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Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / Bledsoe County football coach Dewayne Tabor will try to rally the Warriors to their first Region 3-2A win of the season as they visit undefeated Tyner.

BLEDSOE COUNTY WARRIORS (2-2, 0-1) at TYNER RAMS (5-0, 1-0)

The Warriors won Region 3-2A last year for their first league championship in a decade, but now they face a string of games that will determine whether they can earn a playoff berth this year. A COVID-19 forfeit to Meigs County was followed by an on-field loss in which Marion County's second-half surge snapped a halftime tie. The season-defining stretch begins with this 3-2A matchup against a team that is one of the Chattanooga area's surprises so far this football season, and it will be followed by region games against Tellico Plains and at Polk County. The Warriors, who will benefit from clock-eating possessions, rely on senior dual-threat quarterback Harmon Keith and backfield mate Cadillac Siever to control the pace. Meanwhile, Tyner wants to make it a track meet on turf with a collection of athletes who have big-play potential, including quarterback Josh Jackson and running back Javell Woodruff. Jackson threw for 310 yards in last week's lopsided win over Soddy-Daisy, with nearly half of that total going to speedy receiver Zashun Hubbard, and Woodruff finished with 167 rushing yards. That type of balance has been a key for the Rams, who have averaged 39 points per game — including two outbursts of at least 50 points — while operating at a fast pace all season.

 

CENTRAL PURPLE POUNDERS (4-1, 3-0) at EAST HAMILTON HURRICANES (4-1, 2-0)

It may seem a bit early for such a determination, but the outcome of this matchup could decide the Region 3-4A championship. These teams have clearly been the two best within the region to this point, although they have climbed to the top using different methods. The Hurricanes, led by junior running back Juandrick Bullard's 12.6 yards per carry average, rank among the area's best offenses and have averaged 45 points per game. Bullard has 771 rushing yards, while Lake Clark has given balance to the attack with 727 passing yards. Last week, a second-half collapse opened the door for McMinn County to rally and hand East Hamilton its first loss. Despite that defeat, Hurricanes defensive lineman Mel McFarland, who leads the area in tackles for loss, was again spectacular with 10 tackles, six for loss, two sacks, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. For Central, a stingy defense has led the way back to the top of the league standings; the Purple Pounders have allowed an average of just nine points per game against region opponents. Freshman quarterback Ronye Watson is capable of big plays, though, and more than half of his 708 passing yards have gone to Donovan Smith.

 

BOYD BUCHANAN BUCCANEERS (2-3, 0-2) at CHATTANOOGA CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (2-4, 1-2)

One team can finally stop the surprising downward spiral that both have experienced so far and improve its position in Division II-AA East. The Boyd Buchanan offense — highlighted by running back Jaylen Sanderfer (7.7 yards per carry) and Caden Johnson, who ranks among the area's leaders in receptions (27 for 385 yards) — has been impressive at times. The Bucs' 200 points rank second in DII-A East only to Silverdale Baptist Academy, which has scored 201 and is also first in the region standings. The defense has had trouble stopping opponents, though, with the Bucs having allowed an average of 30 points per game. The Chargers, who were expected to compete well despite a young roster, have gone through struggles on both sides of the ball — they've been outscored 174-95 overall, including last week's 31-0 loss to Christian Academy of Knoxville — but especially on defense as three opponents have scored at least 45 points.

 

RINGGOLD TIGERS (5-0, 3-0) at ADAIRSVILLE TIGERS (4-0, 2-0)

Two of the three undefeated teams in GHSA Region 6-AAA square off in a game that will likely eliminate the loser from hosting a first-round game in the state playoffs. These are two of the top scoring teams in the entire classification, though the defenses are no slouches. Ringgold is coming off a record-setting 78-0 win over Murray County, dominating in all three phases of the game. Kori Dumas had 184 yards and four touchdowns on just eight carries, while the defense scored a pair of touchdowns (it had three the previous week) and special teams added two scores. Coach Robert Akins' team has a deep group of skill players, with Malachi Hill and Peyton Williams joining Dumas as big-play threats. Ringgold, 5-0 for the first time since 1989, has never won at Adairsville, though most recent games between these sets of Tigers have gone to the wire. The hosts are similar to Ringgold in what they want to do: Run the ball and use an aggressive defense to stop it. Adairsville's Eli Agnew has 428 rushing yards and five touchdowns, with receivers Grayson Belcher and Evan Sanders combining for 328 yards and five scores from quarterback Jonathan Gough (451 yards, six touchdowns). Neither team wants to rely on the passing game, so line play is likely to decide this one.

 

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

The other big game in 6-AAA pits the high-scoring Mountaineers against the reigning region champions. North Murray is coming off a seven-point win over Sonoraville in which the offense took a big hit when senior wide receiver Michael McDade was lost for the season with a knee injury. There are still weapons, led by red-hot quarterback Seth Griffin, receiver Jadyn Rice and running back Judson Petty, but a second target must step up for Griffin if the Mountaineers are to keep pace with the Jackets. Rockmart has a deep group of speedy skill players — quarterback J.D. Davis has 578 total yards and Jakari Clark, JoJo Haynes, Dennis Sims, Nahzire Turner and Brent Washington each has more than 100 yards. Last year's meeting was a classic, with Rockmart winning 49-42 despite North Murray scoring on its last five possessions. Getting defensive stops will again tell the tale of this one.

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 / East Hamilton football fans will hope to cheer their Hurricanes on to another Region 3-4A victory as the Central Purple Pounders visit.

THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE

Friday, Oct. 1, 2021

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

TENNESSEE

Baylor at McCallie

Bearden at Bradley Central

Bledsoe County at Tyner

Boyd Buchanan at Chattanooga Christian

Brainerd at Loudon

Cannon County at Grundy County, 8

Central at East Hamilton

Cleveland at Maryville

Community at Sequatchie County, 8

Howard at Ooltewah

Kingston at McMinn Central

Lookout Valley at Copper Basin

Notre Dame at Silverdale Baptist

Polk County at Meigs County

Red Bank at Hixson

Rhea County at Walker Valley

Sale Creek at Whitwell, 8

Sequoyah at East Ridge

Signal Mountain at Sweetwater

South Pittsburg at Dade County

Tellico Plains at Marion County, 8

GEORGIA

Bowdon at Gordon Lee

Central-Carroll at Northwest Whitfield

Chattooga at Gordon Central

Christian Heritage at Lakeway Christian Academy

Coahulla Creek at Murray County

Dalton at Rome

Hiram at Calhoun

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe at Sonoraville

North Murray at Rockmart

Ridgeland at Heritage

Ringgold at Adairsville

Southeast Whitfield at Trion

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