Benedictine at Blessed Trinity
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell
Records, rankings: Benedictine is 1-0 and No. 4 in Class AAA; Blessed Trinity is 3-0 and No. 1 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Blessed Trinity won 17-14 in overtime in 2011.
Things to know: Benedictine moved to Class AAA this year after six seasons in AA, where the Cadets were 73-9 and won two state titles. The Cadets, who have won 34 consecutive regular-season games, haven't played since a 23-22 victory against Burke County on Aug. 18. In a bit of a departure from its recent tradition, Benedictine had more passing yardage (190) than rushing yards (127) against Burke. QB Carter Geriner was 10-of-17 passing. Rico Powers ran for 91 yards and scored on a 61-yard run and a 30-yard reception. The Cadets gave up 404 yards rushing. Blessed Trinity, which won its first state title last season, is 78-18-1 since coach Tim McFarlin took over in 2011. Steele Chambers (33 carries, 369 yards, seven TDs) and Elijah Green (38-213-1) provide almost 90 percent of the yardage for a running game that averages 181.0. Jake Smith is 33-of-48 passing for 396 yards and two TDs. Green and leading receiver Ryan Davis (16-208-1) left the Titans' 43-21 victory over Woodward Academy last week with ankle injuries and will be out three to four weeks. Starters Jackson Hamilton (safety) and Ryan Dupont (fullback) also are out until at least October with injuries.
Cedar Grove at McEachern
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Walter H. Cantrell Stadium, Powder Springs
Records, rankings: Cedar Grove is 3-0 and No. 2 in Class AAA; McEachern is 1-1 and No. 9 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: This will be Cedar Grove's first game against a team from the highest classification since a 41-12 loss to Stephenson in 2011 and only the third ever against a team from Cobb County (Pebblebrook in 2000 and 2001). McEachern's most recent game against a DeKalb County school was a 50-14 win over Tucker in 2015. Cedar Grove's top player is WR/DB Jadon Haselwood, a Georgia commitment who is the state's consensus No. 1 recruit. He has 201 yards receiving, 143 yards on five kick returns and eight tackles on defense. Robert Jones III (30 carries, 289 yards, three touchdowns) leads a running game that averages 189.3 yards. Chris Sanford is the leading tackler (14 solo, 16 assists) on a defense that includes four-star seniors Dante Walker (DE) and Rashad Cheney (DT, committed to Alabama) and three-star juniors Isaiah Ratcliff (LB) and Alvin Williams (DE). McEachern, traditionally a strong running team, was held to 28 yards on 26 carries in a 41-7 loss to Colquitt County but bounced back with 218 yards (and 420 total) in a 58-12 win over South Cobb. Paris Brown, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, has 126 yards on 21 carries. QB Carlos Del Rio-Wilson is 24-of-44 passing for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
Dalton at Sequoyah
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Skip Pope Stadium, Canton
Records, rankings: Dalton is 2-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-AAAAAA and No. 5; Sequoyah is 2-0, 1-0 and No. 10.
Last meeting: Dalton won 21-17 in 2017.
Things to know: Dalton and Sequoyah are two of four Region 6-AAAAAA teams ranked in the top 10 (No. 3 Harrison and No. 4 Creekview are the others). It is one of only four regions in the state, and the only one above AAA, with that many. Dalton beat rival Northwest Whitfield 24-14 last week despite losing QB Landon Allen (ankle) and RB Jahmyr Gibbs (shoulder) to injuries. Gibbs rushed for 105 yards in the Catamounts' 42-24 season-opening win over Ringgold and returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown last week. Allen passed for 111 yards and two TDs in the opener. In their absence last week, Jeric Montgomery rushed for 83 yards and QB Bryce Houghton passed for a touchdown and ran for another. Sequoyah is ranked for the first time since the first three weeks of the 2009 season. They Chiefs have lost 13 of their last 14 games against ranked opponents. They average 203 yards rushing and spread the workload around. Fourteen players have at least carry, but the leaders have been Jackson Smith (16 carries, 93 yards, one TD), D.J. King (17-67-2) and Cole Jacobs (15-62-0). QB Collier Pecht is 12-of-18 passing for 241 yards and four touchdowns.
Grayson at Marietta
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Northcutt Stadium, Marietta
Records, rankings: Grayson is 1-1 and No. 5 in Class AAAAAAA; Marietta is 1-2 and No. 7 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Grayson won 21-14 in the first round of the 2009 Class AAAAA playoffs.
Things to know: There probably aren't two more similar programs in Class AAAAAAA. Both are full of major college prospects. Grayson LB Owen Pappoe (committed to Auburn) and OL Wanya Morris (Tennessee) are five-star recruits who are among 10 senior Rams who could sign with D-I programs. Marietta TE Arik Gilbert (432 yards receiving) is a five-star recruit, while QB Harrison Bailey (1,087 yards passing in three games), WR Ramel Keyton (421 yards receiving), DE/OL B.J. Ojulari and OL Jake Wray are four-star recruits. Both teams began the season with top-25 national rankings and are taking on brutal national schedules that are rated the two toughest in Georgia. Grayson lost last week to Bergen Catholic of New Jersey 34-22 despite a 344-280 edge in total yards. Grayson QB J'Kori Jones passed for 274 yards, but Bergen was up 27-3 in the third quarter and controlled the ball and the lines of scrimmage. Marietta routed Collins Hill 38-13 after losses to Rome (51-41) and nationally ranked Good Counsel of Maryland (40-28).
GAC at Prestonwood Christian (Texas)
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Lions Stadium, Plano, Texas
Records, rankings: Greater Atlanta Christian is 1-1 and No. 7 in Class AA; Prestonwood Christian is 1-0 and No. 2 in Texas' TAPPS Division I (MaxPreps)
Last meeting: This is the teams' first meeting.
Things to know: GAC will be the second Georgia team ever to play in Texas, the first at a Texas high school. Buford defeated Timberview 42-21 at Texas Stadium in Irving in 2008. The most recent game before than involving Georgia and Texas teams came in 1947, when St. James of Port Arthur played at Marist. Prestonwood is Texas' eighth-best team, according to MaxPreps, and the reigning champion in Texas' highest private-school division. (Texas' public and private schools are separated in the state playoffs.) QB Dylan Cadwallader passed for 322 yards in Prestonwood's opening win. TE Austin Stogner is committed to Oklahoma. Prestonwood will come to GAC next season as GAC continues to seek out prominent inter-state competition. GAC was 0-2 in close games to Valor Christian of Colorado the past two seasons. GAC's attractiveness to out-of-state opponents, aside from averaging 11.8 wins the past six seasons, is a history of recent major D-I recruits. The latest are DE Chris Hinton and OL Myles Hinton, both five-star prospects.
Heard County at Rockmart
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Rock, Rockmart
Records, rankings: Heard County is 1-1 and No. 3 in Class AA; Rockmart is 2-0 and No. 8 in AA.
Last meeting: Rockmart won 42-0 in the first round of the 2016 Class AA playoffs.
Things to know: Rockmart was ranked No. 9 in the final 2016 poll and No. 10 in the preseason 2017 poll, but this is the longest sustained presence in the rankings for the Yellow Jackets since 1989. It has come in the third season under coach Biff Parson, whose Rockmart record is 18-4. Rockmart was 8-22 in the previous three seasons. Rockmart's offensive leaders are senior RB Zabrion Whatley (17 carries, 106 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore RB Javin Whatley (19-99-2). Both are small but fast. Heard County is coming off a 33-3 loss to No. 1 Hapeville Charter. Heard was down only 7-3 late in the third quarter and had driven inside Hapeville's 5-yard line twice without scoring. Heard's marquee player is Aaron Beasley, a two-way starter committed to Tennessee and arguably the best all-around Class AA player. He has rushed for 259 yards on 45 carries in two games. Alijah Huzzie, converted to quarterback from wide receiver this season, is an athletic game-manager but doesn't throw much (9-of-15 for 137 yards). DL Zaylin Wood is a preseason all-state player who is committed to Temple.
Marist at Westminster
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: Marist is 2-0 and No. 2 in Class AAAA; Westminster is 2-1 and No. 5 in AAA.
Last meeting: Marist won 12-10 in 1997.
Things to know: These Atlanta private schools played each other each season from 1957 to 1997. This will be the first meeting since. The interruption occurred after Westminster was put in a region that gave it only two non-region games over four seasons. The series just never resumed despite good relations. (Westminster coach Gerry Romberg played at Marist.) Marist leads the series 27-18-1 and has played only St. Pius and Woodward Academy more times. Westminster has played no other school more than Marist. Westminster began this season with upsets over Woodward Academy (56-31) and Greater Atlanta Christian (22-21) but was brought to earth last week by another top team, St. Pius, 35-9. Westminster is passing the ball better than in recent seasons. Parks Harber, a baseball player committed to Georgia, is 50-of-81 for 695 yards with touchdowns to six receivers. But the Wildcats are balanced. Paul Weatherington has run for 322 yards in three games. Marist is a run-based option team, per usual, but is averaging 27.3 yards on its 10 completed passes. The most conspicuous player will be AJC Super 11 WR/DB Kyle Hamilton, a Notre Dame commit who shows up big on offense (33.8 yards on his four receptions), special teams and defense.
Mill Creek at Archer
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Archer Community Stadium, Lawrenceville
Records, rankings: Mill Creek is 2-1 and No. 10 in Class AAAAAAA; Archer is 1-1 and No. 8 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Archer won 16-10 in the second round of the 2017 Class AAAAAAA playoffs.
Things to know: Both teams lost their openers in the Corky Kell Classic to teams that are now highly ranked. Archer was beaten by No. 3 Milton 21-19, while Mill Creek lost to No. 2 Walton 48-27. Archer beat Mill Creek twice last season and by similar scores, 16-13 and 16-10. The offenses appear to be ahead of the defenses this year, however. Archer QB Carter Peevy threw five TD passes in a 51-17 victory over Spartanburg, S.C., last week. He's 37-of-53 passing for 482 yards and eight touchdowns in two games. Braylen Weems has 17 catches for 240 yards and five touchdowns. Samaje Banks has rushed for 142 yards on 20 carries. Archer's most highly recruited players are five-star CB Andrew Booth (committed to Clemson), DB Jalyln Phillips (Clemson) and DE Colby Wooden (Auburn). Mill Creek is more run-oriented than Archer. Junior RB Chancellor Lee Parker has rushed for 122, 196 and 237 yards in his three games. Mill Creek lacks major college recruits. The head coaches are friends as Archer's Andy Dyer was on the staff of Mill Creek's Shannon Jarvis when Mill Creek started up in 2004.
Rome at Kell
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, C.J. Kell Stadium, Marietta
Records, rankings: Rome is 2-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 7-AAAAA and No. 1; Kell is 2-0, 0-0 and No. 7.
Last meeting: Rome won 54-33 in 2017.
Things to know: Two-time defending state champion Rome has a 29-game winning streak that began after losing at Kell 33-30 on Sept. 9, 2016. Rome trailed in that game 30-7 in the third quarter and rallied to pull even with 4:44 remaining, but Kell kicked a 23-yard field goal with 58 seconds left to win it. Rome put up 534 yards of offense in a 51-41 victory over Marietta in the Corky Kell Classic but took its foot off the gas last week, beating North Clayton 35-0 in a game that was scoreless after halftime. QB Knox Kadum passed for 218 yards and three touchdowns against Marietta but attempted just two passes last week. RB Jamious Griffin (committed to N.C. State) has rushed for 349 yards and six TDs on 38 carries. Kell got 138 yards rushing from Ebony Jackson and 161 yards passing from Evan Conley in a 36-34 victory over East Coweta in the opener, then relied on its defense in beating Lassiter 29-3 last week. The Longhorns held Lassiter to 60 yards of total offense (minus-22 in the second half). DB Nick Ross recovered a fumble and returned an interception 65 yards for a score. Conley was 13-of-23 passing for 120 yards and led the team in rushing with 39 yards on six carries.
Valdosta at Colquitt County
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Mack Tharpe Memorial Stadium, Moultrie
Records, rankings: Valdosta is 2-1 and No. 7 in Class AAAAAA; Colquitt County is 3-0 and No. 1 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Colquitt County won 27-0 in 2017.
Things to know: Valdosta leads the series between these south Georgia rivals 28-18, but Colquitt County has won the past five meetings by an average of 23.6 points. Another victory this week would move the Packers into a tie with Albany and Lowndes for the most all-time wins against the Wildcats. Valdosta has the leading rusher in Region 1-AAAAAA (Rajaez Mosley, 41 carries, 269 yards, one touchdown), but the Wildcats have been primarily a passing team, averaging 260 yards passing and 116 rushing. QB Tate Rodemaker has completed 58 of 78 attempts for 745 yards and eight TDs. Valdosta also has three of the region's top five receivers - Aalah Brown (16-207-3), Devonta Berrian (8-148-1) and Abel Norwood (11-140-1). Colquitt County is scoring 44.3 points per game with a balanced offense that averages 200.3 yards rushing and 169.0 passing. Daijun Edwards and Ty Leggett were both 1,000-yard rushers last year, but Edwards has gotten the bulk of the carries this season, rushing for 433 yards and six touchdowns on 57 attempts, and had games of 162, 112 and 159 yards. QB Jaycee Harden is 31-of-46 passing for 476 yards and six touchdowns.
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