By Ken K. GreenLamar County returns to the gridiron this week to open defense of its Region 4-AA title hosting Taylor County at Thunder Alley. The Trojans are looking to win their third straight region championship.When and Where:Friday 7:30 p.m. at Trojan Field.Tickets:All tickets $7 at the gate. Advanced discounted tickets for Lamar County School System students, faculty and staff (one per person) only for $5 available at all four schools through one o’clock Friday.Weather:Mostly clear and 70 degrees at kick off. Remaining clear with temps dropping to the mid-60s by the end of the game. No chance of rain but there will be Thunder.Last week:Both teams were off. The Trojans are 3-0 after wins over Spalding, Eagle’s Landing and Pike County. The Vikings (2-1) opened the season with a 27-9 loss to Irwin County but rebounded to beat Central Talbotton (39-6) and Schley County (35-13).Last year:The Trojan offense struggled in Butler behind freshman quarterback Ginori Smith who was pressed into starting as regular Lance Austin sat out with an illness. Lamar got a first quarter field goal from Tyler Scandrett and held a 3-0 lead until Lawrence Austin scored two touchdowns within a one minute span in the third quarter. The Lamar defense, led by Ray Lyons, got its first shut out of the season in the 15-0 win. The Vikings went on to a 5-5 season and fifth place finish in 4-AA going 3-4 in region play.Series:The Trojans lead 6-3. Last year’s win was the fifth win in a row for the Trojans in the series which began with a 21-0 Lamar win in 1976 at Summers Field. The Vikings won the first of three straight the next year in Butler when they overcame a 19-0 halftime deficit to upset the Trojans, who were ranked number two in the state at the time, 20-19.Trojan offense vs. Viking defense:Lamar is scoring 37.3 points per game while the Vikings are yielding 15.3.Viking offense vs. Trojan defense:Taylor County is averaging 27.7 points per game while the Trojans yield 11.7.Top Viking players:The Vikings are led by junior quarterback James Whiteside who has completed 21 of 38 pass attempts for 488 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 151 yards and two scores on 25 carries. His favorite receivers are senior Keyshouin Chappell (13 catches, 309 yards, 3 TDs) and junior Jay Bloodser (3-96-2). The top running backs are seniors Kelsey Little (31 carries, 276 yards, 3 TDs) and Jay Corbin, (9-56-0).Viking coach:Chris Kirksey, in his tenth season, is 45-50 all at Taylor County.Rankings:Lamar County is 3rd in Class AA in a composite ranking of six polls including a number one ranking by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Taylor County is the 36th best team in AA according to Max Preps.Prediction:Lamar County 34 Taylor County 6. The Trojans are 34 point favorites per Maxwell Ratings.