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Football: Preview of week five's high school games
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North Forsyth's Brice Davis makes a tackle against Loganville on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. /// Photo by Lily McGregor Photography
Forsyth Central's Brad Thiltgen
Forsyth Central quarterback Brad Thiltgen runs for a gain against North Hall in the Bulldogs' scrimmage Friday, August 11, 2017. - photo by Gainesville Times

Duluth at Forsyth Central

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Bulldog Stadium in Cumming.

Records, rankings: Duluth is 1-2 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-7A and unranked in Class 7A; Central is 0-3, 0-0 in Region 5 and unranked.

Series history: Duluth leads 4-3.

Last meeting: Central won 31-20 in 2016.

What to know: Central scored its first points of the season in last week’s 29-27 loss at Meadowcreek, and, in the process, the Bulldogs showed some moxie. Central trailed 26-3 in the second quarter but got within the eventual final score on a Devron Orsan rushing touchdown with 5:37 left in the game. Central got the ball back with 2:51 left but couldn’t finish the comeback. Orsan was a revelation for the Bulldogs – he rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Now, Central is 0-3 for the first time since 2013. The Bulldogs face a Duluth team with a potent passing attack. Quarterback Jalil El-amin has thrown for 755 yards and 11 touchdowns in just three games. William Huzzie (21 receptions, 419 yards, four TDs) is his favorite target. The Wildcats average a health 28 points a game, but they’re also coming off a loss to Meadowcreek, 51-36, albeit two weeks ago. 

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Lambert running back Marcus Chatelain breaks through for a big gain against Cherokee on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. /// Photo by Kevin O'Brien

Lanier at Lambert

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

Records, rankings: Lanier is 1-3 overall, 0-0 in Region 8-6A and unranked in Class 6A; Lambert is 1-2, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: Lanier is 3-0.

Last meeting: Lanier won 35-28 in 2016.

What to know: Lambert lost last season’s meeting on a costly mistake in the final moments of the game. Tied 28-28 with just over 2 minutes left, Lambert fumbled at their own 20. Lanier recovered the fumble, returned it to 4-yard line and scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 57 seconds left. But whereas last year Lambert entered this game coming off a loss, this time it comes in after a 28-0 victory, its first of the season. Senior Marcus Chatelain had a breakout performance at running back rushing for 179 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He currently leads the county in rushing with 281 yards – ironic considering he’s been one of the county’s top defensive backs the past two seasons. Lanier seems less complete of a team than previous versions, particularly on offense where it’s breaking in several new skill players. For example, new quarterback Zach Calzada has completed just 39.2 percent of his passes for 436 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. Linebacker Kameron Brown has been the defensive leader with 37 tackles including six for losses.

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North Forsyth's Honus Wagner dives to make a tackle against Loganville on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. /// Photo by Lily McGregor Photography

North Forsyth at Pickens

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Dragon Stadium in Jasper.

Records, rankings: North is 2-1 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A; Pickens is 2-1, 0-0 in Region 6-4A and unranked in Class 4A.

Series history: North leads 4-3.

Last meeting: North won 35-31 in 2016.

What to know: This game had one of last year’s most thrilling endings. After North erased a 14-point deficit, the Raiders still needed a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Bales to Charlie Aiken with 16.7 seconds left in the game. Both teams return much of their offensive firepower from that game. Bales has thrown for 735 yards and nine touchdowns with just two interceptions in three games. His top target is sophomore Nicky DalMolin (13 receptions, 245 yards, two touchdowns). The Raiders’ leading rusher is senior Jonathan Perez (20 carries, 122 yards, TD). Meanwhile, Pickens has one of Class 4A’s most productive offenses so far. The Dragons are averaging 43.3 points and 544.7 yards a game behind quarterback Jacob Brumby (55-for-87 passing, 780 yards, eight TDs), running back Robert Davis (30 carries, 354 yards, TD) and wide receiver Zach Gross Jr. (23 reception, 427 yards, seven TDs). Another shootout seems likely.

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Pinecrest Academy's Patrick Sullivan runs for some yards after a catch against Discovery on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. /// Photo by Bill Brown

Walker at Pinecrest Academy

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Between the Pines in Cumming.

Records, rankings: Walker is 0-3 overall, 0-1 in Region 6-1A, Div. B and unranked in Class 1A; Pinecrest is 0-2, 0-0 and unranked.

Series history: Pinecrest leads 3-0.

Last meeting: Pinecrest won 35-0 in 2016.

What to know: After facing two Class 7A teams to open the season, Pinecrest gets back to taking on opponents its own size. The Paladins probably didn’t gain much tactical insight from those two losses. South Forsyth overwhelmed the Paladins in their season-opener, and Pinecrest couldn’t overcome six turnovers and 10 penalties against Discovery. But the Paladins get something of a fresh start as they begin region play. Walker has had its own struggles. The Wolverines are averaging just 10.7 points and 260 yards a game in losses to Athens Academy (42-7), Mount Vernon Presbyterian (24-13) and Mount Pisgah (45-21). Walker’s offense goes through quarterback Joseph Vose. He’s the team’s leading rusher with 215 yards and a touchdown on 45 attempts, and he’s also thrown for 249 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. His top target is Beau Slay (11 receptions, 137 yards, TD), who also leads the team in tackles with 21.

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West Forsyth senior Blake Snee tracks down Creekview's quarterback in the Wolverines' scrimmage Friday, August 11, 2017. - photo by Michael Chung

Dacula at West Forsyth

When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at The Den in Cumming.

Records, rankings: Dacula is 1-2 overall, 0-0 in Region 8-6A and unranked in Class 6A; West is 2-1, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: Tied 1-1.

Last meeting: West won 31-14 in 2016.

What to know: The Wolverines have gotten their first taste of adversity in the Shawn Cahill era after last week’s 42-20 loss at Hillgrove. West couldn’t stop Hillgrove’s blue-chip recruit Jaylen McCollough and trailed 28-0 midway through the second quarter. One silver lining for West: senior tight end and Vanderbilt commit Ben Bresnahan got on track after a slow start, finishing with eight catches for 116 yards. The Wolverines face a Falcons team coming off an unconventional season of sorts. They started the season 1-4, including four straight losses going into region play, but then Dacula didn’t lose again in the regular season to claim the Region 8-6A championship and then won a first-round playoff game. Defense is the Falcons’ calling card, especially with four-star recruit Jalen Perry. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior cornerback has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and others. Like Hillgrove’s McCollough last week, West will have to account for Perry on both sides of the ball.