Nolan Yancey

Walnut Grove’s Nolan Yancey (21) looks for a hole to run during a Oct. 16, 2020 matchup with Johnson-Gainesville

Clarke Central (4-2 overall, 3-0 in 8-AAAAA) at Walnut Grove (3-3 overall, 2-1 in 8-AAAAA)

Walnut Grove a legitimate playoff contender? We’ll find out Friday night when it hosts Clarke Central (4-2, 3-0 Region 8-AAAAA), which entered the season as the favorite to win the region. 

After losing three of four to open the season, including their league opener to Jackson County, the Warriors have won two straight. Last week’s 56-7 thrashing of Johnson-Gainesville was no surprise. But the win over a previously unbeaten Greenbrier a week earlier was an eye-opener.

It’ll probably take four region wins to make the playoffs, and Walnut Grove (3-3, 2-1 Region 8-AAAAA) is halfway there. Its best chance to pick up two more will be against Apalachee and Loganville. 

An upset of the Gladiators would put the Warriors in the driver’s seat for the league title. 

Defense has driven the recent resurgence. After allowing 25 points a game through its firsts four games, Walnut Grove has given up just 14 total the past two weeks. Most impressively, it held a Greenbrier offense that was averaging 30 a game to a single TD.

David Johnson is a correspondent for The Walton Tribune.

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