As the seasons move from late summer and approach the first days of fall, football schedules move from the first part of a season where teams play teams in their area in order to get ready for the second part of the schedule, the region schedule. Games in this part of the schedule are where teams start to move their focus to playing the games that will decide who can move on the third season, the state playoffs and the opportunity to compete for a possible state championship. It’s now that the games take on a different focus and a different level of importance. Speaking with Elbert’s Brad Waggoner, the change in importance can be measured in the following, “ our goal each week, is to be 1-0 for that Friday.”
This second season began for teams in Region 8-AA this past weekend. The winners from week #1 in 8-AA, Elbert Co., Banks Co., along with Rabun and Putman Co. got off to successful starts, while Oglethorpe, Social Circle, Monticello, and Putman Co. face an up hill battle.
Down at Lexington, Elbert Co. opened region play by defeating Oglethorpe Co. by the score of 63-0. “We did a good job coming out and taking care of our business. We played well on both sides of the ball against Oglethorpe, and were able to give our younger players a chance to play in a varsity game”. He added that DJ Ardister continues to play well, “ he’s really playing well since game one and is doing a great job as a leader of the football team.
Banks County, the preseason favorite in 8-AA, got their region schedule off to a solid start defeating Social Circle by the score of 45-7, in their highest scoring performance of the season. Union County and Rabun County, the favorites in Region 8-AA, opened with big wins in week 1. Union County defeated Monticello 53-21, while Rabun County defeated Putman County 55 – 8. Gunner Stockton, the Rabun quarterback, was 11 of 22 against Putman for 185 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The schedule for week #2 features Elbert County hosting Social Circle, Union County traveling to Putman County, Rabun County plays host to Monticello, while Banks County takes on Oglethorpe County. Speaking about week 2 and the meeting with Social Circle, Elbert’s Waggoner said “it’s important that we continue to maintain the progress that we have made this year. We’re 1-0 in the region, and this Friday is a chance to go to 2-0. We need to continue to take these games one at a time and focus on that game.”
It was a quiet weekend for teams in Region 8-AAA, as four of the seven region schools enjoyed the week off prior to the start of region play on September 27. In Gainesville, at City Park Stadium, the Dragons of Jefferson defeated Gainesville 41-7 in their final tuneup before region competition begins Friday. Malaki Starks lead the Dragons, rushing for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns.
At Carnesville, the Titans of North Oconee moved their record to 5-0 for the first time since 2011, by defeating Franklin County 35-14. Franklin County falls to 0-3 for the year, with a rescheduled game with Habersham Central this Friday at Carnesville.
At Danielsville, the Madison County Red Raiders handed East Jackson their first loss of the 2019 season, defeating the Eagles by the score of 35 – 7. Colby Smith and Dayton Gresham scored 2 touchdowns each for Madison as their record moves to 3-2 on the year.
Morgan County, Monroe Area, Hart County, and Jackson County each had open dates this past weekend, and return to action on Friday with Hart County hosting Jackson County, while Morgan County and Monroe Area meet in matchup of region favorites in Madison.
Discussing the open week and the Bulldogs approach to the week, Rance Gillespie, said “we have always approached open weeks with three ideas in mind, one to improve our understanding of what we are doing in all phases of the game, to second, be able to rest injuries and give players time to recover, and finally be able to work with our young players.” On the 2019 season for Hart, Gillespie added, “we’ve done alot of good things to date, and I proud of the way this team continues to work,but, I don’t think we’ve played a complete game yet. I don’t think that people have seen the best of this football team so far.”
In the game of the night, at Mt. Airy, Habersham – Central snapped a 15 game loosing streak to the Indians of Stephens County, defeating Stephens 27-21. Habersham quarterback Ryte Woodruff was 15 of 23 throwing the ball for 186 yds. and 2 touchdowns through the air, adding one touchdown on the ground. Hudson Spurlock, the Indians senior wingback, had 207 yards on the grounds and 2 touchdowns to lead the Indian attack.
Habersham – Central’s Benji Harrison, in talking about the win over Stephens, “This is a big win for our players, our school and our community. We’ve played them really well for the last few years and have not been able to finish the job. I’m really happy for our players and fans.” Speaking of the game played by his quarterback, Ryte Woodruff, Harrison said,” I really proud of Ryte for what he has done. He’s a young man that has waited his turn and has woorked extremely hard to be the leader of this team. He is making the most out his opportunity this year.” He added that we have “a big game on Friday with Franklin County and the last time we went there we lost a shootout. We need to continue to play well and to build on this success.” In addition Habersham’s Band of Blue celebrated 50 years of keeping the beat. Congratulations!
Region play continues this week across northeast Georgia for Region 8-AA and begins for teams in Region 8-AAA.
In games for 8-AA teams, week 1 winners face the teams that lost games in week 1 of play. Elbert County plays host to Social Circle, Union County goes to Putman County, Rabun County travels to Monticello, and Oglethorpe plays host to Banks County.
In week 1 games for 8-AAA, Hart County plays host to Jackson County for Homecoming in Hartwell, Jefferson takes on East Jackson, one of the surprises in early season play in 8-AAA, in a matchup at East Jackson. Monroe Area opens defense of the Region Championship on Friday in a matchup with Morgan County at Madison, in a matchup of 8-AAA favorites.
In other games involving area teams, Stephens County travels to Athens to face the Jaguars of Cedar Shoals, while Commerce meets Madison County in a game at Danielsville. Franklin County plays host to Habersham – Central in a makeup game postponed from two weeks ago.
In South Carolina, Westside and TL Hanna get together to renew their rivalry in Anderson, while Crescent travels down to North August SC to play Fox Creek high School. West-Oak High School faces Landrum, Pendleton goes to Clinton, and Seneca looks for their first win in a matchup with Belton Honea-Path.
Hope to see you at a high school stadium this weekend!