By David Purdum / For the AJC
A giant Friday in AAAA is highlighted by No. 1 Sandy Creek’s visit to No. 2 Carrollton. The Patriots are the defending state champions and have beaten the Trojans three straight times by an average margin of 14.6 points. But Carrollton has been the more impressive team this season, outscoring opponents 344-54. The Trojans have not been scored upon in the first quarter all season.
“I don’t know if we’re the favorite,” said Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker, “but we’re the defending champs.”
Sandy Creek won last season’s meeting, 30-7, and has won three of the four meetings with Carrollton overall, including in the 2010 state championship game.
In other big region games:
Region 2: No. 6 Mary Persons hosts a Veterans team that has won five straight to set up a battle between the only two unbeaten teams in region play. The winner will get the top seed out of Region 2. Mary Persons has won all three meetings with Veterans, including 21-7 last season.
Region 3, Division A: No. 5 Statesboro hosts No. 10 Wayne County in a game that will decide top seed out of Division A in the region play-in games. Statesboro (8-0, 2-0) has been dominant defensively and owns impressive wins over Burke County and Liberty County. Wayne County has bounced back from its only defeat–32-28 to Burke County—with back-to-back wins to set up tonight’s decisive game. Wayne County won last season’s meeting 37-20, ending Statesboro’s seven-game win streak against the Yellow Jackets.
Region 4: Stockbridge can clinch the top seed of Division A with a win at Locust Grove. The Tigers have won all three meetings over the Wildcats. If Locust Grove springs the upset, there would be a three-way tie with the Wildcats, Eagle’s Landing and Stockbridge.
Region 6: Grady hosts Carver in a game that will decide the top seed out of Division B for the play-in round. Grady won 10 straight in this series from 1996 to 2005. But Carver has won two of the last three meetings, including last season’s 22-19 win.
Region 7: Gilmer gets a crack at slowing down Cedartown running back Nick Chubb and the undefeated Bulldogs. Gilmer shut out Cedartown, 38-0, last season, holding Chubb to around 75 yards. Chubb is averaging 264.3 yards and has scored 33 touchdowns this season.
Gilmer coach Wesley Tankersley said the key to slowing Chubb down last season was simply keeping him off the field. “We were able to keep their offense off the field with a few long, six-, seven-minute drives,” said Tankersley.
The Bobcats will take a similar approach Friday, with running backs Johnie Flakes (great football name) and Tyler Bertolini attacking on the ground.
Region 8: Chestatee travels to Monroe Area, with the winner claiming the top seed out of the region in the state playoffs. Five Monroe Area starters, including star quarterback Stanton Truitt, are suspended for the game, after being ejected for fighting in last week’s win over Madison County. Junior Jacob Olson will start in place of Truitt.
Region 1: Westover can clinch the school’s first football region championship with a win over Worth County in Region 1-AAAA.