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Duluth at Peachtree Ridge preview

Sam McNair

Sam McNair

Duluth Wildcats (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Jason Conner

Record: 0-2

Last week: Lost to South Gwinnett 42-28

Peachtree Ridge Lions (7-AAAAAA)

Coach: Mark Fleetwood

Record: 2-0

Last week: Had a bye

Duluth has never defeated its longtime rival, but last season’s seven-point margin of victory for Peachtree Ridge was the lowest in the series history. Only two other times in nine all-time meetings — a 17-7 Lions’ win in 2004 and a 35-21 victory in 2010 — has Peachtree Ridge’s winning margin been less than 30 points.

On paper, it looks like that could happen again this season with the Lions at 2-0 and the Wildcats at 0-2. But Duluth played much better last week against a good South Gwinnett team, building a little momentum going into the Region 7-AAAAAA opener.

“We’ve got so many young players on offense and we’ve got some guys who can run, we’ve just got to get the knowledge of the system down,” said coach Jason Conner, in his first season as the Wildcats’ head coach. “Our defense has played well enough to win both games. And I think our offense came into its own in the second half vs. South Gwinnett.”

Thad Bell threw for 231 yards and four touchdowns in the game vs. South, while Devin Terry had seven catches for 129 yards and a pair of scores. Conner also liked what Theo Burnette did at running back. Meanwhile, the Duluth defense was solid again. Evan Ubakanma (nine tackles, sack) and Sam McNair (13 tackles) were among the top performers. McNair also caused a pair of fumbles.

“Sam’s a special kid,” Conner said. “He’s a really positive leader and the most physical football player I’ve seen in awhile. … He’s one of the emotional leaders of our team.”

Peachtree Ridge returns to action after a bye week and victories over two perennial playoff teams, Walton and Parkview. The Lions’ defense keyed the Parkview win with a pair of pick-6s.

Last meeting: Peachtree Ridge won 28-21 last year

Directions to Peachtree Ridge High School: From I-85, take the Old Peachtree Road exit and go west. School is roughly two miles ahead on the right.