GAC, Cedar Grove and Crisp make strong opening statements
Cedar Grove’s Netori Johnson (72), Justin Shaffer (77) and Jelani Woods (17) celebrate their win against Greater Atlanta Christian during the Class AAA state championship game Friday at the Georgia Dome. (Jason Getz/Special)
The light schedule during Class AAA’s opening weekend of high school football went about as expected with three of the top-10 teams waiting until this week to begin the season. But there were a few items worth noting from Week 1:
— No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian (1-0) is the best team, so far, to begin play in Class AAA. The Spartans, who graduated quarterback Davis Mills last year, defeated host Lovett 46-14. The offensive performance left little question as to the quality of the quarterback situation at the corner of Oakbrook Parkway and Indian Trail-Lilburn Road in Norcross. GAC is doing just fine.
The Spartans’ Josh Rose was 11-of-14 passing for 176 yards and four touchdowns. Rose connected with Trey Morrison twice on touchdown passes of 43 and 39 yards. Kyler McMichael, an AJC Super 11 pick, had a lackluster debut with two fumbles, but he gained 91 yards on 14 carries.
— Don’t count out defending champion Cedar Grove (1-0). The Saints, ranked No. 3, moved past Class AAAAAA Stephenson 34-13. Quarterback Xavier Dennis connected with nine receivers and finished 15-of-19 passing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He picked up 71 yards rushing on nine carries. Linebacker William Jenkins anchored a defense which only allowed Stephenson 152 yards of total offense.
— The only teams to drop in the polls involved programs from Region 5. The No. 6 Westminster Wildcats had a tough test in their opener against Class AAAA No. 2 Blessed Trinity, losing 28-0 at Alfred E. Thompson Stadium on the Westminster campus. Blessed Trinity got a measure of redemption after losing to Westminster in the 2015 Class AAA state championship game. The Wildcats have been Class AAA playoff regulars the past three seasons, losing to Peach County in the quarterfinals last year. The Wildcats fell from No. 5 to No. 6. Lovett, after its loss to GAC, fell from No. 7 to No. 9.
— Calhoun of Region 6 South, slipped from No. 3 to No. 4 after a narrow 17-14 victory against Douglass.
— The Westminster stumble allowed for a new No. 5 — Region 1 powerhouse Crisp County. The Cougars, who are entering the season under interim coach Brad Harber, defeated Dooly County 40-18 in the opener. Harber takes the reigns from coach Shelton Felton, who led the Cougars to a 13-victory season and first region title since 1995. Felton left Crisp to become the OLB coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“My expectation is simply to be consistent,” Harber told Theo Dorsey of WALB News in Albany. “That’s what we have preached all summer long. We want to play the same way every Friday night, no matter who the opponent is.”
— In case you missed Todd Holcomb’s top performers story on this site, there were impressive performances from two Class AAA quarterbacks. East Hall’s Austin Parker passed for five touchdowns and 457 yards against Habersham Central. Parker finished 21-of-33 passing in the 72-55 loss. Ringgold’s Cole Kibler passed for four touchdowns and 452 yards against Northwest Whitfield. Kibler completed 26 of 43 passes in the 48-29 loss.