Statesboro (0-4) @ Appling County (2-1) - 7:30, Womack Field, SHS leads series 6-0, Last meeting SHS won 29-28, 1989
Statesboro has had a lot to overcome in this early season, but this week will really be a gut check after blowing their third fourth quarter lead of the season in a 20-16 loss to Effingham County. While the offense had one of their better showing of the year in the “Wildpac” offense and Tupac Lanier having his best rushing performance of the year -- the defense had arguably its worst with multiple missed tackles en route to giving up 7.2 yards per play. Statesboro is going to have their hands full this week against Appling County and their star quarterback Keelan Crosby. Crosby has 14 of his teams’ 15 total touchdowns this season, while averaging 7.4 yards a carry and 7.8 yards per pass. Appling have played their three games very close this season, with a point differential of just +5. Statesboro has struggled defending the mobile quarterback in 2016, and Crosby may be the best the Blue Devil’s will see all year.
Prediction: Appling 33, Statesboro 23
Southeast Bulloch (1-2) @ Jenkins (3-1) - 7:30, Pooler Stadium, SEB leads series 4-0, Last meeting SEB won 28-14, 2015
SEB finally got off the schneid last week with a 42-8 thumping of region foe Islands. In addition to their rushing attack, which has been strong in all three games, last week SEB finally got the passing game rolling with Caleb Carter throwing for 140 yards on just 10 passes. Expect a steady dose of carries to reliable fullback Chase Walker and the very explosive wingback Jontrell Wells, who have combined 520 yards rushing at 5.7 yards a carry -- though keep in mind the defense has struggled against superior competition. Jenkins will be the best team SEB will face until the playoffs and have come out of the gates strong in 2016. Hoping to lead Jenkins to an upset is quarterback Javonte Middleton -- who four games has 9.9 yards a carry, 10.1 yards a pass and six total touchdowns. SEB will look to their defense that’s given up 9.7 yards per carry to stop a Jenkins team that’s averaging 9.1 in this de facto region championship.
Prediction: Southeast Bulloch 31, Jenkins 28
Bulloch Academy (2-1-1) @ Robert Toombs (4-1) - 7:30, Crusader Stadium, BA leads series 18-13-1, Last meeting BA won 61-24, 2015
After the first bye week since head coach Terence Hennessy took over in 2014, BA gets back on the grind this week with a big road test in Lyons. BA’s identity through four games has been clear -- run the ball and play stingy defense. The beginning of the season saw a transformation in the offense from the option to the spread, leading folks to believe to a pass-heavy attack. But BA has ran the ball just as well in the spread behind the uber-explosive Jake Mock. Robert Toombs has come out to a strong start in 2016, albeit against five teams with a combined record of 8-16. Running back Dakota Lamb will carry the rock in bunches behind a senior-laden offensive line that’s led Toombs to average 38.5 points in their wins. The lone offensive blemish came against BA’s rival Pinewood -- who defeated the Crusaders 27-7 in their own house. BA’s defense will be the key in this game to slowing down Robert Toomb’s rushing attack.
Prediction: Bulloch Academy 24, Robert Toombs 14
Portal (0-3) @ Wheeler County (3-1) - 7:30, Bulldog Stadium, Wheeler leads series 8-5, Wheeler won last 42-24, 2015.
Perhaps a bye week is exactly what Portal needed, as the team is desperately seeking answers following a disastrous start to their 2016 campaign. Portal has been outscored 29-100 in their three games, but the problem certainly hasn’t been the defense. The offense has only scored three of their four touchdowns in 2016, and outside of Craig Ware at fullback the Panthers have yet to establish any rhythm or identity on offense. For their sake, the offense needs to be whipped back into some shape before they see the likes of Wheeler County. Wheeler is a bit of a mystery, as all their wins have come against winless teams. Their only loss is to Georgia Military College, who shares a common opponent with Portal in Treutlen County. What is known about Wheeler is they average 309 rushing yards per game at 9.9 yards a carry with three different players who’ve rushed for over 200 yards this season.
Prediciton: Wheeler County 20, Portal 14
Laney (0-4) @ Screven County (3-1) - 7:30, Kelly Memorial Stadium, Laney leads series 6-4, Laney won last weeting 23-6 in 2013
Screven has slowly been gaining momentum throughout the season after their opening week loss and continue to look better every week. Last week Screven stomped Butler 35-6 and even forced a running clock in the second half. Whether it’s Armani Bunbury, Tyquan Johnson, Kim Hunter, CJ Wright or Jatarri Tanksley -- you pick your poison when trying to stop Screven’s I-option attack. On top of their ability to run the ball consistently with Bunbury, Hunter and Wright, the Gamecocks can hurt you over the top with long passes to Tanksley and Johnson. Laney, a program who’s been to the playoffs 14 of the past 16 years, doesn’t look like they’re going back for a 15th. 0-4, Laney is still seeking answers for some sort of offensive identity. The Wildcats have played a series of close games, including a 21-28 loss to 6A Evans, and are due for a win soon -- but probably not this week.
Prediction: Screven 28, Laney 7
Treutlen County (2-2) @ Emanuel County Institute (4-0) - 7:30, Rountree Stadium, ECi leads series 33-12-2, ECI won last meeting 55-34 in 2015
Emanuel County Institute has separated themselves from the rest of their region with four double-digit wins this season, including three wins where the Bulldogs have scored 50 plus points. Rhett Gray continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in class A, throwing for 16.3 yards per attempt and eight touchdowns to just one interception. The only issue for ECI right now is earning respect from the rest of the state, as their only ranked No. 8 in class A by MaxPreps on account of their weak schedule. Treutlen County has had a good win against Georgia Military College 35-21 and a bad loss against Beckley County 14-13, leaving what they are as a team up in the air. Treutlen’s been carried by a stingy defense with plenty of senior starters, who certainly will be tested by the buzzsaw that is the ECI offense. The challenge for Treutlen County is to see if their offense can keep up, especially behind their senior quarterback Tyler Benjamin.
Prediction: ECI 42, Treutlen 20