The penultimate week of the GHSA varsity football season has arrived with plenty of playoff implications on the line. Who will qualify and what are the respective scenarios? We dissect that and more in this week’s edition of Floyd Football Friday. Four Floyd County-based teams are in action tonight as we welcome you to Week 11.
Armuchee (2-5, 0-3) at Gordon Lee (7-1, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Armuchee Indians remain on the road as they battle regional foe Gordon Lee on Friday. The Trojans, based in Chickamauga, are winners of two consecutive while the Indians look to snap a three-game skid.
Offensively, the Indians have struggled, failing to score more than 14 points so far in 2020.
Gordon Lee leads the all-time series 22-20-1. Armuchee dominated the series in the 1990s, winning 10 in a row. However, the Trojans have built a six-game win streak they carry into Friday night’s tilt.
Darlington (5-4, 1-2) at Walker (2-7, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.
The Darlington Tigers look to close their regular season with a region win over the Walker Wolverines in Marietta. The Tigers enter Friday’s contest having dropped two region games in a row to Christian Heritage and North Cobb Christian.
Last week saw the host Tigers fall 28-10 to North Cobb Christian. Darlington managed just 132 yards of total offense. On the flip side, North Cobb Christian generated 412 total yards of offense.
This week, Darlington has a more favorable matchup in terms of record, but Walker will be fired up for this game. The Wolverines are coming off a 35-0 loss to Christian Heritage.
Since this is Darlington’s final game of the season, here are the playoff scenarios.
If Darlington wins, the Tigers lock up the No. 3 seed from Region 7-A Private and battle Region 6-A Private’s No. 2 seed, currently Mount Pisgah Christian (4-4, 1-1).
However, should Darlington lose to Walker, the Tigers get seed No. 4 and face Region 6-A Private No. 1 seed Fellowship Christian (9-0, 4-0) in Roswell.
Both playoff games would take place on either Friday, Nov. 27, or Saturday, Nov. 28.
The Tigers are a perfect 6-0 against the Wolverines. Their last W in the series was a 20-6 home victory in 2016.
Chattooga (3-5, 2-2) at Pepperell (4-4, 3-1), 7:30 p.m.
In a contest of colossal magnitude, the No. 2 seed is well within reach of the Pepperell Dragons. A win over Chattooga assures Pepperell of the second seed from a competitive Region 7-AA.
However, a loss would see Pepperell likely take the No. 3 seed or possibly even the fourth seed (should the Model Blue Devils win out).
There is a strange scenario where a Pepperell loss to Chattooga on Friday, a Chattooga loss to Model next Tuesday and then a Model loss to Gordon Central on Nov. 20 give the Dragons the No. 2 seed with two region losses (Chattooga and Model would each have three in this case), but a lot would need to happen to see this outcome.
The simplest, non-headache inducing outcome for the Dragons is a win on Friday night clinches the No. 2 spot and home-field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs.
Now that the various paths to the playoffs have been covered, let’s take a peek at the matchup.
Chattooga is led by dynamic junior running back Lashaun Lester. Out of 200 total team carries, Lester has 141 of those for 737 yards with 12 touchdowns. Lester is also third on the team in receiving yards with 166 and a TD.
Senior quarterback Cash Allen is 113-for-178 passing with 1,316 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. His top target has been freshman Nic Hester, who has recorded 44 receptions with 522 yards and four scores.
For Pepperell, Matthew Waddell has been the starter under center, while sophomore running back DJ Rogers has seen the bulk of carries. Rogers has averaged well over 100 yards per game rushing, but was held to 84 yards last Friday against Model.
Region 7-AA matches up with Region 6-AA in the first round of the state playoffs. Region 6-AA’s likely playoff teams feature South Atlanta, currently the lone region undefeated, Lovett, Pace Academy and Washington.
Should Pepperell be victorious, they would face an Atlanta-area team while likely Model and Chattooga will start their playoff journeys in the state capital region.
Rome (5-3, 4-1) at Douglas County (7-1, 4-1), 7:30 p.m.
It’s a first-time matchup of titans as the Rome Wolves travel south to face the Douglas County Tigers.
Both teams come in tied for second in Region 5-AAAAAA and the winner will earn the No. 2 seed as host in the first round of the playoffs. Loser would take the No. 3 seed.
Douglas County opted with senior quarterback Jimmy Inman to begin the season, throwing 573 yards in the first five games of the year. Inman has five TDs to one INT so far in 2020.
However, Inman has recorded just seven pass attempts through the Tigers’ previous two contests, completing three passes for 73 yards. Last week at Dalton, Inman’s two attempts were incomplete.
As Inman’s production has drifted down, junior quarterback Mike Miller has filled the void, throwing for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the last two region contests. Miller has also added four ground scores.
Senior tailback Kobe Harris has led the way rushing-wise, carrying 107 times to date with 789 yards and eight TDs. Junior Xavion Osborne is second on the Tigers with 211 yards on 46 carries.
Senior Justin Franklin leads Douglas County in receptions, yards and touchdowns, with 24 catches for 434 yards and four scores.
For the Wolves, freshman quarterback Reece Fountain has the best game of his young career last week in a 31-14 home win over Alexander. Fountain passed 16-for-23 for 233 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
He’s averaging 11.6 yards per reception. Senior receiver Jay Wise continues to lead the Wolves in receptions and yards with 32 catches and 448 yards.
Rome’s rushing attack throughout the season has revolved around senior EJ Burks, but has expanded to become a three-headed rushing attack featuring junior Bryson Hill and the emerging freshman Shaun Nelson. The three tailbacks have combined for 1,309 yards and seven ground TDs.
Should Rome win Friday, it would mark five years in a row the Wolves will host a first-round playoff game at Barron Stadium.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A preview of the upcoming Model game will be in Tuesday’s Rome News-Tribune.