Boo! Welcome to Week 9 of the 2020 varsity football season. On the eve of Halloween, four Floyd County teams suit up and prepare for battle. Darlington and Unity Christian strive to remain region frontrunners while Coosa and Model look to keep pace in Region 7-AA. As the region picture begins to take hold, the push for the playoffs is underway.
Coosa (3-3, 0-2) at Gordon Central (1-5, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.
The Coosa Eagles remain on the road as they battle the Gordon Central Warriors in Gordon County. Coosa is looking to avoid an 0-3 Region 7-AA hole and dropping below .500.
Since starting region competition, the Eagles have only scored 12 points, half of those coming on offense.
The Warriors have a bit less time to prepare, as they fell to the Pepperell Dragons 50-14 on Monday night.
Coosa is 4-4 all time against Gordon Central. The Eagles had a four-game win streak against GC snapped last year when the Warriors won 21-3 at Coosa High School.
Darlington (5-2, 1-0) at Christian Heritage (5-1, 1-0) — 7:30 p.m.
Darlington’s region schedule turns up a notch as the Tigers battle the Christian Heritage Lions in Dalton. Both teams won their region openers last week.
“They’re very excited about the opportunity we’ve got tomorrow night,” Tigers head coach Tommy Atha said in a phone interview. “We certainly know we’ve got our hands full tomorrow.”
For the Tigers last week, junior quarterback Patrick Shelley was a catalyst in the team overcoming a 21-point deficit to defeat Mt. Paran 30-27. His 144 yards with two rushing scores, including the game-winning touchdown, saw Darlington close a homestand 2-1.
Senior running back Harrison Allen rushed for 98 yards and streaked across the goal line twice for Darlington’s two other TDs.
“If you can’t get yourself mentally prepared (for) another big game, another region game, another game with playoff ramifications, you’re going to have a hard time getting up to play anyway,” Atha said. “Our kids fully understand the stakes get higher every week and the opportunities get higher every week.”
Christian Heritage shut out Walker 35-0 last Friday.
Offensively, Lions junior quarterback Christian Thomas leads the way, passing 51-for-81 for 853 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. The Lion rushing attack primarily features Solomon Locke and Gage Leonard. Locke has recorded 572 yards and four touchdowns while Leonard has 399 yards with nine TDs.
“They’ve got great skill players,” Atha said. “They’ve got a great running game and passing game. They’re good up front of both sides of the ball. They’re an extremely solid team.”
Senior Evan Lester is Christian Heritage’s leading receiver, catching 21 passes for 345 yards with two scores. Leonard is second with 13 receptions for 163 yards.
Atha said he was pleased with Darlington’s focus in this week’s practice.
“I think the kids came out locked in to what we were doing on both sides of the ball,” Atha said. “I felt like we were very detail-oriented in practice.”
Darlington is a perfect 7-0 all time against Christian Heritage. Last year’s contest was a 29-22 Tiger victory in Rome.
Model (4-2, 2-0) at Fannin County (5-0, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.
It’s a battle of unbeatens in the mountains of north Georgia as the Blue Devils face the Fannin County Rebels. Fannin County senior quarterback Luke Holloway and the Rebels
“They’re probably one of the more balanced teams we’ve seen,” Blue Devils head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said in a phone interview. “(Holloway’s) a very big key to their offense and it’s like I told our kids, we’ve got to eliminate him as much as we can ... in order for us to have success.”
Model running back Joseph Wallace has scored four touchdowns in his previous two games. Quarterback Sam Silver threw a touchdown pass in last Friday’s 27-0 homecoming shutout of Dade County.
“We’ve stumbled at times and we’ve got to do a better job of managing the clock,” Hunnicutt said. “(We have to) create some first downs and second-and-shorts and third-and-shorts, so we’re able to have some success. Keep us balanced in a sense.”
Chad Cheatham’s Rebels are off to one of the best starts in school history. A perfect record through five games has not happened in 25 years, when the Rebels went 12-1, reaching the state quarterfinals.
Holloway is just 41 yards away from 1,000 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and just one interception. Holloway has also proven his ability with his feet too, as he leads his squad in carries and rushing yards with 57 carries, 461 yards and five ground scores to date.
“We’ve got to contain 12 (Holloway’s jersey number),” Hunnicutt said. “He’s tremendous with his legs and his arms. Their offensive line is probably one of the biggest we’ll face all year. Defensively, we’re going to have to contain 12 and eliminate the big play. Offensively, just sustain drives and keep the chains moving.”
The Blue Devils are allowing just 15.8 points per game while the Rebels are even stingier, conceding just 12.4 points per game. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Model, like the three other high schools in the Floyd County School District, did not hold in-person classes Thursday as Tropical Storm Zeta ravaged North Georgia. The storm marched its way northeast, affecting Fannin County as well.
“It’s been hectic,” Hunnicutt said. “It throws a kink in your normal schedule. From a head coach perspective, you start worrying about ... are the kids truly ready to play, are they focused. Coach Cheatham’s having to deal with the same issues up there. Blue Ridge was hit pretty good as well.”
Hunnicutt added he has been keeping in close contact with his Fannin County counterpart. Fannin County schools were closed both Thursday and Friday.
“As long as they have power at the stadium, we’re trying to keep everything normal,” Hunnicutt said. “There’s no telling what could happen from this point going forward with the COVID process. If they can get power, then we’re playing football.”
Lanier Christian (3-4, 1-1) at Unity Christian (8-0, 3-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Unity Christian Lions, fresh off a 58-0 shutout victory, gear up for their penultimate regular-season contest as Lanier Christian Academy makes the trip to Grizzard Park. Unity has a chance to win Class AA-Region 1 of the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) for the second consecutive year on Friday night.
“We have really challenged our team to play physical,” Lions head coach Nick Jones said in a phone interview. “We are playing a team that is a double-tight I (formation), very big lineman, kind of want to run it right at you. We have challenged our team, especially defensively, to stop that at the point of attack, so we want to be physical on the front line.”
The Lanier Christian Lightning are coming off a 20-6 road loss at Cherokee Christian. Unity has scored at least 30 points in every game.
“We get (the opportunity to) win the region this week and clinch the first-round bye ... so a lot on the line this Friday night,” Jones said. “What we’re going to rely heavily on is our senior quarterback, Drew King, ... piloting our offense and we’re going to look to several of our (offensive) weapons.”