By Gabriel Stovall
It’s not a week full of marquee match ups, but some intriguing games still show up on the schedule. I call this Set Up Week. Because with wins this week, several teams will set themselves up to have some very special second halves of the season.
Let’s get right to the predictions this week. In the recap, I’ll update my record for the week.
EAGLE’S LANDING at SPALDING: For the second week in a row, the Golden Eagles are involved in our Crescent Buzz Game of the Week, and it’s a mighty early season tussle between two early Region 4-AAAA frontrunners. The winner takes pole position in what is beginning to look like a very entertaining race for the region title. It’s also a clash between two no nonsense, hard working teams with a lot to prove. Spalding is the quintessential blue collar bunch. Their players aren’t quote machines, and their fifth-year coach Nick Davis strikes you as just a hard worker with good pride in his team and hometown of Griffin. He’s groomed this group of seniors since freshman year to make a statement in a game like this. Meanwhile, Eagle’s Landing has its own proofs to make — among them, that it can still continue its winning ways and despite having a new man at the helm of the program, and that it can make this a special season for instantly legendary coach Joe Teknipp.
This game should be a close, entertaining one, but will likely come down to playmakers. And Eagle’s Landing has one of the state’s best. EAGLES LANDING 28, SPALDING 21.
WHITEWATER at ELCA: After two straight seasons of playing a non-region schedule chocked full of teams way above their classification, ELCA coach Jonathan Gess admits that he and his Chargers are way beyond the moral victory stage. They want to knock off one of the “big boys.” They should get as good a chance as any tonight against a struggling Class AAAA Whitewater squad. The Wildcats lone win in its first three games was against a very bad Banneker team — and they struggled to put up 14 points in that one. ELCA is a Class A school full of Division I NCAA talent. They’ll show it tonight and get that big classification feather in their cap. ELCA 31, WHITEWATER 21.
MCINTOSH at MUNDY’S MILL: McIntosh’s offense has had a hard time getting untracked, scoring just 23 points in three games against teams that aren’t exactly defensive juggernauts. Mundy’s Mill is probably not going to do much to help improve the Chiefs’ fortunes, either. The Tigers should get an easy win at home before next week’s Region 4-AAAAA subregion showdown at Northgate — a team that has only given up six points all season through four games. The Tigers have shown a few holes defensively that they may want to work on shoring up this week. MUNDY’S MILL 35, MCINTOSH 10.
WOODLAND at DUTCHTOWN:
FOREST PARK at STARR’S MILL: In this battle of Panthers, Starr’s Mill will win this game, no doubt, and become just the fifth Starr’s Mill squad to get off to a 4-0 start — the first since the 2009 state runner up team. But what’s worth watching in this one is how Forest Park continues to improve with new coach Dale Myers, who took over just three days before the start of the school year. Forest Park may not win a game this season, but against Luella and in the first half of the Woodland game before that, the Forest Park Panthers have shown greater grit and fight than perhaps at any point last year. Starr’s Mill is a potential Class AAAAA sleeper. But if Forest Park can show some fight in a game against a team of this caliber, it could be a sign that Myers could be slowly but surely building the Clayton County school into a winner again. STARR’S MILL 45, Forest Park 7.
HENRY COUNTY at PIKE COUNTY: Last week I predicted that the winner of Henry County-Mount Zion would go on to jumpstart its season in Region 4-AAAA, Div. A. I still think I picked that right, although I incorrectly chose Mount Zion to score the win over coach Morris Starr and the Warhawks. Now, the oldest high school in Henry County goes to a not-so-great Pike team and should get the win. In fact, with its next three games against Hampton, Walnut Grove and Eastside, the Hawks could very well be 5-2 heading into their October 23 showdown with undefeated Locust Grove (who should win easily tonight at Mount Zion, by the way). HENRY COUNTY 34, PIKE COUNTY 7.
Here are my picks on the rest of this week’s games. Winners are in CAPS.
CENTRAL CARROLLTON at Fayette
LOCUST GROVE at Mount Zion
Ola at LAMAR COUNTY
STOCKBRIDGE at Rockdale County
Union Grove at TRI-CITIES
MOUNT DE SALES at Strong Rock
Lovejoy at MCEACHERN
NORTH CLAYTON at Decatur
Walnut Grove at RIVERDALE
On to the College Game
No. 7 GEORGIA 31, SOUTH CAROLINA 21: Steve Spurrier always seems to have Mark Richt’s number. But this time the numbers on the scoreboard will be in favor of the Bulldogs.
No. 14 GEORGIA TECH 38, No. 8 NOTRE DAME 24: The Yellow Jackets catapult themselves into the top 10 with a huge win in South Bend.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 34, CITADEL 27: The Bulldogs are no pushover. This one being in Statesboro will be the big difference.
No. 12 Oregon 65, Georgia State 3: This one shouldn’t even be on the slate. A paycheck isn’t worth the beatdown the Panthers will take in this one.