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September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th lights

Southeast crosses over the mountain; Northwest crosses over the region

Two teams with lingering confidence problems from the 2012 high school football season will face off tonight when Pickens travels to Northwest Whitfield.

Both teams are members of Region 7-4A but play in different sub-regions — Pickens in 7A-4A, Northwest in 7B-4A — so the game won’t affect the league standings. But a victory will make the winner 2-0 and could help put the memories of last season’s tough finish away even more.

In last year’s Region 7-4A play-in games at the end of the regular season, in which the No. 2 seed from each sub-region played the No. 3 seed with a state playoffs berth on the line, both Northwest and Pickens saw their seasons end when they came up short of victory. The Bruins suffered a heart-breaking triple-overtime defeat to Gilmer, while Pickens had its biggest flop of the season, getting blown out 42-0 by Dalton.

Both teams still feel like they have something to prove. They will meet for only the second time in the history of the programs when they take the field at Bruin Stadium in Tunnel Hill.

“We didn’t really play that well (against Dalton last season),” said second-year Pickens coach Chris Parker, whose Dragons beat Sonoraville 47-0 in their season opener on Aug. 30. “We have a lot of kids back, and this is like our first test for that group against a real good team. We are as excited about playing this team as we have been in a long time. We have to get it done in a game.”

In other high school football games involving area teams, Christian Heritage is at Coahulla Creek, Murray County is at Gordon Central, North Murray hosts Johnson-Gainesville and Southeast Whitfield is at Gilmer. All kickoffs are at 7:30 p.m.

Pickens returns what’s arguably the region’s best offensive combination in quarterback Tanner Brumby and running back Shannon Brooks.

In the Dragons’ spread offense, the 6-foot,-2-inch, 190-pound senior trigger man is a threat with both his arm and his legs — against Sonoraville, Brumby threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a pair more.

In 2012, Brumby passed for 1,654 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 883 yards and nine scores. He also averaged 42.2 yards per punt to earn Class 4A all-state honors on the Georgia Sports Writers Association team. Brooks finished 2012 with 1,165 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“He is a pretty legit kid,” Parker said of Brumby. “We don’t have the fastest receivers, but Tanner puts the ball where it needs to be thrown. He has made some big plays, but he needs to do it against the best competition.”

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