South Gwinnett Comets (4-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Steve Davenport
Record: 5-4, 0-3 region
Last week: Lost to Brookwood 29-28
Newton Rams (4-AAAAAAA)
Coach: Camiel Grant
Record: 3-5, 1-2 region
Last week: Lost to Grayson 37-0
South Gwinnett is coming off a pair of heartbreaking losses in different fashions. It rallied to force overtime with Parkview two weeks ago — and had a chances to win in regulation — before falling in the extra period. It lost by a point last week to Brookwood after surrendering a double-figure lead and giving up a game-winning field goal.
The Comets have to shake off those setbacks and refocus on an important regular-season finale.
"They're kids at the end of the day and the disappointment is obviously there," Davenport said of the back-to-back close losses. "I was really proud of the way they fought after the heartbreaker at Parkview. We've had two heartbreakers in a row, so you never know. But they've had a good week of practice."
A South victory would secure a winning record at 6-4, and likely bring a state playoff berth. If Brookwood beats Parkview, a South win would clinch a playoff berth. If Parkview beats Brookwood, a South win would put South, Brookwood and Newton in a three-way tie for the region's final two playoff spots. South sits in a good spot in that tiebreaker, but those scenarios would be moot if the Comets don't finish with a win.
"It all starts with us beating Newton, first and foremost," Davenport said. "None of that means anything if we don't give our best effort to beat a fine Newton team who we haven't beaten since I've been here."
South running back Khoreem Miller topped the 1,000-yard mark last week (he's at 1,071 rushing yards). He has rushed for 13 touchdowns as part of a balanced offense that also features standouts like Rion White (1,437 passing yards, 15 TDs), Nigel Hussey (30 catches for 569 yards, five TDs) and Corey Johnston (29 catches for 496 yards, five TDs).
Elijah Johnson (35 tackles, 16 1/2 for losses, six sacks) and Xavier McDowell (51 tackles, 13 1/2 for losses, 4 1/2 sacks) are among the top playmakers on the Comets' defense.
It's been an up-and-down season for Newton, which is stout on defense and has struggled on offense. The Rams picked up a huge upset win over Brookwood on Oct. 30, only to be blanked in back-to-back losses to Mill Creek (31-0) and Grayson (37-0).
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Newton won 19-0 last year
Location: Sharp Stadium