Unsure of which game you want to attend this week? Here are our four feature matchups from around Middle Georgia with staff picks from Justin Baxley and Hayes Rule.
Mary Persons (8-0) vs. Perry (5-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Mary Persons
Story of the game: Mary Persons is coming off of another dominating performance. The Bulldogs knocked off West Laurens 52-13. Perry bounced back from three straight losses to get back on track with a 26-14 over Spalding.
Keys to the game for Mary Persons: At this point the Bulldogs look unbeatable and destined to finish the season without a loss. They can’t get caught up in the hype — Perry has shown that they can make life tough for the top team. The Panthers’ losing streak started a few weeks back with a last second Veterans comeback. Mary Persons should be on upset watch and take this opponent very seriously.
Keys to the game for Perry: The Panthers have talent but must get off to a good start. Teams tend to fall behind Mary Persons early and never recover. If the Panthers can stay within a score heading to the fourth quarter, then they have a shot. The key is to hit on big plays. Lane Rucker, the Perry quarterback, is a gamer. If he can play the perfect game the Panthers can win this one.
Staff picks: Justin pick: Mary Persons; Hayes pick: Mary Persons
Fan pick: Mary Persons
Veterans (7-1) vs. Thomas County Central (5-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Veterans
Story of the game: Veterans comes into the game fresh off of a bye week and knocking off Harris County 30-6 the week before. Thomas County Central is coming off of a 31-15 loss to that same Harris County team.
Keys to the game for Veterans: The Veterans squad has been one of the biggest surprises this season. The Warhawks have jumped out to an impressive 7-1 record behind a very balanced team. This week Veterans has to keep up its balance of good offense with an opportunistic defense. Cyrus Zuell is the name to watch for the Warhawks. He fits in with what the team does well. He is a grind-it-out running back who seems to get better as the season goes on.
Keys to the game for Thomas County Central: The key for them is offense. Thomas County Central needs to score points to stay competitive. In all three of its losses, the Yellow Jackets have failed to put up points. The biggest thing for Thomas County Central is scoring on that tough Warhawks defense. The Yellow Jackets will probably need to score 30 points or more to have a shot in this one.
Staff picks: Justin pick: Veterans ; Hayes pick: Veterans
Fan pick: Veterans
Northside (4-4) vs. Valdosta (5-4)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Valdosta
Story of the game: Northside is coming off of a much needed bye week. The Eagles struggled with Lee County, dropping the game 24-7 before heading into its bye week. Valdosta is coming off of a blowout loss to Lee County. The Wildcats lost 63-7 to the Trojans.
Keys to the game for Northside: Northside is currently locked into a brutal stretch on its schedule. The team suffered a tough loss to Warner Robins followed by an upset win over Coffee County and a hard fought loss to Lee County, but the bye week should help them with another difficult matchup against Valdosta. Valdosta’s weakness is defense. The Wildcats have given up over 60 points twice this season. If the Eagles offense can get rolling early, this could be another chance to exploit that defense.
Keys to the game for Valdosta: Last week was a harsh reality check for this team. Lee County dominated in every facet of the game so this week will be all about bouncing back. The Wildcats will need to get back to the way they played in back-to-back wins over Coffee County and Houston County this month. The key is having the defense on the field as little as possible. The goal should be to dominate the time of possession battle.
Staff picks: Justin pick: Northside ; Hayes pick: Valdosta
Fan pick: Northside
Peach County (6-2) vs. Jackson (5-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Jackson
Story of the game: Peach County comes into the game following a 50-8 win over Central. Jackson is coming off of a 28-6 win over Pike County.
Keys to the game for Peach County: The Trojans last loss came to Mary Persons in a 35-21 thriller. In the four games since that loss, Peach County has outscored its opponents 214-28. 14 of those points came in the second half of a game that the team lead 63-0 at half over Rutland. The loss was a wake up call for the Trojans and since then, the team has looked much better. If Peach County just plays with the same fire as it has the last four weeks, this should be another win on the schedule.
Keys to the game for Jackson: The Red Devils come into the game with a winning record but it feels like a bit of a mirage considering those wins have come over struggling teams (aside from that win over Howard, the week after the Huskies knocked off Westside). Jackson has to prove that its team is a top-level contender and a win over Peach County would be the ultimate statement.
Staff picks: Justin pick: Peach County; Hayes pick: Jackson
Fan pick: Peach County