With only two weeks of the regular season left for high school football in our area, the playoff picture is coming into clearer focus, as teams make their final push to the finish line for the regular season.
In Region 8-AAA, the Jefferson Dragons captured the region championship with a 26 -7 win over Monroe Area in a game played at Monroe. Colby Clark, Jefferson’s quarterback, ran the ball 37 times for 232 yards, and scored 3 touchdowns on the ground. He added a fourth score on a touchdown pass to Dawson Crowley. “This has been a really fun team to coach and be around. We’ve played extremely well all year”, said Jefferson’s Gene Cathcart.”This team has worked hard in practice and been really unselfish with its play. They are a very close group of young men with strong leaders in all of the grades.” Cathcart said about Clark,”he has played really well for us all year. He’s done a great job leading our offense.” Asked about finishing with Jackson County at home, followed by having an open date prior to entering the post season, Cathcart said “it could be a double edged sword for us. We’re playing really well as a team. But having played games for seven weeks, we could use the chance to rest and get healthy before the playoffs start.”
In Hartwell, the Bulldogs used a punishing ground game to defeat East Jackson 49-0 in the final home game for Hart County. Malaki Thomas and Ja Len Lackey, Hart’s two running backs, combined for 454 yards on 27 carries, and seven touchdowns against the Eagles. Thomas has surpassed the 1,000 plateau for the second season in a row for the Bulldogs, while Lackey is nearing the 800 yard mark for the season. “We played really well on offense against East Jackson, particularly in the run game. Our goal is to be a physical team, and we were able to do that on Friday”, according to Rance Gillespie, Hart County’s head coach. “Our offensive line and receivers did a great job, allowing our backs to have the great night.”
Elsewhere in the region this past weekend, Franklin County captured its second win in a row, as they defeated Jackson County by the score of 23 – 16, in a game at Jefferson. With the win, Franklin maintains hope of making the post season after a slow start to the 2019 year.
Week 10 of the regular season has Hart County traveling to Carnesville to take on Franklin County, the Jefferson Dragons play host to Jackson County, and East Jackson travels to Madison to play Morgan County. Hart County, Morgan County, and Monroe Area will decide playoff spots 2,3, and 4 from Region 8-AAA over the final two weeks of the season, with Franklin County looking to crash the party and join the post season.
About the game on Friday in Carnesville, Gillespie said, “ Franklin County has gotten a lot better since the season started and are playing really well right now. We had to fight for all four quarters against them last year and I’m expecting another hard fought game.”
In Region 8-AA, the matchup of two of the states highest powered offenses moved one week closer to realization as both Rabun County and Union County remained undefeated. Rabun County’s Gunner Stockman was 12 of 15 for 186 yards and 6 touchdowns, as Rabun defeated Social Circle by the score of 61-20. Pierson Allen threw for 230 yards and 2 scores as Union County defeated Oglethorpe 43-0. These two teams will face off in week 10 at Union County with the top spot in the region on the line.
At Monticello, the Elbert County Blue Devils took a giant step toward the post season with a 35-18 win over Monticello, in a matchup of contenders in 8-AA. Elbert is 4-4 on the year and faces Putman County in a game at Eatonton on Friday, in a matchup of teams with identical 3-2 records for region play. The winner of this game is almost guaranteed a spot in the post season in two weeks.
“We played well against Monticello, but made a couple of mistakes that allowed them to keep the game close. We did a good job with over 400 yards on the ground, with three backs who gained 100 yards on the night”, according to Brad Waggoner, Elbert County’s head coach. He added that, “we knew that this was the first of three big games to close the season and answered the challenge”.
Games in Region 8-AA for week 9 of the regular season feature matchups between Union County and Social Circle, Rabun County traveling to Oglethorpe County, Monticello and Banks County at Homer, and Elbert County raveling to Eatonton to take on Putman County.
In looking at Putman, Elbert’s Waggoner called them, “a very good football team with good athletes and team speed. We need to continue what we have been doing at the line of scrimmage and with the run game to be successful.” He added, “this is an important game for getting into the post season, it won’t lock up a spot for us if we win, but it’s important for us to make our goal of playing in the post season.”
The Titians of North Oconee ran their record to 8-0 for the year with a 42 -10 win over Stephens County in a matchup in Toccoa. North Oconee’s Bubba Chandler connected for three touchdowns against the Indians. North Oconee will host neighbor Oconee County Friday in Bogart in a game that win determine the Region Championship for 8-AAAA.
Madison County saw its post season hopes damaged in Atlanta when St. Pius X scored with 13 seconds to defeat the Raiders 14 to 7. Madison County plays host to Stephens County in a must win for both teams if they are to play in the post season this year, on Friday in Danielsville.
The Raiders of Habersham Central fell to the states top ranked team in Class AAAAAA, the Dacula Falcons, 41-0 in a game at Dacula. The Raiders, who have dropped their last three games, take on Winder-Barrow at home on Friday night in a must win if they are to get into the playoffs for the second year in a row.
How will the week 11 action impact the post season opportunities for teams in our area? Check back with “HartwellandBeyond” to get ready for the close of high school football 2019.