Dawson County at Forsyth Central
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Bulldog Stadium in Cumming.
Records, rankings: Dawson is 0-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 7-3A and unranked in Class 3A; Central is 0-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A.
Series history: Central leads 8-5.
Last meeting: Central won 28-8 in 2015.
What to know: These teams faced each other last year at Dawson in a game that never officially happened. The game was delayed with a little over three minutes remaining in the second quarter due bad weather and never restarted. Since the game didn’t reach halftime, it didn’t count toward either teams’ 2016 record. Here’s hoping for four quarters of football this time. Central is turning again to quarterback Brad Thiltgen, who has his top two receivers back in Mark Heard and Dalton Edmund and all-county and all-region offensive lineman Matt Olson protecting him. The offense figures to improve in the second year under head coach Frank Hepler. Perhaps more critical is how the Bulldogs look on defense. That unit lost its top four tacklers from last season, so it’s some young players’ turn to produce, like sophomore safety Mitch Weber and junior linebacker Jackson Leak.
Horizon Christian at Life Christian Academy
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., in East Point.
Records: Horizon is 0-1 overall and 0-0 in GICAA Division II North; Life Christian is 0-0 and 0-0 in GICAA Division II South.
Last meeting: Horizon won 30-0 on Aug. 26, 2017.
What to know: The Warriors’ season started with a thud last week in a 40-12 loss to Lanier Christian, a team of homeschool players in the Glory For Christ League that went 1-7 the previous season. Horizon trailed just 7-0 at halftime, but Lanier pulled away for a 19-0 lead by the fourth quarter and never looked back as the Warriors were plagued by penalties and turnovers. A bright spot was Alex Dahlberg, who caught three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Mountain View at Lambert
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at The Horn in Suwanee.
Records, rankings: Mountain View is 1-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-7A and unranked in Class 7A; Lambert 0-0, 0-0 in Region 5 and unranked.
Series history: Mountain View leads 1-0.
Last meeting: Mountain View won 28-24 on Aug. 26, 2017.
What to know: Both these teams are coming off their best season in program history, which is fitting perhaps, since both schools opened in 2009. Mountain View went 8-3 and reached the state playoffs for the first time, where they lost to eventual state champion Grayson in the first round. Lambert went 7-5 and won their first region championship and state playoff game ever before falling to North Cobb in the second round. Mountain View won last season’s meeting between the teams on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Carter with 8:47 left in the game. Carter had six catches for 169 yards and two scores that game and is back for the Bears, who opened the season last week with a 71-0 victory against Osborne. Lambert will be much stiffer competition with college prospects Kenneth Dicks III (Wake Forest), Marcus Chatelain, Justin Bruno, Alex Snyder, Bryce Christensen and others. Pay particular attention to the Longhorns’ receivers and middle linebackers, positional areas that have big shoes to fill.
Johns Creek at North Forsyth
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Raider Valley in Coal Mountain.
Records, rankings: Johns Creek is 0-1 overall, 0-0 in Region 7-6A and unranked in Class 6A; North is 0-1, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A.
Series history: Johns Creek leads 3-2.
Last meeting: Johns Creek won 28-21 on Aug. 26, 2017.
What to know: North’s season got off to a rocky start last week in a tense 30-28 loss at Sequoyah. Running backs Jonathan Perez and Bryson Trigg impressed, combining to rush for 188 yards, and though quarterback Ben Bales threw less than expected he was no less effective – three of his six completions went for touchdowns. North struggled to stop Sequoyah’s Wing-T offense, but they’ll face a more modern offensive approach in a Johns Creek team that underwent a great deal of transition this offseason. After winning the program’s first region title, head coach Matt Kemper resigned to take the same job at Roswell. Johns Creek hired Matt Helmerich, who was defensive coordinator at national power St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida from 2010-15 where he was a part of four state championships and a national title. The Gladiators had a rough season debut themselves last week, falling 45-21 to Lassiter. One note: look on the Johns Creek sideline and you’ll notice former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White; he joined Helmerich’s coaching staff this season.
Pinecrest Academy at South Forsyth
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at War Eagle Stadium in Cumming.
Records, rankings: Pinecrest is 0-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-1A and unranked in Class 1A; South is 1-0, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A.
Series history: South leads 1-0.
Last meeting: South won 52-0 on Aug. 26, 2017.
What to know: The Battle of Peachtree Parkway was initiated last year between schools so different in size but separated by barely a mile. Last season, the Paladins hoped their triple-option offense run by eventual Division I quarterback Ryan McCarthy (Citadel) was the antidote to South’s advantages in size and numbers and overall talent. Instead, South led 31-0 by halftime and held Pinecrest to 113 yards of offense. Now, Pinecrest is switching gears under first-year head coach Terance Mathis, going to something more contemporary on offense with quarterback Micky Mangan. South, meanwhile, is coming off perhaps the biggest regular season win in school history, a 17-14 double overtime victory against then No. 2-ranked Roswell in the Corky Kell Classic. The War Eagles’ defense really shined, especially senior defensive lineman Ryan LaFlamme who had four sacks and eight total tackles.
West Forsyth at Pace Academy
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Riverview Road Athletic Complex in Atlanta.
Records, rankings: West is 1-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 5-7A and unranked in Class 7A; Pace is 0-0, 0-0 in Region 5-3A and ranked No. 7 in Class 3A.
Series history: Pace leads 1-0.
Last meeting: Pace won 20-10 on Aug. 26, 2017.
What to know: The Wolverines figure to be eager for this game. Last season’s meeting was called at halftime due to inclement weather. Pace Academy led 20-10 at the time, so they got the win, a notch in the belt for the defending Class 2A champions facing a Class 7A program. West is much different now, of course, after graduating a large senior class and hiring new head coach Shawn Cahill. The new era got off to an impressive start last week in a 31-14 victory against Woodstock. Senior quarterback Zach Burns threw for 214 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score in his first start at the position, and the Wolverines defended well against a potent offense. The defensive line has an interesting matchup against Pace Academy in offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. The 6-foot-4, 340-pound senior is the No. 1-rated guard prospect in the country, according to 247Sports, and a top-10 prospect in the state (No. 3) and country (No. 7) with offers from the likes of Note Dame, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama.