3. REGION 5-AAA
Cedar Grove, Lovett, McNair, Pace Academy, Redan, Stone Mountain, Towers, Westminster
Region 5-AAA consists of the “Buckhead Three” private schools and four more schools from the recruiting hotbed DeKalb County. One could assume that a region consisting of small schools would not be this high on the list, but the stats back up Region 5-AAA’s position, and one could argue it to be even higher on the list. Pace Academy and Westminster are both off state championship-winning seasons. Cedar Grove was not too far behind, either. Lovett, which made it to the state finals three years ago, joins Region 5-AAA. Also, Redan, Stone Mountain, McNair and Towers, all talented DeKalb County schools will be joining this region as well.
The previously mentioned “Buckhead Three” come into this season with a ton of success. Historically, Westminster and Lovett are old-school Buckhead powers. Westminster will be led by star running back Zay Malcome, two-way athlete Joe Egan and sack-artist Cortez Alston. Lovett features super sophomore Nick Jackson, who broke the school’s squat record for a freshman this spring squatting 390 4x. He will be unstoppable this fall – book it. Perhaps no team is returning more talent than Pace Academy. This new state power is building a dynasty in Georgia. Pace Academy plans to contend for the 5-AAA title with a roster that features five blue chip prospects. Gunnor Faulk (QB), Andrew Thomas (OT), Trey Blount (WR), Deon Jackson (RB) and Jamaree Salyer (OG) are prospects that have major colleges’ attention.
Cedar Grove, Redan, Stone Mountain, McNair and Towers make up the rest of the schools in Region 5-AAA and are DeKalb County public schools. Cedar Grove was a AAA semifinalist last year and are a hungry bunch after losing to region foe Westminster 24-6. Cedar Grove returns a team full of blue chip prospects headlined by Netori Johnson (OL), Tre Shaw (ATH), Justin Shaffer (OT) and Jelani Woods (QB). Cedar Grove has a lot of young talent (Jadon Haselwood, WR) as well and should inflict damage on opposing AAA teams for years to come. Redan drops down to AAA from AAAA. The Raiders barely missed the playoffs, even though they competed in a tough Region 6-AAAA. This year will be head coach Roderick Moore’s third season at the helm and should be a breakout year for the Raiders. Redan has an excellent quarterback to build around named Xavier Dennis, who can sling the ball. Their archrival Stone Mountain should be vastly improved in coach Utavius Ingram’s second season at the helm. Stone Mountain also drops down from Region 6-AAAA and features a good quarterback in D’Vonn Gibbons, a player Ingram will utilize in multiple ways. McNair has great speed and skill players but is looking to build depth along its offensive and defensive fronts. Junior defensive end Roger Hamilton is a player to keep an eye out for. Towers is always talented and head coach Brian Montgomery can build his program around junior quarterback Terry Dennis.
3 GAMES TO WATCH
9/23 Cedar Grove @ Westminster
10/7 Pace Academy @ Westminster
10/14 Pace Academy @ Cedar Grove
2. REGION 1-AAAAAAA
Camden County, Colquitt County, Lowndes, Tift County
Region 1-AAAAAA is a nationally respected region featuring four legitimate powers from South Georgia. Being the only show in town, each school has a rabid fanbase with tremendous tradition. Hometown pride is on the line each night these schools line up against one another, and football is borderline religious and a way of life. Football in South Georgia is different from the Metro Area. There is less transferring and recruiting. Young men are bought up through youth feeder systems and your high school choice is determined based on where you are born. It is fair to say that Region 1-AAAAAAA is Georgia’s high school football version of the Southeastern Conference in college football.
Colquitt County is Georgia’s version of Alabama, and head coach Rush Propst plays a darn good Nick Saban. Colquitt County has become a dominating force since hiring Propst back in 2008. They won 30 games straight and have at least made a semifinals appearance since 2009. This year, like Alabama, Colquitt County is expected to reload and introduce us to a new batch of Packers. They will need to replace offensive playmakers Chase Parrish (QB), Ty Lee (SB) and Kiel Pollard (WR), each one helping the Packers to a record-setting offensive season. The Packers are the reigning champs and until someone beats them they will remain a favorite to win.
Lowndes, like the SEC’s LSU, was the King of the South at the turn of the century, winning state titles in ’04, ’05 and ’07. If Lowndes can find an explosive playmaker to run behind their senior-laden offensive line led by Tucker Barnes (C) and Danny Corbett (OG), then they can set up deep passes to UGA WR commit Xavier Jenkins, who is one of the top big-play threats in the state.
Camden County reminds us of Florida. Like the Gators, Camden is known for game-breaking speed. It is a school located on the extreme southeastern coast of Georgia and was a title contender for years. The Wildcats won titles in 2003, 2008 and 2009, and they are looking to regain their stranglehold on South Georgia football. Last year, Camden only lost two games, losing to Roswell and Colquitt, both of which played in the state championship. This year Camden has enough talent (Brandon McMaster is a stud running back) to win Region 1-AAAAAAA and maybe even the first ever AAAAAAA title.
Tift County resembles Kentucky from the SEC. Unfortunately, outside of basketball, being Kentucky in the SEC is an uphill battle. That isn’t to say Tift doesn’t have plenty of potential. They possess outstanding facilities and resources to become a powerhouse football program, but it will be tough for them come out on top of this region.
3 GAMES TO WATCH
10/14 Camden County @ Colquitt County
10/21 Camden County @ Lowndes
10/28 Lowndes @ Colquitt County
Coffee, Houston County, Lee County, Northside-Warner Robins, Valdosta
Region 1-AAAAAA is full of traditional powerhouse schools. These schools are spread throughout Central and South Georgia. Road games will be brutal in this grouping, and long road trips are expected. No other region in Georgia and probably the nation will have more parity then Region 1-AAAAAA. Each school has an equal chance of coming in first place as it does in last. Each team from the region returns with winning records from last year—no other region can make claim to that. Any one of these schools could end up playing in the state title; they are that talented.
This region will showcase what big-time football in Georgia looks like. Some of Georgia’s most historic programs, best coaches and most elite college prospects all participate in this region, thus our reasoning for them being No. 1 on our list. Region 1-AAAAAA features “Winnersville” and “Wartown”—two of Georgia’s best high school football towns. Valdosta, dubbed as “Winnersville,” is the most victorious program in the nation and a legendary program in the state. They will be out of the state’s largest classification for the first time in recent memory. Moving down could help the Wildcats, but playing in Region 1-AAAAAA won’t be easy. Valdosta has some heavy hitters on defense, especially their defensive backfield led Antwon Kincade.
“Wartown” is a nickname for Warner Robins, Georgia. Warner Robins will be represented by two schools in this region, Northside-Warner Robins and Houston County. Northside won the state title two years ago, and this year will depend on senior quarterback Tobias Oliver to lead them to their fourth state title in school history. Houston County will be led by Jake Fromm, who won a state title this spring in baseball and hopes to win a title this fall in football. Fromm has an elite arm and will play college ball at UGA. He will have offensive weapons like Amari Colbert and Christopher Brinson to utilize on offense.
Coffee and Lee County are two South Georgia programs with growing brands that could both be hoisting the Region 1-AAAAAA title after this season. Lee County boasts one of the best defensive lines in the state and is led by Aubrey Solomon. All schools in Region 1-AAAAAA are on equal footing talent-wise in our opinion and should produce more exciting games than any other region in the state of Georgia.
3 GAMES TO WATCH
10/7 NSWR @ Valdosta
10/7 Houston County @ Lee County
10/28 NSWR @ Houston County