CLASS AAAAAA Overview
The state’s second-biggest classification is no minor league. It features some of the best teams, best talent and deepest regions in Georgia.
Here is Part 3 of Recruit Georgia’s 2016 Class 6A region rankings. The leagues were ranked using a combination of top-to-bottom team depth and overall talent, taking into account differing region sizes. (View Part 1 & Part 2)
REGION 5-AAAAAA (No. 2)
Other than the five-team Region 1, this is the most talented league in the classification. In this nine-team region, six teams made the playoffs in 2015 and two others finished with records of .500 or better. The race for the postseason will be an all-out brawl, with several outstanding teams sure to be staying home in November.
Region 5 draws most of its teams from Douglas and Fulton counties, with Northgate of Coweta and South Paulding the exceptions. Three of those Fulton squads—Creekside, Langston Hughes and Mays—have the potential to make deep runs in the playoffs.
The likely top three teams feature some of the deepest defenses in the state, especially in the secondary with players like Penn State commit DJ Brown (Creekside), Joshua Brown (Hughes) and A.J. Cayetano (Mays), but they won’t lack for offensive firepower either. Creekside picked up one of the biggest transfers of the summer recently in former Starr’s Mill RB Rico Frye, one of the nation’s top 2018 backs who rushed for 1,726 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. QBs Isaiah Green (Hughes) and Bardenie Phillips (Mays) each threw for around 2,500 yards last season and combined for 47 touchdown passes, and each has a nice stable of skill players to work with. Mays had a 5A state title game appearance in 2014, and Creekside won it all in that classification a year earlier, so each program has recent December experience in the Georgia Dome.
Northgate made school history last season by making a surprise semifinal appearance in 5A, bringing a relentless rushing attack headed by Ton Evans and an emerging junior signal-caller in Kyle McLaren. Both Alexander and South Paulding are also experiencing unprecedented success with three straight playoff appearances each; the Alexander RB/WR duo of Daetrich Harrington/Justin Hall will give teams trouble, and S Michael Carter stars for South Paulding. Tri-Cities and New Manchester will be looking to pull off an upset or two, and rebuilding Douglas County is now under the leadership of Johnny White, who has experience in the area having previously been head coach at Creekside.
Among the playoff contenders, the Offense vs. Defense battles should be utterly compelling, week in and week out.
The teams only get two non-region games, but there are some good ones. Alexander hosts defending state champ Allatoona; Creekside hosts Florida power Miami-Norland; Hughes hosts Westlake; and Mays travels to Peachtree Ridge.
Predicted Order of Finish
2. Langston Hughes
6. South Paulding
7. New Manchester
9. Douglas County
Player to Watch
QB Isaiah Green, Hughes
WR Norman Price, Mays
REGION 1-AAAAAA (No. 1)
It’s a short run, but the four-game Region 1-AAAAAA schedule at the end of the regular season will be a gauntlet unlike any other in the state.
Four of the five teams made the playoffs last year in either 5A or 6A, with each winning at least one game outside of Northside (loss to Ware County 16-7) and Houston County reaching the quarterfinals. The fifth—Lee County—lost to Valdosta and now-7A Camden County by a combined 10 points in the final two games to miss out.
Northside, Houston County and Coffee are all threats to play into December. But Valdosta had a buzz about it coming out of spring practice, with a familiar face as new head coach in promoted defensive coordinator Alan Rodemaker. And Lee County just completed a program-best four-year run of better than .500 marks.
The league features two of the most dynamic signal-callers in the state—Jake Fromm at Houston County and Tobias Oliver at Northside—in addition to other offensive dynamos like RB Demeterius Davis (Coffee), RB Desean Dinkins (Northside) and WRs Eli Watson and Amari Colbert (Houston). Fromm passed for 4,099 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, and with 8,835 career passing yards, the UGA commit should have a chance to pass the state record of 13,077 set by former Gainesville and current Clemson superstar Deshaun Watson. QB Max Hughes of Coffee will lead the Trojans into more of a shotgun spread, moving from the Wing-T, and Oliver has most of his offensive skill players back at Northside. Valdosta will have to replace school record-setting Seth Shuman at QB, but Wesley Veal is an emerging receiver.
As usual for these programs, there is a wealth of defensive talent, headlined by coveted DL Aubrey Solomon at Lee County. Northside has S Tae Daley, a 3-star prospect, and Coffee has a stacked D-line. Valdosta returns nine starters on defense including Zackoby McClain & Antwon Kincade. Lee County, in addition to Solomon, has LSU commit DE Tory Carter, big-hitting MLB Akileis Leroy, and 4-star junior DB Otis Reese. Even though Valdosta and Lee won’t sport dynamic offenses like the rest of the region, their defenses could be just as tough.
The region spans North-South from Houston County/Northside down to Valdosta just north of the Georgia-Florida line, and East-West from about 50 miles east of I-75 (Coffee) over to the Albany area (Lee County). With a five-team region composed of big schools in Middle and South Georgia, the region is predictably spread out.
Region action doesn’t start until a week into October, but these five teams will give us plenty to watch in the non-region slate. In-state games with Ware County (Coffee), Tift County (Coffee/Valdosta), Bainbridge (Lee County), Thomas County Central (Lee/Valdosta), Warner Robins (Houston/Northside), Lowndes (Valdosta) and Colquitt County (Valdosta) should keep us interested. Coffee reaches out-of-state for a September matchup with University Christian from Jacksonville, Florida.
Predicted Order of Finish
2. Houston County
5. Lee County
Player to Watch
QB Jake Fromm, Houston County
QB Max Hughes, Coffee
Preseason All State Teams