Prediction time, folks, and it’s been a while. It’s a great week to jump back into my crystal ball with key region games all across the area, particularly in Clayton and Henry Counties.
As always, I’ll start with my “Pick Six” analysis and predictions, then other games where I choose winners and losers only, followed up by the state’s Division I college programs.
Enjoy! I’ll catch you up on my predictions record this weekend after the games.
RIVERDALE vs. No. 7 JONESBORO: Don’t chalk this up as an automatic victory for the hot streaking Cardinals. In Riverdale, Jonesboro may face the most potentially explosive offense and overall talented team since Sandy Creek. No offense to Eagle’s Landing, who beat the seventh-ranked Cardinals by allowing superstar Antonio Gibson run wild. But the Raiders have many ways to beat you, starting on offense with dual threat junior quarterback Joseph Cambridge and four wideouts, all 6-foot-2 or more, who are capable of stretching the field. And don’t forget about Tennessee commitment Chidi Okonya at defensive end.
Coach Terry Herrod has tremendous respect for what Jonesboro has accomplished this season, and for all the talk of four-star Division I prospects Zerrick Cooper and Jordan Griffin, Herrod says that its diminutive running back Montralius Mosley who’s “one of the top five or six players in the state right now.” The matchup to watch will be the big, aggressive Riverdale offensive line against the smaller, but equally active Jonesboro front four.
With all the offensive firepower each team possess, this game will be won in the trenches and secondarily by playmakers. In that regard, we’ll give the edge to Jonesboro. JONESBORO 31, RIVERDALE 21
MUNDY’S MILL at DREW: All Clayton County eyes will likely be on Riverdale-Jonesboro, but Mundy’s Mill and Drew is a game that you ought not let slip between the cracks. That’s because Drew, with a win, can still play it’s way into the top spot in its subdivision, with a little help from Starr’s Mill. Drew ends the season against the Tigers, then undefeated Northgate and McIntosh. Although both Mundy’s Mill and Drew have just one loss in the region, Mundy’s Mill has already played — and lost to — Northgate. So both teams are playing in front of immense stakes.
Add to that the fact two potent offenses will be on display, starting with the Titans who have lit up the scoreboard against virtually everyone they’ve played. Meanwhile, Mundy’s Mill boasts a talented tailback tandem in seniors Khalid Hylton and Marqarius Crutchfield. The duo has combined for 1,020 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 7.2 yards per carry together. Speaking of yards-per-carry averages, how about Drew RB Quarderman Sloan’s 15.1 yards per pop tally. He’s got 13 touchdowns and 859 rushing yards. What does it all mean? Only that the lightbulbs on the Southern Crescent Stadium scoreboard better be fully operational in this one. Could become a shootout. DREW 45, MUNDY’S MILL 42.
No. 1 WOODWARD ACADEMY at FAYETTE COUNTY: This one should be a blowout. Woodward’s starting its two week Fayette County tour against a Fayette County High team that’s probably not as bad as its 1-5 record indicates. The Tigers have had lots of tough breaks and a few close games they feel they should’ve won. The interesting thing to see here is not only the kind of fight Fayette can put up, but also how seriously Woodward takes this one ahead of next week’s showdown with No. 4 Sandy Creek. WOODWARD 48, FAYETTE COUNTY 14.
HENRY COUNTY (4-2, 2-0) at EASTSIDE, COVINGTON (4-2, 1-1): Quietly, Henry County has jumped out to its first 4-2 start since the 2008 squad coached by Mike Rozier that finished tied for the school’s best mark (10-2) in history. It’s happened impressively, as, after losing its first two games, coach Morris Starr’s team has reeled off four straight Ws — perhaps the most impressive being last week’s 32-16 win against Walnut Grove. The schedule does the Warhawks no favors from here on out, however. Starting Friday with an Eastside team that’s sometimes hard to put a finger on. When the Eagles are good, they’re good. Like in Eastside’s 37-12 win against Griffin or the 24-7 victory against Antonio Gibson and Eagle’s Landing.
But when they’re bad, it’s ugly. See the 43-14 loss to Jonesboro or last week’s 42-13 setback at Locust Grove. Meanwhile, Henry County is riding the momentum of four straight wins and playing great defense to boot. I say Henry County catches Eastside on one of those bad days, and gives itself a chance to make a claim for the region’s top spot. HENRY COUNTY 35, EASTSIDE, 24.
EAGLE’S LANDING (4-2, 1-1) at LOCUST GROVE: 6-0, 2-0): Eagle’s Landing rebounded nicely from its loss at Eastside with a strong performance against second-year program Hampton. Antonio Gibson continues to be Eagle’s Landing’s workhorse. He’s got 531 rushing yards on 63 attempts to go with 22 catches and 298 yards and eight total touchdowns. And although sophomore quarterback Cam Lewis has seemingly emerged as the answer under center, the Eagles will need more of a well-rounded effort to beat the first ever 6-0 Locust Grove squad led by tailback Caleb Huntley who’s been torching opponents to the tune of 778 rushing yards and an average of 13 yards per touch.
Aside from sheer talent, Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield has been point to a season like this since the school opened in 2009. The Wildcats want to keep proving that they belong in the conversation of elite Class AAAA football teams, and I think a convincing win against the Golden Eagles will help extend that conversation. LOCUST GROVE 38, EAGLE’S LANDING 27.
OLA at No. 3 STOCKBRIDGE: The Tigers have a legit sack machine in senior defensive end and Ole Miss commit Charles Wiley. The 6-foot-3, 245 pounder notched his 40th career sack in last week’s 12-0 win against Dutchtown. Stockbridge sometimes lulls people to sleep with its style of play because it doesn’t always look like a thing of offensive beauty. But while style points alone have never been integral to a championship season, great defense and a solid running game has. And Stockbridge excels abundantly in those areas.
Ola continues to improve with second year coach Jared Zito, and were hopeful for its first winning season in school history. With three games remaining along with a region play-in game, it can definitely happen. Just don’t expect Friday’s result against Stockbrdige to be a part of that effort. STOCKBRIDGE 35, OLA 10.
And here are my other high school picks in CAPS:
STARR’S MILL at Morrow
Hampton at WALNUT GROVE
Troup at SANDY CREEK
Ola at STOCKBRIDGE
Strong Rock at OUR LADY OF MERCY
WOODLAND at Union Grove
Forest Park at NORTHGATE
MOUNT ZION at Pike County
NORTH CLAYTON at Maynard Jackson
Now to the college game:
GEORGIA 31, MISSOURI 27 — The only thing stopping me from going the other way on this one is the fact that it’s being played between the hedges.
PITTSBURGH 34, GEORGIA TECH 24 — The decimation of the A and B back positions due to injury has left the once promising Yellow Jackets as a shell of themselves. Can’t pick them to win again until I see them win again.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 55, New Mexico State 7 — The Eagles from Statesboro keep on rolling through the Sun Belt.
BALL STATE 38, GEORGIA STATE 28 — Give the Panthers half a defense and they actually have enough offensive ability to make noise in the Sun Belt.
Gabriel Stovall is the founding editor of thecrescentbuzz.com. He can be reached for story ideas, tips, feedback and criticisms at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GabrielStovall1, and follow us @crescent_buzz.