Region title on the line when Peachtree Ridge travels to Norcross

Peachtree Ridge and Norcross will face off for the Region 7-7A title this Friday at 7:30 p.m. on GPB.

Norcross is 7-1 and since their loss to Mill Creek, the Blue Devils have reeled off six consecutive wins. Peachtree Ridge is having a phenomenal year and is at 8-0. The Lions are off to their best start since 2015 when they went 8-4. Head coach Matt Helmerich has them playing some of their best football in years. Peachtree Ridge is led by quarterback Darnell Kelly, who is having a strong sophomore season. Kelly has thrown for 1,811 yards and 23 touchdowns this season and is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2026 class.

A pivotal matchup to watch in this game will be if the Norcross secondary can slow down the Peachtree Ridge playmakers. Kelly spreads the ball all over the field and has four receivers (Lamar White, Tyeion Cofield, Myles Abernathy, and Rhari Thomas) each with 300+ yards receiving this season. Kelly has a special connection with one of them that he has known since they were kids.

“I have known Darnell since I was six or seven and we have always been hanging out since we were little,” said Thomas. “To get him in high school with me, and to see him grow with me is amazing. We always had been talking about football and high school when we were little. It’s just a dream come true right now.”

Each receiver possesses different elements in their game but they complement each other well. One specifically Thomas, has been a force at the slot receiver position and makes his impact felt in the open field. Thomas leads the Lions in catches (42) and is third on the team in receiving yards (379). One of his biggest games this season came against Lanier where he led the team in receptions (ten) and finished with 87 yards.

“Against Lanier, I wanted to make sure I got open. They played a bunch of two high, so I had to get open. The student section was amazing. They bring the energy every play and they keep us up,” said Thomas. “With us, it’s a team game. You have to play your role. In the play calling, some of us might have to clear out for a certain player. Sometimes we might have to do something different to try and get everybody else open,” said Thomas.

Myles Abernathy is another receiver having a great senior season for the Lions. Abernathy has 473 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2023. His best game came in Week 2 against Lanier where he went off for eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Abernathy is a big-time mismatch and has caused problems for secondaries all season.

“I learn from Myles everyday. Myles and WR Lamar White are always telling us something new. They always tell us we have to focus on the ball. It’s a lot I am learning from them,” said Thomas. “When I get the ball I have to do something crazy with it. Make the defense get their eyes on me, and get them open. I am a team player.”

Norcross’ Antonio Molder has been a key defensive presence in the secondary this season for the Blue Devils. Molder leads the team with three interceptions and is second on the team with 69 tackles. As a team, Norcross has seven interceptions. Molder is not afraid of the spotlight and puts forward his best performances on the big stage. He was named defensive player of the game after his 14-tackle performance opening week in the Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic against Marietta, and also made the All-Corky state team. Molder is a vital playmaker in the backline of the secondary.

There will be a lot on the line come Friday night for both of these teams and how this matchup shakes out could very well determine who wins the game.

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