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Tigers back in action Friday against West Hall
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After a week off, the Tigers will square off with defending Region 7-AAA champions West Hall High School in Oakwood Friday night.

Last year's season was the first region championship for the Spartans.

West Hall finished last season with a 9-2 record before losing in the first round of the state playoffs 42-38 to Oconee County.

So far it has been an up and down season for the Spartans under fourth-year head coach Tony Lotti. West won their first two games against Johnson, 35-9, and Chestatee, 42-3, before dropping their last two contests to North Hall, 24-10, and North Oconee, 27-7.

Dawson County comes into Friday's contest with a 1-2 record.

Tigers sophomore quarterback Coey Watson has connected with 10 different receivers. Leading the pass catchers is Tucker Maxwell, the coach's son, and Austin Young.

Young has 15 catches for 269 yards.

Teammate Maxwell has six receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Maxwell was injured in the Gilmer County game and only handled the punting duties in the team's previous game against Heritage.

Dawson County receivers have caught 40 balls for 575 yards and two touchdowns to date.

Watson has done an adequate job at quarterback, he has completed 40 of 78 passes for 575 yards and two touchdowns. The only negative side to Watson's season is the seven interceptions in three games.

Injuries continue to hamper the Dawson County offense.

Along with Maxwell, Tigers Payton Myers, hurt during Heritage game, Logan Hurst, missed last game with an ankle injury and Nick Murphy has missed significant time.

"The injury situation is about the same, except we have three more out for West Hall," said Maxwell. "Against West Hall we have to move the chains and limit the turnovers and penalties."

On the ground Myers leads all rushers with 138 yards on 35 carries. Close behind are Nick Murphy (3-105) and Hunter Mitchell (24-126). Both Murphy and Mitchell each have a touchdown.

The Tigers have 101 rushes for 469 yards and 4 touchdowns. The scores have come from Watson (2), Murphy, and Mitchell.

It will be the opening game for both teams in Region 7-AAA.

Last year the Tigers lost a 26-3 decision to Lotti's team.

"We must keep the focus on us and what we need to get bet better as a team. Our players know the importance of region play, but our focus needs to be on team execution," said Maxwell.

The Spartans will feature three Division-I players; running backs Kwon Williams (5-11; 180) and Tyquan Statham (6-1; 215) and punter Anthony Lotti.

Williams ran for 1,700 all-purpose yards last season, including 1,108 yards on the ground and has offers from Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and North Carolina State.

Statham had 883 rushing yards last seasons and eight touchdowns.

The senior is dominant on the defensive side of the ball and was named Region 7-AAA defensive player of the year. He has received offers from several schools, including Boston College, Virginia and Duke.

Lotti, a punter, has committed to Wisconsin.

Lotti, the coach's son, was an all-state selection last year as a junior.

At quarterback the Spartans will feature returning starter Jacob Satterfield.

Wide receivers will include senior Hykeem Bennett and juniors Will Dague and Tommy Oliver. Junior Patrick Hudson will line up at tight end.

The most significant change for West Hall this season comes along the offensive line, where the Spartans have four new starters.

Lotti said the group has played a lot of football despite not being true starters last season, and should be bigger than last year's offensive line.

The group includes senior Justyn Derico, an all-region first team selection on the defensive line in 2014, and sophomore Josh Taylor, a player Lotti has been high on since middle school.

On defense, the Spartans will bring back eight starters from a defense that finished with five shutouts last season. West Hall had a plus-14 turnover ratio last season.

Lotti believes the defense will continue to be the Spartans' backbone.

Derico will remain part of the defensive line, along with junior Michael Kidd.

Senior Marvin Mejia and juniors Justin Hearn and Tyrese Osborne will remain part of the linebacker rotation.

Statham, who primarily played safety last season, moves to outside linebacker to fill the spot vacated when his brother Ty Statham graduated in the spring.

Tyquan Statham could still spend some time at safety, but Williams and sophomore Carter Lott will handle the bulk of those duties.

A.J. Favorite and junior Ashun Favorite will fill out the rest of the secondary at the cornerback spots.

"This is the first step to get the opportunity to extend your season," Maxwell said about his team's first region game of the year.

This is an important game for both teams. The winner will take the upper hand in the region.

Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.