Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Christian Heritage quarterback Christian Thomas fakes a handoff to Gage Leonard during practice on Aug. 13 in Dalton, Ga. As expected, Thomas and Leonard have been key players for the Lions so far this season.


This intriguing GHSA matchup between the Generals of Class AAAA and the Lions of Class A private could boil down to how well Christian Heritage can move the ball against what has been the best defense in northwest Georgia through the first three weeks of the season. This, however, will be the Generals' biggest defensive test because the Dalton program's offense has playmakers at every skill position, starting with QB Christian Thomas (470 yards), who does most of his damage in the air by connecting with Times Free Press Dynamite Dozen member Evan Lester, who has 313 yards on 18 catches. The ground game has been even better. Solomon Locke ran for 204 yards in a win over Class AAAAA's Villa Rica a week ago, and he and Gage Leonard have combined for 611 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Generals have been tough to run on, led by tackling machine LB Zach Brown, who has averaged 10 stops a game; the secondary has been lights out, with Cade Kiniry and Kaden Swope combining for five interceptions. The Generals' offense has found a running game, led by sophomore Paxton McCrary (240 yards), to complement its passing attack, but senior QB Nick Hansen (496 yards, six touchdowns) will be without WRs Dylan Bryan and Logan Lowe for the second consecutive week. Those two will also be missed in the secondary, so expect the Lions to try to exploit that.



After back-to-back open dates, the Mountaineers finally kicked off last week, though some rust was evident in their 20-10 loss to Northwest Whitfield. Sixteen new starters debuted for North Murray, including QB Seth Griffin, who showed nice athleticism and a strong arm. The running game, led by D'Ante Tidwell and Noah Lunsford, should have more success this week in the Region 6-AAA opener for both teams. Meanwhile, the Tigers did all of their damage on the ground in a rousing 38-12 win over Ridgeland, led by Kori Dumas (137 yards, five touchdowns), but they will have to play a second straight game without starter Kyle White at QB; he is limited by a shoulder ailment, although he'll be available on defense. Coach Robert Akins praised backup Mason Parker (94 rushing yards) after the Tigers broke a 12-game losing streak.



The nonregion schedule is over for 6-AAA, and both of these teams are happy for the fresh start. The Warriors, coming off an open date, are still stinging from a 29-15 loss to Gordon Lee in which they led 15-0. The offense has been inconsistent, but the extra week of work, coach Bo Campbell hopes, will get QB Malachi Powell and backs Jacob Brown and Jevonnie Womble going. The opportunity is there: The Ramblers gave up more than 300 rushing yards to Gordon Lee in a 56-34 loss last week. While LaFayette's defense has been gashed on the ground, the offense has been doing its part behind RB Jamario Clements and QB Jaylon Ramsey. Turnovers could decide this one.



The Panthers, off to their best start since 2009 — when the team was 6-1 on the way to an eight-win season — will try to snap a four-game losing streak in the series. Senior QB Xiyeer Lattimore, with 11 touchdown passes, has led the breakout for a team that has already scored more points (167) than it did in any of the past five seasons. KaDarius Price, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior transfer, has added a hard-nosed style to the ground game, and Jaylyn Dupree shined in last week's 34-6 win at Sweetwater with 162 total yards of offense and an interception. Diamond Bates, Montez Delaney, Donivon Thomas and Der'Quantis Wynn have made big plays at receiver, and Martinez Ollie has stepped on defense. Brainerd's loss was to reigning Region 3-3A champion Loudon, and the Panthers led 18-14 during the third quarter.



The Chargers opened their Division II-AA East Region schedule last week by rushing for 320 yards and picking off four passes in a 49-21 win over Boyd Buchanan at Finley Stadium, and their defense dominated in last season's 14-3 win at CAK, which was just 1-for-8 on third-down conversions. The Chargers, who have yet to turn the ball over this season, will rely on the three-headed rushing attack of Traveon Scott, JaMichael Baxter and Orlando Carter. The Warriors will lean on sophomore Dario Love, who ran for 128 yards and two scores in last week's 35-0 win at Silverdale Baptist Academy. CAK's defense is led by a stout front that shut down running lanes and totaled three sacks and two forced fumbles early at Silverdale.



Ooltewah junior DE Jaden Carmichael has picked up right where he left off last season, when he had 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. Carmichael is the team's tackles leader with 48, including nine for loss, and his pass rushing will be needed as the Trojans try to get the ball out quickly. Soddy-Daisy QB Isaac Barnes, the Region 4-5A offensive player of the year in 2019, threw five touchdown passes to four receivers in last week's 56-point outburst against Lenoir City. Ooltewah's Fisher Perry has totaled 706 yards (510 passing, 196 rushing) with three touchdowns each passing and rushing. His top two targets are Christian Doty and Dawson Jones. The Owls have won the past two series meetings.

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

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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Chattanooga Christian running back Orlando Carter is swarmed by Boyd Buchanan defenders during last Friday's game at Finley Stadium.


Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

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

Austin-East at Brainerd

Boyd Buchanan at Goodpasture, 8

Christian Academy of Knoxville at Chattanooga Christian

Donelson Christian Academy at Grace Academy

Franklin County at Grundy County, 8

Gibbs at Rhea County

Knoxville Webb at Notre Dame

Lookout Valley at Huntland

Loudon at Polk County

McMinn County at Bearden

Meigs County at McMinn Central

Sale Creek at Pickett County

Sequatchie County at Bledsoe County, 8

Silverdale Baptist at Knoxville Grace, 7

Soddy-Daisy at Ooltewah

Tyner at Alcoa

Walker Valley at Cumberland County, 8


Dade County at Trion

Fannin County at Southeast Whitfield

Heritage at Christian Heritage

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe at LaFayette

Murray County at Adairsville

North Murray at Ringgold

Northwest Whitield at Chattooga

Ridgeland at Calhoun

Rockmart at Coahulla Creek