Five preseason story lines in the high class
The high school football season begins Thursday (schedule below).
What are the five biggest storylines this season? Here’s my take on it. Let’s hear yours.
Grayson University – Probably not the name Grayson wants, but even a couple of Grayson’s own players have embraced the phrase on social media. Unless you’ve just awaken from summer hibernation, you probably know that Grayson has five new senior players – all major college prospects – who transferred. They are DB DeAngelo Gibbs (from Peachtree Ridge) and RB/DB Jamyest Williams (Archer), both members of the AJC Super 11 team; OL Tony Gray (Central Gwinnett); LB Breon Dixon (Peachtree Ridge); and RB Kurt Taylor (Newton). See our story today on transfers statewide. It’s trending. Is it good for high school football? Sometimes the sport is more popular when there is a villain. Deserved or not, Grayson will be seen that way.
Colquitt County – Overshadowed in the Grayson uprising is the fact that Georgia has a team with a 30-game winning streak in the highest classification. There hasn’t been a three-time champion in the highest class since Parkview in 2000-02. The only longer winning streaks in the highest class are Parkview (46) and Valdosta (37 from 1960-63). Colquitt was hit hard by graduation, losing virtually every full-time starter on defense, but this is a healthy program with many stars waiting their turn to shine. One will be LB J.J. Peterson. The new QB will be Jay Saunders, a two-year starter at catcher on the baseball and more accomplished at that sport. But coach Rush Propst likes him a lot. Should be fun to see how the Packers do.
Roswell – The most talented teams outside of Grayson is probably Roswell. Propst would probably agree. Roswell lost all-region QB Quintarious Neely, classification defensive player of the year Tre Lamar (who has been very impressive in Clemson’s preseason camp, btw) and a couple of all-region offensive linemen. But back are all-state RB Sheldon Evans, perhaps the best pair of WR in the class (Jayden Comma and Corey Reed, both major D-I prospects) and perhaps the best CB/FS pair in the state (Leanthony Williams & Xavier McKinney, both major D-I prospects).
McEachern – McEachern is another team that should contend, although the Indians must replace several really good players (10 first-team all-region guys), among them WR Tyler Simmons and DT Julian Rochester (to Georgia), OL Tremayne Anchrum (Clemson) and RB Sam Jackson. Back is QB Bailey Hockman (Florida State).
–Who will emerge? The highest class was cut to 48 teams from 64 in 2015. That was the GHSA’s way of appeasing schools of 2,000 enrollment and less that were having to compete against those with 3,500+. The result is a weaker highest class. Teams such as Tucker, Lee County, Valdosta, Hughes and Dacula are playing in the second-highest class now. It could open the door for deep runs by teams such as Westlake and South Forsyth, which were surprising in the playoffs last year. Or it could be a team such as Central Gwinnett, which has been pretty good under the radar the past two years and has a move-in RB who led South Carolina (the state, not the university) in rushing last season. Or will old powers Norcross and North Gwinnett re-emerge? The door is open.
Class AAAAAAA games
Newnan at Carrollton (WG)
Newton at Drew (SC)
Camden Co. at Oakleaf, Fla.
Campbell at Etowah
Cherokee at North Cobb
Harrison at East Paulding
Hillgrove at South Forsyth (ME)
Hiram at Kennesaw Mountain
Johns Creek at Lassiter
Lovejoy at East Coweta
Lowndes at Valdosta
Milton at Alpharetta
Mountain View at Osborne
Roswell at Buford (ME)
Sequoyah at North Forsyth
Shiloh at Collins Hill
South Cobb at Pebblebrook
South Gwinnett at Central Gwinnett
Tift Co. at South Effingham (GS)
West Forsyth at Woodstock
Wheeler at Marietta
Christ Presb., Tenn. at Parkview
Colquitt Co. at Mill Creek (GD)
McCallie, Tenn. at Peach. Ridge (PK)
McEachern at Archer (GD)
Norcross at Walton (GD)
North Gwinnett at Brookwood (GD)