Gordon Central (7-2, 4-2) at North Murray (5-4, 2-4)
North Murray was eliminated from contention for the state playoffs two weeks ago, but there is still motivation for the Mountaineers tonight as they face Gordon Central in a Region 5-3A matchup.
By upsetting Gordon Central, the Mountaineers would achieve the school’s first winning season in its three years of varsity football — they went just 1-19 the first two seasons.
It’s also senior night for North Murray, with 23 players wearing black and gold for the final time. The senior-dominated backfield of quarterback Brady Swilling, fullback Christian Bukle and tailback Jacob Mays has been instrumental in helping the Mountaineers average 35 points per game this season.
“We have some great kids in that senior class,” first-year coach David Gann said. “It would be great for them to go out with a win.”
Gordon Central can lock up one of the region’s four berths in the state playoffs with a victory — only Cartersville as the No. 1 seed is settled for the league — and that will only add to the challenge for the Mountaineers in their bid to end on an upswing.
“In my opinion, they’re the most athletic team that we’ve played,” Gann said. “On offense, they have some outstanding playmakers. Yet their strength is in their defensive line. They have three or four three-year starters up front.”
One thing the two teams have in common is that each fell from the unbeaten ranks with a loss to Cartersville.
With the Mountaineers 3-0 entering their Sept. 21 home game against the Purple Hurricanes, North Murray led 14-6 in the third quarter before Cartersville’s big plays proved too much in a 40-22 loss. Gordon Central was 6-0 before losing 41-19 to Cartersville on Oct. 19.
A trio of seniors are the offensive playmakers for the Warriors — quarterback M.J. Reynolds’ top targets are wide receiver Tyshaun Clemmons and tight end D.J. Prather. Key defenders include tackle Larons Winston and ends Eric Smith and Jacob Mitchell, the leaders of a group that has posted three shutouts while allowing an average of 16 points per game.
North Murray’s defense, which has yielded a 30-point average, will be challenged by a Gordon Central offense that averages 37 points.