The season reaches the midpoint tonight for all four of Forsyth County’s Class 6A football programs. Lambert and West Forsyth are both looking to remain undefeated, while North Forsyth and South Forsyth hope to get back on track after suffering their first losses during the Region 6-AAAAAA opener last Friday.
In Class A, Pinecrest Academy travels to Hebron Christian Academy with a chance to move to 2-0 in Region 8-A, while Forsyth Central enjoys a bye week ahead of the Oct. 5 subregion opener at North Springs.
North Forsyth (3-1) at Lambert (4-0), 7:30 p.m.
"County rivals" might not be the most accurate term to describe Lambert and North Forsyth.
The two schools, separated by more than 15 miles, are farther apart than any pair of Forsyth County high schools and have never been in the same region together prior to this season.
They will meet in a varsity football game for the first time tonight at The Horn, as the Raiders (3-1) look to pick up their first region win and the Longhorns (4-0) attempt to finish the first half of the season unbeaten.
Those two goals seem to far outweigh any desire to draw first blood in a new local rivalry.
"Our coaches do a great job of stressing the importance of every game, especially region games," Lambert linebacker Russell Monyette said.
"[Even] when we came out for South, which is a traditional rivalry, they told us, ‘It’s just another game. Obviously we’d love to win, but it’s more important to win [because it’s] a region game than because it’s a South game.
"So every time we go into a game like a North Forsyth, I’m not thinking about a county game, I’m thinking about a region game ... about one more step toward that goal of reaching the playoffs and continuing through."
The Raiders come in averaging a respectable 23 points per game, but their defense has had a pair of Jekyll and Hyde performances. North held Forsyth Central to seven points in Week 1 and Cherokee to 12 in Week 3, but also surrendered 28 to Dawson County in Week 2 and 47 to Chattahoochee last Friday.
"The guy who is leading them, Blair Armstrong, is a first-class guy," Lambert coach Sid Maxwell said. "He develops programs and those guys are going to play tough."
Both teams rely heavily on the running game.
The Longhorns piled up 351 rushing yards against South Forsyth last week, while North Forsyth sophomore running back Jamal Davenport (113 yards) turned in his third big game of the season.
"That young man plays a lot older than a sophomore," Maxwell said. "I know he runs hard each snap and they play to the whistle."
No. 5-ranked West Forsyth (4-0, 1-0) vs. Centennial (0-4, 0-1) — 7:30 p.m.
West Forsyth has a chance to to begin the season 5-0 for the third time in its short, five-year varsity history when winless Centennial comes to The Den.
West easily defeated the Knights 70-20 last season and hope to continue its success against the Knights’ defense that has given up an average of 44 points per game this season — the same number that West’s offense is averaging per game this season.
The Wolverines’ chances of remaining unbeaten appear strong coming off a 63-42 victory over Alpharetta last week in which quarterback A.J. Erdely and running back Jake Wieczorek combined for 503 offensive yards.
Though the matchup appears lopsided on paper, West head coach Frank Hepler isn’t overlooking the Knights.
"Some people predicted us to be 0-4, so we’re not focused on the other team’s record," Hepler said. "This team is focused on this game only."
Centennial uses a spread offense, something West has seen multiple times this season, including last week against Alpharetta. West linebacker Mohammed Camara returned an interception for a touchdown last week, and defensive back Will Brown recovered a fumble.
"It’s all about execution," Hepler said. "You have to be prepared and react. Their quarterback is really good and they have a couple of possession receivers. We have to play with emotion."
South Forsyth (3-1, 0-1) vs. Alpharetta (1-3, 0-1) — 7:30 p.m.
The War Eagles will try to rebound from a 32-19 loss to Lambert, but it won’t be easy, as Alpharetta’s high-powered offense comes to War Eagle Field.
In order to keep pace, South will likely need a big night from quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey, who was 13-of-26 for 189 yards with one rushing touchdown last week.
Alpharetta quarterback Josh Dobbs, an Arizona State recruit, threw for 497 yards and five touchdowns last week against West.
South head coach Jeff Arnette thinks the game will come down to time of possession.
"Our best defense is our offense," Arnette said. "We have to find a way to move the chains and keep their offense off the field.
"[Alpharetta is] big, fast and athletic. They have a great quarterback who threw for  yards last week.
"He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. They have great receivers and fast running backs; they are explosive."
Pinecrest Academy (2-1, 1-0) at Hebron Christian Academy (1-2, 0-1) — 7:30 p.m.
Pinecrest Academy is looking to improve to 2-0 in Region 8-A against Hebron Christian Academy — a team it has never faced before.
After scoring 86 points in the previous two games combined, the Paladins will look to quarterback Jimmy Strom and running back John Paul Metz to continue fueling the offense. The key for the Paladins’ offense is to get in third-down and manageable situations, Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said.
Hebron opened the season with a 0-42 loss to Lakeview Academy, a team Pinecrest knocked off last week 30-20. However, Winter isn’t take Hebron lightly.
"Our team’s not looking past them," Winter said. "They can run the football and they have a nice receiver and tailback. We have to maintain gap integrity and play sound football."
Hebron runs a multiple offense, so Winter will play it safe defensively until the Paladins are confident they know what type of play is next.
"Honestly, we’re not going to gamble on defense," Winter said. "We’re going to play our assignments and play hard."