A pair of state-ranked teams will meet at the Granite Bowl in Elberton on Friday to determine the Region 8-AA South championship. No. 10 North Oconee (8-0) travels to No. 7 Elbert County (8-0) to see who gets the first seed and an automatic home game for the first round of the state playoffs.
This could be a defensive struggle, as both teams have become known for their efforts on that side of the ball. North Oconee allows only 8.0 points per game, which ranks fourth in Class AA. Elbert County allows just 7.4 points per game, which ranks third. (Only Buford and Calhoun have allowed fewer points.) Both teams have four shutouts this season.
North Oconee will need to slow down Elbert’s Tyson Dye, who scored five touchdowns as woeful East Jackson last week. Dye, who has rushed for 1,191 yards this season, scored the only touchdown in last year’s 6-0 win over North Oconee. Quarterback Hunter Blackmon (655 yards passing) adds another threat.
North Oconee’s offense revolves around backs David Pinkerton (741 yard) and Kawon Bryant (676 yards) and quarterback Blake Gaubert has thrown for 950 yards and 10 touchdowns. Nick Colvin is the top receiving threat.
There is little history between the two schools, who met for the first time a year ago.
Five other games to watch this week:
No. 8 Dublin (8-0) at Jefferson County (5-3): The Fighting Irish face their last true test before the playoffs; they’re looking for their first unbeaten regular season since 2006. Jefferson County could secure a playoff spot with a win, although the Warriors remain in good shape to make the postseason regardless of the outcome. The all-time series is tied 2-2; Jefferson County won 28-7 in 2010.
No. 5 Fitzgerald (8-1) at No. 6 Brooks County (7-1): The Region 1-AA championship will be determined in Quitman, as the two state-ranked teams go head-to-head. The two teams each have one loss to a larger school; Fitzgerald was beaten by Tift County, Brooks County lost to Valdosta. Fitzgerald has dominated the series and has won five of six since they resumed playing every year in 2006. The Purple Hurricanes won 21-10 last year and hold a 10-3 series lead. Brooks County will have one game remaining, that game on the final week at playoff contender Early County.
Northeast Macon (5-3) at Putnam County (7-2): Putnam currently has the No. 2 spot in Region 4-AA and would nail down a home playoff game with a victory. A Northeast victory would create a possible three-way tie for second place with Morgan County. Lamar County has clinched first place. Northeast leads the series 4-1, but Putnam County knocked off the Raiders 27-21 in 2010.
Temple (6-2) at Callaway (5-3): This game should settle who gets the No. 2 and the first-round home playoff game in Region 5-AA. Carver is the No. 1 team in Region 5-AA. Callaway has a 3-0 lead in the series, which resumed last year after an 11-year lapse. Callaway won 45-18 in 2010 and has never won by fewer than 13 points.
Banks County (7-1) at East Hall (4-4): Banks has already won the Region 8-AA North title, while East Hall could move into second place with a win. (The Vikings hold the tiebreaker over Dawson County, currently one game ahead of East Hall.) East Hall leads the series 12-1-1, but Banks won 53-28 in 2010 to end a 12-game losing streak.