Bowdon at Heard County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Staples Stadium, Franklin Records, rankings: Bowdon is 9-0 overall, 7-0 in Region 5-AA and No. 8; Heard County is 8-1, 7-0 and unranked.
Last meeting: Heard County won 28-13 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The winner will be the region champion. Bowdon has 15 region titles in its history, none since 2005. Heard County has won 17 consecutive region games and clinched its third region title last season in this game. 2. Heard County RB Duranta Dunson, a preseason all-state pick, has rushed for 1,273 yards and 28 touchdowns on just 93 attempts (13.6 ypc). He rushed for 168 yards last week against Spencer, putting him over 4,000 for his career (4,131) with 64 touchdowns. He's a junior. He also has 60 tackles and four interceptions this season. 3. Bowdon retuned its starting backfield in what is essentially a Wing-T, and coach Dwight Hochstetler says that is the most significant reason for the team's improvement this season. FB Chris Keith rushed for 1,260 yards in 2012 but has only about 650 this season as his backfield mates, HB Jarod McKey, HB Darnell Holland and QB Marcus Thurman, have improved and taken some of the load off. Thurman committed this week to Kennesaw State.
Calvary Day at Johnson County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Herschel Walker Field, Wrightsville Records, rankings: Calvary Day is 7-2 overall, 5-0 in Region 3-A Div. A and No. 10; Johnson County is 9-0 overall, 4-0 in Region 3-A Div. B and No. 4.
Last meeting: Calvary Day won 37-18 in 2011.
Three things to know: 1. This is the Region 3-A championship game. Johnson County is No. 3 in this week's Class A public-school power ratings and Calvary Day is No. 9 among private schools, so both are expected to make the playoffs, but the winner's playoff seeding could improve because region champions are seeded higher than the remaining teams in their bracket. Johnson County was awarded home field for this game because its power rating (13.26) is higher than Calvary Day's (12.20). 2. Calvary Day has a balanced offense that gets about 54 percent of its yardage from a passing game led by Michael Peterson, who has thrown for 1,965 yards and 24 touchdowns. The running game is led by Robert Heyward (704 yards, four touchdowns) and Derek Kirkland (515, 13). 3. Johnson County is more run-oriented and rarely attempts more than about 10 passes per game. The leading rushers are Markel Horne (691 yards), Michael Taylor (678) and Keith Hall (415). Horne rushed for 332 yards and passed for 157 in a 65-29 victory over ECI two weeks ago.
Colquitt County at Camden County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Chris Gilman Stadium, Kingsland Records, rankings: Colquitt County is 8-1 overall, 5-0 in Region 1-AAAAAA and No. 1; Camden County is 8-1, 5-0 and No. 7.
Last meeting: Colquitt County won 13-12 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The winner will be the region champion. Colquitt's last region title was in 1999. Camden County has won 12 consecutive region titles, although only one (2012) in Region 1. 2. Colquitt County RB Sihiem King leads Region 1 in rushing with 1,007 yards. QB Daniel Mobley is second in passing yards with 1,573. DE Quintin Hampton has 13.5 sacks to lead the defense. Preseason all-state DT Jamiyus Pittman has been cleared to play after suffering a broken fibula in September. 3. Camden County played its best defensive game last week, allowing only seven first downs in a 28-7 victory over Lowndes. Alabama-committed CB Chris Williams had two interceptions, giving him six on the season. Camden's top defenders include DE Anthony Johnson (seven tackles for losses) and LB Darryle Israel (team-leading 38 solo tackles). On offense, Camden averages 49 running plays per game (and only seven passes), and no single back averages more than 10 carries or 60 yards.
ELCA at Landmark Christian
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Bill Thorn Stadium, Fairburn Records, rankings: Eagle's Landing Christian is 8-0 overall, 5-0 in Region 5-A and No. 1; Landmark Christian is 8-1, 4-1 and No. 8.
Last meeting: Eagle's Landing Christian won 43-0 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The winner will be the Region 5-A champion. Eagle's Landing Christian, the defending Class A private-school champ, is seeking its fourth consecutive region title. Landmark Christian won six consecutive region titles from 2002-07 but has not won once since. ELCA is tied for first place this week in the private-school power ratings and Landmark is No. 3, so both should have high seeds in the playoffs, although region champions are seeded higher than the other teams in the bracket. 2. ELCA QB Dalton Etheridge, who has committed to Jacksonville State, is equally dangerous passing and running the ball. In his past five games, he has had three with at least 170 yards passing and two others with at least 111 rushing. He passed for 194 yards and a touchdown and scored a TD in a 40-2 victory over Pace Academy last week. 3. Landmark Christian's Stockton McGuire came up just short on a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired last week as the War Eagles suffered their first loss of the season, 29-28 against Holy Innocents'. Before that, Stockton had passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 113 yards and a score.
Flowery Branch at Gainesville
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, City Park Stadium/Bobby Gruhn Field, Gainesville Records, rankings: Flowery Branch is 7-2 overall, 7-0 in Region 8-AAAAA and unranked; Gainesville is 8-1, 7-0 and No. 3.
Last meeting: Flowery Branch won 35-34 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. This game will determine the champion in Region 8-AAAAA, and the loser will be the No. 2 seed. In a similar situation last season, Flowery Branch won its first outright region championship by stopping a late two-point conversion attempt. Gainesville rebounded from last year's loss with five consecutive playoff victories to win the state title. 2. Flowery Branch is averaging 40.1 points in the past seven games, all victories, since opening the season 0-2 against Northside of Warner Robins and West Forsyth. The offense is led by QB Jackson McDonald, a James Madison commitment. He passed for 195 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 50 yards in a 37-7 rout of playoff-bound Clarke Central two weeks ago. 3. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson, the state's all-time passing leader, has thrown for 2,546 yards and 33 touchdowns and rushed for 491 yards this season. Michael Byrd is the Red Elephants' leading rusher with 785 yards and 11 TDs on 96 carries. Jay Gaudlock is the leading receiver with 63 catches for 902 yards and 11 TDs.
Lovett at Greater Atlanta Christian
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Sports Complex, Norcross Records, rankings: Lovett is 8-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 6-AA and No. 2; Greater Atlanta Christian is 9-0, 3-0 and No. 3.
Last meeting: Lovett won 31-30 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. For the second consecutive season, the winner of this game will be the region champion. In 2012, Lovett's Grant Haley blocked an extra point with 4:09 left to preserve a one-point lead, and Lovett ran out the clock, driving to the GAC 22. Haley caught a 40-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter and rushed for 101 yards in the game. 2. Haley remains Lovett's best all-around player. The Vanderbilt recruit is a two-way starter. He has scored 14 touchdowns. But Lovett is deeper this season. Jay Harris has rushed for 708 yards, second to Haley's 752. LB Charlie Ingram leads the team with 43 solo tackles and seven tackles for losses. 3. GAC, seeking its first region title since 2001, has not had a game closer than its opener, a 22-point victory over Stone Mountain. The team's leading offensive players are QB Rafe Chapple (1,741 yards passing, 19 touchdowns), RB Micah Abernathy (1,119 yards rushing, 17 TDs), WR Darius Slayton (22 receptions, 754 yards, seven TDs) and WR Chris Williams (28 receptions, 494 yards, seven TDs).
Peachtree Ridge at North Gwinnett
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tom Robinson Memorial Stadium, Suwanee Records, rankings: Peachtree Ridge is 7-2 overall, 5-2 in Region 7-AAAAAA and No. 10; North Gwinnett is 8-1, 6-1 and No. 3.
Last meeting: North Gwinnett won 24-20 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. North Gwinnett will win the region with a victory if Collins Hill loses to Mill Creek. But North Gwinnett could fall to No. 4, and Peachtree Ridge could rise to No. 2, if Peachtree Ridge wins. Any three-way ties in the region will be decided by a three-way coin toss if the teams are 1-1 head-to-head. 2. Peachtree Ridge RB Jordan Ellis, who has committed to Virginia, leads Gwinnett County in rushing with 1,200 yards and 23 touchdowns. But Peachtree Ridge is balanced as Chance Thrasher (136-of-224 passing, 14 touchdowns) has thrown for 1,775 yards. DE A.J. Houston has 9.5 tackles for losses. 3. North Gwinnett QB John Urzua started for Hayden Sphire in a 40-7 victory over Mountain View last week and was 11-of-13 passing for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Sphire suffered a leg injury in the Collins Hill game on Oct. 25. North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire said he would make a "game-time decision" this week on his son, who has thrown for 1,820 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Ringgold at Cartersville
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville Records, rankings: Ringgold is 8-1 overall, 6-0 in Region 5-AAA and unranked; Cartersville is 9-0, 6-0 and No. 2.
Last meeting: Cartersville won 42-7 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The winner will be the Region 5-AAA champion, and the loser will be the runner-up. Cartersville is seeking its second consecutive region title and 16th overall. Ringgold has been playing in the GHSA since 1949 and has never won a region championship. Ringgold is 0-4 all-time against Cartersville and has been outscored 121-35. 2. Ringgold had 605 yards of total offense in a 56-7 victory against rival Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe last week. QB Slade Dale had 276 yards and five touchdowns passing. The 56 points were the most by the Tigers since a 58-12 victory over Sequatchie County (Tenn.) in 1949, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. 3. Cartersville QB Brooks Barden is 122-of-192 passing for 2,184 yards and 37 TDs this season. He has rushed for 259 yards and four scores. The Purple Hurricanes have three quality receivers in TL Ford (27 receptions, 553 yards, seven touchdowns), Mark Quattlebaum (27-469-8) and Gordon Gray (22-447-10). Cartersville also rushes for 171.7 yards per game.
Tucker at Mays
When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Lakewood Stadium, Atlanta Records, rankings: Tucker is 9-0 overall, 8-0 in Region 6-AAAAA and No. 1; Mays is 7-2, 7-1 and unranked.
Last meeting: Tucker won 14-7 in 2012.
Three things to know: 1. The winner will be the Region 6-AAAAA champion and the loser will finish as the runner-up. Tucker is seeking its eight region title in 13 years and 15th overall. Mays won its only region championship in 2003, when the Raiders went 10-0 in the regular season. 2. Tucker is primarily a running team that likes to share the workload. The Tigers average 251.1 yards per game rushing and have five players with at least 34 carries and 275 yards. The leader is Elijah Sullivan, who has rushed for 500 yards on 63 carries, but Dominick Sanders (410-47), Joseph Farrar (396-49), Devin Towns (320-34) and Myles Donaldson (275-46) also contribute heavily. 3. Mays QB Ayinde Russell has passed for 1,404 yards and 15 touchdowns and is the team's third-leading rusher with 333 yards in a balanced offense. The top rusher is Rowmartis Bell with 414 yards. The Raiders were held to a season-low 207 yards of total offense against Stephenson last week but won 13-9 to clinch no worse than second place in the region.
Wayne County at Burke County
When, where: 7 p.m. Friday, Bear Den, Waynesboro Records, rankings: Wayne County is 8-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 3-AAAA Div. A and No. 7; Burke County is 6-2, 5-0 in Region 3-AAAA Div. B and No. 6.
Last meeting: Burke County won 32-28 on Oct. 4.
Three things to know: 1. This is the second consecutive season in which Burke and Wayne have met in the region championship game after playing in the regular season. Burke beat Wayne for the third time in two seasons on Oct. 4. Wayne County drew within 32-28 with 2:01 left, but Burke ran out the clock. 2. Wayne County's Malique Jackson (92-of-149 passing, 1,410 yards, 19 TDs) and WR Krenwick Sanders (39 receptions, 779 yards, 14 TDs) form one of the better QB-WR duos in South Georgia. Jackson has committed to Florida State, Sanders to Wisconsin, which also has a commitment from DT Jeremy Patterson. 3. Burke County QB Donquell Green, a preseason all-state selection and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 11 pick, has rushed for 1,057 yards and passed for 878 in eight games. In Burke's two victories over Wayne last season, both routs, Green rushed for 395 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Wayne slowed him in the regular-season meeting this year, holding him to 98 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries.