Game: McEachern (7-0, 5-0) at North Cobb (5-1, 4-0)
Last year: McEachern 49, North Cobb 27
All-time series: North Cobb leads 23-20-2
Prediction: McEachern 56, North Cobb 49 (OT)
Both defenses are hard at work this week. With a pair of offenses that can score at will and in three plays or less, they have to do what’s necessary to prevent the outcome from being a basketball score.
Second-ranked McEachern averages 42.7 points a game and No. 8 North Cobb averages 38.5. Only once this season has McEachern scored less than 40 points. North Cobb has scored more than 40 in four of the six games it has played.
North Cobb coach Shane Queen has one theory in containing McEachern’s offense.
“We may have to sneak some extra guys on defense without the referees knowing,” he said.
From a more realistic approach, Queen has challenged his defense this week to take the right angles and tackle McEachern playmakers Taj Griffin, Ty Clemons and T.J. Rahming in space.
“You’re not going to stop them. You just hope you can slow them down,” Queen said. “They will get their big plays, but hopefully they will make some mistakes.”
The same thing can be said about North Cobb’s offense. Hillgrove held the Warriors to less than 30 points last week, despite North Cobb winning 27-17. But the Warriors, behind Tyler Queen, J’Vonte Herrod and Cameron Albright scored a combined 143 points in three lopsided wins over Kennesaw Mountain, Harrison and South Cobb.
“We want to make sure we’re doing things to make them earn it and not give up the big plays,” Hockman said. “We have to try not to over-scheme too much and play simple defense. We still have to make tackles in space and keep them in front of us.”
— By Adam Carrington
Game: Marietta (4-2, 2-2) at Campbell (3-4, 1-3)
Last year: Marietta 44, Campbell 36
All-time series: Marietta leads 12-2
Prediction: Marietta 35, Campbell 21
Marietta’s KirVonte’ Benson has been a consistent threat in the Blue Devils’ rushing attack.
But last week, he took his play to another level and aims to do so again in a key Region 4AAAAAA matchup with Campbell.
In five of six games this season, Benson rushed for more than 100 yards, including last week’s 49-31 victory over Kennesaw Mountain, when he rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score.
“KirVonte’ is an explosive athlete,” Marietta coach Scott Burton said. “He’s relatively new to the game as well so he’s still kind of in the learning process. He continues to get better week after week and day after day. He’s got a very bright future and he played well.”
With their second straight win, the Blue Devils improved to 2-2 in the region. They will need another big performance from Benson to keep pace as the regular season winds down.
— By Maurice Dixon
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Hillgrove (5-1, 3-1) at Kennesaw Mountain (1-5, 0-5), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Hillgrove 34, Kennesaw Mountain 12
All-time series: Hillgrove leads 3-0
Prediction: Hillgrove 35, Kennesaw Mountain 14
For the past several years, Hillgrove has had a very balanced offensive attack with Division I talent in the running and receiving games. Add Omar Black’s name to the receiving list.
A 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior, Black has bided his time on the Hawks’ roster and now stands out as one of the team’s leading wide receivers, totaling 22 catches for 353 yards and eight touchdowns. He sat behind and learned from experienced veterans JoJo Marshall and Evan Engram during his first two seasons on the varsity squad.
Black took that knowledge into his junior season, where he had 19 receptions for 279 yards and three scores. Behind all of his growth as a player, Black has emerged as a player Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside said the team is much better with him.
“He’s smarter and he’s a better route runner than he was when he joined the team,” Ironside said. “The great thing about him is he played running back as a young kid. So he’s great with yards after the catch and keeping his feet moving.”
Ironside and Black gave a lot of credit to Hillgrove wide receivers coach Lugman Salam for Black’s development.
“JoJo, Evan, coach Ironside and coach Salam were also critiquing me,” Black said. “They never let up, and that helped me get better at my craft. My technique and how to get open, playing hard and never giving up, that’s all helped. I do what I’m told to the best of my ability.”
Black has already received scholarship offers from Charlotte and Georgia State. Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Mississippi have also shown interest.
Black, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds, has been a wide receiver for most of his career. He enjoys the 1-on-1 battles for which the position is known.
“I like the competition,” said Black, who credited his speed and physicality as his strengths. “It’s just me against the defender. I get to run routes, catch the ball and the make the leader of the offense (quarterback) look good. But, the greatest part is just being physical on the outside.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Wheeler (2-4, 0-3) at Walton (3-3, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Walton 24, Wheeler 23
All-time series: Walton leads series 22-18
Prediction: Walton 28, Wheeler 24
Walton and Wheeler look to get back on the winning track after tough losses two weeks ago as the east Cobb rivals meet up after coming off bye weeks for a Region 5AAAAAA contest.
Walton (3-3, 2-1) will try to bounce back from a 28-21 loss to Lassiter, a game in which the Trojans came from behind in the second half to get the win.
For Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo, the week off came at a good time for his team.
“We spent last week working on us,” Hidalgo said. “Obviously, we have some issues that we need to correct. We invested a lot of time in our football team and I think we come off the bye week better for it. For us, it was a time where we could address some issues.”
Having a week off was also beneficial for Wheeler, which dropped its fourth game in a row with a 21-19 loss to Roswell.
“It wasn’t tough for us,” Wheeler coach Mike Collins said. “In fact, the bye week came at a good time. We concentrated on some fundamentals, some smaller parts of the game. We felt like we needed to go back and spend some time on that. It wasn’t very difficult for us at all.”
— By Greg Oshust
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Milton (5-1, 2-1) at Lassiter (3-3, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Lassiter 47, Milton 30
All-time series: Lassiter leads 14-7
Prediction: Lassiter 35, Milton 33
Lassiter coach Jep Irwin didn’t have much time to evaluate Quincy Perdue last season.
Perdue, a wide receiver, arrived to the Trojans’ program in June. He participated in some 7-on-7 events and took part in summer practice and he got into a few games early in the 2011 campaign before an injury derailed his season.
“Quincy transferred over here from Campbell with his brother last summer, and had a hard start to the season last year,” Irwin said. “He was playing behind some really good wide receivers right from the start and then he had a high ankle sprain that took him out of several practices and a couple of games.”
Although the injury set him back, it was only a matter of time before Perdue was able to prove his value to the Lassiter roster.
“Once we saw him in spring practice and playing healthy and we saw what he could do, we knew he could be a player for us based on his ability,” Irwin said.
At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Perdue, a senior, had the perfect size to fit into Lassiter’s spread offensive system. He plays the “X” receiver position in the slot and leads the Trojans’ receiver corp with 32 receptions for 504 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He has really good speed,” Irwin said. “He qualified for the state championship in track and field and can run a sub-23-second 200-meter. He has good vertical speed, too, and good size. He’s difficult to jam at the line. I think he has a tremendous upside. He’s only scratching the surface of what he can do as a receiver.
Troy offered Perdue a scholarship, which he accepted, after he attended a camp at the school over the summer.
Perdue is a quiet leader for the Trojans, according to Irwin, and leads by example on the field.
“He makes plays,” Irwin said. “We’re glad to have him. He’s a hard-working, low maintenance guy who’s worked hard for the attention and accolades he’s received and he continues to improve.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Harrison (4-2, 3-1) at South Cobb (2-4, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: South Cobb 26, Harrison 21
All-time series: Harrison leads 9-2
Prediction: Harrison 24, South Cobb 20
Two teams with postseason aspirations will meet in Austell when Harrison travels to South Cobb in a pivotal matchup in Region 4AAAAAA.
Harrison currently holds the No. 4 seed, placing the Hoyas in a postseason spot, with South Cobb sitting one game back.
“We’re approaching this contest as the next step towards making the playoffs,” Harrison coach Matt Dickmann said.
South Cobb comes into this contest off of a 40-0 defeat at McEachern last week and seeks overall improvement for the entire team while also snapping a current two-game losing streak.
“We have to do a better job executing our offense by blocking, catching the ball and rushing better,” South Cobb coach Michael Youngblood said. “Defensively, we know that Harrison runs a Wing-T and has strong play-action passes. We’ll have to do a good job of tackling in (tonight’s) game.”
Harrison earned a 38-7 victory at Kennesaw Mountain two weeks ago, and has won three of its last four games.
“On offense, we’ll have to continue limiting turnovers, which we had none (two weeks ago), along with eliminating penalties and being consistent overall,” Dickmann said. “We want to contain the quarterback defensively and not give up big plays.”
— By Marcel Pourtout
MDJ Sports Writer