Battle of the undefeated

Gladiators at West Forsyth in crucial region showdown



CUMMING, Ga. – After sweeping four straight North Fulton opponents, the Johns Creek Gladiators turn their attention a little farther north, beginning a four-week stretch of games against opponents from Forsyth County.

The first Forsyth opponent on the Gladiators’ schedule is also the best of that county’s four teams in Region 6-AAAAAA – West Forsyth.

Friday’s game at West Forsyth matches two of the three remaining unbeaten teams in 6-AAAAAA, with the winner having the inside track toward a region title.

Five teams are competing for four playoff spots from the region. Johns Creek, West Forsyth and Lambert are all 2-0 in region play, with Alpharetta and Chattahoochee 1-1. Both Johns Creek and West Forsyth have wins against playoff contenders, with Lambert yet to face one of the other contenders.

That will change next week when Lambert plays at Johns Creek, with those two teams familiar with each other after playing in the same AAAA region last year.

Friday’s game will be the first meeting between Johns Creek and West Forsyth, with both schools starting up their football programs in recent years. West Forsyth played its first full season in 2008, with Johns Creek opening the following year and playing a partial schedule in ’09.

Both teams have become very good, very fast. The Wolverines went 8-2 in their first full season and made the playoffs for the first time in 2010. West Forsyth went 11-2 last year in AAAAA, losing to eventual state champion Grayson in the quarterfinals after placing second in the region behind Alpharetta.

In just its second full season last year, the Gladiators tied for first place in their region, losing their first playoff game on a long touchdown pass on the final play. Johns Creek ended up with a 9-2 record, and like West Forsyth, is 5-0 this season.

Friday’s game matches two teams with diverse, well-balanced offenses featuring dual-threat quarterbacks. West Forsyth’s A.J. Erdely has received considerable attention lately, especially after he ran for 199 yards and passed for 141 in a 63-42 victory over Alpharetta.

The Gladiators counter with Skye Overton, who has rushed for 431 yards and 11 touchdowns through five games, while passing for 764 yards and five scores.

Both teams have productive tailbacks and efficient receivers, with the Wolverines averaging 44 points a game and Gladiators scoring at a 34-point clip. Johns Creek rates a slight edge defensively, with West Forsyth yielding lots of points and yards in two high-scoring wins against pass-oriented offenses.

“They are very sound offensively and defensively,” Johns Creek coach Mike Cloy said of the Wolverines. “They’re well coached and they have good athletes.”

Cloy recognizes that “whoever wins will be better situated in the region, but there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s a big game, but I don’t think anything will be decided this week.”

Johns Creek contained the most formidable offense it has faced thus far, stopping Milton and its powerhouse running game 14-9. The Gladiators have yet to face a team with as varied an offense as West Forsyth, but the Wolverines will be tested by an unheralded but very effective Johns Creek defense that is directed by Bill Waters, a successful former head coach and a highly regarded defensive coordinator.

The other three region games this Friday are also North Fulton vs. Forsyth games. Alpharetta (1-1, 2-3) hosts North Forsyth (0-2, 3-2), Chattahoochee (1-1, 3-2) plays at South Forsyth (0-2, 3-2) and Centennial (0-2, 0-5) plays at home against Lambert (2-0, 5-0), which has played a relatively soft schedule.

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