Photo: Karl L. Moore Mill Creek defensive lineman Kelsey Griffin (94) loses his helmet as Michael Leonard (23) tackles Peachtree Ridge's Walden Davis (11) with Alex Smith (72) blocking during Friday's game at Peachtree Ridge.
NORCROSS AT MILL CREEK
Norcross Blue Devils (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Keith Maloof
Record: 4-0, 2-0 region
Last week: Beat Duluth 36-7
Mill Creek Hawks (7-AAAAAA)
Coach: Shannon Jarvis
Record: 3-1, 2-0 region
Last week: Beat Peachtree Ridge 20-10
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Directions to Mill Creek High School: From I-85, take the Hamilton Mill Road exit and go east. At the immediate light, turn left on Ga. Highway 124/Braselton Highway. School is approximately three miles ahead on the left
Shannon Jarvis believes his Mill Creek football team has playoff potential.
He'll find out if his Hawks are a region title contender Friday.
Mill Creek hosts No. 3 ranked Norcross in a battle of Region 7-AAAAAA unbeatens.
"We have to play the whole season out and can't put too much on one game," Jarvis said. "Last Friday was just as big for us beating Peachtree Ridge."
Mill Creek is 0-6 against Norcross and last year's 41-34 loss was the closest in the series. The Hawks have lost by two scores or more in the first five meetings.
"We've played well against them," Jarvis said. "They have big-play guys in the running game and passing game. We've got to eliminate the big plays. That's been the emphasis on defense."
Norcross puts itself in good position to win its first region title since 2007 when it defeated defending region champion North Gwinnett two weeks ago. But a win against Mill Creek on Friday would not solidify anything in the region.
"You've still got Collins Hill and Peachtree Ridge on our schedule. They are pretty good," Norcross coach Keith Maloof said. "You can't crown anyone region champs until the end of the year. This will be a good indication if we can get past them."
The Hawks are coming off a comeback win over Peachtree Ridge a week ago. They trailed 10-0 at halftime before rallying for a 20-10 victory.
"The biggest thing we're proud of is they didn't panic and played hard," Jarvis said. "We're so proud of their resiliency."
Mill Creek will be tested again by a Norcross team that has some of the top skill position players in the county.
Myles Autury is a threat at running back, receiver and kick returner, while quarterback Joseph Wilber has thrown for 701 yards and eight TDs.
"It all starts with Joseph and the offensive line giving him time," Maloof said.
Alvin Kamara, the state's No. 1 rated running back, rushed for 226 yards and three touchdowns in last year's win. He had TD runs of 42, 66 and 48 yards. The senior, who is uncommitted to a college, has rushed for 427 yards and five TDs this year.
"Offensively, they put so much pressure on you because they do have weapons," Jarvis said. "You have to be sound every play."
Norcross will try to run around a Mill Creek defense led by college prospect Kesley Griffin.
"We'll do the best we can. He's a good player," Maloof said.
The Hawks have their own standout skill players on offense. Jacorey Lewis is one of the county's top rushers, while DeVozea Felton has come on strong in the last two weeks.
"Both are running it really hard. We'll be prepared for them," Maloof said.
Quarterback Daniel David has shown no signs of being a first-year starter. The sophomore has thrown for 661 yards and six TDs this year.
"We're about to face a very potent offense," Maloof said. "They do a good job mixing it up."
Mill Creek will try to move the ball against a Norcross defense that shutout Duluth a week ago and is allowing 12 points a game this year.
"I was really pleased with the way we played," Maloof said. "Defensively, we seem to get better each week."
The group features defensive ends Lorenzo Carter and Jahmal Jones, who are college prospects. Linebacker Tommy Tate is one of the county's leading tacklers and defensive back Shon Akins is committed to California.
"When you're playing a team this tough, the margin of error is very small," Jarvis said.