Here’s a look at the week’s top games in Class AA.
No. 4 Lovett at Marist (No. 4, AAAA): A week after a painful last-minute loss, Lovett, Class AA’ s defending state champs, will have a tall order to avoid its first back-to-back losses in two years.
The Lions were beset by turnovers last week, when Westminster ultimately drove and scored the game-winning TD late in the fourth quarter. Lovett dominated time of possession and finished with 315 yards of offense, but mustered only 10 points due largely to three turnovers.
Marist enters at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, fresh off a 17-14 win over Godby (Fla.) that was decided on a field goal with eight seconds remaining. The War Eagles feature a big offensive line, led by Georgia commit Sage Hardin.
This only the third meeting between the schools. Lovett won last year, 41-38 in double overtime.
Keep an eye on: All the little things coaches talk about all the time: Penalties, turnovers, third-down stops and conversions. Both games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, and I’m expecting a similar outcome in the third installment.
No. 8 B.E.S.T. Academy at Central-Carrollton: Just in their third year of varsity football, the Eagles are ranked for the first time after defeating Callaway (then-No. 3, AAA), last week, 14-7.
Deshawn Waller ran for 210 yards and threw a touchdown pass in the win, while the B.E.S.T. defense held Callaway to its lowest output since a shutout loss to Washington County in the 2012 playoffs. That defense could get tested this week.
On the strength of several big plays, Central-Carrollton ran past then-No. 8 Bowdon in Week 1, 34-0. The Lions scored on interception and kickoff returns, as well as an 85-yard touchdown run from leading rusher Damarious Owensby.
Keep an eye on: The big-play backs. You likely won’t have much of a choice. Thousand-yard backs Waller and Owensby are the focal points of their respective offenses and will likely get lots of work Friday night.
Irwin County at No. 5 Fitzgerald: These rivals have played every year since the series began in 1954, making it one of the longest-running continuous rivalries in the state. A tie last year snapped a 13-game winning streak for Fitzgerald.
After a down year in 2013, the Purple Hurricanes have shot back into the top 10 with consecutive wins over Class AAAA Worth County and then-No. 3 Heard County. They’re led by Gerald Morgan, a safety-turned-quarterback who’s had a hand in eight of the 10 TDs Fitzgerald has scored this year.
Irwin County (1-0-1) ran for over 300 yards in last week’s 49-20 win over Berrien. The Class A Indians opened the season tying Early County, 7-7.
No. 9 Heard County at Callaway: A week ago, both teams were ranked No. 3 in their respective classes. Now, after tough losses in their season openers, one of these teams is staring down the prospect of an 0-2 start.
Heard County can be counted on for offense. Dating back to last season, running back Duranta Dunson has run for 693 yards in his last two games. That’s not a misprint. And yet both of those games have been losses, with the Braves defense giving up a combined 104 points.
Callaway, which defeated Heard County 34-0 last year, was shut down last week in a 14-7 loss to B.E.S.T. Academy. The Cavaliers feature Terry Godwin, one of the top college prospects in the country, as well as running back Eddie Culpepper.
Class AA top 10 schedule
1. Greater Atlanta Christian at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy
2. Washington-Wilkes vs. Wilkinson County
3. Benedictine OFF
4. Lovett at Marist
5. Fitzgerald vs. Irwin County
6. Vidalia at Toombs County
7. Brooks County at Madison County (Fla.)
8. B.E.S.T. Academy at Central-Carrollton
9. Heard County at Callaway
10. Seminole County at Pacelli