Game: River Ridge (3-0) at Chattahoochee (1-1)
Last meeting: First meeting
All-time series: First-ever meeting
Prediction: River Ridge 35, Chattahoochee 28
Two programs which both won three games a season ago will meet this Friday with renewed hopes of competing for a playoff spot in the newly aligned Region 7AAAAAA.
River Ridge (3-0) will travel to Chattahoochee (1-1) and the Knights will bring the highest scoring offense in Cherokee County (36.3 points per game). It will be looking to start a season 4-0 for the first time since 2011 and the second time in program history.
“The main thing we worked on this past week was resting and trying to let our guys get their legs back under them to get ready for region play,” coach Mike Collins said. “We’re just continuing to stay the course, as far as everything we’ve been preaching from day one. It does sound simple but that’s truly how we approach our business. To get better every play, every practice. That’s really all our players hear.”
The spread offense has been led by a dynamic trio at quarterback, running back and receiver. Running back Amehre Morrison leads the county with 509 rushing yards (8.4 average) and has looked like a better version of the player who led Cherokee County in all-purpose yards a season ago.
Carson Lathem has stepped into the starting quarterback role and proven to be an excellent decision maker. Lathem is completing 62 percent of his passes and has multiple options at his disposal. Jackson Head is tied for the county lead in receiving touchdowns (3) while Riley Caines and Andrew Bingham both have over 100 receiving yards.
Defensively, the Knights have been equally impressive. Defensive lineman Brian Bradley leads the team in tackles (28) and has been supplemented by linebacker Hunter Deriso who leads Cherokee County with eight tackles for loss and is second in the county with four sacks.
Chattahoochee is coming off a 21-7 loss to Alpharetta, but the Cougars put up 56 points in their season opener against Northview. Jaylen Smith is a dual-threat quarterback who accounted for seven total touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) and 427 total yards against Northview. They have multiple threats at receiver, with Jordan Palmer holding 15 college offers including Appalachian State, Cincinnati and Georgia State.
“Their quarterback, he’s a dynamic player,” Collins said. “He’s best when he’s ad-libbing. He has that unique ability to extend the play and you can tell that they’re used to him doing that because those receivers know how to keep moving.”
How well River Ridge blocks Chattahoochee’s pass rush may well determine this game. Edge rusher Jaden Gaines (6-foot-5, 228 pounds) holds a number of college offers including Cincinnati, Georgia State and Troy while Chase Washington (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) has been disruptive on the defensive line.