Houston County’s Wesley Steiner preparing for final season before heading to Auburn
The first three weeks of high school football in Middle Georgia have provided plenty of excitement, but Week 4 offers up some big competitions.
The Telegraph has selected three feature matchups to watch.
Here are the details and our staff picks:
Houston County vs Peach County
7:30 p.m. Friday at Houston County
Story of the game: The Peach County Trojans are looking for a third straight victory over a 6A school from the same region when they take on Houston County. The Trojans are coming off a 40-17 win against defending state champion Lee County. The Trojans seem to be on a path back to the state title game for the third year in a row.
Houston County is also undefeated after routing Rutland 54-0. The Bears already have more wins this season than it did all of last year. The battle against the Trojans will serve as a true measuring stick for the rest of the season.
Keys to the game for Houston County: The Bears must find a way to slow down this Peach County defense. Clemson commit Sergio Allen is a monster at the linebacker position. This might be the one game this season in which a pair of linebackers take center stage — Houston County has Auburn commit Wesley Steiner.
The Bears must do everything in their power to keep quarterback Max Rigby upright. Rigby has not yet thrown an interception this season and will need to play mistake-free football against Peach County to give his team a chance to win. Expect to see some short, easy screen passes to avoid the pass rush that Peach County will dial-up early and often. It will also give the Bears athletes a chance to make something happen out in space.
Keys to the game for Peach County: The Trojans have the look of a state title contender after knocking off a pair of powerhouses in back-to-back matchups against Northside and Lee County.
The key so far this season has been efficiency on offense and stifling defense. Quarterback Jaydon Gibson provides a challenge for any defensive coordinator because he is an excellent passer but also can make things happen in the running game.
Look for Steiner and the Bears to try to limit Gibson’s ability to make plays on the ground by having someone shadowing him. In this game, Peach County’s wide receivers and running backs will need to come up big in the passing game.
Justin Harris is a playmaker at wide receiver and is one of Gibson’s favorite targets. Harris could have a big impact on this game — Gibson might be forced to pass the ball a bit more against Houston County’s tough front seven. Houston County has only given up 10 points all season.
Staff pick: Peach County
Warner Robins vs Baldwin
7:30 p.m. Friday at Warner Robins
Story of the game: The Baldwin Braves have stumbled out of the gate with three straight losses. They have been outscored 102-30 in those games, including a 33-23 loss to Veterans.
Warner Robins is dominating at 2-0, including a 43-7 win over Locust Grove. These two teams met last season and Warner Robins came out on top 49-14. While the Demons lost some key players from last year’s team, Warner Robins is poised to put together a similar performance against Baldwin this season.
Keys to the game for Warner Robins: Jalen Addie has taken over as the new quarterback for the Demons. Addie has looked the part in the first two games and adds an extra layer with his ability to run the football.
Expect for Addie and the Warner Robins offense to be firing on all cylinders against Baldwin, a team who has struggled to stop anyone so far this season. This could also be a big game for Marcayll Jones, who broke the state record a season ago for receiving yards in a season. Jones and Addie might be able to hook up for multiple scores in this game to put the Braves away early.
Keys to the game for Baldwin: The start of this season has to feel similar to last year for the Braves. Last season, they opened with five straight losses, but would go on to win five in a row to make the playoffs. An upset victory over Warner Robins would be a big confidence builder for the Braves.
Baldwin got down early last week against Veterans but looked much better in the second half. Up until that point, though, the Baldwin offense had looked stagnant.
The team was beaten 42-7 by Washington County in the Macon Touchdown Club Kick-off Classic before being shut out by Jones County.
If the offense can keep the momentum rolling for the second half last week, they could have a shot against the Demons.
Staff pick: Warner Robins
Westside vs Howard
7:30 p.m. Friday at Ed Defore
Story of the game: These two teams come in fairly evenly matched this season after last year’s intense game.
Howard upset the Seminoles 28-21 and became the second Bibb County football team to ever beat Westside in the school’s history. Westside head coach Spoon Risper will want revenge in what appears could be a budding rivalry.
Each team comes into this game 2-1, with Howard grabbing wins over FPD and Central and Westside knocking off Southwest and Perry.
Keys to the game for Howard: Jeremiah Kelly is a workhorse running back who can carry the load for his team. His ability to grind out football games has been key for the Howard offense this season.
The Huskies’ best defense against Westside’s offense full of playmakers is to keep it off the field.
If Kelly can eat up yards and clock time alongside fellow standout running back Javarsia Meadows, then the Huskies can potentially keep this a low scoring affair that plays into their favor.
Keys to the game for Westside: Quarterback Victor Dixon Jr. has been money so far this season and has been able to exploit defense with throws all over the field. The Seminoles will want to give Dixon as many chances to possible to throw the ball down the field against the Huskies defense.
Dixon has a lot of weapons at his disposal — wide receivers Jaylon Barden and Jehlen “Hollywood” Cannady who can take any catch for a touchdown.
The Huskies were beaten by Jones County, another throw-first team, earlier this season. It will be interesting to see if they are able to adjust against this passing attack.
Staff pick: Westside