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Football Preview: Regular season comes to close tonight
Central, Pinecrest look to keep seasons alive
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Forsyth County News

While West Forsyth looks to clinch the Region 6-AAAAAA title at Lambert tonight, Forsyth Central and Pinecrest need strong showings to have a chance to reach the state playoffs and extend their seasons.

North Forsyth and South Forsyth are both out of playoff contention, but one team will snap its six-game losing streak and end the season with a victory when they face off tonight at War Eagle Field.

Forsyth Central (2-7, 2-3 Region 7A-AAAAA) at No.6-ranked Kell (8-1, 4-0)

The Bulldogs are one game away from reaching the state playoffs, as they play a winner-take-all region play-in game tonight at Kell.

"This is the playoffs for us," head coach Chris Bennett said. "It’s a neat feeling. Game 10 matters, so it’ll be a neat atmosphere."

But to get there, the Forsyth Central defense will have to stop the Longhorns’ balanced offense.

Running back Jamari Moore has led Kell with 674 rushing yards on 86 carries for four touchdowns, while quarterback Matt McGuigan has thrown for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdowns, but completed only 55 percent of his passes this season.

"Their offense isn’t complicated, but they are good at what they do," Bennett said. "The defense is fast and has a safety going to Georgia and a corner going to South Carolina."

Central and Kell shared two common opponents this season. Kell defeated North Springs 48-0, while Central won 40-6 and Kell beat Sprayberry 33-21, but Central lost 31-28.

The Bulldogs’ offense line will need to continue its dominance from last week’s game in order to knock off the Longhorns.

Jake Gorczyca tallied 115 rushing yards on 16 carries and CJ Cochran chipped in with 100 yards on 15 carries in a 40-33 loss to Northview.

"We had a good night up front," Bennett said. "We’ve got to run the football and establish the line of scrimmage to pull it out."

North Forsyth (3-6, 0-6 Region 6-AAAAAA) at South Forsyth (3-6, 0-6)

Both teams enter the rivalry game winless in region play, but one team will finish its season with a region win, momentum and bragging rights, while the other will finish on a seven-game losing streak.

The two schools haven’t played one another since 2009, when North Forsyth topped South Forsyth 29-10, but the rivalry still remains.

"We’re both in the same boat," North head coach Blair Armstrong said. "It’s the last game of the season for both [teams]. A win at this part of the season would be huge."

The Raiders have struggled with injuries all season. They lost five defense starters to season-ending injuries and two others for most of the season.

"Injuries have really hurt us," Armstrong said. "It’s hard when you lose that many [players]."

South has had its share of injuries, too. Starting quarterback Jantzen Jeffrey injured his shoulder in Week 7 and hasn’t played since, but he hasn’t been ruled out of the game. With Jeffrey out, the War Eagles have managed only 17 points.

In Jeffrey’s absence, the War Eagles have tried to incorporate running back Sam Walker more into the offense, and now the defense.

"We knew going in [to the season] that he was a key guy on offense," South head coach Jeff Arnette said. "He always seems to make a big play. We have him on offense and returning kicks and we’re looking to put him on defense.

"This game is real important for both of us. You want to end on a good note."

Pinecrest Academy (4-4, 3-3 Region 8-A) at Commerce (5-4, 1-4)

Pinecrest Academy may need help in the GHSA power rankings to qualify for the playoffs.

Only the top 16 private schools are eligible for the playoffs, which doesn’t bode well for the Paladins, who are ranked 19th and 1.4 points behind 16th place.

"It’s really like the BCS system," Pinecrest head coach Todd Winter said. "It’s really crazy and you have to politic a little bit.

"We’ve got to take care of Commerce first, but if we don’t get a playoff spot, I’m going to appeal."

The Paladins defeated Lakeview Academy in Week 3 with the understanding that Lakeview was playing a region schedule, thus earning them points for the win; however, Winter discovered that Lakeview had changed its mind and decided to play a non-region schedule, giving Pinecrest no points for the win.

"[The GHSA has] to look at it from our standpoint. We’ve done everything right and went in it with the understanding that we’d get points. We were told they were playing a region schedule."

To have a chance at the playoffs, Pinecrest must knock off Commerce.

The matchup with the Tigers looks to favor the Paladins, as Commerce is without its starting quarterback and hasn’t played against a triple-option team.

"They run a 6-1 defense, but it’s not a good one against the triple option," Winter said. "You see a lot of junkyard defenses against [the option]."

Paladins’ quarterback Jimmy Strom now owns the school record for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 20, topping the previous record of 17.

If Pinecrest wins, it will be the first time since joining the GHSA in 2010 that any team sport finished the regular season with a winning record.