Cedar Grove burst into the state rankings this week. That’s what six straight wins will do for a program. The Saints (6-1) have lost only to Tucker, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAAA, in the season opener.
Since then the Saints have gotten better and better and beaten all the would-be contenders in their way. But if No. 10 Cedar Grove wants to avoid a road game in the playoffs, it will have to win at least two of their final three games against the elite teams in Region 6-AAA.
The road begins tonight against defending region champion and No. 7-ranked St. Pius at Panthersville Stadium. The Saints finish with games at Woodward Academy and Blessed Trinity, two teams that have spent time in the state rankings this season.
Cedar Grove features the most efficient passer in DeKalb County in junior James Hartsfield, who is hitting on better than 70 percent of his throws. He had thrown 11 touchdown passes in the first six games, eight of them to senior Brandon Norwood. Benjy Parrish caught two TD passes last week against McNair. Running back Deion Sellers is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing and had nine TDs through six games. The Saints are averaging 420 yards on offense each week.
St. Pius (5-1) is coming off a bye week. The Golden Lions have outscored their last two opponents 83-14 behind an offense guided by quarterback Joey Connors and the running of Dalton Wilson and Nick Ruffin. Like Cedar Grove, the Golden Lions have the toughest part of their schedule yet to come, with games against Woodward Academy, Blessed Trinity and Decatur.
St. Pius leads the series 2-1. The Golden Lions won 38-28 a year ago.
There isn’t much on the schedule this week, but here are two other games worth paying attention to:
East Hall at West Hall: These two teams have the same problem. Neither one of them is good enough to beat Buford or North Hall, so they join the four clubs (joining Dawson County and White County) playing for the two remaining playoff spots.
East Hall is in the hole, since the Vikings have already lost to White County. West Hall still closes the season against White and Dawson. Dawson and White County must also play each other. It likely means the matter won’t be settled until the final week.
East Hall’s offense is sparked by junior quarterback Devin Watson and produced 31 points against North Hall. But the Vikes failed to score a single point against White County. Likewise, West Hall has show it can light up the scoreboard against the weak teams, but failed to scratch against mighty Buford.
Elbert County at North Oconee: The No. 8 Titans (5-1) will try to eliminate its last major obstacle before the season-ending showdown against Hart County that will determine the Region 8 championship. North Oconee will unleash junior tailback Kawon Bryant, who has rushed for 1,551 yards and 30 touchdowns. He has scored a touchdown on every five carries. The state record for touchdowns is 58 set by Washaun Ealey of ECI in 2007. Elbert County (4-2) has losses to Buford and Evans, but has ripped through the region thanks to quarterback Mecole Hardman (980 yards).