The headliners in AAA are more inter-classification games, and those include a couple of heavyweight matches.
A look at the top games in Class AAA this week:
1. Stephenson (1-0) at Cedar Grove (1-0), Hallford Stadium: No. 7 Cedar Grove warmed up with a 40-19 win over a fledgling Veterans club last week, and the Saints jump into the deep end with both feet this week, facing what many view as the state’s most talented team in Stephenson (ranked No. 6 in Class AAAAA). The game is a contrast in styles; the Jaguars are a power team with a strong ground game, while Cedar Grove airs it out. Saints QB Johnathan McCrary completed 10 of 12 passes for 312 yards and four TDs last week, gets a much more difficult test against a Stephenson defense that held Parkview to a field goal last week. Last year: Stephenson won 24-18.
2. Statesboro (1-0) at Washington County (1-0): Unranked Washington County steps out of AAA competition against Statesboro (ranked No. 3 in AAAA). The Golden Hawks, like Cedar Grove, got off to a solid start with a 28-17 win over AA Jefferson County last week, but this is a different realm they’re stepping into. The Blue Devils have seven 10-win seasons and two state titles since 2000. Waco QB William Walker passed for 203 yards and three touchdowns last week while rushing for 72 yards. Last year: Statesboro won 19-14.
3. Eastside-Covington (1-0) at Newton (1-0): Eastside coach Rick Hurst allows that these two teams have only been playing for nine years, but calls this one of the state’s most intense rivalries. “It’s not very old, but it’s pretty nasty,” said Hurst, whose club is looking to break a two-game losing streak against the Rams. They’ll have to do it without RB Alex Smith, who broke his armon the first play of the No. 9-ranked Eagles’ 38-15 win over Alcovy last week. Chavis Griggs filled the void with 105 yards and a pair of TDs and freshman Nick Broadwater aded 70 yards, and they’ll both be counted on heavily by Eastside, which also gets back sophomore Gamondi Smith, who is recovering from June shoulder surgery. Last year: Newton won 20-14.
4. Blessed Trinity (1-1) at Grady (1-0): Grady’s Grey Knights, ranked No. 10 in AAA, face a AA opponent before returning to the meat of their Region 5-AAA schedule. They’ll be looking to shore up their kick coverage after allowing a return for a touchdown in their opener against McNair. RB Isiah Jenkins topped 100 yards last week for Grady in a game that wasn’t a smooth as the 31-6 score might indicate. The Knights scored two touchdowns off turnovers. “We were fortunate to get through the first game,” said Grady coach Ronnie Millen. “BlessedTrinity’s going to be disciplined, their kids are strong and they’re well-coached.” Last year: Blessed Trinity won, 17-14.
5. Eagle’s Landing Christian (0-1) at Henry County (1-0): ELCA lost its opener and its No. 1 ranking in Class A last week, but in Keyante Green (109 rushing yards in the opener) they have a threat sure to cause fits for Henry, unranked in AAA. The Warhawks, who flexed their muscles in a 44-26 win over Ola, counter with DL Dalvin Tomlinson and QB Chris Moody, who is drawing raves from coaches around Region 4-AAA. Last year: ELCA won 13-6.
A couple other games to wach:
No. 6-ranked Carrollton faces out-of-state competition for the second straight week, taking on Vanguard-Ocala (Fla.) Saturday at Grisham Stadium … Mary Persons is coming off a big offensive performance in a 36-20 win over Jackson in which QB Taylor Williams was 13 of 19 passing for 183 yards and two TDs. “I was a little disappointed in our defense,” said Bulldogs coach Rodney Walker. “We gave up some big plays because we were lined up poorly and we didn’t tackle well.” The Bulldogs play at Veterans Friday night.