Every Thursday, Class AA blogger Adam Krohn will preview a game of the week (GOTW).
Dublin Fighting Irish at Dodge County Indians
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Eastman
Records, rankings: Dublin is 4-2 overall, 2-0 in Region 3-AA and unranked; Dodge County is 5-0, 2-0 and No. 9.
Last meeting: Dodge County won 28-21 in 2016.
Things to know: These are the only unbeaten Region 3-AA teams with winning records overall. Dublin leads the series 33-19-1, but Dodge County has won the past three. In the 2016 game, Dodge RB R.J. Carr rushed for 163 yards and scored the tie-breaking touchdown with 1:05 left. Dodge didn't complete a pass in the game. A shotgun option team, Dodge is probably the most run-heavy team in the state this season. The Indians average 347.8 yards rushing. They've attempted only 31 passes. The leading rusher is Carr (70-602-4). QB Nick Cummings and RB Erin Pitts both have 100-yard rushing games and four touchdowns. Dublin is a run-oriented team, also. The Irish took a 19-0 first-half lead and beat region rival Bleckley County 19-6 last week as RB Montarion Carswell, QB Rodriguez Martin and FB Jermaine Cooley scored rushing touchdowns. Dublin's best all-around players are probably DE/OG Bruce Guyton and DE/TE Steve Linton. Dublin hasn't won a region title since 2011. Dodge won a region title in 2015.
Maxwell's projection: Dodge County by 19
*Game capsule courtesy of GHSFD
Though Maxwell's projections forecast Dodge County to win handily over Dublin, recent matchups, both teams' start to this season and what's at stake in this game all suggest a much closer game. For one, whichever team wins will be in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed in Region 3. Secondly, both teams are coming into the game with momentum. Finally, this matchup has been decided by a touchdown in each of their last two meetings, though the Indians won both.
That this game could once again be close wouldn't come as much of a surprise. After all, this will be the 54th meeting between the two programs located 31 miles apart. Dodge County hasn't played a team more than Dublin and Swainsboro is the only team Dublin's played more.
There will be no element of surprise come Friday.
"These two teams have a strong history and it's always a competitive game," said Dublin coach Roger Holmes, who is in his 16th season with the Fighting Irish.
Both the Indians and Fighting Irish field offenses that primarily run the ball. The Fighting Irish run multiple formations with a Wing-T base, led by quarterback Rodriquez Martin — Martin's a junior and second-year starter — and full back Jermaine Cooley and running backs Corteveyes Mitchell and Greg Jones. Holmes said all four have around 400 rushing yards apiece.
The Indians run out of the pro set formation and are led by senior and second-year starter Nick Cummings at quarterback and running backs R.J. Carr.
This time last season the Indians were 1-4, but head into Friday 5-0 for the second time in three seasons — they won their first 11 games in 2015. It's possible they'd be 6-0, but weather cancelled their Appling County game. In two Region 3 games, they've beaten Southwest and Northeast a combined 74-27.
The Fighting Irish have a couple of losses on the season. On Aug. 24, they fell 21-14 to AAAAA's Veterans (currently 2-4) and two weeks later they gave one of AA's better unranked teams, Swainsboro (5-1), a good fight but fell 28-18. But they rebounded from the second loss by shutting out East Laurens 53-0 to open league play and followed that with a 19-6 win over Bleckley County.
Washington County (2-3, 1-0) is the only other unbeaten team in 3-AA play aside from Dublin and Dodge County.
"This is a good one to win," said Indians coach Rex Hodges, who is 3-1 against Dublin since becoming the Indians' coach in 2011. "Dublin has one of the best teams in the region and we definitely have our work cut out for us."
The Indians beat Dublin 28-21 last year and 14-7 in 2013, though the Fighting Irish own the all-time series, which began in 1957, at 33-19-1. The tie came in 1967 when both teams finished with six points.
"Last year's game was very close," Hodges said. "Either team probably could have won. We were fortunate then, but this is a new year so that game has no bearing on this one. It's a new season and we've got to go out there and play each play as we come to them and do our job. I know they'll do the same."
"I expect a tough, hard-nosed, hit-you-in-the-mouth-type football game and whichever team makes the big play is who's going to get a close win," Holmes said. "They're going to line up and run the football at least 85 percent of the time and so are we. We'll see which team gets it done. It should be close unless someone comes out and does something uncharacteristic to what they've done all year."
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