Arabia Mountain's Solomon Rayton (top photo) and Amante Hardin (5, bottom photo) lead their respective teams into a Region 4-5A opener on Thursday. (Photos by Mark Brock)

Arabia Mountain’s Solomon Rayton (top photo) and Amante Hardin (5, bottom photo) lead their respective teams into a Region 4-5A opener on Thursday. (Photos by Mark Brock)

The road to the state playoffs gets underway for DeKalb high school football teams this Thursday with nine region games and all games moved up to Thursday due to the impending severe weather expected from Hurricane Ian on Friday and Saturday.

Region 4-5A opens on Thursday as the Lithonia Bulldogs (0-5) host the Arabia Mountain Rams at Hallford Stadium Thursday at 7:00 pm.

The two teams have met just seven times on the gridiron with Lithonia holding a 4-3 edge after winning the 2021 tilt 20-9. Arabia Mountain is coming off a hard-fought 13-12 win over Locust Grove a week ago led by quarterback Julian Shanks (459 yards passing, 6 TDs) and running back Solomon Rayton (500 yards rushing, 3 TDs) who is averaging 100 yards per game on the ground.

Lithonia fell 21-0 to Douglass last weekend and the Bulldogs are looking for their first win and a big start to region play. Offensively the Bulldogs are led by quarterback Amante Hardin (454 yards passing, 142 yards rushing) through four games, running back Anthony Booker (177 yards rushing) and receivers Isaiah Byrd (197 yards receiving) and Xavier Wilson (156 yards receiving).

In other 4-5A play the Chamblee vs. Martin Luther King Jr. matchup is moving from Friday to Thursday at North DeKalb at 7:30 pm for the Bulldogs’ homecoming.

Three Region 5-2A games are set for Thursday as well as Towers (0-3-1) and Redan (1-4) play at Avondale Stadium is moved up to 5:15 pm and McNair (2-3) hosts Landmark Christian (2-3) in another move to 5:15 pm start at Godfrey Stadium.

Redan lost its Region 5-2A opener 44-12 to Callaway last week and will be going for a win to even the Raiders’ region mark. Redan’s versatile Xavian Green has accounted for seven touchdowns (before Callaway game) with three rushing, two passing, one receiving and one punt return for a score.

Towers is going for its first win on the season to get region play off on the right foot after being off the past two weekends. The Titans are led on offense by running back Deshaun Broughton, quarterback Nate Griffin and receiver Adrian Alvin.

Columbia (4-1) plays its second Region 5-2A contest of the season hosting Callaway (2-3) at 8:00 pm on Thursday at Avondale Stadium following the Redan/Towers game. The game was originally scheduled for Friday.

Both teams are coming off big margin wins in their first region matchups of the year last weekend. Running back Royce Tolbert leads the Eagles coming off a 150-yard rushing performance with two touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving) in the win over McNair.

McNair (2-3) looks to rebound in Region 5-2A play as the Mustangs host Landmark Christian (2-3) in a 5:15 pm start at Godfrey Stadium. McNair is 0-1 in region play following a 47-0 loss to Columbia last week. The Mustangs are led by Malachi Jackson who has accounted for eight touchdowns (6 receiving, 2 kickoff returns) this season. Landmark is coming off a 35-3 region loss to Eagles Landing Christian last weekend.

Two Region 6-4A games are set for Thursday with two in DeKalb stadiums including Miller Grove (2-3) vs. Southwest DeKalb (2-3) at Godfrey Stadium at 8:00 pm and Hapeville Charter (0-5) vs. Stephenson (2-2) at Adams Stadium at 8:00 pm.

Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb are meeting for the first time since 2018, a game won by the Panthers 14-7, in a series led by Southwest DeKalb 11-2. The Wolverines are led by Ta’Jon Corbitt who is leading the county with 618 yards (123.6 yds/gm) and has six touchdowns.

The Panthers are led by quarterback Isaiah Logan (385 yards rushing, 3 TDs; 368 yards passing, 4 TDs) and running back Billy Johnson (521 yards rushing, 5 TDs).

The Stephenson Jaguars (2-2) take on the Hapeville Charter Hornets (0-5) at 8:00 pm following the Lakeside/Johnson-Gainesville meeting at 5:15 pm which was moved from Friday as well. Stephenson is led by a one-two punch at running back in Devin Ingram and Cheik Keita who teamed up for 210 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 28-3 win over Tucker.

Dunwoody (4-1) at Marist (3-2) and Druid Hills (1-3) at Riverside Military (0-5) are also being moved to Thursday. Both games are set for 7:30 pm starts.

The Tucker (2-3) at Decatur (1-4) game set for Friday is yet to be determined if it will be moved.

Thursday, Sept. 29
Johnson-Gainesville (0-5) vs. Lakeside (3-2), 5:15 pm
Hapeville Charter (0-5) vs. Stephenson (2-2),* 8:00 pm
Towers (0-3-1) vs. Redan (1-4)*, 5:15 pm
Callaway (2-3) vs. Columbia (4-1)*, 8:00 pm
Landmark Christian (2-3) vs. McNair (2-3)*, 5:15 pm
Miller Grove (2-3) vs. SW DeKalb (2-3)*, 8:00 pm (HC)
Arabia Mountain (2-3) vs. Lithonia (0-5)*, 7:00 pm

M.L. King (1-4) vs. Chamblee (3-1)*, 7:30 pm (HC)

Dunwoody (4-1) at Marist (3-2)*, 7:30 pm
Druid Hills (1-3) at Riverside Military (0-5), 7:30 pm

Friday, Sept. 30 (YET TO BE DECIDED)
Tucker (2-3) at Decatur (1-4)*, 7:30 pm

Saturday, Oct. 1
Cedar Grove (3-2) vs. St. John’s (Washington, DC, 4-1) , 2:00 pm