win a region game last week, setting a school record for points in a game in a 55-6 victory over Union Grove that gave it the early lead in Region 4. Senior QB Reid Larson rushed for 71 yards and was 12-for-15 passing for 197 yards with TD passes to cousins Yusuf and Wallace Corker. 2. Valdosta picked up the 900th win in program history last week, beating rival Lowndes 38-13 for its first three-game winning streak in the series since 1996. The Wildcats got touchdowns on a blocked punt, a punt return and an interception return. Tevin Gray rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown, and QB Josh Belton had 79 yards rushing and 75 passing. 3. Woodland’s 209-mile trip to south Georgia will mark the first meeting between Valdosta and one of Henry County’s 10 public high schools. It will not be the Wolfpack’s first trip to the city, however. Woodland played at Lowndes in 2008 and 2009, its first two full varsity seasons. Lowndes won those games 63-0 and 75-14.
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