Live on Neighborhood TV: Dunwoody vs. North Atlanta Preview

North Atlanta and Dunwoody will battle it out in a Region 4-6A game for a chance to host a playoff game at Eddie S. Henderson Stadium Friday and both teams enter the contest on the rise.

North Atlanta (8-1, 3-1) has put together its third consecutive winning season under head coach Jamie Aull and has reached eight wins for the second year in a row. Dunwoody (8-1, 4-1) is coming off their best season since 2008 when they made it to the quarterfinals after going 12-1 under head coach James Teter. The Wildcats punched their ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

“It’s awesome and that is what you work for. These kids have been working since January of last year,” said Dunwoody head coach Mike Nash.

“To watch their hard work pay off, and then to achieve their goal was very satisfying. I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff and our assistant coaches. We had a nucleus of kids that were asking me to come in early and if I could cut the lights in March, and they were working on their own and were committed to it.”

North Atlanta set the tone in week 1 against Johns Creek winning 58-14 and dominating the line of scrimmage. In that game, Darius Malcolm had two special teams touchdowns and Demetrius Barnes scored three rushing touchdowns. Both have been stars this season on the offensive side of the ball. Barnes was recently named the October Atlanta Touchdown Club Player of the Month. Malcolm has started to see college offers roll in and has picked up four offers in the past two months.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Demetrius,” Aull said. “There was always ability and talent there. His buy in the offseason this year has just been different. He had a different level of commitment to our offseason program and getting himself prepared for his senior season. The result of that is what you see on Friday nights, Darius going out and getting 200-yard games and getting recognized by the Atlanta Touchdown Club. I am really happy with the senior season he is putting together.”

“It’s awesome for Darius. He is a hard-working kid who truly loves the game. It definitely was a goal of his to keep playing and to play in college. I am proud of him and that offers are starting to come in. He’s going to have some options of where he wants to go.”

Both teams have been defensively sound all season and have strong front sevens that make it tough for opposing offenses to run the ball. Their defensive ends and front are adept at causing havoc and getting after the passer.

Dunwoody’s defense has been playing at a high level and have produced two shutouts in the last three games. The front four is led by Luke Cole and Luke Phillips who are having outstanding seasons. Both are players to watch on Friday night.

“They have been really good. That’s a place we didn’t know how good we would be coming into the season. We are really led by our front four and our two defensive ends,” said Nash.

“Our front four are as good as I’ve ever coached. Luke Cole has 28 tackles for a loss and nine sacks. He’s caused five fumbles, has two fumble recoveries, blocked three or four kicks, and has a safety. He’s an underrated kid. Luke Phillips has been a heck of a player this year.”

North Atlanta has not allowed a team to score more than 25 points this season and pressuring the passer has been key to cover some of the best of them in Class 6A. North Atlanta brings a lot of speed to the perimeter and are very athletic on the defensive front.

“We felt really good about our defense coming into the year. They get after it at practice throughout the week,” said Aull.

“When we get to cut them loose against somebody on Friday night, they get after it and have fun doing it. A lot of speed on that unit and they fly around to the ball. They play with physicality. It is definitely fun to watch those guys.”

North Atlanta has a lot of speed on the perimeter and can beat you to the ball defensively. They have two standout corners in Saalim Davis and Xaiden Benson. The Warriors are potent up front and are led by junior edge rusher Chase Linton, who is beginning to come into his own.

“Every week no matter who we are playing they are going to try and gameplan and slow down #85. Chase leads our team in tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss. The kid plays like a wild man,” said Aull.

“He’s been unbelievable, and he has a very high ceiling. He is still growing into his frame. Chase is stretching out and growing taller. He went from 6’3 to 6’4 and a half this year. I really think he is going to be an elite Power 5 recruit. I think some SEC and ACC programs are going to come and recruit this kid hard this spring.”

A player to watch offensively is North Atlanta quarterback Ian Reynolds who is coming off one of his better games this season in a 49-0 victory against South Cobb. Reynolds had a passing and rushing touchdown in the game. He’s been a steady leader all season and has been a great complement to the elite ground game of North Atlanta.

“He’s done a tremendous job. His steady leadership has been awesome. He is a guy that shows up to work every day. There is nothing extra that you have to deal with pertaining to Ian,” said Aull.

“You know what type of effort you are going to get day in and day out which is awesome. He’s steadied our offense and everybody else has followed his lead. Really impressed with how he has led us, and he got us in the top 10 scoring offense in 6A, which is a testament to him, our offensive line and the entire team.”

Dunwoody quarterback Matt Perch has also been great this season for the Wildcats. He has over 1,500 yards passing and has taken care of the football in a pass-oriented offense.

A lot is on the line between these region foes. North Atlanta can make history Friday night. With a win, the Warriors will host their first playoff game in the first round in program history. Dunwoody will host their first playoff game since 2009 with a victory.

The matchup will be streamed live at 7:30 p.m. on Neighborhood TV right from Eddie S. Henderson Stadium. Stay tuned for the live link!

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