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Lanier at Monroe Area preview

Lanier’s James Hanrahan

Lanier’s James Hanrahan

Lanier Longhorns (8-AAAA)

Coach: Billy Wells

Record: 4-0, 1-0 region

Last week: Beat Madison County 34-8

Monroe Purple Hurricanes (8-AAAA)

Coach: Matt Fligg

Record: 4-0, 1-0 region

Last week: Beat Lumpkin County 49-3

Lanier hung in there last season with Monroe Area, but the stakes are a little higher this season thanks to the Longhorns’ unbeaten record. Both teams sit atop the 8-AAAA standings and both have rolled to fairly comfortable victories this season, but the competition level goes up a notch for both in this week’s game.

Monroe Area, a state semifinalist last season, comes in with a No. 5 state ranking. The Purple Hurricanes feature a high-scoring offense that put up 49 last week against Lumpkin County on the heels of big numbers in wins over Loganville (48-21), Winder-Barrow (40-14) and Oconee County (53-0). Slowing down that unit — triggered by quarterback and Auburn commit Stanton Truitt, who began his high school career at Peachtree Ridge — will be a top priority for Lanier.

“Their offense is explosive, no doubt,” Lanier head coach Billy Wells said. “They have a lot of talent. They have a quality football team. … The record they had last year with pretty much the same people reflects that. It’s good for our program to have a test like this.”

Lanier’s defense got a boost last Friday with the return of linebacker Michael Shaw, who missed a game and returned to make 23 tackles against Madison County.

Meanwhile the Lanier offense continues to produce, with running back Tario Fuller and quarterback Canyon Cook putting up consistent numbers. Those totals are possible thanks to strong line play up front — James Hanrahan and Dewey Van Allen combined for 10 knockdown blocks last Friday.

Last meeting: Monroe Area won 33-20 last year

Directions to Monroe Area High School: Ga. Hwy. 11 to Monroe, cross bridge then turn left at first light onto Marable street; turn right onto the fifth street, which is Bryant Road, then turn left at first stop sign.