The two remaining teams without a loss in Region 4AAAAAAA will face off in Woodstock on Friday night and one will take full control of its playoff hopes will only a few weeks remaining in the regular season.
Walton won this game convincingly last year and holds a commanding series lead over Etowah but this year’s indicators may favor the Eagles in this matchup at Eagle Mountain.
Etowah (4-3, 2-0) hung on to defeat Woodstock 28-21 in the Battle of Towne Lake last week. The Eagles have come from behind to win both of their region games using an offense which is averaging 29 points per game this season. Senior quarterback Dalton Miller is Cherokee County’s leading passer with 1,669 yards and 15 touchdowns and Etowah features a deep receiving corps led by senior wide receiver Jackson Manns who leads Cherokee with 41 receptions and 653 yards.
The running game isn’t far behind, with the three-headed backfield of Nick Maddox, Klivert Many and Remmington Adams combining for 847 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
“I think we’re going to have our hands full,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “I think their quarterback is a really good player, they’ve obviously got some talented wide receivers and I think they’re three runnings backs is combined probably the best group we’ve seen all year.
Walton (3-3, 1-0) is coming off a 45-17 victory over Lassiter and its highest point total of the season. The Raiders’ offense is averaging 19 points per game and should be led by senior running back K.D. Stokes who leads Walton with 494 yards and 10 touchdowns. If Etowah hopes to defeat Walton it will need to contain Stokes who scored five times in last week’s win. Walton’s sophomore quarterback Zak Rozsman is already receiving college attention and is fully capable of exploiting the Etowah defense if too much attention is paid to Stokes.
Walton’s defense has played well all season allowing 17 points per contest and three of the Raiders’ four losses have come by three points or less. Beyond a 35-0 loss to No. 6 North Gwinnett, Walton is allowing 14 points per game and should test the explosive Etowah offense. As of last week, defensive back Will Chapman leads Walton with 38 tackles while Jayden Smith leads the team with four sacks.
Etowah allowed 42 points to North Cobb in a week-two loss, but since then the Eagles’ average points against has dropped every week and the team came within three points of defeating No. 7 Hillgrove in late September. Austin Skinner (64 tackles) and Ethan Ritchie (61 tackles) will lead the Eagles’ defensive front while Manns’ (3 interceptions) is equally as capable of making plays on the defensive side of the ball.
Home field advantage could play a factor again this week for Etowah which is looking for its first win over Walton since 2014. Brunner said traveling to Etowah is never easy and added there isn’t much separating each and every team in the region.
“There’s gonna be a lot of parity this year with those three teams in Cherokee County along with the two in Cobb and Roswell,” Brunner said. “I don’t think it’s going to be as clear of a picture as people thought it would be before the season started.”