The Carver football team has been a model of consistency since Darren Myles arrived as head coach in 2005, posting a winning record in 10 of 13 seasons. Now the Panthers are on the brink of winning their first region title since 2007 – if they can get past Banneker on Friday night at Lakewood Stadium.
“There’s a lot riding on this game,” Myles said.
A week ago, Carver (6-1) was the only team in the state that had 1,500-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 500-yard receiver. Senior Octavious Battle has thrown for 1,667 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 390 yards. Sophomore Jo’Quavious Marks – who has already received big time offers from schools like Alabama -- has rushed for 1,213 yards (a 10.5-yard average) and scored 11 touchdowns. Senior Quinadarious Monday has caught 26 passes for 559 yards (a 21.5-yard average) and scored eight touchdowns.
“It helps when you have a quarterback like Octavious Battle that can manage the offense and distribute the ball. And helps when got somebody like Quinadarious that can blow the top off a defense,” Myles said.
The defense is led by the linemen Jatavius Ponder (ten sacks), Solomon Mosley (eight sacks) and Contravious Wise (six sacks). The Panthers like to bring the heat and put pressure on the opposition’s offensive line. Carver has 29 sacks and 49 quarterback hurries.
“We’ve been pretty much bending and not breaking,” Myles said. “It’s all about who scores the most points.”
Carver has done well, despite not having a feeder system. The Panthers have a junior varsity team that runs the same system as the varsity, which helps them make the transition to the varsity.
“For the kids that stick with the program, to watch them grow, that’s the biggest thing,” Myles said.
Banneker (6-1) has won two straight since its loss to Jackson. The Trojans still have games remaining against North Springs (4-3) and Grady (1-5). Carver’s remaining games include Lithia Springs (1-6) and Decatur (3-4). Jackson, which has lost to Carver and beaten Banneker, (5-2) finishes with Decatur and Riverwood (2-4).
Other big games this weekend:
Columbia vs. Miller Grove (North DeKalb Stadium): The outcome between these two rivals could determine third place in Region 5. Columbia (4-3, 1-1) is coming off a 24-14 loss to Arabia Mountain and Miller Grove (3-4, 0-2) is trying to rebound from a 31-0 loss to Southwest DeKalb. Columbia’s offense is led by quarterback Tremaine Calloway, who had thrown seven touchdown passes through the first six games, and running back Khalon Manuel, who has surpassed 500 yards. Miller Grove quarterback Jamaal Roach has thrown for 686 yards and nine touchdowns, with Kameron Williams and Jalen Stuckey his primary receivers. Miller Grove won last year’s game 19-18, but Columbia leads the series 2-1.
Carrollton at Kell: This game should determine the No. 2 seed from Region 7. Kell (4-3) has won four straight games and Carrollton (5-2) comes in after a baffling upset loss to Hiram. Kell’s attack is led by Josiah Futral, who rushed for 866 yards and 12 touchdowns, and quarterback Evan Conley, who has thrown for 1,132 yards and 13 touchdowns. Carrollton’s attack centers around quarterback Mark Wright (1,303 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, 366 yards rushing) and the running game behind Jaylan Thomas (710 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Kodee Brewer (246 yards, four touchdowns). Kell leads the series 2-1, but Carrollton won last year’s game 24-14.
Clarke Central at Flowery Branch: Clarke Central (6-2) has scored 42 points in five of its last six games, the exception being the loss to Buford. Flowery Branch (7-1) has won four straight since losing to Jefferson and survived last week’s 6-3 slugfest against Loganville. The schools have played every year since 2010 and Clarke Central leads the series 4-3. Clarke won last year’s game 44-21.
New Hampstead at Wayne County (Saturday): New Hampstead (5-2) faces a big test this week in No. 9 Wayne County (5-1), a pair of teams who are undefeated in Region 2. New Hampstead quarterback Jalen De la Fuente has rushed for 553 yards and six touchdowns and has thrown for 357 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore Jeremiah Daniels has rushed for 420 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wayne County quarterback Garrett Overholt’s season has been highlighted by a five-touchdown game against Appling County.
McIntosh at Griffin: Griffin’s defense will face the task of stopping the McIntosh attack, which operates the Wing-T attack out of a spread formation. The Chiefs (5-2) use a lot of misdirection and have a strong running threat in Bradley Ector. Griffin leads the all-time series 7-0 and won last year’s game 38-7.