17 teams that are unbeaten but unranked

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here

A Whitefield player warms up before a high school football game against Mount Paran Christian, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, in Kennesaw, Ga.

Branden Camp/Special to the AJC.

Here is a look at the 17 Georgia teams that have begun the season 3-0 or 4-0, but are not ranked.

*Athens Academy (3-0): Athens Academy graduated Region 8-A player of the year Drew Richardson, a quarterback, from a 9-2 team but is still throwing well so far, averaging 234.0 yards through the air. Jacob Hudson, the starter when healthy (and formerly an all-region WR), and Matt Moseley both have had 200-yard passing games. Sophomore Payton Bowles has a 100-yard rushing game. The best defenders have been FS Rolf Reynolds (first-team all-region last year), DT Jackson Reynolds, and SS Kurt Knisely. Outlook: Athens Academy is the closest of the 17 to being ranked. The Spartans beat current public-school No. 1 Commerce last year. They’d be disappointed not to be 8-0 entering the Commerce game Oct. 28. They finish with Prince Avenue Christian.

*Central, Macon (4-0): RB/MLB Antonio Sanders Jr. is a workhorse for the Chargers. He has rushed for 425 yards, about half of Central’s total offense, and averages 21.8 attempts per game. He also has five catches for 69 yards. And he’s tied with FS Kanuri Williams for the team lead in solo tackles (15) and leads the team in sacks (two). Outlook: Peach County is the only team in Region 4-AAA that appears out of Central’s reach. Central has beaten teams that beat Macon rivals Rutland and Westside. Even a 7-3 finish would represent Central’s best season since 1997, and 9-1 is not out of the question.

*Forsyth Central (3-0): Frank Hepler is the coach who started West Forsyth’s program (2007-2013) and made it a winner. He’s back in Forsyth County and making strides. The 3-0 start is the best since 1997. Central is a run/ball-control team built around Sabrian Howard, who has rushed for 608 yards and four touchdowns. Outlook: Forsyth Central has played a weak schedule for a reason. It’s still a work in progress. The Maxwell Ratings rank the Bulldogs sixth out of six in Region 5-AAAAAAA, so making the playoffs for the first time since 2001 is still uphill. Forsyth Central is a slight favorite to beat Kennesaw Mountain this week. Winning that and going 1-4 in region play would make for a 5-4 finish, which would be progress.

*George Walton Academy (3-0): George Walton is a Wing-T team that spaces carries among backs Cedric Robertson, James Wesley Martin and Austin Parrish. The quarterbacks rotate and don’t run or pass that much. DE/TE Frank Samerson, OLB/DE Torey Zanders and LB Isaiah Tossie are all-region-calibre defenders. All but Zanders among those are seniors, but it’s a young team otherwise. Outlook: George Walton has been fair to middling since the 2012 team made the Class A private-school semifinals. That’s probably the case again. A good showing against Prince Avenue Christian this week would suggest otherwise.

*Greenbrier (4-0): Greenbrier was 4-26 the past three seasons, so a 4-0 start – the best since 1997 – is something big for second-year coach Tony Kramer (former Evans defensive coordinator). Sophomore RB Jonquavous Brown has rushed for 513 yards, at least 93 and a touchdown in each game. It’s a young squad with several sophomores making an impact. Outlook: The Maxwell Ratings paint a still-bleak picture, projecting the Wolfpack to finish last in six-team Region 3-AAAAAA, but the team has a nice shot at its first winning season since 2003 (7-4).

*Madison County (4-0): It has been a nice turnaround for the Red Raiders, who were 1-9 last season. QB/FS David Metts is an old-school two-way player. He has rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns, thrown for 195 yards and has a team-leading 14 solo tackles, 23 overall. Madison’s best win is a 17-15 victory over Elbert County on Sept. 2. Outlook: Making the playoffs for the first time since 2006 will require another upset as Maxwell rates St. Pius, Oconee County, Stephens County and Jefferson as better, each by at least eight points. Just a 2-4 finish down the stretch would ensure the first winning season in 10 years.

*Mitchell County (4-0): QB Kentravious Williams has thrown for 521 yards, rushed for 469 and had a hand in 12 touchdowns. That’s on pace for more than 1,000 yards rushing and throwing. Freshman WR James Thomas has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning. Outlook: Maxwell rates Mitchell County as Region 1-A’s best team. If that proves true, the Eagles have a shot at their first 10-0 finish since 1999.

*Mount Vernon Presbyterian (4-0): Ahmir Lee has rushed for 540 yards – at least 100 in every game – and scored 10 touchdowns. QB Ethan Mangrum is a dual-threat player with 359 yards passing and 326 rushing. WR/DE Marquez Bembry, who is committed to Tennessee, has played only one game because of a knee injury that isn’t fully healed. Under second-year coach Wayne Dabbs, a former Westminster assistant, Mount Vernon is 4-0 for the first time since starting the football program in 2006. Outlook: The crucial part of the Region 5-A schedule begins Friday at third-ranked Landmark Christian. Also ahead are No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian and No. 2 Wesleyan. Mount Vernon realistically has three winnable games and can clinch a winning season by taking two of three against Holy Innocents’, Our Lady of Mercy and Strong Rock Christian. If Bembry returns to full speed, that’s highly achievable.

*Mountain View (4-0): The Bears have won four games in a full varsity season for the first time and beaten a 2015 region champion, Lambert. They are holding opponents to 53.0 yards rushing per game. SS/LB Blake Carroll and OLB/DE Alex Davis, both juniors, have 6.5 sacks between them. Sophomore DE Jaelin Humphries has six tackles behind the line. The offense is balanced. Feature RB Jasen Johnson has rushed for 400 yards and five touchdowns on 55 carries. QB Matt Edwards is 39-of-83 passing for 675 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception. Outlook: Mountain View hasn’t beaten North Gwinnett, Collins Hill, Mill Creek or Peachtree Ridge since 2011. One must fall for the Bears to make the playoffs for the first time. Maxwell rates Mountain View as the No. 4 team in Region 6-AAAAAAA.

*North Paulding (4-0): The Wolfpack’s star player is wide receiver Chad Terrell, a top-50 Georgia recruit who has 26 catches for 415 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore QB Ross Malmgren has thrown for 1,131 yards (282.8 per game) and 10 touchdowns in a spread offense. North Paulding doesn’t run much. Outlook: The move to the highest classification in 2014 has been rough on the Wolfpack, which has finished 4-7 and 3-8 after the 11-win season in Class AAAAA in 2013. But this looks promising. North was 3-2 last season against its current Region 3-AAAAAAA opponents. If North can match that feat and win at Cherokee on Friday, that would be 8-2.

*Randolph-Clay (3-0): The Red Devils are averaging 312.0 yards rushing per game and almost never pass. Coach Daniel McFather has employed 18 different ball carriers in the opening routs. Sophomore Quailyn Starling rushed for 216 yards in the opener against Abbeville, Ala. Outlook: Randolph-Clay is Region 1-A’s defending champion. The Maxwell Ratings like Mitchell County a little better, but that’s because Randolph-Clay’s schedule so far is rated the weakest in the state. Randolph-Clay beat Mitchell County 28-20 last season. If the Devils can beat Seminole County this week, the path looks good toward their first eight-win season (or better) since a 10-2 finish in 2005.

*Richmond Hill (3-0): QB Kasey Green (498 yards passing), RB Maurice Smith (239 rushing) and WR Sam James (273 receiving) are all juniors, which bodes well. Matt LeZotte, in his second season, was the coach who turned Aquinas around. He’s doing the same at Richmond Hill. Outlook: Wins over Southeast Bulloch, Pierce County and Grovetown are quality. The Wildcats are much more proven than, say, Greenbrier, the other undefeated/unranked team in AAAAAA. But Richmond Hill’s Region 2, with the likes of Glynn Academy and Brunswick, is much tougher. Richmond Hill should enter region play 5-0 and return to the playoffs for the first time since the 10-2 team of 2013.

*Ridgeland (3-0): The Panthers have a star runner in junior Jalyn Shelton, who has rushed for 443 yards and nine touchdowns on just 37 carries. Ridgeland has scored at least 40 points in every game, including a 40-28 victory over No. 6 Darlington of Class A private. Outlook: Ridgeland is the top-rated team in Region 6-AAAA, per Maxwell. Northwest Whitfield – the Panthers’ opponent Friday – is the main rival. The rest trail by 15 points or more. Win this week and Ridgeland could run the table for the first time in school history.

*Tattnall Square (3-0): Tattnall Square’s first year-coach is Chance Jones, who was Prince Avenue Christian’s offensive coordinator last season. With eight starters back on defense, his Trojans have allowed only seven points. They scored 34 in the first quarter against Pacelli. Ahmad Barron (5-7, 160) is the main offensive weapon. He has rushed for 249 yards on just 17 carries. Outlook: Tattnall Square started 3-0 last season too but went 0-5 in region play. Maxwell views Tattnall as an average team in Region 7-A, about even with Washington-Wilkes, its next opponent. Win that, and Tattnall is in good shape for a return to the playoffs. The Trojans were 10-2 in 2014.

*Taylor County (3-0): Taylor County has perhaps Class A’s best player, Lyn-j Dixon, a blue-chip recruit in the class of 2018. He has rushed for 726 yards on just 52 carries. That led the state until Taylor County had a bye last week. Outlook: The Vikings will face reality at second-ranked Macon County on Friday. After that, there probably isn’t a game they can’t win. Taylor County has won six games five times since 2003 without exceeding that total. None of those teams had a player as good as Dixon.

*Temple (4-0): The main man in Temple is Treon Wright, who has 477 yards rushing, 202 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. Temple averages 278.8 yards rushing per game and has 18 rushing touchdowns. Wright is a senior, but it’s a young team overall. Eight of the top 11 tacklers are underclassmen. Outlook: Temple has played the weakest schedule in Class AA, and the Maxwell Ratings still rank Temple sixth out of six in Region 5-AA. The Tigers’ four wins are already the most since the 6-5 finish of 2011, which still stands as the program’s only winning season since its start in 1989.

*Union County (4-0): Junior QB Cole Wright is off to a great start as a first-year starter. He’s 36-of-55 passing for 449 yards and five touchdowns and has rushed for a team-best 505 yards on 38 attempts. Outlook: Union County finished 9-2 the past two seasons with all-state QB Joseph Mancuso, who threw for 8,187 yards in his career. This team is probably not better than those were, so a third nine-win season will be a challenge. Union County is the undefeated team most likely to lose this week. The Panthers play at No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian on Friday in the Region 7-AAA opener. Second place is up for grabs.

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