This week's only high school football game in town is a pivotal one for seeding in next month's Class 5A playoffs.
Great Crossing (5-1 overall, 0-1 district) looks to bounce back from its initial loss of the season when it hosts Montgomery County (4-2, 1-1) at Birds Nest Stadium.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at news-graphic.com and on NFHS Network.
Stymied by Scott County, 14-6, in their third-annual Battle of the Birds, GC needs a win over Montgomery County to jump back on the inside track to no worse than a No. 3 seed and a likely rematch with SC in the opening round of the playoffs.
Turnovers foiled the Warhawks last week, when five trips into Scott County territory yielded only one touchdown.
Zackarrey Kelley made another highlight-film grab for that TD last week, his team-leading fifth of the season. Gabe Nichols has thrown for 10 scores in all, completing 57 percent of his passes for 744 yards.
Jacob Coulter (17 receptions, 218 yards, four TD) and Kalib Perry (11 catches, 194 yards) give the Indians' secondary ample cause for concern.
Great Crossing's vaunted defense absorbed a steep physical toll during last week's loss. Three of the team's four leading tacklers — Oryend Fisher, Pilot Lukacsko and Cayden Allen — were hobbled at some point. Fisher and Chase Little were both sidelined for the second half.
Depth and recovery time will be tested by a Montgomery County attack that combined for 90 points in consecutive wins over Grant County and Lloyd Memorial the past two weeks. The Indians also have defeated 6A George Rogers Clark as well as Mason County.
Montgomery County's one-two backfield punch of Jacob Diallo and Adrian Jones has piled up just under 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The Indians are just as explosive in the passing game, where Alex Hatton (54-for-91, eight TD) has thrown for 1,017 yards.
Alex Ison has four of the Montgomery County defense's 10 takeaway this season, including three interceptions.
It’s been a bounce-back season for Montgomery County, which went 0-6 in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
That included a 44-8 home loss to Great Crossing, which forced five turnovers and returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns.
MoCo won the inaugural meeting, 20-7, two years ago.
Cards collect forfeit victory
Scott County's scheduled Thursday night game at home against Grant County goes into the books as a forfeit win for the Cardinals (4-3) under the KHSAA's coronavirus protocol.
Grant County canceled last week's game against Frederick Douglass due to COVID-19 issues and informed SC early in the week that it would not have enough healthy players to take on the Cardinals.
Coach Jim McKee harbored slim hopes of finding an alternate opponent, but as of Thursday, Scott County-Grant County was the only Week 8 contest not expected to be played as scheduled. SC rolled past Grant County twice last season.
The Cards essentially wind up with a second bye week and will host Montgomery County next Friday night.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.