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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Walker County's Ethan West (65) and Skyler Mullins (60) prepare to block for quarterback Tucker Pope during the Mustangs' Sept. 4 game at Rhea County.

RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES (7-0, 2-0) at SODDY-DAISY TROJANS (3-4, 1-0)

Soddy-Daisy has won the past two Region 4-5A championships and helped lock last year's title down with a 14-7 victory at Rhea County in which Hayden Maynor had 22 tackles and 205 total yards of offense. Coach Mark Pemberton's team has had an extra week of practice to prepare for the Trojans this time after taking a COVID-19 forfeit victory over Red Bank. Jayden Goodwin helped a struggling offense get going two weeks ago in a win over Ooltewah with a diving reception on a deep throw to the end zone, and senior Dalton Hampton helped close out the win with a breakaway run. The Golden Eagles have a standout LB duo with Austin Brackett (four sacks) and Drew Fisher (61 tackles, six for loss), while Jadden Pankey has five of Rhea's 13 interceptions this season. Soddy-Daisy QB Isaac Barnes was on the money last week in the first half against Signal Mountain, connecting with Landon Maynor and Logan Ricketts for big plays. The Trojans will look to defensive stars Jonah Gipson and Landon Lewis to make big stops against Rhea's steady wing-T attack.

 

WALKER VALLEY MUSTANGS (4-2) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (6-1)

This nonregion matchup will feature two of the top QBs in the area. Tucker Pope has accounted for 22 touchdowns (14 passing, eight rushing) for the Class 5A Mustangs, and the East Hamilton secondary will be challenged by sure-handed speedster Brody Swafford, who has 582 receiving yards and eight touchdown grabs this year. Class 4A's fifth-ranked Hurricanes have outscored the opposition by an average of 41-14 in 2019, and Haynes Eller has completed 83 of 129 passes for 1,170 yards, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions in six starts. Playmakers abound for coach Grant Reynolds, including junior Jeremiah Flemmons, who has scored a total of eight touchdowns in the past three games. Walker Valley's defense will be challenged in big ways trying to stop an attack that also features its own talented playmakers, including bruising RB Juandrick Bullard and standout WRs Kaunyae Burgans and Blaine Savage.

 

McMINN COUNTY CHEROKESS (7-0, 2-0) at CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDERS (3-4, 1-1)

With one of the state's top offensive lines opening holes for him, McMinn County's Jalen Hunt has run away from defenses for 1,372 yards on 117 rushes (11.7 per carry) and 16 touchdowns with the regular-season stretch run remaining. Hunt's video game numbers include touchdown runs of 86 and 97 yards. The Western Carolina-committed senior has rushed for 4,548 yards and 46 touchdowns in his high school career, and he has also picked off eight passes on defense. However, opposing teams cannot key on Hunt alone; sophomore quarterback Jayden Miller has been fantastic for Class 6A's fourth-ranked team. Miller has thrown for 579 yards with nine touchdowns and an interception, and he has carried the ball 59 times for 588 yards and nine scores. The Cherokees have allowed only 59 points as Jalan James (four interceptions, three touchdown catches) and Jaryd Gable have combined for 16 tackles for loss. Cleveland is coming off back-to-back losses to rival Bradley Central and Shelbyville in which the Blue Raiders gave up a combined 92 points.

 

ROCKMART YELLOW JACKETS (3-1, 2-0) at NORTH MURRAY MOUNTAINEERS (2-1, 2-0)

The preseason favorite visits the reigning champion in this GHSA Region 6-AAA showdown in Chatsworth. Rockmart, new to the league this year as the result of reclassification and realignment, did nothing to diminish its standing as the favorite in a 68-7 dismantling of Sonoraville two weeks ago to open region play. One of the state's best athletes, Javin Whatley, is the starting QB for the Jackets; he has just less than 800 total yards and seven total touchdowns with the regular season not yet half over. Three Rockmart RBs have more than 100 yards, and WR Dennis Sims is a big-play threat with 207 yards on just six receptions. North Murray is also coming off a win against Sonoraville, 40-20 last week on the road and in the rain, and is starting to cook offensively behind sophomore QB Seth Griffin, who had five total touchdowns (three runs) against the Phoenix. Senior D'Ante Tidwell had more than 200 total yards and Cade Petty added 123. Still, Mountaineers coach Preston Poag's team will have to make a few defensive stops to keep this one tight.

 

RINGGOLD TIGERS (3-2, 2-1) at ADAIRSVILLE TIGERS (3-1, 2-0)

This intriguing Region 6-AAA game will have big playoff implications and features two offenses really starting to click. Ringgold has perhaps the top ground game in 6-AAA, led by Kori Dumas, who is coming off a 131-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 34-13 win over Murray County and now has 15 scores this season. Peyton Williams and Malachi Hill are also running threats, and sophomore QB Mason Parker has proven to be a problem running and passing. Adairsville does its best work in the second half, proven again by last week's 43-14 win over LaFayette in a game that was tied at 14 at intermission. Coach Eric Bishop's team has developed a taste for the big play, too. Courtney Slocum has averaged a whopping 41 yards on runs and 31 on receptions with seven touchdowns, while Chris Roper has 209 yards and a pair of scores on 10 catches. The team's biggest star, however, is LB Tokyo Gordon, who had 16 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception last week.

 

GORDON LEE TROJANS (5-0, 0-0) at BOWDON RED DEVILS (2-3, 1-0)

Is this the week the Trojans get tested? Coach Josh Groce's team has averaged 44 points a game, but the Red Devils have played a much tougher schedule, including losses to Class AA powers Temple, Haralson County and rival Bremen, plus a win over Class AAAAAA's Heritage of Conyers. Bowdon got back in its weight class last week and pounded Trion 42-20 as star RB Gage Stephens had three touchdown runs. Gordon Lee, though, has yet to find a defense it couldn't run through, around or over. Cade Peterson, coming off a 170-yard, two-touchdown effort on just seven carries in a 48-0 win over Southeast Whitfield last week, has 554 yards and 12 scores, while sophomore Bo Rhudy has 528 yards and seven touchdowns. The winner has the early upper hand in Region 6-A public.

Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / LaFayette's Jamario Clements, left, is tackled by Gordon Lee's Cade Peterson on Sept. 18 at Gordon Lee.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

All times Eastern; kickoff 7:30 p.m. unless noted

TENNESSEE

Bradley Central at William Blount

Christian Academy of Knoxville at Boyd Buchanan

Central at Anderson County

East Ridge at Sequoyah

Grace Academy at Lakeway Christian

Hixson at Howard

Knoxville Webb at Silverdale Baptist

Lookout Valley at Sale Creek

McCallie at Father Ryan

McMinn County at Cleveland

North Georgia Falcons at Copper Basin

Notre Dame at Chattanooga Christian

Oneida at Meigs County

Ooltewah at Maryville

Polk County at Bledsoe County, 8

Rhea County at Soddy-Daisy

Sequatchie County at York, 8

Signal Mountain at McMinn Central

South Pittsburg at Whitwell, 8

Tellico Plains at Marion County, 8

Upperman at Grundy County, 8

Walker Valley at East Hamilton

GEORGIA

Calhoun at Hiram

Gordon Lee at Bowdon

Heritage at Ridgeland

Murray County at Coahulla Creek

Northwest Whitfield at Central-Carroll

Ringgold at Adairsville

Rockmart at North Murray

Rome at Dalton

Sonoraville at Lakeview-F.O.

Trion at Southeast Whitfield

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