Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

SWD-Arabia headline night of statewide showdowns

It would be difficult to find two more similar teams than Arabia Mountain and Southwest DeKalb. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the team sides will meet on Friday in a game that should determine the Region 5 championship.

Southwest DeKalb coach Damien Wimes said of Arabia Mountain: “They’re fast, they’ re physical, they’re a smart team, they’re well-coached and they very competitive.”

Arabia Mountain coach Stanley Pritchett said of Southwest DeKalb: “They’re physical, they’re well coach, they play with a lot of confidence and they have a lot of speed.”

Sounds like they’re watching their own game films.

Southwest DeKalb (6-2, 3-0) and Arabia Mountain (6-2, 3-0) will play on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Godfrey Stadium. The winner will be the region champion and earn the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. The loser is guaranteed a spot in the postseason, but will need to win its season finale next week to clinch homefield for the first round.

“We are kind of similar,” Pritchett said. “We play the same kind of game. It should be a good game. It should be a great atmosphere.”

Arabia Mountain is led by quarterback Bryson Williams (1,150 yards passing, 12 TDs), running back Joshua Campbell (419 yard, seven TDs) and receiver Silas Butler (458 yards, five TDs). The Rams are led on defense by Demetric Barnes and Thomas Rayton, who each had three sacks and four tackles for loss last week against Chamblee.

Southwest DeKalb is led by quarterback Justin Tomlin (1,200 passing yards) and running back Francisco Hunter, who has run for 150 yards in five of his eight games. The Southwest defense is sparked by all-state linebacker Eris Walker (11 tackles for loss), Jaquan Smith (eight sacks) and Garrison Cole (10 tackles for loss).

But Tomlin hurt his shoulder last week and didn’t play in the second half of a 14-7 win over Lithonia. Weems said the quarterback could be a game-time decision.

The two teams have played only three times. Southwest DeKalb won the first meeting in 2012, but Arabia Mountain has won the last two. The Rams won 14-7 last season and claimed their first region title.

Southwest DeKalb is looking for its first region title since 2009. That was the last season that Wimes was at the school, when he served as Buck Godfrey’s defensive coordinator.

“We’ve been trying to keep them focused, but our kids have been looking forward to this game for a long time,” Pritchett said.

Wimes said, “We don’t want to put too much pressure on the kids. We want them to play loose. We want them to know what’s at stake but not like our lives were depending on it.”

Other top games this week:

Stockbridge at Jones County: The second-most prolific offense in Class AAAAA belongs to Jones County. The stingiest defense in the state – regardless of classification – belongs to Stockbridge. Sometime will have to give when the two giants play for the Region 4 championship in Gray.

“They’re stingy with points, they’re stingy with yards,” Jones County coach Justin Rogers said. “They’re just a good defense.”

The Stockbridge defense has four shutouts and allowed only one opponent to score double-digits. Brenton Cox, an Ohio State commit, leads the defense with four sacks and five tackles for loss. The Tigers have 27 tackles for loss and eight interceptions.

The Stockbridge offense can move the ball, too. First-year quarterback Gabriel McKenzie (560 yards passing, 340 rushing) has grown into the role. The top rusher is B.J. Riley (524 yards, six TDs), but the team’s big-play maker is Florida State commitment Marquez Ezzard, a game-breaking threat as a receiver, return man and an occasional rusher.

Ware County at Wayne County: This game will determine the Region 2 championship. Ware County (3-4, 2-0) has won three straight games and Wayne County (6-1, 2-0) has won two straight.

Ware County’s offense is led by Raja Bradley, who has rushed for 200 yards in each of the last two games and scored four touchdowns in last week’s 35-3 win over South Effingham. The Gators forced five turnovers in the win. Wayne County is likely to throw it more often. Yellow Jackets quarterback Garrett Overholt threw three touchdown passes last week. The attack is complemented by running back Treg Patterson.

Both teams have played tough non-conference games: Wayne has beaten Valdosta and lost to Glynn Academy, Ware has lost to Glynn, Northside and Lowndes.

Morrow at McIntosh: Morrow could nail down the fourth playoff spot in Region 3 with a victory. The Mustangs (5-4, 2-3) have lost to region leaders Griffin, Starr’s Mill and Whitewater, but have beaten Fayette County and Riverdale. McIntosh (5-3, 1-3) is still alive, but must win its final two games against Morrow and Whitewater. Morrow hasn’t made the postseason since 1998.

Jackson at Decatur: Jackson (6-2, 4-1) can nail down the No 2 seed in Region 6 with a win over Decatur (4-4, 3-2). The Jaguars have won four straight games since losing to region champion Carver. Jackson has made the playoffs twice since the school was created as Southside in 1985 and have never been higher than a fourth seed.



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