What to watch: Week 7
There are several noteworthy games this week involving ranked AA teams, headlined by the No. 3 Brooks County Trojans (4-0), who travel to AAA’s No. 8 Crisp County Cougars (5-0).
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs and this week’s Maxwell projections have the Trojans winning by 11. However, Joe Joe Wright of the Cordele Dispatch – Cordele is where Crisp County’s school is – has the Cougars eeking out a 24-21 win. So both teams have bulletin board material to pull from if needed.
The Cougars have won all their games by double digits, outscoring opponents 181-66, with two of the victories (Turner County and Spencer) coming against teams with winning records. The Cougars’ strength of schedule is lacking and this is easily their toughest game to date – it will also be the toughest game they play this regular season – so there’s legitimacy in questioning if they’ll be ready for this game.
The Trojans, on the other hand, were on the ropes two weeks ago and staring down a loss to Pierce County before pulling out a 33-28 come-from-behind win. They also escaped Week 1 with an overtime win over Cook. They’ve been tested and this is their final game to put it all together before Region 1 play begins. It would be fair to expect them to be locked in, focused and ready to win.
(For more on the Trojans-Cougars matchup, see GHSF Daily’s Top 10 games of Week 7.)
A crucial game will take place in Region 7 when the Pepperell Dragons (3-1, 2-0) play at the No. 7 Model Blue Devils (5-0, 2-0). The Blue Devils are starting the season 5-0 for the third year in a row. In the previous two seasons, they lost game No. 6 to a tough region opponent in Darlington. However, Darlington is no longer in their region. Could the Dragons be Model’s new Darlington?
The Dragons come from AAA and are coming off region wins over Gordon Central (69-0) and Coosa (45-10). They’ve fully recovered from a 20-16 loss to AAAA’s Cedartown on Sept. 9 and are playing at a high level. The Blue Devils will be looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time since 1981, when they closed the season on a nasty losing streak to finish 6-4. They’re actually a 15-point favorite over Pepperell in the Maxwell projections and they’ll have the advantage of playing in front of the home crowd. The two last played in 2013, when this season’s seniors were freshmen. The Blue Devils won 14-0.
If Model can pull out the win, the Blue Devils will be sitting in great position heading into their bye. If the Dragons win, it’s possible that they replace Model in the rankings.
The No. 1 Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane (4-0) have one more game before diving into Region 1 play, and that’s at AAAAAAA’s Tift County Blue Devils (4-2). If the Maxwell projections are any indication, this is expected to be an extremely tough task for the Purple Hurricane as they’re only picked to win by 1 point. Not only will it will be a road game for the Purple Hurricane, it’s also the Blue Devils’ homecoming.
It is worth noting, however, that although the Blue Devils play in the state’s highest classification, they’ve only played one AAAAAAA school, Parkview, and lost to them 34-15. They come in to this week having lost two of their last three.
The Purple Hurricane haven’t been tested this season – their closest game was a 41-14 win over Rockdale County. It will be their toughest test so far and perhaps the last challenge before their Oct. 21 showdown against Brooks County. This game will be a great gauge of how good Fitzgerald actually is this season.
Despite just 25 miles separating the two programs, they’ve played each other just 14 times dating back to 1962 and the all-time series is knotted at 7-7. They last played in 2011, when Tift County won 29-22.
Other matchups involving ranked AA teams: No. 2 Benedictine (5-0, 2-0 Region 2) at Bryan County (2-2, 1-1); No. 4 Jefferson County (5-0, 2-0 R4) at Glenn Hills (2-3, 1-1); Banks County (2-3, 1-0 R8) at No. 6 Rabun County (3-0, 0-0); Bleckley County (1-4, 0-1 R3) at No. 8 Dublin (5-0, 1-0); Bacon County (1-3, 1-1 R2) at No. 9 Vidalia (3-2, 1-1); No. 10 Screven County (4-1, 2-0 R4) at Harlem (2-3, 1-1).
AA ranked teams with a bye this week: No. 5 Callaway.
Follow the AJC’s Class AA coverage on Twitter.