From here on out, the games matter.
The next four games will decide Madison County’s spot on the Region 8-4A totem pole. The Red Raiders can stake an early claim to the top spot Friday night at home against the North Oconee Titans.
North Oconee (6-0, 0-0 Region 8-4A) may be Madison County’s (3-3, 0-0 Region 8-4A) toughest task of the 2019 season. The Titans enter Friday undefeated and most of their games have been blowouts. Last week, they squashed Walnut Grove 59-7. Loganville gave them fits earlier in the year (23-14 final), and Elbert County nearly pulled off the upset (28-24 final), but the Titans have stood tall every week.
They stand tall because they run their offense around quarterback Bubba Chandler. He operates a typical balance/spread offense and he uses his rocket arm to locate his favorite target, Eli Warrington. The duo is in sync on almost every route on the tree.
The balance in their offense comes from running back Adam Weynand. He’s the biggest feature back the Raiders will have seen this season at 6-2, 210 pounds. He uses all of that frame when running between the tackles, but he also shows his balance and stiff-arm when running on the outside.
The Titans offense isn’t anything Madison County’s defense hasn’t seen however. East Jackson and Cedar Shoals run similar styles, though with less potency. The Raider defense had success against both teams, limiting the Jaguars to 18 points and the Eagles to seven.
Madison County’s chances to upset North Oconee depend on how much value the Raiders place in its time spent with the ball. Turnovers and penalties have squandered potential scoring drives in every game this year.
When Madison County stays out of its own way, its shown an ability to move the ball against the best of them. The Raiders had success against Hart County, nearly cutting the score to 19-14 with a long drive before a late fumble in the red zone. And it had the game with Commerce tied 7-7 on a long touchdown drive. Both games turned into blowouts after Madison County failed to create subsequent drives.
If the triple option doesn’t work, head coach Chris Smith has shown he’s not opposed to scrapping the flexbone and playing out of a spread and passing the ball around the field. Against Commerce, he made the switch at halftime. Colby Smith and Martavian Cooper connected on several passes of varying lengths.
Friday’s game is the eighth meeting of Madison County and North Oconee. They first met as non-region foes in 2012, and the series became a region affair in 2014. The Titans won the first four meetings, all lopsided, but Madison County won back-to-back games in 2016 and 2017. The win in 2017 earned the Raiders a spot in the state playoffs.
North Oconee won last year’s game 24-0.