Creekview's Cole Hasty (37) runs the ball in Friday night's game against Woodstock. (Photo: Anthony Stalcup)

A pair of contenders in Region 6AAAAAA will open region play Friday when Creekview visits Allatoona.

Last season, the Grizzlies (2-0) rode the momentum from a region-opening win against the Buccaneers (0-1) to their first region title.

Meanwhile, though Allatoona lost just one more region game, it was the difference between the first and third seeds in the state playoffs.

“It’s really important,” Allatoona coach Gary Varner said. “Last year, we didn’t start the way we wanted to, and it left us a lot of work to do throughout the season. We have a big game this Friday.”

This year’s matchup will have a different look, though, as Creekview looks to build off its undefeated start under first-year coach Trevor Williams. The Grizzlies have not missed a beat offensively, averaging more than 30 points this season in wins over Cambridge and Woodstock.

“The biggest thing for us has been our offensive line,” Williams said. “We have four new starters there. Obviously, we have John (Williams) anchoring us, but they’ve all played well together. When you can have that, it makes things a lot easier on your skill-position guys.”

That line has made plenty of space for quarterback Brody Rhodes, who has thrown for 384 yards and rushed for 156, while Ethan Dirrim (14 rec., 181 yds.) and Andrew Cloy (10 rec., 161 yds.) have emerged as threats on the outside.

That success has not been lost on Varner, who said Calvin Rucker and the rest of his defense will have to win the battle up front to limit game-changing plays.

“They’ll have those big plays if you don’t stop them,” Varner said. “We have to control the line of scrimmage and stop the big play. They had a few last year. They do a good job getting their quarterback loose, and they have some good receivers on the outside.”

For Allatoona, Varner said he is still looking for where those big plays will come from after a 14-13 loss to Cartersville to open the season.

Varner said he has been pleased with the progression of quarterback Dante Marshall, but Jylan Thomas and the rest of the Allatoona running backs will need more production for an offense that produced just 157 yards of total offense in the opener.

“We moved the ball last week, but we left some scoring opportunities out there,” Varner said. “We can’t get in those positions and come away with nothing. We have to take advantage of it when we get down there.”

Led by Cale Williams, Creekview’s defense has allowed just 11.5 points per game this season.

Trevor Williams said he has been happy with the way the unit has played thus far, but he said discipline will be even more important this week against Allatoona’s run-first offense.

“They’re a well-coached team,” he said. “They have three or four backs who can run it and a good line. They know what they want to do on offense. We have to be ready to stop the run, but we have to have good eye discipline. They’ll suck you in up front and throw it over the top if you give it to them.”

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