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Football: West, Johns Creek headed for title fight?
No. 5 Wolverines host Gladiators in key Region 6 matchup
West Forsyth quarterback A.J. Erdely looks downfield during practice on Tuesday. The Wolverines will be seeking their first-ever 6-0 start and the inside track on the Region 6-AAAAAA title when they face Johns Creek on Friday at The Den. - photo by Jared Putnam

A new rivalry may be in the making.

One Region 6-AAAAAA powerhouse will be denied a victory for the first time this season on Friday, as No. 5-ranked West Forsyth hosts Johns Creek in a homecoming game that could ultimately decide the region championship.

The two undefeated teams have never played one another, but both have posted impressive margins of victory this season. The Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 region) have been winning by an average of 22 points, while the Gladiators (5-0, 2-0) are coming out on top by an average of 19.

"There’s definitely [an added intensity] since we’re both undefeated," West wingback Jake Wieczorek said. "You always want to win your homecoming game, but [head] coach [Frank] Hepler told us to look by that and treat this like every other game.

"We’ve had two amazing days of practice, probably the best two we’ve had in the past three or four weeks. We look focused and are playing well, so I expect nothing but the best."

Centennial is the only common opponent that the two teams have faced. West defeated the Knights 40-6, while Johns Creek earned a 49-24 victory.

Both West and Johns Creek have been off since Sept. 28, when the Gladiators defeated Chattahoochee 30-16 and West pummelled Centennial.

Wolverines quarterback A.J. Erdely finished 14-of-22 for 267 passing yards with three passing touchdowns and one rushing score against the Knights, while Wieczorek tallied 164 receiving yards and accounted for four touchdowns.

West is averaging more than 55 points per game over its last three contests and may need to continue the fireworks to outlast the Gladiators.

"They have a real balanced offense of run and pass," Hepler said. "… Their offensive line is tremendous; they’re so well disciplined in their blocking."

The Wolverines proved they could win a shootout during a 63-42 victory over Alpharetta, but slowing down the Gladiators’ offensive attack is still a major concern. West is giving up 21 points per game, and Hepler wants to see that number decrease.

"We’re just trying to get better at what we’re doing [on defense]," Hepler said. "We haven’t made any major changes, we’re just trying to get the guys in their positions and coach them better than what we were doing before and the kids are responding. We’ve gone back to some basics on defense and just tried to get better at what we’re doing."

The Wolverines are 5-0 for the third time in their five-year varsity history, but have never started a season 6-0. West can break that streak with a win on Friday and secure the inside track on the Region 6-AAAAAA crown.

"If we win this game, we have a really good chance of winning the region," said senior linebacker Josh Salo, who has accounted for five turnovers. "They are a fast team and they’re going to look a lot faster than they do on film.

"They’re going to be like Gainesville, real quick and physical. They’re the most disciplined team we’ve ever played, but we just have to focus on us and what we’re doing."

The Wolverines and Gladiators kick off at 7:30 p.m. at The Den.