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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / East Hamilton running back Juandrick Bullard (17) breaks through the defense during a home game against Soddy-Daisy on Oct. 7.

EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (7-1, 4-0) at RED BANK LIONS (4-3, 3-1)

The Hurricanes can seal the first region title in program history with a win, while a Red Bank victory could potentially create a logjam atop the Region 3-4A standings. Central (5-2, 5-1) finishes its league schedule this week against East Ridge (1-7, 1-3), and a Purple Pounders win coupled with a Red Bank victory would create a three-way tie for first place with the Hurricanes and Lions having one region game remaining next week. After stumbling out of the gate with three losses in their first four games, over the past three weeks the Lions have played much closer to the high expectations they carried into the season. Red Bank has outscored its past three opponents by an average of 38 points, including last week's impressive 28-0 whipping of 2020 Class 1A state champion Fayetteville. This matchup will feature several of the area's top college prospects as both teams are loaded with talent at the skill positions. East Hamilton, which has averaged 43 points per game, has as good a backfield as there is in the city, led by quarterback Lake Clark, who has thrown for nearly 1,400 yards with 14 touchdown passes, and junior running back Juan Bullard, who has averaged 10.5 yards per carry while rushing for more than 1,000 yards. Hurricanes receivers Kaunyea Burgans and Jeremiah Flemmons each has more than 500 yards and has averaged better than 16 yards per catch. Mel McFarland anchors the East Hamilton defense with an area-leading 32 tackles for loss and a team-high 54 tackles and eight sacks. Where talent is concerned, Red Bank might be the city's only public school team that can match East Hamilton's athleticism as quarterback Joseph Blackmon is a dual threat with 759 passing yards, while AD Crutcher has averaged nearly 10 yards per carry while rushing for 735, and Reco Trimble — also one of the state's top defensive back prospects — leads the Lions with 33 catches for 400 yards and five scores.

 

MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY BIG RED (5-3, 2-1) at BAYLOR RED RAIDERS (6-2, 1-2)

The Big Red have been a thorn in Baylor's side for the past decade. MBA has ended Baylor's season in the playoffs four times in the past nine seasons and owns an 11-2 overall record against the Red Raiders over the past 10 years. A Red Raiders win would move them into a tie with MBA in the Division II-AAA East/Middle standings with one region game remaining for each. Baylor has averaged 45 points in its six wins but faces an MBA defense that has allowed an average of just 9.5 points in its past four games — all wins. After waiting his turn, senior quarterback Cooper Wick has been outstanding in leading state-ranked No. 3 Baylor's offense this season, throwing for 1,673 yards and 18 touchdowns. Receivers Carson Yates, who has averaged 22.7 yards per catch, and Amari Jefferson have combined for 15 touchdowns and more than 1,200 receiving yards. Caleb Hampton, who has committed to South Carolina's baseball program, gives Baylor's offense balance as he closes in on 1,000 rushing yards. Linebackers Trey McDonald (72 tackles, three sacks) and DaCorian Jones-Montgomery (50 tackles) lead Baylor's defense, along with Evan Haynie (three interceptions). Fifth-ranked MBA, which lost to two-time reigning state champion McCallie and Pearl Cohn by a total of eight points, is led by junior quarterback Marcel Reed, a three-year starter with offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Baylor University among others. Reed has thrown for 907 yards and rushed for 376 while accounting for 15 touchdowns this season, while Rhett Hayles has averaged 105 rushing yards per game. Reed's top target is Claiborne Richards, who has 35 catches for 567 yards and four scores.

 

RHEA COUNTY GOLDEN EAGLES (6-2) at BRADLEY CENTRAL BEARS (8-0)

The series has been sporadic — the teams have played just nine times in the past 25 years — but the Bears have won the past eight meetings, with Rhea's most recent victory in 1994. It's a nonregion game, but both teams hope to continue riding their winning momentum as they approach the playoffs. Rhea, which has already wrapped up its second straight 5A region title, has scored at least 30 points in each of its six wins. The Golden Eagles' losses came to Class 3A's top-ranked Alcoa and 4A's third-ranked Elizabethton. In last week's region shutout of Howard, Rhea did not attempt a pass and outrushed the Hustlin' Tigers 269-24, led by Ethan Davis and Kaleb Martin, who have been the Eagles' most consistent ground threats all season. Bradley Central, which is ranked No. 4 in 6A, is off to its best record since its 1976 state title season and has a game at Maryville next week that will decide the Region 2 championship. The Bears are coming off a dramatic finish at Farragut, where Era Rojas connected on a 41-yard field goal as time expired for the win. Senior quarterback Aiden McClary totaled 322 yards in that victory and has thrown for 905 this season, with a quarter of that yardage going to Marcus Goree Jr. Sophomore running back Jackson Wilson, who carried the ball 30 times last Friday, has 15 touchdown runs this season and leads the area with 1,506 rushing yards. Bradley has allowed just 13.5 points per game, with the defense led by Blake Johnson's 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

 

CHATTOOGA INDIANS (5-2, 4-0) at FANNIN COUNTY REBELS (6-1, 3-0)

Supremacy in GHSA Region 7-AA is on the line in Blairsville as the surprising Indians visit the reigning league champions. Chattooga coach Shawn Peek was concerned about his offensive line heading into the season, but that group has led a ground game that has produced 2,104 yards and 26 touchdowns. Senior Lashaun Lester leads the way with 822 rushing yards (8.1 per carry) and has nine touchdowns, while super sophomore Nic Hester has 675 rushing yards (13 per carry) and 11 scores. Indians quarterback Brody Mobbs isn't asked to pass much, but when he does, he has a big-time receiver in Jaylon Johnson, who has 217 yards and five touchdowns on just seven catches. Fannin senior quarterback Seth Reece is a threat in multiple ways, having passed for 571 yards and rushed for 626 along with making 12 catches for 141 yards; he's one of five Rebels with more than 100 receiving yards. Still, each team would prefer to do its damage on the ground, meaning the secondaries will have to provide support. That's an edge for the Indians, who have a strong pair of safeties in Lester and Rowan Burdick.

Compiled by Stephen Hargis and Lindsey Young. Contact Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis. Contact Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / Chattooga's Jaylon Johnson, right, has been an efficient option for the Indians' passing game with 217 yards and five touchdowns on seven catches this season.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

Games start at 7:30 p.m. Eastern unless noted

TENNESSEE

Christian Academy of Knoxville at Notre Dame

Clearwater Academy (Florida) at McCallie

Cleveland at Giles County

Copper Basin at Whitwell

East Hamilton at Red Bank

East Ridge at Central

Hixson at Soddy-Daisy

Knoxville Grace at Silverdale Baptist

Knoxville Webb at Boyd Buchanan

Loudon at McMinn County

Marion County at Signal Mountain

Montgomery Bell Academy at Baylor

McMinn Central at Rockwood

Monterey at Bledsoe County, 8

Ooltewah at Brainerd

Polk County at Lookout Valley

Rhea County at Bradley Central

Sacred Heart at Grace Academy

Sale Creek at Cosby

Tyner at Alcoa

Walker Valley at Upperman, 8

GEORGIA

B.E.S.T. Academy at Gordon Lee

Cass at Calhoun

Chattooga at Fannin County

Coosa at Dade County

Dalton at Douglas County

LaFayette at Sonoraville

Mount Paran Christian at Christian Heritage

North Murray at Murray County

Northwest Whitfield at Southeast Whitfield

Ringgold at Coahulla Creek

 

 

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