Game of the Week: Stephens County vs Habersham Central

Our Game of the Week is just ridiculously intense – archrivals Stephens County play host to Habersham Central. Though this game is played just about every year, it’s not normal for it to be the Week One game. Let’s just dive right into the intensity of the 2022 season.

STEPHENS COUNTY

It’s well-documented, but the #10-ranked Indians open the season as the favorites out of Region 8-AAA. Bringing back their starting QB, RBs, and WRs certainly helps. Ben Stowe returns under center as the star 3-year starting QB, and will have weapons such as senior TJ Everett and sophomore Javin Gordon, along with senior receivers Cam Lacy and Corey Richie. While the offense is certainly stout, the defense is pretty solid, too. Leading the charge there is Ritt Tankersley, a senior linebacker. Meanwhile, the skill guys above will play big roles on that side of the ball also. Stephens County is chasing the likes of 2007 and 2005, the latter team at Stephens which won 10-plus, won the region, and made the quarterfinals.

HABERSHAM CENTRAL

It was a bit of a rebuild last year for the Raiders, installing a new QB in Carson Parker, who is now in his junior year and looks much more efficient. He is surrounded by what seems to be a legit running back in Blandon Grizzle, and star sophomore receiver Zeke Whittington. Carter Barrett is the heart and soul of the defense, and his passion shows. He LOVES the game. This Raiders team seeks to be in the mix for a playoff spot, and truthfully should be good enough to get there.

BY THE NUMBERS (2021)

STEPHENS COUNTY

  • 8-4 (2-3; State 2nd Round)
  • Region Standings: 4th
  • 25.75 OFFENSE AVG
  • 14.75 DEFENSE AVG
  • #10 State Ranking

HABERSHAM CENTRAL

  • 3-7 (1-5)
  • Region Standings: 6th
  • 18.00 OFFENSE AVG
  • 29.10 DEFENSE AVG
  • N/A State Ranking

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

Be looking for highlights post-game late tonight as well as a story recapping Week One. Highlights are shared on Channel 5 (Fox) on the 11 PM “High 5 Sports” show throughout the regular season. You can also follow us on Twitter (@BlitzSportsGa) for live score updates (5G pending).

OUR PREDICTION

As much as we like the strides that the Raiders have taken, and they are significant, this is a loaded Stephens County, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. There’s just too much here to ask for the Raiders to go into The Reservation and walk out with a win over an amped up, #10-ranked Stephens County team. That said, we still hope as always this game has some drama. OUR PICK: Stephens County

DO WE BRING LUCK?

It goes two ways here…in 20 games we have gone to for Stephens, the Indians are 11-9, hovering over the .500 mark. That includes seeing them win three of their last four that we went to. We’ve seen the Raiders more than pretty much any other school, save Rabun County…49 games to be exact, with #50 coming tonight. In those 49 contests, the Raiders are 15-34 overall. However, they have won two of the last three we went to. As far as this rivalry matchup goes, we have circled this one often and been to this matchup EIGHT times! The Indians have won seven of those.

DETAILS OF THE MATCHUP

TIME: 7:30 PM Kickoff
PLACE: Stephens County HS / Toccoa, GA / The Reservation
LAST MEETING: Stephens County 35, Habersham Central 18
ALL-TIME RECORD: Stephens County leads the series 32-12-1
RECORDS: [2021] Stephens County Indians (8-4; 2-3 in 8-AAA); Habersham Central Raiders (3-7; 1-6 in 7-AAAAAA)
HEAD COACHES: Wesley Tankersley (86-66; 15 Seasons) vs Benji Harrison (28-37; 7 Seasons)

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING

At 32-12-1, the Indians own this matchup long-term. The streak reached 21 years without a Habersham win from 1996-2018. In 2019, the Raiders clawed out a 27-21 win that came down to a hail mary attempt. The last two times out though, Stephens has reclaimed dominance with back-to-back wins. This rivalry goes back to 1970 when Habersham Central was established. It’s been played just about every year, save a small gap from 2008-2011. Habersham Central claimed the first-ever meeting, 8-7, in 1970. They went on to win four of the first seven meetings. But 1997 started a streak of 14 wins in 21 years for Stephens County prior to the 2019 Hab win. Needless to say, this game is always intense.

TEAM LEADERS (Returning Players, 2021 Stats)

STEPHENS COUNTY

PASSING
Ben Stowe (1,647 yds, 12 TD, 7 INT, 58% completion)

RUSHING
TJ Everett (1,014 yds, 7 TD, 5.0 YPC)
Javin Gordon (485 yds, 5 TD, 5.3 YPC)
Ben Stowe (193 yds, 8 TD, 2.5 YPC)
Cam Lacy (125 yds, 3 TD, 5.4 YPC)

RECEIVING
Cam Lacy (1,023 yds, 8 TD, 44 rec)
Corey Richie (475 yds, 2 TD, 32 rec)

DEFENSIVE LEADERS
Nathan Walker (87 TKL, 15 TFL, 4 Sacks, 1 FF)
Ritt Tankersley (75 TKL, 7 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FR)
Raven Wilson (74 TKL, 10 TFL, 2 Sacks)
Corey Richie (53 TKL, 2 INT)
Aaron Maxwell (44 TKL, 14 TFL, 2 Sacks, 5 FF)
Cam Lacy (37 TKL, 4 INT, 2 FF)
Jasec Smith (35 TKL, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 1 FR)
Aidan Butts (16 TKL, 4 TFL, 1 FF)

HABERSHAM CENTRAL

PASSING
Carson Parker (1,304 yds, 7 TD, 10 INT, 53% completion)

RUSHING
Carson Parker (310 yds, 6 TD, 2.7 YPC)
Blandon Grizzle (140 yds, 1 TD, 5.2 YPC)

RECEIVING
Zeke Whittington (631 yds, 5 TD, 62 rec)
Sutton Dover (16 yds, 0 TD, 1 rec)
Blandon Grizzle (15 yds, 0 TD, 4 rec)

DEFENSIVE LEADERS
Carter Barrett (61 TKL, 10 TFL)
Braydon Wright (39 TKL, 3.5 TFL, 1 FR, 3 FF)
Blandon Grizzle (37 TKL, 2 TFL)
Chase Colbert (23 TKL, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT)
Sutton Dover (15 TKL, 0.5 TFL, 1 INT)

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