AA in brief: Benedictine alone atop rankings
As the results on the field dictated, last week’s games led to the biggest shakeup in the AA rankings to date. Every team from last week’s top 10 either moved up or down in the rankings, and in Model’s case it moved out altogether and was replaced by Heard County.
Fitzgerald is no longer the state’s top-ranked team after losing to Tift County, an unranked team from AAAAAAA. It’s worth noting the Purple Hurricane were down 20-7 heading into the fourth and trailed 28-14 with 6:45 remaining before rallying to tie the game.
However, Benedictine was playing at the same high level all season, and the Cadets passed their test earlier this season by beating St. Pius X in Atlanta. So there’s no question they’ve earned their ranking. Of course, the Cadets finished 12-1 last year, with the loss being a blowout to Fitzgerald in the quarterfinals. We’ll see if there’s a resolution to that rivalry in this year’s playoffs, but for now it’s the Cadets who sit at the top.
Jefferson County, Callaway and Rabun County each move up a spot courtesy of the Brooks County Trojans, who fell three spots following a 16-14 defeat to Crisp County, the No. 7 team out of AAA. It’s going to be a tougher road to Atlanta than initially projected after season-ending injuries to their starting quarterback and defensive back.
Dublin, Vidalia and Screven County also moved up a spot with No. 7 Model’s loss to the unranked Pepperell Dragons. That opened the door for the Heard County Braves to return to the rankings at No. 10. It’s been a long road back to the polls for the Braves, who exited from their preseason No. 10 ranking after barely beating perennial bottom feeder South Atlanta in their season opener. They’re coming off a bye that was preceded by a 41-0 win over Temple on Sept. 23, but their ranking could once again be short lived – they play at Callaway this week.
As for the Dragons, it looks like they’ll have to keep winning and wait for another team to lose to join the top 10. This week the Dragons (4-1, 3-0 R7) take on Rockmart (5-1, 3-0), and a win for either team could put them in the rankings if the Braves lose to Callaway.
Aside from Pepperell and Rockmart, other bubble teams include Toombs County (5-1), Washington County (4-1) and Elbert County (5-1). KIPP Atlanta Collegiate is also 5-1, but has a strength of schedule of (-) 12.5 according to the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings due to its membership in a Region 6 depleted of all private school powerhouses that used to dominate AA.
Here’s a glimpse at the updated rankings, with the previous week’s rankings in parenthesis:
1. (2) Benedictine (6-0)
2. (1) Fitzgerald (4-1)
3. (4) Jefferson County (6-0)
4. (5) Callaway (5-0)
5. (6) Rabun County (4-0)
6. (3) Brooks County (4-1)
7. (8) Dublin (6-0)
8. (9) Vidalia (4-2)
9. (10) Screven County (5-1)
10. (NR) Heard County
Out: No. 7 Model (5-1)
- Dade County RB/LB Lee Spencer, Jefferson County QB Jaden Jenkins, Rabun County LB Gavyn Jones, Toombs County RB Ja’mon Height and Vidalia WR/CB Deon Green all earned GHSF Daily “Best of the rest” honors for their individual performances last week. Dade County’s offensive line earned “Lines of distinction” honors.
- GHSF Daily provided an interesting history nugget about Dublin: it was the last team play in a state title game that ended in a tie.
- More on Dublin: Michael A. Lough of The Telegraph (Macon) profiles Fighting Irish coach Roger Holmes ahead of his 200th win with the program.
- The Rabun County Wildcats played wearing alternate helmets on Friday as part of their Military Appreciation Night. They went on to beat Banks County 46-3.
- The Early County Bobcats retired the No. 7 on Friday during a pregame ceremony honoring Shawn Williams, a 2009 graduate. Williams, who was on hand for the ceremony, went on to play for Georgia and is now a safety for the Cincinnati Bengals. Williams is the second Early County alum to reach the NFL, according to GHSFHA.org. Former Bobcats defensive back Cody Tay played for the Chargers from 2001-03.
- Fitzgerald’s furious rally was aided by this incredible defensive score by defensive Marlon Jackson and safety Malik Balom, which tied the game late. Here’s more highlights from that game.
- It’s not the best quality highlight, but you can still see an incredible scoring run from Rockmart in this tweet. Here’s another angle. The Yellow Jackets went on to beat Chattooga 17-10.
- During Friday’s Model-Pepperell game, Dragons fans proclaimed that Model likes Nickelback.
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