Here is a look at the top games from around the Middle Georgia area.
Warner Robins vs Northside
7:30 p.m. Friday at McConnell Talbert Stadium
Story of the game: These two teams don’t like one another. Fans of the opposing team won’t even refer to the other by name. Some will simply say the color and that is it. The two teams have been battling for supremacy since 1964 when the Warner Robins Demons took home the win 25-6.
Since then they have squared off 61 times with Warner Robins leading the series 36-25, but Northside has dominated in recent years, going 13-6 since 2000.
The Demons come into this game having won two in a row over the Eagles. Last year’s installment went down as an instant classic as the teams fought to the final whistle. Northside’s final throw was incomplete and the Demons won 39-34.
This season, Warner Robins is coming in off its first loss of the year to Colquitt County by a score of 31-14. The team is 3-1 on the year. Northside has won a pair in a row and sits at 3-2. But in a rivalry game like this, the records are meaningless as the two teams will have extra motivation with bragging rights on the line.
Keys to the game for Warner Robins: Warner Robins must force Northside into throwing the ball more. If the Eagles are able to run the football effectively and avoid having to make too many plays in the passing game, then Warner Robins will have to play flawlessly in nearly every other aspect of the game. Taking away the run is easier said than done but it might be the only way to slow down an offense that already has 161 points scored so far this season.
Keys to the game for Northside: Warner Robins wide receiver Marcayll Jones proves each week why he is one of the best to ever play the position in the state of Georgia. Last year, he broke the record for most yards in a season in the state’s history. This season he is already off to a hot start despite losing his quarterback Dylan Fromm to graduation. In the loss last week, Jones still put up 177 yards against a tough defense from Colquitt County.
He has eclipsed the 150-yard mark in two games already this season. Jones terrorized the Eagles last year in this game with over 200 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns. For Northside to have a shot this week, it starts with limiting Jones and his ability to find the end zone. If the Eagles can force someone else on that offense to beat them then they will have a chance to break the losing streak to Warner Robins.
Staff pick: Northside
Mount de Sales vs Stratford
7:30 p.m. Friday at Mount de Sales
Story of the game: The Mount de Sales Cavaliers come into this game with a perfect 3-0 record. This team has the making of a legitimate contender this season as they are outscoring opponents by an average of 36-9.
When the two met last season, it came down to the final possession as the Cavaliers hung on for 21-20 victory. This snapped a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry for the Cavaliers. Mount de Sales hasn’t won back-to-back games against Stratford since 2009-2010.
Stratford comes into this meeting with an identical record from last season at 1-3. The Eagles are coming off of a 42-14 loss to Fellowship Christian and will look to get back on track against Mount de Sales in this rivalry game.
Keys to the game for Mount de Sales: Senior quarterback Dexter Williams is one of the most dynamic athletes in the Middle Georgia area — he’s also the heart and soul of this Mount de Sales team. Committed to joining the Indiana Hoosiers at the conclusion of the season, Williams is counted on to make the big plays both through the air and on the ground. For the Cavaliers, they must give Williams a chance to get this offense going early. If they can get up quick on Stratford, it will force the Eagles to turn this game into a shootout that favors the Cavaliers.
Keys to the game for Stratford: The team has scored just 43 points through the first four games on the year, and must find a way to bump up production. It won’t be easy against the stout Mount de Sales defense. If the Eagles can turn this into a low-scoring defensive game then they will have a better chance of winning this game. The lone win this season was 14-7 victory over Washington-Wilkes. Expect Stratford to shoot for this type of game against Mount de Sales.
Staff pick: Mount de Sales
Westside vs Rutland
7:30 p.m. Friday at Ed Defore
Story of the game: The Rutland Hurricanes rebuild is underway with new head coach Rusty Easom. The program has one win this season which snapped a 23-game losing streak spanning over two seasons. Last week, the Hurricanes took Worth County down to the final seconds in a 24-22 heart breaker. Rutland has never beaten Westside since the two began playing in 2010, with the closest meeting coming back in 2012. Since then Westside has dominated them including a 46-7 win last season.
The Seminoles come into this game at 2-2 after a blowout loss to Howard on Sept. 13. Westside should be ready to come out refocused after a rocky start to the season for the program.
Keys to the game for Westside: If the Seminoles can get to the end zone quickly it will put pressure on the Hurricanes to make more big plays on offense, something that it hasn’t been able to do much of this season. The pace of this game will dictate the outcome. If this is a fast-paced game then it favors the Seminoles by a wide margin. If this turns into a turnover fest with limited opportunities to score, then Rutland could try to steal a win over a team that has dominated them in the past.
Keys to the game for Rutland: The Hurricanes will have to contend with a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball for the Seminoles. The main goal for Easom’s team should be to try and grind this game out. Running back Jessie Phelps has gotten off to a good start for the Hurricanes this season and already has reached the 100-yard mark on a couple of occasions. Rutland’s best hope is to pound the ball with Phelps to try and keep the Westside offense off the field as much as possible.
Staff pick: Westside