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WEEK 2 PRIMER: Traditional state powers to test Forsyth County this week
West Forsyth quarterback Keegan Stover drops back to pass during the Wolverines' 42-6 win against Mays in the Corky Kell Classic. - photo by David Roberts

Etowah at Forsyth Central

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

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

Series history: Etowah leads 2-4.

Last meeting: Etowah won 35-7 in 2005.

What to know: Forsyth Central scrapped its opener last week after several Blessed Trinity football players tested positive for COVID-19, which means Friday's game will offer the first look at the Bulldogs.

Etowah fell 14-13 to Creekview last week and is 0-1 for the first time since 2012 (14-7 loss to Lambert in 2012). First-year coach Matt Kemper replaced current West Forsyth coach Dave Svehla and entered the 2020 season with a 51-57 record through 12 seasons, with stops at Pope, Johns Creek and Roswell. Kemper and Hepler have never faced each other.

Hepler is confident in Central's depth this season, mainly along the defensive and offensive lines, where many players will go both ways. Senior Canaan Clark is committed to East Carolina and will see time on both sides of the ball along with 6-foot-6, 300-pound junior Robby Watson. Central's line will pave the way for quarterback Bronson Landreth, and backs Solomon Gates and Eli Ruis, who combined to rush for nearly 1,400 yards last season. 

Etowah held Creekview to just 174 yards last week but was limited to 145 yards on offense. Etowah rotated a pair of quarterbacks in Braden Bohannon and Will Curcio, who finished a combined 6-for-15 passing for 77 yards. Running back Klivery Many rushed 16 times for 33 yards and scored the Eagles' lone touchdown. 

In what figures to be a low-scoring affair between two talented defenses, Central will look to skill position players such as Landreth and Gates, as well as receivers Caydin Mowen and Noah Chol, to make a difference on offense.

Denmark at Allatoona

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Allatoona High School in Acworth.

Records, rankings: Denmark is 0-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Allatoona is 1-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class 6A.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

- photo by David Roberts
What to know: Denmark was shut out 20-0 and turned the ball over eight times in its opener against Greater Atlanta Christian.

It doesn't get much easier this week for Denmark, as the Danes face an Allatoona team that knocked off last year's Class 6A state champion Harrison last week, 27-17. Allatoona fell to Harrison in last year's title game.

Despite a multitude of turnovers, Denmark's defense kept it a two-score game until midway through the fourth quarter, when GAC punched it in from the 3-yard line. Kenon Dicks led the Danes with 7 1/2 tackles, while Harrison Halder (2 1/2) and Dee Crayton (2) had multiple tackles for loss. Quarterback Tre Jones, a transfer from Illinois, had a rough debut for the Danes, completing 11 of 28 passes for 103 yards, with six interceptions. Wide receiver Azari Brown flashed big-play potential, grabbing three passes for 87 yards.

Allatoona tight end Bennett Christian recently committed to Ohio State and will be tough assignment for Denmark's defense.  Promising sophomore running back Jayden Ponder carried the ball 11 times for 85 yards and a score against Harrison. The Danes will face another opportunistic defense in Allatoona. Hunter Paulsen had a 50-yard pick-six and Vincent Canosa returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown against Harrison.

Denmark will look to clean up the turnovers and allow Jones to establish a rhythm early against an Allatoona team that showed it can capitalize on mistakes.

Lassiter at Lambert

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

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

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Lambert picked up its first win since 2018 last week, beating Campbell 34-9. The Longhorns are primed to start the season 2-0 for the first time in eight years Friday when they host a Lassiter team that went 1-9 last year.

Junior Ashton Smith drew the start at quarterback in the opener and threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Kojo Antwi, while sophomore quarterback James Tyre had a 58-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Darren Guy had a pair of scores on the ground, and Robert Riddle added another. 

Lassiter scored three times last week in a 49-21 loss to River Ridge, which is more than the Trojans scored in a single game all last season. Running back Jahleel Murray impressed with 78 yards on six carries, while Matthew Grachen led Lassiter through the air with two receptions for 65 yards and two scores. Lassiter is in the middle of a four-year playoff drought, and second-year head coach Sean Thom led the Trojans to a 1-9 record last season.

Lambert's defense stepped up against Campbell, refusing to allow a touchdown, and the Longhorns could continue that streak Friday against a Lassiter team that scored 60 points all last season. Lambert should continue gaining confidence against Lassiter, Meadowcreek and Duluth before hurtling into Region 6-7A play Oct. 2 against South Forsyth.

Photo by Jay Rooney/Jay Rooney Photography
Harrison at North Forsyth

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

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

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: North Forsyth impressed last week in a 35-3 win against Alcovy and has a chance to make a statement Friday against Harrison.

Harrison won the Class 6A state championship in 2019 and jumped up to Class 7A this year because of realignment. But 14 of the Hoyas' starters from that state championship team graduated, leaving only four returning starters. Harrison dropped its opener to Allatoona, 27-17, in a rematch of last year's title game. Senior quarterback Tripp Richardson was efficient, if nothing else, completing 2 for 3 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown to Jared Montour.

North was remarkably balanced against Alcovy, passing for 177 yards and rushing for 175 more. Eight different receivers caught a pass, while running back Jared Lucero rumbled for 99 yards and a score on 13 carries. On defense, the Raiders refused Alcovy entrance into the end zone, as sophomore Chris Herock led the team with three sacks and a fumble recovery. In all, North's defense accounted for seven tackles for loss. 

Harrison has reached the second round of the playoffs every season since 2016, while North's appearance in the second round last year was the Raiders' first since 2005. If the Raiders play the same type of balanced offense and keep Harrison out of the end zone like they did against Alcovy, surely the rest of the state will begin to take notice.

Hearts Academy at Pinecrest Academy

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

Pinecrest Academy's football team runs through the smoke before Friday's game against Harvester Christian. - photo by David Roberts
Records, rankings: Pinecrest Academy is 0-1; Hearts Academy is 0-2.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Pinecrest Academy had a week to recover after a 40-32 loss to Harvester Christian Academy to open the season. The Paladins are a good bet to get their first win in 8-man football this week against a Hearts Academy team that went 1-9 last year and was outscored 78-421.

Pinecrest quarterback Breckin Barbee accounted for four touchdowns and passed for more than 200 yards against Harvester. Colin Brown (8 catches, 44 yards) and Ryan Bartling (5 catches, 120 yards) will look to help Pinecrest's offense get in sync before a tough task against Johnson Ferry Christian next week.

West Forsyth at Cartersville

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Weinman Stadium in Cartersville.

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 1-0 and unranked in Class 7A; Cartersville is 1-0 and No. 3 in Class 5A.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: West Forsyth blew out Mays 42-6 last week in the Corky Kell Classic. Now the Wolverines have a chance to dethrone one of the state's most historically successful programs.

Cartersville has won double-digit games in every season since 2012 and hasn't lost a region game in nine years. The Purple Hurricanes' 42-0 victory against Morrow last week set a Georgia high school football with 59 straight regular season wins. 

Quarterback Stratton Tripp completed 11 of 16 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the win, while Cartersville rushed for 14.6 yards per clip against Morrow. Quante' Jennings Jr. racked up 79 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries.

Keegan Stover was solid in his debut with the Wolverines, tossing four touchdown passes and completing 12 of 19 passes for 156 yards. Half of those passes were to running back Daba Fofana, a Navy commit, who racked up 57 yards and a score on six catches. Fofana also went over the century mark on the ground, adding two touchdowns. Receiver Oscar Delp also emerged as an offensive weapon, catching a pair of touchdown passes.

Stover and the West offense will face a staunch challenge against a Cartersville defense that is led by All-State safety Evan Slocum, a Wake Forest commit, and defensive backs Amarai Orr and Devonte Ross. Look for Delp and Fofana to remain heavily involved in the offense to take some of the pressure off of Stover against an aggressive Cartersville defense.