Sonoraville (1-3, 1-0) at North Murray (1-3, 0-1)
To earn its first Region 5-3A victory of the season, North Murray needs it defense to limit Sonoraville’s top two offensive threats — at least.
Phoenix running back Andrew Slaton and quarterback Cody Long caught North Murray coach David Gann’s attention when he re-viewed video of Sonoraville over the weekend.
“The running back is very dangerous,” Gann said. “He’s extremely fast and can hurt you any time he touches the ball. The quarterback didn’t throw much, but he didn’t have to because he relies heavily on his legs. It’s scary playing a group like that.”
Long, a sophomore who began the season in a backup role, rushed for 149 yards and five touchdowns on runs of 21, 11, 8, 18 and 4 yards at Coahulla Creek last week. Slaton, a junior and the reigning 100-meter dash state champion in Class 3A, capped Sonoraville’s scoring with a 47-yard burst.
The Phoenix went back to basics against the Colts and the strategy worked as they spoiled homecoming for the Colts.
“We trimmed our playbook, modified our offense,” Phoenix coach Roger Gentry said. “We were doing too much. We want to run six plays and get good at them. I’m hoping our offense has caught a little momentum.”
In its first two games, Sonoraville scored 16 points, but almost tripled that output while routing the Colts.
“We have to contain both of those guys,” Gann said. “They’ve gone to a sprint-type look, so we have to play assignment football and tackle the running back and quarterback.”
Cedartown (4-0) at Southeast (2-1)
Cedartown’s Nick Chubb had a phenomenal junior season in 2012, when he established himself as the state’s top college prospect at running back.
Southeast got to see him up close twice, and the results were in the Bulldogs’ favor both times.
In a 47-27 win over the visiting Raiders on Sept. 28, Chubb rushed for 366 yards on 36 carries, including seven touchdowns. Southeast did a better job of containing Chubb in a 19-17 loss when Cedartown visited the Raiders in the final game of the regular season, but Chubb still scored three times while rushing for 237 yards.
Chubb, who has verbally committed to Georgia, is averaging 247.3 yards per game this season.
Cedartown comes into the game as the No. 9-ranked team in Class 4A. Coach Scott Hendrix knew he had to stop teams from focusing solely on Chubb, and quarterback Harrison Bennett has made that possible. Last season, the Bulldogs completed 19 percent of their passes for a little more than 400 yards. This year, Bennett has completed 50 percent of his passes and is just under 400 yards in four games.
“We tried to diversify our offense as much as we could last year, but our quarterback play wasn’t very effective in the passing game,” Hendrix said. “We didn’t want to have to give the ball to Nick 30 times a game. You sort of have to do what your players allow you to do.”
Gray said he thinks his defense is up to the challenge of Chubb after having an off week to prepare following Southeast’s 18-6 loss at Gilmer on Sept. 13.
“The defense has played outstanding so far this year,” Gray said. “If you go back over the last six games and include the scrimmage, we have held every team below 20 points. They came to work after the loss. The thing is that we aren’t going to overcome 30 years of losing without having to fight for it. But we are still looking for that big win.”
— Compiled by sports writers Devin Golden and Chris Whitfield and correspondents Larry Fleming and Dave Gordon. The Georgia High School Football Historians Association’s website (ghsfha.org) was used as a reference for some scores and win-loss records.