What to watch: Week 6
This week’s AA slate is led by the best of Region 2, with the ninth-ranked Vidalia Indians traveling to play the No. 2 Benedictine Cadets. This will be the fifth year in a row these two have faced off, and if the historical pattern holds true, the Indians will somehow win. These these teams have traded off wins each season since 2012, with Vidalia winning that year (12-7) and in 2014 (35-28), while Benedictine won in 2013 (28-0) and last season (27-3).
Aside from the pattern, however, all other signs point to a cadets win on Friday. They have home-field advantage. No team in the state is playing better than them and Fitzgerald. They’re arguably more battle-tested, having beat St. Pius X on the road, while the Indians lost their stiffest challenge against West Laurens at home.
The Maxwell Week 6 Projections have the Cadets winning by 27, so hopefully for the Indians they can keep the game closer than that. If not, an exit from the rankings is all but assured, though a big Cadets win likely won’t be enough to unseat Fitzgerald. In fact, probably the only way the Purple Hurricane loses their top spot is if they lose at some point this season.
(For more on the Indians-Cadets matchup, see GHSF Daily’s Top 10 games of Week 6.)
A Purple Hurricane loss almost certainly won’t happen this week. Fitzgerald (3-0) will host Smiths Station (Alabama), a 1-4 team coming off a 51-14 loss. The Tifton Gazette’s Becky Taylor writes that Purple Hurricane coach Jason Strickland made comments that characterized Smiths Stations’ record as deceptive. However, Strickland is being deceptive because this should be a Cadets blowout win. This will be the first meeting between the two programs.
Though Vidalia-Benedictine is the only matchup this week featuring two ranked teams, there are three other programs in the top 10 that play opponents with winning records from higher classifications.
The No. 3 Brooks County Trojans (3-0) will play at the Monroe Tornadoes (2-1) of AAA. The Tornadoes are coming off a 42-0 victory over winless Albany and their only loss came a week before to AAAAA’s No. 5 Thomas County Central, a 35-7 defeat. The Trojans, on the other hand, barely escaped last week with a win over AAA’s Pierce County. This could be a closer game than the two score Brook County victory predicted by the Maxwell Projections.
The No. 5 Callaway Cavaliers (4-0) travel to AAAAA’s Harris County Tigers (3-1). The Cavs have yet to receive much of a challenge, as no team has come within two scores of them. They’ve outscored opponents 141-48. That’s probably part of the reason Maxwell Projections have them winning this game by two scores as well (they’re a 13-point favorite). However, the Tigers put a competitive team on the field and their only loss was 20-17 to AAAA’s Hardaway (2-1). The Cavs won 33-17 last year, which snapped a two-game losing streak to the Tigers.
The No. 6 Rabun County Wildcats (2-0) make the trip to AAAA’s West Hall Spartans (4-1). It’s hard to believe that six weeks into the season the Wildcats may still be trying to get into gear, having completed just two games. However, they certainly looked in top form their last game on Sept. 9 against White County, posting a 49-7 win. Speaking of rust, this series was last played in 1993. However, Wildcats coach Lee Shaw is more than familiar with the Spartans from his time at Flowery Branch and owns a 6-2 career record over them. Maxwell has the Wildcats as a 13-point favorite.
Other matchups involving ranked AA teams: Westside-Augusta (1-3, 0-1 Region 4) at No. 4 Jefferson County (4-0, 1-0); No. 7 Model (4-0, 1-0 Region 7) at Armuchee (1-3, 0-1); East Laurens (1-3, 0-0 Region 3) at No. 8 Dublin (4-0, 0-0); Laney (0-4, 0-1 Region 4) at No. 10 Screven County (3-1, 1-0).
Follow the AJC’s Class AA coverage on Twitter.