Due to reclassification, the 2016 Georgia high school football season will feature both old region rivalries and new opponents that are sure to grab the attention of football fans across the Peach State. There are now seven classifications in the GHSA, each with eight regions, increasing up to 56 regions, instead of last season’s 48. Below are site contributor Markus Golden’s picks for the top 50 region games to watch in Georgia this fall. (This is Part 1 of a five-part series)
50. Westside-Macon @ Central-Macon 10/28
– Westside-Macon leads series 14-0
– Westside-Macon won last year’s meeting 24-21 OT
This game should be the best matchup all year between Bibb County public schools, as both teams are coming off playoff appearances. These two schools, along with other Macon high schools, have elevated their level of play. Westside has Dieuseul Stcyr and Omar Jones roaming the D and Donta Pate carrying the rock. Central is led by a trio of seniors: DT Javius Johnson, CB Jaren Harris and RB Antonio Sanders.
49. Redan @ Stone Mountain 10/29
– Redan leads the series 18-12
– Redan won last year’s meeting 56-0
These two DeKalb County schools have been battling for the city of Stone Mountain since 1978. Stone Mountain features kids who stay near North Harrison Road, while Redan features players from South Harrison Road. This game should be a quarterback duel Between Redan’s sleeper junior Xavier Dennis, who passed for 1,700 yards and 19 TDs, and D’vonne Gibbons, who passed for 2,000 yards last year. Also, Redan has a pair of LB’s in Kareem Bennett and Michael King to watch for. Stone Mountain features TE Thomas Incoom, who led DeKalb in receptions last season with 43. Also look out for 6’4″, 225-pound Darian Bernard on defense.
48. North Clayton @ Woodward Academy 10/07
– Woodward Academy leads the series 3-1
– Woodward Academy won the last meeting in 2003 33-15
This matchup will be the battle of College Park and should be called the “2 Chainz” bowl. North Clayton will be breaking in a new coach, Cap Burnett, who is a graduate of North Clayton and a former Georgia Bulldog. Woodward Academy is loaded with talent including All-State-caliber players LB KJ Phillips, QB Ryan Glover, WR Josh Johnson, DE Terry Myrick, S J.R Pace and CB Jeffrey Hubbard.
47. Josey @ Laney 11/04
– Laney leads the series 36-14
– Laney won last year’s meeting 31-0
This is always the most anticipated matchup between Augusta public schools no matter what the records are. Last year, both teams made the playoffs, so that should add some luster to this year’s matchup. Laney is very talented once again featuring S Jalen Smith and preseason All-State DT Tyrone Truesdell on defense.
46. Southeast Bulloch vs Jenkins 9/23
– Southeast Bulloch leads the series 4-0
– Southeast Bulloch won last year’s matchup 28-14
These two Southeast Georgia schools have become unlikely rivals over the last couple of years. Jenkins has one of the best backfields in Georgia with three-headed monster QB Javonte Middleton, RB Melvin Smalls Jr. and RB Jeremy Smith. Whoever wins this match up could set up their fortunes for a historic season from their program’s perspective.
45. Clinch County @ Charlton County 10/28
– Charlton County leads the series 28-25-2
– Clinch County won last year’s meeting 14-7
A spooky battle will take place in Folkston, Georgia on Halloween weekend. The “Swamp Bowl” between Clinch and Charlton is one of Georgia’s historic rivalries combining for 55 games. Both of these schools are expected to contend for the Single A public title. Charlton will feature prolific underclassman skill players WR Raykwon Anderson (Florida commit) and RB Eric Daniels. MLB Bryan Sloan is a gamer on D. Clinch is stacked and returns most of its team from last year’s state championship. Trezmyn Marshall, Zebulon Johnson, Charles McClelland, and Shannon Young will be tough to stop in their grinding single-wing attack.
44. Arabia Mountain @ Miller Grove 10/07
– Series tied 1-1
– Arabia Mountain won last year’s meeting 26-20 OT
This will probably be the best game between two teams you don’t hear much about. These two Lithonia schools are DeKalb County’s two newest programs. Both of these schools have been knocking on the door of the playoffs for the last couple of years, and now due to reclassification and the amount of talent both schools possess, the playoffs should be a reality this season. Miller Grove looks to dominate on the lines of scrimmage with OT Dominique Gooden, C Reginald Curtis, high-potential DE Caleb Tannor. Arabia Mountain has a multitude of college prospects including OLB Terray Bryant, OLB Jelani Davis, OLB Falcoe Johnson, C Richard Taylor II, RB Carl White III, Brandon Snowball and TE Standford Smith.
43. Valdosta @ Lee County 10/21
– Valdosta leads the series 6-0
– Valdosta won last year’s meeting 31-20
Valdosta and Lee County both dropped down from the highest classification and can be lethal powers on the state playoff scene. These two South Georgia teams both feature some big-time players who look college-ready. Lee County is replacing Garet Morrell from last season at QB, and Jase Orndorff should be next in line. They have a ton of Power 5 talent on defense with DE Tory Carter, DT Aubrey Solomon, LB Akiles Leroy and S Otis Reese. Valdosta is led by TE/WR Jontae Baker, OG Jared Allen, LB Zakoby McClain, CB Jayce Rodgers, OLB James Bushware and head-hunting DB Antwan Kincade.
42. Parkview @ Brookwood 10/21
– Brookwood leads the series 20-14
– Parkview won last year’s meeting 48-9
Parkview vs. Brookwood is still Gwinnett’s biggest rivalry; this is the game that put the county on the map. Both of these schools are building their way back up the ladder to retain the powerhouse status that they once had. Parkview is replacing its QB, so the Panthers will lean on OG Braelen Marshall to open holes for dynamic duo Deion Slade and Christian Malloy at running back. They also tout senior WRs Jaylen Askew and Miles Marshall. On defense, CB Jalen Gross and Malik Washington are ball hawks at defensive back. Brookwood’s offense will be powered by OT Casey Hollman and WR duo Matthew Hill and Spencer Lewis. On defense CB’s Kendall Williamson and Isaiah Rorey show potential but are young. Star linebacker Leonard Warner packs a punch, Cantorian Weems has Power 5 offers and look out for new safety transfer Jamison Collier.
41. Glynn Academy @ Brunswick 10/14
– Brunswick leads the series 37-33-2
– Glynn Academy won last year’s meeting 28-0
Glynn Academy vs. Brunswick is the biggest rivalry in Southeast Georgia, and since Southeast Georgia is somewhat isolated from other parts of Georgia, this rivalry is overlooked. This is a game, like Lowndes vs. Valdosta and Northside-Warner Robins vs. Warner Robins, and should be on the bucket list for any high school football nerd. This rivalry has region, county and city bragging rights. This season’s matchup will even feature family bragging rights, as Brunswick’s Shawn Smith (South Carolina commit) battles his cousin DeeJay Dallas (Miami commit) from Glynn Academy. Both teams also feature big-time offensive lineman prospects: Brunswick has D’Antne Demery and Glynn Academy has Zalontae Hillery.
Preseason All State Teams