By David Purdum / For the AJC
Lakewood showdown: Grady, winner of four straight, faces undefeated Washington (Atlanta) on Friday at Lakewood Stadium. Grady coach Ronnie Millen notched his 100thwin earlier in the season and has won four of five meetings with Washington, including a 42-22 victory over the Bulldogs last season. Tonight’s game kicks off at 8 p.m. Washington has won its first five games by an average margin of 32.6 points.
Region 6-AAAA notables: Chamblee will be looking for its third consecutive shutout and fourth on the season, when the Bulldogs face Columbia on Friday at North DeKalb Stadium. … Marist has bounced back from consecutive losses with convincing wins over Therrell and Columbia. The War Eagles take on Lithonia at Hallford Stadium on Friday. Lithonia is 1-0 in region play, but has never beaten Marist in 11 tries.
Statement game: Liberty County has a chance a statement win, when the Panthers travel to No. 5 Statesboro for a battle of Region 3-AAAA Division A unbeatens on Friday. Statesboro is allowing just eight points per game and owns in an impressive 21-7 win over Burke County. The Panthers are led by all-state linebacker/fullback Raekwon McMillan, who 19 tackles in last week’s win over Glenn Hills. Statesboro has won six of the seven meetings, including a 19-0 shutout last season.
Turnaround: Pickens was 10-40 in the five seasons prior to coach Chris Parker’s arrival in 2012. Things have changed. At 4-1, the Dragons are off to their best start since 2006. They are led by a pair of explosive offense players in quarterback Tanner Brumby and junior running back Shannon Brooks. Brumby has passes for five touchdowns and rushed for seven more. Brooks leads the team in rushing (815 yards, nine touchdowns) and receiving (184 yards, two touchdowns)
Now, the Dragons get a chance hosting their biggest game in years, when prolific running back Nick Chubb and Cedartown visit on Friday. Pickens and Cedartown are both 1-0 in Region 7-AAAA Division A play.
“We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to play in these types of games in recent years,” said Parker. “We’re trying to embrace it, and the community really has.”
Pickens is allowing 136 rushing yards per game. Chubb is averaging 255 rushing yards per game.
“You’re not going to stop him,” said Parker of Chubb. “You can only hope to slow him down.”
Region 7-AAAA Division B notable: Undefeated Northwest Whitfield hosts Dalton on Friday. Both teams are 1-0 in region play. Dalton has won the last six meetings and nine of the last 10 overall.
Key Region 1-AAAA battles: Americus-Sumter and Westover are tied atop the region at 2-0. Both teams face difficult tests Friday, before playing each other next week at Westover. Americus-Sumter travels to Monroe (Albany), and Westover hosts Crisp County.