Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Six region titles up for grabs tonight

In the last week of the regular season, championships are on the line in Regions 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8. Here’s a look at those games and other key matchups.

Region 1 Championship:  Pelham (8-1, 8-0) at Mitchell County (8-1, 8-0)

These two have one of the longest running rivalries in all of Georgia high school football, having met at least once almost every year since 1923. Mitchell County holds a decisive edge, 72-24 with five ties, but the Hornets have won the last four meetings, including a 29-26 decision last season in a game that gave Pelham its first region title since 2001. Prior to Pelham’s four game winning streak, the Eagles had won 10 straight in the series. Pelham is led by sophomore QB Kendrick Patterson, who has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions. He has also rushed for more than 350 yards and eight touchdowns. The Hornet defense is led by junior LB Javoris Williams. Mitchell County is led by a sophomore QB as well, James Thomas, who has passed for a little more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for nearly 900 yards and 16 scores. The defense is led by junior LB Malik Barnes and senior LB Anthony McIntyre.

Region 3 Championship:  No. 5 (Public) Emanuel County Institute (8-1, 5-0) at No. 5 No. 9 (Private) Calvary Day (8-1, 5-0)

(Preview courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily) This is a region championship between subregion winners. Calvary and ECI also won their subregions last year, but the championship game was canceled weeks before to accommodate an unprecedented number of weather-postponed games in southeast Georgia. Calvary and ECI were declared co-champions. Calvary is seeking its fourth region title in five years. It would be four in six years for ECI. Both are run-oriented teams with quarterbacks who distribute and rarely run. Calvary relies on a feature back, Jalen Leary, who rushed for 156 yards last week in a 35-10 victory over Savannah Christian. Leary has rushed for 1,105 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. ECI averages 335.7 rushing yards and rarely passes (21 of 51 attempts). The leading rushers are Ty Carswell (118-937-10), Eric Dixon (122-919-13) and Bobby McNear (71-695-13). All three could finish with more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage, as McNear has another 176 receiving. ECI has scored at least 31 points against every Class A opponent this season. Calvary has not allowed a Class A opponent to score more than 14 points in seven games since a 55-25 win over Montgomery County. Calvary Day won 42-7 in the 2014 Region 3-A championship game.

Region 4 Championship:  No. 3 (Public) Macon County (7-2, 5-0) at No. 1 (Public) Manchester (9-0, 5-0)

(Preview courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily) This is the Region 4-A championship game, matching the winner of subregion A (Manchester) and the subregion B winner (Macon County). It is also a rematch of last year’s championship game, which Macon County won 55-13. The teams met again three weeks later in the playoffs, with Macon County winning a much closer game. Macon County has won nine of the past 10 meetings and leads the series 12-4. Manchester is a running team that averages 310.6 yards per game on the ground and has attempted just 42 passes this season. Kelvin Turner (114 carries, 1,035 yards, 12 TDs) is the leading rusher, but the Blue Devils also get big contributions from Deenizeo Gamble (108-850-12) and Kalil Brawner (51-504-7). LB Jontavious Ferguson leads the team in total tackles (96) and tackles for losses (21). Macon County is more balanced but also relies heavily on the run, averaging 222.7 yards per game rushing and 125.8 passing. Most of the running game comes from RB Aukeeveous McLendon (119-1,018-6) and QB Jadarrius Hicks (91-674-8). No other player has more than nine carries. Hicks is 78-of-146 passing for 1,120 yards and 21 touchdowns.  Macon County beat Manchester, 28-14, in the 2016 Class A public-school quarterfinals.

Region 6 Championship:  No. 9 (Public) Mt. Zion-Carroll (8-1, 5-1) at No. 3 (Private) Mount Paran Christian (8-2, 7-0)

Mt. Zion won the right to play for the region title by virtue of its higher power rating over Trion and Darlington, which also had 5-1 sub-region records. This will be the eighth time the schools have met since 2008, with Mt. Paran winning all but one of the games (Mt. Zion won the first meeting in 2008). The Eagles won the last meeting in 2015, 35-18. Mt. Zion is looking for its first region title since 1996, while Mt. Paran last won the crown in 2015. Both teams rely heavily on their ground game, averaging well over 300 yards per contest.

Region 7 Championship:  Aquinas (6-3, 4-1) at No. 5 (Private) Stratford Academy (9-0, 5-0)

The Irish and the Eagles have met five times in just three seasons, including three times in 2015 – once in the regular season, once in the region championship game and a third time in the private semifinals. Aquinas won all three. However, the Eagles won last year, 27-7, in the regular season finale for both teams. Stratford is 9-0 for the first time since 1999, when the Eagles finished 13-0 and won the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) state title. Aquinas won region championships in 2013, when the Irish also won the private school state title, 2014 and 2015. This would be the first region title for Stratford, since the Eagles joined the Georgia High Schools Association (GHSA) in 2014.

Region 8 Championship:  No. 2 (Private) Prince Avenue Christian (9-0, 8-0) at No. 4 (Private) Athens Academy (9-0, 8-0)

(Preview courtesy of Georgia High School Football Daily) A win by Prince Avenue would be the fifth consecutive title for the Wolverines. Athens Academy last won a region championship in 2012, also the last time that the Spartans beat Prince Avenue. Prince Avenue is fifth in Class A private scoring (37.8) and scoring defense (10.9). Athens Academy is first in scoring (42.8) and second in scoring defense (7.1). Prince Avenue averages 249.7 yards passing and 150.9 rushing per game. QB Grant Roland is 128-of-193 passing for 1,983 yards and 19 touchdowns. WR/DB Christian Parrish has 45 catches for 1,033 yards and 13 touchdowns. LB/RB Sam Wessinger is the leading tackler (56 solo stops) and rusher (389 yards). Athens Academy gets two-thirds of its offense running the ball. RB/DB Payton Bowles has rushed for 829 yards and 12 touchdowns and has another 217 yards and three touchdowns receiving. He also has five tackles for losses on defense. RB Henry Trapnell has more than 800 all-purpose yards and is excellent in the return game. Both teams have strong offensive lines. Athens Academy’s Joe Colley and Prince Avenue’s Daniel Parrish are returning first-team all-region players, and Prince Avenue’s Harrison Jump has committed to Georgia Tech. Prince Avenue won last season, 28-0.

Other games of note:

No. 2 (Public) Irwin County vs. Turner County

No. 7 (Public) Commerce at George Walton Academy

No. 7 (Private) Mt. Pisgah Christian vs. No. 8 (Public) Trion

No. 8 (Private) Tattnall Square vs. Washington-Wilkes

No. 10 (Private) Darlington at Whitefield Academy

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