McCALLIE BLUE TORNADO (6-0, 2-0) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (5-0, 2-0)
Besides the year-long bragging rights produced by the outcome, the top spot in Division II-AAA's East Region is on the line. The Blue Tornado have won the past three meetings in this old series by an average score of 34-9 — not since 2012 has the game been decided by less than two touchdowns — but Baylor has won six of the past 10. The rivalry is so contentious that the teams can't even agree on what the series record is: Baylor's files show it with a 43-37-4 advantage, while McCallie lists it as 44-39-3 in favor of the Red Raiders. Which team is able to manage the hype and electric atmosphere well enough to carry out the game plan will go a long way in deciding the outcome. While both offenses can be balanced, they rely mostly on running the ball. Top-ranked McCallie has jumped on opponents early in games this season, outscoring them 157-26 in the first half. The Blue Tornado are led on offense by senior QB DeAngelo Hardy, who has 1,285 total yards (757 passing, 498 rushing) and has averaged 7.4 yards per carry, and junior B.J. Harris (764 rushing yards, 8 per carry), who is the area's second-leading scorer. Third-ranked Baylor, which has hammered foes by an average score of 40-9, is led on offense by Tennessee-committed junior RB Elijah Howard (10.3 yards per carry) and on the other side of the ball by senior LB Noah Martin, who ranks among the area's leaders in tackles and has nine for loss.
BOYD BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (4-1, 1-1) at SILVERDALE BAPTIST SEAHAWKS (1-4, 0-3)
Thanks in part to the dual-threat ability of junior QB Eli Morris, the Buccaneers' spread offense has turned heads. A sturdy line has helped lead the way to an average of 39.4 points per game after Boyd Buchanan scored in double digits just once last season. Morris has averaged 260 yards and more than two touchdowns per game this season, with freshmen Caden Johnson and Matt Stone also key contributors. Silverdale Baptist, which rolled to a 42-0 win last year in this DII-AA East Region matchup, has scored more than 14 just once this season and will need to get on track offensively.
RHEA COUNTY EAGLES (5-0) at OOLTEWAH OWLS (2-3)
After back-to-back mediocre seasons, the Eagles are on a roll and look like the program most are used to seeing under coach Mark Pemberton, who led them to more than 40 wins from 2013 to '16. The Class 5A program has an extremely experienced O-line full of seniors who play big boy football and move the pile forward. Senior LB Bradley Goodwin and the rest of the Rhea defense will face an O-line that has been dominant of late, with 6A's Owls paving the way for Jaequan Greenhill. The sophomore RB has rushed for 194, 204, 130 and 134 yards in his past four games.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN EAGLES (2-4, 0-2) at BRAINERD PANTHERS (0-6, 0-2)
The Eagles will try to spark a strong finish to their season behind Terrance Russell, who is a threat to take the ball to the end zone any time he touches it and can make plays a variety of ways. Brainerd returns to Region 3-3A competition and will work to carry over momentum from its best performance this season after losing 46-36 last week at Austin-East. Xiyeer Lattimore will lead the Panthers on offense and needs to find a rhythm in the passing game. At 6-foot-4, WR LaDerron Freeman is a mismatch on the outside for Signal Mountain's defensive backs.
NORTHWEST WHITFIELD BRUINS (3-1, 0-0) at RIDGELAND PANTHERS (1-3, 1-0)
The postseason picture for Georgia's Region 6-AAAA will start to take shape after this week's games, including this matchup between two perennial playoff teams. The records here can be misleading. The Bruins' wins have come against teams with a combined 4-8 record, while the Panthers' three defeats are against teams with a 12-2 mark. Northwest's young offense has had some nice moments behind freshman QB Owen Brooker, who has 510 yards and five touchdowns, and backfield mates Gavin Ellis and Chase Gentry have combined for 527 yards and WR Matt Redmond has 21 catches. Ridgeland is coming off a 25-20 win over Heritage last Saturday in which the Panthers' defense forced three turnovers that led to a 13-0 lead early. Ridgeland's Jordan Blackwell and Terrance and Torrance Roberts are two-way starters who can turn a game on either side of the ball. Can the Northwest defense, led by linemen Chase Humble and Zach Costlow, contain the dangerous Ridgeland running game?
HERITAGE GENERALS (3-2, 0-1) at LaFAYETTE RAMBLERS (3-0, 1-0)
Another 6-AAAA matchup, with this game between rivals who played one of last season's more memorable contests among northwest Georgia programs. Heritage raced to a 49-13 lead at halftime, but LaFayette nearly pulled off a miraculous rally before losing 49-47. Heritage hurt itself with three turnovers in last week's loss to Ridgeland, offsetting a productive night from the offense. QB Nick Hanson has more than 700 passing yards, with WR Sam Randolph — who had seven catches and 125 yards against Ridgeland — joining Dylan Bryan and Logan Lowe to form one of the more potent groups in the area. LaFayette's defense is coming off its best performance under head coach Paul Ellis, who took over before last season, having forced three turnovers in a weather-shortened 33-6 win over Southeast Whitfield. Offensively, the Ramblers are led by QB Jaylen Ramsey and speedy backs Jamario Clements and Trey Taylor.
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Friday, Oct. 4, 2019
All times EDT; kickoff 7:30 p.m. unless noted
McCallie at Baylor
Boyd Buchanan at Silverdale Academy
Cleveland at Bradley Central
Signal Mountain at Brainerd
Walker Valley at Lenoir City
Central at Howard
Lookout Valley at Copper Basin
East Hamilton at Sequoyah
East Ridge at Anderson County
Soddy-Daisy at Hixson
CAK at Notre Dame
McMinn Central at Loudon
McMinn County at Heritage
Rhea County at Ooltewah
Red Bank at Sweetwater
Tyner at Tellico Plains
Sale Creek at Whitwell
Sequatchie County at Smith County
Cannon County at Grundy County, 8
Marion County at Bledsoe County, 8
Rockmart at Chattooga
Christian Heritage at Darlington
Coahulla Creek at Haralson County
Gordon Central at Dade County
River Ridge at Dalton
Gordon Lee at Bowdon
Heritage at LaFayette
Sonoraville at Ringgold
LFO at Adairsville
North Murray at Murray County
Northwest Whitfield at Ridgeland
Southeast Whitfield at Pickens
Mt. Zion at Trion
North Jackson at Fairview, 8
Compiled by Stephen Hargis, Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young.