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  Today, we look at the top storylines entering week 3 of the regular season.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

By Craig Sager II

Five questions to ask before Week 3
  1. Can the Titans keep up this pace?
     Blessed Trinity's heartbreaking loss to Westminster in last year's Class AAA state championship game was supposed to haunt the Titans for months if not years to come. Auburn baseball commit and starting quarterback Conor Davis graduated along with running back Milton Shelton, who rushed for 2,059 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. Both Davis and Shelton seemed irreplaceable in the short term. The first two weeks of this season, however, have shown us that their younger teammates were ready to follow the lead of a senior class that finished 26-2-1 the past two seasons. Blessed Trinity scored a 22-18 opening week road win at rival St. Pius and followed the emotional victory with a solid 25-14 win over Marietta last Friday. Sophomore running back and strong safety Steele Chambers has been a force of nature on both sides of the football. Chambers rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns off 20 carries while adding eight total tackles against St. Pius. He added 81 rushing yards and a touchdown against Marietta to go along with five tackles and a forced fumble. Chambers is also a baseball standout, but his success on the gridiron this season shouldn't be a surprise. Vanderbilt already offered the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Class of 2019 prospect. Blessed Trinity takes a cross-Atlantic retreat to Dublin, Ireland this week to take on St. Peter's Prep, NJ. The Marauders are coming off a 9-3 season and were the 12th ranked team in New Jersey, according to MaxPreps.

  1. Will Sandy Creek send Allatoona to 0-3? Sandy Creek opened the season with a 48-35 loss to Fort Dorchester, SC. While allowing 48 points was uncharacteristic for Sandy Creek and also concerning, Fort Dorchester is a top 5 team in the Palmetto State and was coming off a 15-0 season and state championship in its own Class AAAA. Sandy Creek will battle with Allatoona on Friday as the Bucs return to home field for the first time since their state championship run. Allatoona will be desperate for a win after dropping a 30-14 loss to Cartersville Week 1 and submitting to a shocking 21-13 loss at Alexander last Friday. Sandy Creek rushed for 280 yards in the season opener and will rely on Jaelen Green (31-188-1) and Drezyn Parson (12-79-2) who combined for 43 of the team's 48 carries, 267 of the team's rushing yards and all three rushing scores week 1.

  1. Who takes Class AAAA's first major showdown? Region action is still weeks away, yet Friday will set up a playoff atmosphere as two of the classification's top teams square off. No. 4 Thomson visits No. 3 Jefferson in the programs' first meeting since 1963. Both teams have used the running game to dominate the first two weeks of the season. Jefferson has rushed for 237.5 yards per game and Thomson has seen nine different ball carriers combine for a massive 317.5 rushing yards per game average. The defense that forces the most third-and-long situations and passing downs will likely take this matchup and both team's have already registered double-digit tackles for loss through the first two weeks.

  1. Can Cairo make it three straight against Thomas County Central? Cairo faces long-time rival Thomas County Central for the 45th time on Friday and will look for three straight victories over the Yellow Jackets for the first time since the 1969 season. Cairo opened the year with a 23-12 win over Thomasville, while Thomas County Central has started off its Class AAAAA debut with a 48-7 win over Worth County and a narrow 16-14 win over Thomasville. Thomas County Central features an offense that has accounted for 262 rushing yards per game the first two weeks. Cairo, however, has a defense that boasts one of the top prospects in the state when it comes to disrupting the ground game with Walter Grant. The physically imposing, 6-foot-4, 236-pound outside linebacker has Alabama, Georgia and Florida State among the long list of schools competing for his commitment.

  1. Can Stephens County be an offensive powerhouse? Veteran head coach Frank Barden has led the Indians to back-to-back eight-win season since taking over the program in 2014. His team averaged 28 points per game entering the final week of the 2015 regular season where a 42-0 loss to Buford in a battle for the Region 8 title and a 34-7 first-round exit to Carrollton overshadowed their otherwise productive offensive year. Last Friday, Stephens County returned to the gridiron and shattered Franklin County with a 61-20 victory, the most points the Indians have scored since the 2012 season. Junior quarterback Jackson Bell was lights out with 10-of-11 passing for 196 yards and four touchdowns, while adding four carries for 31 yards and a touchdown. Stephens County's next test will be this Friday against Rabun County in their first meeting since 1959. Class AA Rabun County was winning 21-14 on Friday against Mt. Pisgah before the game was cancelled for weather.


Grayson remains No. 2 despite loss
In Class AAAAAAA, Grayson wasn't punished in the poll after falling to IMG Academy 27-6 on Saturday. Colquitt County dropped to No. 5 after dropping a 17-14 cross-state matchup with American Heritage-Plantation. In Class AAAAAA, Dacula replaced Allatoona at No. 8 after the Bucs dropped a 21-13 trip to Alexander. Colquitt County, Allatoona and Westminster complete a trio of defending state champions that have opened the season 0-2. 

Westminster's latest defeat came in a 19-16 loss to Class AAA No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian and the Wildcats only dropped to No. 8. In Class A-Private, Mt. Paran exited the poll and made way for Mt. Pisgah after falling 14-7 to Fellowship Christian on Friday.
1. Mill Creek
2. Grayson
3. Roswell
4. McEachern
5. Colquitt County
6. Norcross
7. Parkview
8. Brookwood
9. South Gwinnett
10. Hillgrove
1. Northside-Warner Robins
2. Houston County
3. Valdosta
4. Lee County
5. Coffee
6. Northgate
7. Hughes
8. Dacula
9. Creekside
10. Tucker
1. Buford
2. Stockbridge
3. Kell
4. Grady
5. Carrollton
6. Jones County
7. Ware County
8. Bainbridge
9. Rome
10. Starr's Mill
Class AAAA
1. Cartersville
2. Blessed Trinity
3. Jefferson
4. Thomson
5. Woodward Academy
6. Sandy Creek
7. St. Pius
8. Mary Persons
9. Burke County
10. West Laurens
Class AAA
1. Pace Academy
2. Greater Atlanta Christian
3. Calhoun
4. Cedar Grove
5. Lovett
6. Liberty County
7. Peach County
8. Westminster
9. Pierce County
10. Monroe
Class AA
1. Fitzgerald
2. Benedictine
3. Rabun County
4. Brooks County
5. Callaway
6. Vidalia
7. Jefferson County
8. Model
9. Dodge County
10. Heard County
Class A-Private
1. Eagle's Landing Christian
2. Darlington
3. Wesleyan
4. Prince Avenue Christian
5. Stratford Academy
6. Calvary Day
7. Landmark Christian
8. Mt. Pisgah
9. First Presbyterian Day
10. Aquinas
Class A-Public
1. Clinch County
2. Irwin County
3. Commerce
4. Emanuel County Institute
5. Macon County
6. Mt. Zion
7. Marion County
8. Manchester
9. Trion
10. Lincoln County

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