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Football: Preview of Week 4's matchups
West Forsyth quarterback Keegan Stover attempts a pass during the Wolverines' game against Cartersville. Jay Rooney Photography for the Forsyth County News

West Forsyth at Walton

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday in Raider Valley in Marietta.

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 1-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Walton is 2-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 7A.

Series history: West Forsyth leads 1-0.

Last meeting: West Forsyth won 24-21 in 2020.

What to know: A blowout victory in the Corky Kell Classic, a narrow loss to Cartersville and a big test this week against Walton has the Wolverines right where they were a year ago. That’s just fine for West, which earned one of the biggest wins of its 2020 season with a 24-21 win over Walton. West picked off three passes in the victory, including a pick-six by Drew Southern that set the tone for the second half. This year, it will be Appalachian State commit Zak Rozsman at quarterback for the Raiders. Rozsman was nearly perfect in Walton’s 34-28 win over Lowndes to open the season, completing 6 of 7 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. One of those scores was a 31-yard TD to Memphis commit Sutton Smith, who also scored twice on the ground. South Carolina commit Cason Henry anchors the offensive line at tackle, while North Carolina commit Marcus Allen will be a challenge West QB Keegan Stover. Stover has thrown five touchdown passes and zero interceptions this season, and dating back to last season, he has 24 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions. West’s junior quarterback has completed 27 of 50 passes for 345 yards, with nearly half of those yards going to tight end Oscar Delp [12 catches, 166 yards, 2 TD]. West’s rushing attack was firing on all cylinders against Cartersville, as Peyton Streko rushed for 168 yards and two TDs and Ryder Stewart had 71 yards and a score. Junior linebackers Raleigh Herbert [16 tackles, 2 TFL] and Riley McKee [15 tackles, 1 ½ TFL] lead West in tackles, while Brady Gillis owns a team-high 3 ½ TFL.

 Denmark at Lanier

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill.

Records, rankings: Denmark is 2-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Lanier is 0-2 and unranked in Class 6A.

Series history: Lanier leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Lanier won 38-27 in 2020.

What to know: Denmark prevailed in another defensive slugfest last week, winning 8-0 against Shiloh thanks to two field goals by Trey Glymph and a team safety. The Danes’ defense is holding opposing offenses to just seven points per game. Amon Williams returned at running back and turned in a solid 70 yards on 20 carries to finish as Denmark’s top offensive performer. Whether it’s Williams or Dee Crayton, Denmark seems content to pound the ball on the ground as sophomore quarterbacks Jacob Nelson and Michael McClellan continue to develop. Lanier lost 20 seniors off last year’s team, including its quarterback, its top four tacklers and a handful of wide receivers. In fact, after top pass-catcher Reese Scott, the Longhorns’ receiving corps entered the season with just three players who combined to catch three passes for 28 yards in 2020. The Longhorns are averaging 5.3 yards per carry, led by Bryan Williams’ 44 carries for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Williams ran for 113 yards and a score last week in a 28-20 loss to Mountain View.  

Forsyth Central at Cambridge

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cambridge High School in Milton.

Records, rankings: Forsyth Central is 1-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Cambridge is 1-0 and unranked in Class 6A.

Series history: Cambridge leads 3-2.

Last meeting: Forsyth Central won 42-14 in 2020.

What to know: Forsyth Central is looking to rebound after a tough 28-24 loss to Loganville. The Bulldogs opened with a 14-0 lead but were outscored 14-3 in the final quarter. Running back Malachi McElroy turned in another terrific performance [26 carries, 212 yards, 1 TD], posting his second straight 100-yard game to open the season. Drew Mullvain appears to have won the quarterback job after splitting reps with Koby Balthazor in the first game, completing 7 of 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Cambridge is coming off a 21-19 win against North Oconee in its season opener. Zach Harris, a Georgia Southern baseball commit, completed 15 of 22 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown, adding another score on the ground. Harris spread the ball to seven different receivers, with Will Taylor catching three passes for 86 yards to lead the Bears. Central routed Cambridge last season, 41-14, in a game that saw Harris throw three interceptions and the Bulldogs rush for more than 300 yards.

Whitefield Academy at East Forsyth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Half-Mile Stadium in Gainesville.

Records, rankings: Whitefield Academy is 3-0 and ranked seventh in Class 1A Private.

Series history: These teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Another undefeated team is on the horizon for first-year program East Forsyth. Whitefield Academy is fresh off a 28-18 win against North Cobb Christian, which is the Wolfpack’s second straight win over a ranked opponent [Whitefield Academy also beat Darlington 14-13 two weeks ago]. The Broncos drew a tough assignment last week against Cherokee Bluff, falling 59-0 to one of Class 3A’s top teams. In all, the combined record of East’s first four opponents is 9-3. Jack Brumbelow led the Broncos with eight tackles last week and owns a team-high 25 stops. Sebastian Amerson has 21 tackles – including a team-leading 14 solo stops – while Tripp Morris is third with 17 tackles.

Duluth at Lambert

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Horn in Suwanee.

Records, rankings: Duluth is 0-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Lambert is 3-0 and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: Lambert leads 1-0.

Last meeting: Lambert won 26-10 in 2020.

What to know: Lambert continued its dominant play last week with a 38-7 win over Meadowcreek. A pick-six gave Meadowcreek an early 7-0 lead, but it was all Longhorns from there, as Kojo Antwi returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and quarterback James Tyre found the end zone twice with his feet and once with his arm. Harrison Peyton left in the second quarter with a leg injury, and if he’s forced to miss much time, expect running backs Ethan Terry and Cam Bland to see some opportunities carrying the ball. Duluth’s offense runs through dual-threat quarterback Lonnie Ratliff, who completed 19 of 33 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions last week in a 41-19 loss against reigning South Carolina Class 3A state champion Daniel. Ratliff also led the Wildcats in rushing with 53 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Evan Thomas is Ratliff’s top target and caught six passes for 159 yards and a score last week.

Etowah at North Forsyth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday in Raider Valley in Coal Mountain.

Records, rankings: Etowah is 0-2 and unranked in Class 7A; North Forsyth is 2-1 and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: North Forsyth leads 3-2.

Last meeting: North Forsyth won 28-0 in 2020.

What to know: North Forsyth got back in the win column last week with a convincing 42-10 win over Dalton. The Raiders dominated the line of scrimmage, piling up 438 rushing yards and limiting Dalton to just over 100 yards rushing. Drew Aucoin rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, while Patrick Corrigan added 130 yards and two scores, and Lake Heffington had 79 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Raiders made seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage and sacked Dalton’s quarterback four times. It was an impressive answer to a narrow defeat at the hands of Harrison two weeks ago, and it gives the Raiders plenty of momentum heading into Friday’s game. Etowah has struggled mightily since Dave Svehla left to take the West Forsyth job, going 1-11 since the start of the 2020 season. The Eagles are 0-2 with losses to Creekview and River Ridge to start the year. Quarterback Braden Bohannon is 18-for-34 passing for 84 yards and two interceptions this season, while the Eagles are averaging just two yards per carry [52 carries, 104 yards].

Pinecrest Academy at Cherokee Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cherokee Christian School in Woodstock.

Records, rankings: Pinecrest Academy is 2-0; Cherokee Christian is 2-0.

Series history: These teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Pinecrest Academy picked up a last-minute football game last week against Community Christian School and beat the Knights 56-6 to extend their record to 2-0. The Paladins needed just 18 carries to amass 210 rushing yards, with Brock Barbee leading the way with 98 yards and two scores on nine carries, including a 63-yard TD sprint to open the scoring. Brock Barbee also led the Paladins on defense with 12 tackles. Breckin Barbee was 4-for-10 passing for 93 yards and touchdown passes to Colin Brown and Matthew Mitchell. John Olah also had a 10-yard TD pass to Luke Coury. Cherokee Christian has not given up a point this season and is outscoring opponents 72-0. The Warriors’ defense has forced four turnovers – three fumbles and one interception. Each of the Warriors’ top offensive players from last year returned, including QB Jackson Gerdes [85-for-131, 1,863 yards, 28 TD, 1 INT], RB Demarcus Moses [80 carries, 787 yards, 12 TD] and WR Travis Maufer [34 catches, 842 yards, 12 TD].

South Forsyth at Central Gwinnett

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tally Johnson Field in Lawrenceville.

Records, rankings: South Forsyth is 1-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Central Gwinnett is 1-2 and unranked in Class 6A.

Series history: South Forsyth leads 1-0. 

Last meeting: South Forsyth won 52-27 in 2020.

What to know: South Forsyth secured the first win of the Troy Morris era last week with a 42-17 win over Dawson County. The War Eagles pulled away in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 21-0 after carrying a four-point lead into halftime. QB Ty Watkins averaged more than 27 yards per completion thanks to explosive plays from Chris Nelson [4 catches, 109 yards, TD], Gavin Morris [2 catches, 96 yards] and Josh Nelson [3 catches, 83 yards, 1 TD]. Watkins finished 11-for-16 passing for 298 yards and the two scores. Josh Nelson added a 72-yard pick-six in the second half, and sophomore Maverick Schippmann ran the ball effectively in the fourth quarter, gaining 63 yards and scoring a touchdown on just four carries. South’s defense held Dawson County QB Zach Holtzclaw to 10-of-20 passing for 186 yards and an interception, while making five stops behind the line. Cole Williams had eight tackles, including two tackles for loss. Central Gwinnett lost its top three receivers to graduation, including UGA enrollee Mekhi Mews [76 catches, 1,065 yards, 8 TD]. Central Gwinnett has churned out a couple of high-level receivers recently, but this year’s Black Knights seem more fit to run the ball, led by RB Jason Jackson [51 carries, 259 yards, 3 TD] and QB Justin Johnson [31-for-52 passing, 290 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT; 22 carries, 136 yards]. Lassana Simaga leads Central Gwinnett with 43 tackles.