Thu., September 16, 2010 3:38pm (EDT)

The Rundown on Key Friday Night Matchups
By Stephen Black
Updated: 4 years ago

Kell hosts East Paulding in a key Class 4A game. Photo by Jon Barash.
Kell hosts East Paulding in a key Class 4A game. Photo by Jon Barash.
Surprising Allatoona travels to face perennial power Dalton while tradition-rich Valdosta hosts the Pirates of Brunswick. Laney and Jefferson County square off in a key Region 3-AA matchup. Jefferson and Hart County meet for the first time ever and Region 4A gets hot and heavy with Hawkinsville travelling to Marion County. East Paulding faces streaking No. 6 Kell while perennial Class A powers Bremen and Darlington clash in an important duel. West Georgia power LaGrange hosts ultra-talented Carver in a huge tilt in Class 3A whileCairo and Thomas County Central will re-ignite a traditional South Georgia rivalry.

Allatoona at Dalton


The Bucs are a surprising 3-0 after moving up to Class 4A and are in just their second full year of varsity play. The Catamounts, on the other hand, have set a state record with a winning season every year since 1959. Dalton started the year with a loss to Calhoun ─ of Class AA ─ but rebounded to post shutouts in their last two games. Allatoona’s Miles Jones ran for five touchdowns and 228 yards in last week’s win against Southeast Whitfield.

Brunswick at Valdosta


These two programs have faced each other just three times, all in the playoffs and all Valdosta wins. The Pirates have won both games against Class 5A opponents this year (Coffee and Savannah), but their loss was to Class 4A Statesboro. The No. 7 Wildcats edged Lincoln (Fla) last week 35-31 after trailing by 10 at halftime. Running back Phillip Moore ran for 91 yards on 24 carries and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner.

Laney at Jefferson County


This game features two region rivals vying for a playoff spot in 3-AA. Both teams have rebounded with two wins since setbacks in the opening game Laney lost to Strom Thurmond of SC and Jefferson County tied Washington County. Running back Charles Broadus had 250 yards rushing, 98 yards receiving and two touchdowns for Jefferson County in the win against Screven County last week. Laney’s receiver Rod Hall had 250 yards receiving and three touchdowns in last week’s win over Dodge County.

Jefferson at Hart County


The first-ever meeting between the two schools located within 50 miles of each other becomes a region game as both schools joined 8-AA this year. Both were preseason picks to compete for the region championship with Jefferson on an 18-game winning streak in region play while Hart has posted an 8-3 record last year in AAA. Both schools played demanding non-region schedules against opponents from higher classifications prior to entering region play.

Hawkinsville at Marion County


Region 4-A continues its round-robin play this week by pitting two of the region’s three undefeated teams against each other in this matchup. Hawkinsville running back Fabion Forrest is on pace to gain over 1,000 yards for the fourth consecutive year, with over 758 yards and eight touchdowns in three games. Marion County, a newly-formed school, has been playing football since 2006 and reached the playoffs for the first time last year. The Eagles have allowed just 14 points this season in their three wins.

East Paulding at Kell


East Paulding is trying to get back to the playoffs after making the postseason three consecutive years from 2006-2008. The Raiders square off against Region 5-AAAA Kell, who is ranked No. 6. The Longhorns are led defensively by free safety Brian Randolph, a Tennessee commitment who is averaging 18 tackles per game. East Paulding is 42-12 since John Reid took over the program in 2006. Kell’s defense has given up 10 points in each of their games.

Bremen at Darlington


Bremen Coach Ricky Tolleson brings his option-based offense to 2009 region champion and No. 9 Darlington. Bremen has been to the postseason 11 of the last 12 years, but is currently unranked in Class A. Darlington is led offensively by sophomore quarterback Brad Butler and junior running back Ced Spivey and defensively by defensive back Tev’n Hamilton. The two programs have split six games in a series that started in 1992. Darlington won last year’s encounter 35-28.

Carver-Columbus at LaGrange


This game will be featured on ESPN2. Carver sports several high-profile players like Carver running back Isaiah Crowell, defensive tackle Gabe Wright, linebacker Chauncey Smith, offensive lineman Quincey McKinney and wide receiver Riyahd Jones. LaGrange kicker E. Smith has kicked a 56-yard field goal this year. LaGrange leads the series 8-4, but Carver has won three of the last four meetings. The Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 39 in the nation by rivals.com.

Cairo at Thomas County Central


The No. 3 Syrupmakers jump up a classification to tangle with the No. 5 Yellow Jackets of Class 4A. Cairo is undefeated and has outscored its first three opponents 91-0. Thomas County Central has come from behind to win its first two games against county rival Thomasville (20-17) and Colquitt County (35-29). This South Georgia rivalry goes back to 1960 with Central leading 20-16-1. The Jackets and ‘Makers have met each year since 1986 and have split the last six meetings.


Contributors: Jay Thomason