Top 10 games of Week 1

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

FootballAllatoona at Cartersville

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville

Rankings: Allatoona (14-1 in 2015) is No. 1 in Class AAAAAA; Cartersville (15-0 in 2015) is No. 1 in AAAA.

Last meeting: Allatoona won 10-0 in 2011.

Three things to know: 1. This is one of two games this season that matches reigning Georgia state champions (Pace Academy at Westminster on Oct. 7 is the other). Allatoona won the 2015 AAAAA title, the first state championship for the Cobb County School District. Cartersville beat Buford in the AAAA final for its first state title since 1999 and third overall. 2. Allatoona lost 20 seniors from its championship team, including the quarterback, leading rusher and most of the defense. Look for QB Tate Tatum and RB Charles Anderson to take over the lead roles in the offense. Anderson rushed for 630 yards last season, including 405 in the playoffs after an injury to senior starter Russell Halimon. 3. Most of the focus at Cartersville is on QB Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect among juniors. He has passed for 6,697 yards and 69 touchdowns in two seasons and is within reach of Deshaun Watson’s state records of 13,077 and 159. The Purple Hurricanes have two other three-star seniors in the secondary – Avery Showell, a transfer from St. Francis who is committed to Wake Forest, and Trey Creamer, a preseason all-state selection.

Aquinas at Prince Avenue Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Brad Akins Field, Bogart

Rankings: Aquinas (12-2 in 2015) is No. 6 in Class A-private; Prince Avenue Christian (12-1 in 2015) is No. 3 in Class A-private.

Last meeting: Prince Avenue Christian won 42-12 in 2015.

Three things to know: 1. Aquinas suffered a big blow in the offseason when three of its best players – RB D’Angelo Durham (1,382 yards rushing last season), WR Justin Gibbs (Mississippi State offer) and CB Verenzo Holmes Jr. – transferred to Grovetown. Gibbs was named preseason all-state in AAAAAA this season. Aquinas lost to Eagle’s Landing Christian in the state final last season. 2. After Jeff Herron left Prince Avenue to become the head coach at Grayson, the Wolverines hired Greg Vandagriff, formerly a head coach at Campbell and Kell and most recently the defensive coordinator at Woodward Academy. He inherits a team that won its third consecutive region title in 2015 and lost to ELCA in the semifinals. 3. Aquinas and Prince Avenue have been two of the most successful programs in Class A over the past three seasons. Aquinas is 38-3 with a state championship over that span, best of any Class A private school, and Prince Avenue has the fourth-most victories with 31, trailing only Aquinas, Mount Paran Christian (33-5) and Calvary Day (32-6).

Blessed Trinity at St. Pius

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, George B. Maloof Stadium, Atlanta

Rankings: Blessed Trinity (13-1-1 in 2015) is No. 6 in Class AAAA; St. Pius (10-3 in 2015) is No. 4 in AAAA.

Last meeting: Blessed Trinity won 17-6 in 2015.

Three things to know: 1. Blessed Trinity, the Class AAA runner-up last season, graduated nine of its 10 first-team all-region players. The returner is TE/LB J.D. Bertrand, rated by 247Sports as the No. 9 sophomore prospect in Georgia. He was a two-way starter in all 15 games as a freshman. 2. St. Pius’ best two players are probably DB/RB Grant Holloman and DL London Lewis, both members of GHSF Daily’s preseason all-state team. Holloman had more than 1,250 all-purpose yards. Lewis had a good junior season despite a bout of mono. 3. Blessed Trinity has won the past three games in the series (20103-15) after St. Pius won the first five meetings. It’s strange that these two Catholic schools are not in the same region. Blessed Trinity is in Region 7, with St. Pius’ main rival, Marist. St. Pius’ nearest Region 8 rival is North Oconee, about 50 miles away.

Colquitt County vs. Mill Creek

When, where: 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Rankings: Colquitt County (15-0 in 2015) is No. 2 in Class AAAAAAA; Mill Creek (13-1 in 2015) is No. 5 in AAAAAAA.

Last meeting: Colquitt County won 52-31 in the 2015 Class AAAAAA semifinals.

Three things to know:1. The teams’ meeting in the 2015 semifinals was memorable for a first-half incident in which Colquitt County coach Rush Propst head-butted a player on his helmet on the sideline. Months later, Propst was suspended for a year by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Propst won an appeal and had the penalty reduced to a reprimand. 2. Colquitt County returns only one full-time starter on defense (CB Jamarius Walker), although junior LB J.J. Peterson played significantly and is an all-state candidate. Most all of the team’s yardage leaders are gone. The new quarterback is Jay Saunders, replacing all-state Chase Parrish. 3. Mill Creek returns nine offensive starters from a team that averaged 37.1 points. Those include preseason all-state OLs Jack Franklin and Tyler Fannin. QB Cameron Turley threw for 2,358 yards last year. The defense graduated nine starters.

Kell vs. Tucker

When, where: 9 a.m. Saturday, Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Rankings: Kell (9-4 in 2015) is No. 5 in Class AAAAA; Tucker (8-4 in 2015) is No. 5 in AAAAAA.

Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.

Three things to know: 1. Tucker is in AAAAAA this year after spending the past two seasons in the highest class, where it compiled an 18-7 record. The Tigers’ most recent game in the second-highest class was a loss to Creekside in the 2013 AAAAA final. Kell “remained” a AAAAA team but is now playing in what is the third-highest classification. 2. Kell has experience in the offensive backfield. Senior QB John Lampley passed for 845 yards and rushed for 186 last year, and juniors Josiah Futral (912 yards) and Dre Houston (542) were the top two rushers. The biggest loss was do-it-all player Bryson Armstrong, a Kennesaw State signee who contributed 965 all-purpose yards and a team-leading 126 tackles. 3. Tucker led DeKalb County last season in total offense (408.6 yards per game) and scoring offense (40.5 ppg). Leading the way for the Tigers this year will be OL Dylan Wonnum, rated as the consensus No. 5 guard nationally and No. 10 senior in Georgia, and RB Chris Broadwater, who led the team in rushing in 2015 with 1,304 yards and 18 TDs. Wonnum, DB Eugene Brown and DE Aaron Sterling are transfers from Stephenson, each a major Division I prospect.

Lee County vs. Jones County

When, where: 8:30 p.m. today, Five Star Stadium, Macon

Rankings: Lee County (6-4 in 2015) is No. 7 in Class AAAAAA; Jones County (9-2 in 2015) is No. 6 in AAAAA.

Last meeting: Jones County won 42-35 in 2009.

Three things to know:1. Both teams are coming off disappointing finishes to promising seasons. Lee County started 6-0 but went 0-4 down the stretch and failed to repeat its surprising playoff berth out of strong Region 1-AAAAAA. Jones County followed a 10-3 season, its best in 60 years of varsity football, with a 9-2 campaign. Jones lost to eventual AAAAA runner-up Glynn Academy 28-22 in the first round. 2. Lee County returns its best two defensive players – DL Aubrey Solomon and DB Otis Reese, both committed to Michigan. The team graduated its best three offensive players – QB Garet Morrell (Marshall), WR Tray Eafford (Troy) and OL Chris Barnes (Georgia). 3. Jones County QB Bradley Hunnicutt has thrown for 5,126 yards and 39 touchdowns the past two seasons. WR Nick Singleton has 146 receptions for 2,131 yards in that time.

Lovett at Greater Atlanta Christian

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Spartan Stadium, Norcross

Rankings: Lovett (6-6 in 2015) is No. 10 in Class AAA; Greater Atlanta Christian (12-2 in 2015) is No. 4 in AAA.

Last meeting: GAC won 34-7 in 2015.

Three things to know: 1. Greater Atlanta Christian must adjust quickly to the loss of QB Davis Mills, the consensus No. 1 recruit in Georgia. Mills recently suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for three to four months. The Spartans will turn the job over to senior Jonathan Rose, a projected starter at linebacker. Mills passed for 2,821 yards and rushed for 541 last season. 2. Lovett lost four players who made first-team all-region in 6-AA last season – RB Jay Harris, DL Ian Herbert, LB Sam Perry and DB Chase Carter. Harris rushed for 1,230 yards in 2015 and finished as the third-leading career rusher in school history. The Lions bring back experience in QB Brady Tindall, who rushed and passed for more than 1,000 in 2015. 3. GAC and Lovett competed in the same region the past 10 seasons but were split apart in this reclassification cycle (GAC is in 7-AAA and Lovett is in 5-AAA). Lovett won six of nine meetings against the Spartans during that stretch and had a 3-2 advantage in region titles, although GAC won the region championship the past two seasons.

Lowndes at Valdosta

When, where: 8 p.m. Friday, Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium Valdosta

Rankings: Lowndes (6-5 in 2015) is No. 7 in Class AAAAAAA; Valdosta (8-4 in 2015) is No. 9 in AAAAAA.

Last meeting: Valdosta won 17-7 in 2015.

Three things to know: 1. The two south Georgia rivals are in separate regions this season for the first time since 1967, when Lowndes was in 1-AA and Valdosta was in 1-AAA (the highest classification at the time). This year Lowndes is in 1-AAAAAAA and Valdosta is in 1-AAAAAA. The Wildcats are playing below the highest class for the first time since the 1950s. This is the first time the rivals have opened against each other. 2. Lowndes junior Michael Barrett will be the new starting quarterback. His top target will be WR Xavier Jenkins, a 6-foot-5 senior recruit who has offers from Georgia, Mississippi State and Louisville. The offensive line returns only two starters,, and one of those (senior Tucker Barnes) has moved from center to left tackle. 3. Valdosta returns nine starters on defense and has a strong offensive line. Junior Hunter Holt and transfer Josh Belton are battling to replace QB Seth Shuman, who passed for a school-record 3,194 yards last season before heading off to Georgia Southern. As many as five players are in contention to take over at running back.

Roswell vs. Buford

When, where: 5:30 p.m. Friday, Walter H. Cantrell Stadium, Powder Springs

Rankings: Roswell (14-1 in 2015) is No. 3 in Class AAAAAAA; Buford (13-2 in 2015) is No. 1 in AAAAA.

Last meeting: Buford won 34-10 in 1983.

Three things to know:1. These schools first played in football in 1952. Roswell leads the series 11-3. They have not played each other since 1983. 2. Roswell, the 2015 runner-up in Class AAAAAA, returns six players who made first-team all-region last season. DB Xavier McKinney and DB Leanthony Williams (committed to Clemson) are rated among the top 20 senior prospects in Georgia. RB Sheldon Evans rushed for more than 1,700 yards last season. WR Jayden Comma had more than 1,000 yards receiving. 3. Buford has won 17 consecutive season openers but is probably the underdog in this one. Buford should be outstanding again defensively. T.D. Roof and Jake Simpson had about 100 tackles each last season at linebacker and are first-team preseason all-state. The offense has only three starters back. One is QB Mic Roof (T.D.’s twin), who threw for more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Mic is committed to East Carolina.

Woodward Academy at Westminster

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Alfred E. Thompson Stadium, Atlanta

Rankings: Woodward Academy (13-1 in 2013) is No. 2 in Class AAAA; Westminster (11-4 in 2015) is No. 1 in AAA.

Last meeting: Woodward Academy won 30-15 in 2013.

Three things to know:1. Westminster is coming off its first state championship since 1978. Woodward Academy has been knocking on the door of its first since 1980, winning region titles and reaching the state semifinals each of the past two seasons. 2. Woodward graduated 1,000-yard rusher Elijah Holyfield to Georgia, but Holyfield was injured much of 2015. The team’s main weapons were QB Ryan Glover (2,740 yards passing) and WR Joshua Johnson (1,111 receiving), who are back. So are seven of the top eight tacklers, including preseason all-state LB K.J. Phillips. 3. Westminster returns about 12 starters, most of them on defense. Three are preseason all-state picks – RB Tay Malcome (school’s all-time leading rusher), DE Cortez Alston (Notre Dame and Cal are his favorites) and DB Ian Ude (Ivy League). No starting QB has been named to replace the underrated Rankin Woley, now at LSU on baseball scholarship.

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