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PREVIEW: Lanier at Walnut Grove

Lanier's Jordan Brannen

Lanier's Jordan Brannen

Lanier Longhorns (8-AAAA)

Coach: Billy Wells

Record: 4-5, 2-4 region

Last week: Beat Lumpkin County 24-7

Walnut Grove Warriors (8-AAAA)

Coach: O.J. Soto

Record: 1-8, 0-6 region

Last week: Lost to Madison County 32-31

It’s been a long season for the Warriors, a young program like Lanier. They are mired in a six-game losing streak and are winless in 8-AAAA under second-year head coach O.J. Soto, formerly a longtime Grayson assistant.

Lanier has fared much better in its first year of region play. The Longhorns have been in every game up until the last drive or two, an impressive feat given the toughness of 8-AAAA.

“As a team, we’d certainly like to finish 5-5 in our first region year,” Lanier head coach Billy Wells said. “Our seniors are really motivated.”

That senior group, featuring 16 players, is filled with contributors to this year’s team. Most have been around since the beginning of the program, like senior fullback Jordan Brannen, who had a 92 percent blocking grade in last week’s win over Lumpkin County.

“Jordan’s been a leader for us since the very beginning,” Wells said. “He’s a great leader, a team captain, that kind of kid.”

Lanier also has some individual milestones to chase this week. Quarterback Taylor Grant is closing in on 2,000 yards passing and wideout Marty Sanders is nearing 1,000 yards receiving. Izzy Sam also ranks among the county tackle leaders. Those three also are part of a senior class that also includes standouts like Onyx Berrios, Chauncy West and Austin Westfall.

“We’ve got a great character senior class and those guys want to finish on a high note,” Wells said. “It’s a great group for leadership. They’re high-character kids. They’re really laying down the foundation of what the future holds here.”

Last meeting: First meeting

Directions to Walnut Grove High School: Ga. Hwy. 20 east to Ga. Hwy. 81 south, then turn left on Guthrie Cemetary Road.