In my brain, I’m 0-2 on picks this week already, because although this didn’t publish before Thursday’s Northgate-Drew game or the Georgia Southern-Appalachain State matchup, I picked both Drew and Georgia Southern to win.
Bad omen for me this week? We’ll see.
Drew’s explosive offense couldn’t overcome five turnovers as Northgate defeated the Titans 35-25. The Vikings are 8-0 for the first time since 2012 and only the second time in school history, which sets up a monster matchup at undefeated (for now) Starr’s Mill.
If the Panthers can get by a scrappy-good Mundy’s Mill team that’s reeling from a 36-26 loss to Drew last week, that Starr’s Mill-Northgate game next Friday could be one for the ages.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got some top flight matchups to talk about this week in my weekly Pick Six, starting first in College Park where I’ll be Friday night.
No. 4 SANDY CREEK (7-1, 2-1) at No. 1 WOODWARD ACADEMY (8-0, 3-0): Maybe you allowed that 17-15 loss to seventh-ranked Jonesboro to lull you to sleep on the Patriots. But here’s a couple things you should know: First, Jonesboro has turned out to be a pretty darn good football team. Secondly, here’s what Sandy Creek has done since then:
49-6 over Hampton.
34-0 over a Newnan team that was undefeated at the time and today has only one other loss.
41-6 over Auburn (Ala.) — considered one of the better teams in Alabama.
42-7 over Whitewater
49-7 over Troup — Woodward beat Troup 51-21 two weeks ago.
That’s a combined score of 215-26. What does it all mean? Just that if you sleep on Sandy Creek’s ability to topple Class AAAA’s top-ranked team, don’t be surprised if you catch a rude awakening. PLenty of intrigue in this one. Not only are these two schools rivals — Woodward leads the all-time series six games to five — but Sandy Creek will be looking for a little payback after the War Eagles snapped a four game skid to coach Chip Walker’s bunch with a 28-7 win in Tyrone last year.
Woodward tailback Elijah Holyfield — son of former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield, and widely considered the state’s top back — has been out since Week 2 with a broken foot has been out since Week 2 with a broken foot, and will likely be a game time decision as to whether or not he plays. Woodward is dangerous without him, but elite with him. Class A power ELCA played coach John Hunt’s team close a couple of weeks ago, and I say the Creek does what the Chargers could not quite pull off. SANDY CREEK 34, WOODWARD 31.
MUNDY’S MILL (5-3, 3-2) at STARR’S MILL (7-0, 4-0): The Battle of the Mills should be an entertaining one, as both of these teams have similar ways of beating you — solid ground games and bend-but-don’t-break defenses. Both of these Region 4-AAAAA foes have punishing running games led by a duo of versatile tailbacks.
For the Tigers, its the senior combo of Khalid Hylton (543 rushing yards on 66 carries and 10 touchdowns) and Marquarius Crutchfield (637 yards on 97 carries and 7 TDs). Meanwhile, Starr’s Mill’s tailback tandem consists of senior Dion Munerlyn (506 yards, 49 touches, 2 TDs) and sophomore Rico Frye who’s already rushed for 1,153 yards, including five straight 200-yard performances.
Mundy’s Mill’s defense has been a bit porous against top flight offenses, but its own high scoring attack has been able to pick up the slack. Not sure that strategy will hold up on the road against a Starr’s Mill bunch averaging over 40 points per game. STARR’S MILL 38, MUNDY’S MILL 21.
SPALDING (6-1, 2-1) at RIVERDALE (4-3, 2-1): A little bit of bright side/dark side for Spalding: On the bright side, the week off last Friday helped give the Jaguars a bit of a reprieve, and time to get guys like junior running back A.J. Moses healthy again. On the dark side, the bye week came after a heartbreaking loss to Jonesboro ended Spalding’s hopes of a perfect regular season. They’ll face a Riverdale squad that, in last week’s 23-12 loss to Jonesboro, showed it can compete with the state’s best. And if not for some self-inflicted wounds, the Raiders really had a chance to pull the upset.
If Moses is healthy, I expect for Spalding to bounce back with a win. If not, or even if hobbled, Riverdale will make it very, very interesting. SPALDING 28, RIVERDALE 27.
No. 10 LANDMARK CHRISTIAN (5-2, 1-0) at No. 6 ELCA (4-3, 1-0): I’ve consistently ranked the Chargers in the top three over teams like Prince Avenue, whom the Chargers beat handily in a preseason scrimmage. I’ve done it because I know how coach Jonathan Gess’ teams are when it comes to Region 5-A and Class A play.
ELCA’s beaten the War Eagles in seven out of the last eight match ups — and quite soundly in most, no matter how good Landmark appeared to be coming in. Last year, the Chargers showed it still had its muscle in a 35-28 win at Landmark after an 0-6 start, in essence announcing that ELCA was still ELCA as far as region play was concerned. Landmark is giving up a shade over 25 points per game, which probably won’t bode well against an ELCA offense that just hung 70 on Strong Rock two weeks ago. With a week of rest and extra time to prepare for its rival, expect ELCA to be impressive here. ELCA 38, LANDMARK 21.
No. 2 STOCKBRIDGE (7-0, 3-0) at WOODLAND (6-1, 3-0): Woodland coach Steve Davenport made no bones about his team’s goals revolving around beating their inner city rival.
“If we want to get where (Stockbridge) is, we have to start with beating them,” Davenport said in the preseason. And while the second-ranked Tigers get all the pub, and other Henry County squads like Locust Grove, ELCA and Eagle’s Landing seem to get most of the headlines, Woodland is just steady chugging along after getting drubbed 47-0 at Northgate back on Sept. 11. Since then, the Wolfpack has won three straight in fairly convincing fashion. But their level of competition takes a steep uptick this week against a Stockbridge team that’s never lost to around-the-way foe, and which also has eyes squarely set on playing for a state title in December.
Woodland will not pull the upset, but they’ll make it super uncomfortable for Stockbridge in what I perceive will be one of those ugly, grind-it-out wins that coach Kevin Whitley’s teams have often had to rely on over the years. STOCKBRIDGE 17, WOODLAND 7.
LOCUST GROVE (7-0, 3-0) at HENRY COUNTY (4-3, 2-1): Speaking of teams getting slept on, count Locust Grove among such squads as Starr’s Mill and Northgate which must be asking, “Where’s our respect?” Perhaps because of what some may perceive to be a less-than-challenging schedule, the unbeaten Wildcats aren’t getting the love in the polls or pub that they may feel they deserve. The only thing that will change that is for coach Clint Satterfield’s team to channel their inner Al Davis and “Just win, Baby.”
To be sure, the Warhawks won’t be an easy out. Coach Morris Starr has a scrappy bunch with just enough talent to burn you if you take them lightly. Depth for Henry County is the question. And Locust Grove knows how to pound you with its punishing ground game, led by junior Caleb Huntley and his 932 rushing yards, eight TDs and gaudy 9.4 yards-per-carry average. It stays close to around the middle of the second quarter. LOCUST GROVE 41, HENRY COUNTY 28.
Here are the rest of my picks with winners in CAPS:
Union Grove at DUTCHTOWN
Walnut Grove at EAGLE’S LANDING
EASTSIDE, COVINGTON at Hampton
Luella at OLA
MOUNT VERNON at Strong Rock
Whitewater at FAYETTE COUNTY
MCINTOSH at Forest Park
Pike County at GRIFFIN
Newton at LOVEJOY
North Clayton at CEDAR GROVE
And in the College game, only one pick from the Big Four state schools this week, as UGA and Georgia State each have bye weeks and Georgia Southern will spend Saturday licking its wounds from Thursday’s App State beatdown.
No. 9 FLORIDA STATE 35, GEORGIA TECH 17 — Once again, I’m not picking the Jackets to win a game until after they win a game. We’ll be on The Flats covering this one in person. Still hard to believe how hard, fast and far Tech has fallen.
Gabriel Stovall is the founding editor of thecrescentbuzz.com. He’s been covering South Metro Atlanta sports for the past four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow him on Twitter @GabrielStovall1, or follow us @crescent_buzz.