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WEEK 4 PRIMER: Several teams have chance to enter region play undefeated
Photo by Jay Rooney/Jay Rooney Photography

Lanier at Denmark

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Denmark High School in Alpharetta.

Records, rankings: Denmark is 0-2 and unranked in Class 7A; Lanier is 2-0 and ranked 11th in Class 6A.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Denmark has gotten off to a rough start this season, dropping its first two games, and it doesn’t get much easier Friday as the Danes host Lanier.

Denmark’s offensive woes continued last week against Shiloh in a 7-0 loss. Tre Jones and Jacob Nelson saw snaps at quarterback and combined to throw four interceptions, with Jones turning the ball over on the first drive of the game. Denmark’s defense pitched a shutout against Shiloh, as the only score of the game came on a pick-six by Shiloh linebacker Ahmad Edwards.

- photo by David Roberts
Lanier, which is ranked 11th in Class 6A, won 10 games last season and reached the second round of the playoffs before falling to Richmond Hill. The Longhorns beat Mountain View 27-20 last week and opened with a 5-0 win against Dutchtown, using a field goal and a safety to rally past the Bulldogs. Lanier featured a balanced offensive attack last week, throwing for 182 yards and rushing for 181 more. Bryan Williams was the leading rusher, carrying the ball 19 times for 91 yards, while Tyler Washington caught seven passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Safety Kristopher Burress, who has Division I offers from schools such as Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Georgia State, returned an interception for a touchdown last week.

The Danes are still searching for their first points of the 2020 season and will face another stout defense in Lanier.

Cambridge at Forsyth Central

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

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

Series history: Cambridge leads 3-1.

Last meeting: Forsyth Central won 42-13 in 2012.

What to know: Forsyth Central finally got to play last week and responded with a 14-7 win against Loganville, a game the Bulldogs controlled from start to finish.

Central piled up 256 total yards, including 204 yards on the ground, led by quarterback Bronson Landreth’s 78 yards on 23 carries. Junior Patrick Haertel earned career highs in carries (13) and rushing yards (63), adding a 4-yard touchdown in the win, while sophomore Peyton Streko rushed for 41 yards on five carries and was a constant threat outside the tackles. Senior Noah Chol proved to be Landreth’s favorite target, catching both of his completions for 52 yards and a score. Central controlled the line of scrimmage, specifically on offense, where the Bulldogs’ offensive line imposed their will during a 16-play drive to close the game.

- photo by David Roberts
Like Central, Cambridge played its opener last week, beating North Oconee 34-10. It was a sound victory over a North Oconee team that went 10-2 and reached the second round of the Class 4A playoffs last year. Cambridge runs a power offense out of the shotgun, where the Bears like to line up running back Phillip-Michael Collins behind an H-back and run downhill. Collins had 70 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries last week. All told, Cambridge rushed for 223 yards and averaged a shade under five yards per carry.

Central head coach Frank Hepler said after last week’s game that he wants his offense to be more balanced, and the Bulldogs’ passing game could be a difference-maker against a Cambridge team that likely sees plenty of running in practice.

Lambert at Duluth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tim Maxwell Stadium in Duluth.

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

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: Already 3-0, Lambert has a chance Friday to rack up another win before heading into Region 6-7A play.

The Longhorns have been a model of consistency through their first three games, scoring 34 points twice and notching a season high last week in a 38-20 win against Meadowcreek. Lambert raced out to a 21-0 lead behind three Ashton Smith TD passes, including a pair of scores to Kojo Antwi, who now has 13 catches for 221 yards and five touchdowns through the first three games. Sophomore James Tyre came in and tossed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones, and Robert Riddle added a 10-yard score to put the game out of reach.

Photo by Jay Rooney/Jay Rooney Photography
Duluth appears to have the offensive acumen to keep pace with Lambert. The Wildcats racked up more than 400 yards last week in a 42-27 win against Alcovy, as QB Lonnie Ratliff IV was 22-for-34 passing for 221 yards and a touchdown, adding 22 yards and a score on the ground. Running back Nyle Ervin averaged 11.5 yards per carry, rushing for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Duluth is a true spread offense and appears to be comfortable leaving Ratliff alone in the pocket to improvise, whether with his arm or feet.

Duluth went 1-9 and surrendered 45 points per game last season, but Duluth appears to be trending in the right direction under second-year head coach Cam Jones, and Friday’s matchup between Lambert and Duluth suddenly features two undefeated teams.

North Forsyth at Etowah

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Eagle Stadium in Woodstock.

Records, rankings: North Forsyth is 3-0 and unranked in Class 7A; Etowah is 0-2 and unranked in Class 7-0.

Series history: Tied 2-2.

Last meeting: Etowah won 44-0 in 2011.

What to know: North Forsyth is riding high after a pair of impressive wins over Harrison and Hapeville Charter, and the Raiders can carry a 4-0 record into Region 6-7A play.

North held Hapeville’s high-flying offense to just 14 points last week, forcing three turnovers and winning the Military Bowl. Patrick Corrigan had 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and a pair of sacks on defense, and he led the Raiders in rushing with 82 yards on 11 carries. Bentley Wheeler picked off a pass and recovered a fumble, and Aaron Griffin also recovered a fumble. North head coach Robert Craft mentioned Griffin, as well as defensive backs Colin Blackwell and Jumel Lewis, as some of the unsung heroes of a Raiders defense that is allowing just under nine points per game.

North Forsyth
North Forsyth defenders jump on a loose ball Friday during the Raiders' 28-14 win against Hapeville Charter. Photo by Jay Rooney/Jay Rooney Photography
Etowah appears to be going through some growing pains under first-year coach Matt Kemper, who is replacing current West Forsyth head coach Dave Svehla. Etowah allowed River Ridge to carve up its defense during last week’s 38-7 loss, as quarterback Carson Lathem completed 18 of 23 passes for four touchdowns. Etowah was shut out on offense, too, with the only score of the game coming on a fumble return.

North appears to be hitting its stride early this season, and the Raiders should be favored despite playing their first true road game of the season.

Central Gwinnett at South Forsyth

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

Records, rankings: Central Gwinnett is 1-2 and unranked in Class 6A; South Forsyth is 1-0 and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: South Forsyth put on an offensive display last week in a 63-49 win against Dawson County and looks to keep it going against Central Gwinnett.

The War Eagles posted a whopping 544 yards against Dawson, with QB Kyle Durham completing 14 of 23 passes for 288 yards and two scores, adding 80 rushing yards, and RB Tre Green piling up 120 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. South had a pair of 100-yard receivers, as Mitch Thompson caught four passes for 102 yards and a TD, while Devin McGlockton had 100 yards and a touchdown on five catches. South forced three turnovers, as Thompson had a 99-yard pick-six, Austin Uidel had an interception and Gavin Morris forced and recovered a fumble. Linebacker Julian Bolanos had 12 tackles and three tackles for loss, including a sack in the end zone for a safety.

- photo by David Roberts
Central Gwinnett struggled to find much running room last week in a 21-0 loss to South Gwinnett, managing just 23 yards on 10 carries. The Black Knights weren’t much better through the air, as QB Justin Johnson completed 14 of 34 passes for 153 yards and an interception. Central Gwinnett has playmakers at skill positions on offense and likes to get the ball out to the perimeter quickly and let its wide receivers make players. A pair of senior linebackers in Jayoland Threat and Moses Pryor are the heart of Central Gwinnett’s defense and combined to make 37 tackles and three tackles for loss last week.

South Forsyth looks to dazzle on offense yet again, while cutting down on the number of points allowed.

Pinecrest Academy at Peachtree Academy

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Peachtree Academy in Covington.

Records, rankings: Pinecrest Academy is 2-1; Peachtree Academy is 1-2.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: A couple of blowout wins has Pinecrest cruising into Friday’s high-profile matchup against Peachtree Academy, which won last year’s GAPPS Class 2A champion.

Peachtree won its opener against Kings Way Christian School but hasn’t won since, falling 30-18 to Unity Christian and 27-20 to Cherokee Christian.

Pinecrest Academy players take the field Friday ahead of the Paladins' 60-6 win against Hearts Academy. Photo by Kurt Main
Through three games, QB Breckin Barbee has completed 23 of 41 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception. Alex Jeffords leads the Paladins on the ground, accumulating 378 yards and four scores on 32 carries (11.8 yards per carry). Barbee has 100 yards and two scores on seven carries, while Bryce Balthaser has rushed nine times for 130 yards and a score. Ryan Bartling is the team’s leading receiver, catching four passes for 110 yards and a TD, while Colin Brown leads the defense with 20 tackles and two interceptions.

Friday’s game will be a unique test for Pinecrest against a proven 8-man winner.

Walton at West Forsyth

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

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 1-1 and unranked in Class 7A; Walton is 2-1 and unranked in Class 7A.

Series history: These two teams have never met.

Last meeting: N/A

What to know: After a 42-6 rout against Mays to start the season, then an encouraging performance against Cartersville, West returns to action against Walton.

West Forsyth is navigating through a daunting non-region schedule with mixed, yet inspiring results. Sophomore QB Keegan Stover is completing 56 percent of his passes and has thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions. In fact, West has yet to turn the ball over this season. RB Daba Fofana has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in both games this season, highlighted by a 134-yard performance two weeks ago in a 28-17 loss to Cartersville, while TE Oscar Delp has emerged as one of the top juniors in the state.

Walton beat Kell and Pope to start the season before last week’s 43-32 loss to No. 7 Brookwood. The Broncos exposed Walton through the air, as top recruit Dylan Lonergan completed nearly 80 percent of his passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns, also racking up 128 rushing yards. Walton has a pair of defensive backs in AJ Brown and Marcus Allen who will challenge Stover in his third varsity start. Both players are garnering Division I attention, and Allen already has offers from schools such as Georgia, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

- photo by David Roberts