Posted: 6:16 pm Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Preseason poll: Starting No. 1 are McEachern, Creekside, Buford, WaCo, GAC, Aquinas 

By Todd Holcomb

Three returning state champions begin the high school football season ranked No. 1 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s preseason rankings.
But McEachern, Greater Atlanta Christian and Washington County, schools that haven’t won state titles in 17 years, if at all, are on top of their classifications.
McEachern, the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA, reached the semifinals in 2013 and returns four players who are committed to Division I schools. Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga (Southern California) and running back Taj Griffin (Oregon) are two of the top six senior prospects in Georgia, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. Also committed are lineman Chandler Jones (Louisville) and receiver T.J. Rahming (Duke).
McEachern’s schedule is probably the hardest in the state. Non-region opponents include North Gwinnett (No. 4 in AAAAAA), Lovejoy (No 8 in AAAAAA) and Buford (No. 1 in AAAA).
Defending AAAAAA champion Norcross lost 18 of 22 starters and starts at No. 9. Norcross opens Saturday against No. 5 Tucker at McEachern in the Corky Kell Classic.
In AAAAA, Creekside brings back eight of 11 starters from an offense that averaged 42.5 points per game and scored 50-plus in the semifinals (55-10 against Kell) and final (52-28 against Tucker). The returning players include Felix Harper (2,567 yards passing), Bricen Terry (1,383 yards rushing) and Super 11 pick Jayson Stanley (16 touchdown receptions).
“We’re talented enough [to repeat],” Creekside coach Olten Downs said. “We feel we have all the pieces it takes, but do we have it mentally? Last year, our guys were hungry, and we had strong senior leadership. It’s a matter of whether we’re willing to work.”
Buford, moving up from AAA, is the No. 1 team in AAAA, ahead of defending champion Griffin, at No. 3. Buford, which has won five state titles during the past six seasons, leads the state in major D-I prospects. Six will start on the defensive side.
Griffin returns 14 of 22 starters but lost its quarterback, all-classification player of the year Jaquez Parks, now at Kennesaw State. Griffin also has a new coach, Jarrett Laws, who replaced Steve DeVoursney, who resigned after a five-month investigation into alleged recruiting and academic misconduct at the school.
In AAA, Washington County, the 2013 runner-up to Buford, is No. 1. The team’s best player, Georgia Tech-committed quarterback A.J. Gray, returns to an offense that averaged 47.7 points. Washington County’s last state championship came in 1997 when the school had a similar type quarterback, Terrence Edwards.
The No. 1 team in AA is Greater Atlanta Christian, seeking its first-ever state title. GAC has the most high-end prospects of any smaller Georgia school. Linebacker Tyler Cooksey has committed to Georgia Tech, and receiver Darius Slayton and running back Micah Abernathy each are among the top-20 prospects in Georgia.
GAC must overcome defending champion and Region 6 rival Lovett, which has beaten GAC each of the past six seasons. Lovett returns 15 of 22 starters but must replace its best player, running back/defensive back Grant Haley.
The Class A champions – Aquinas (private) and Marion County (public) – will start in the rankings where they finished last season. Both return most of their starters and their best two-way players, Ruben Garnett for Aquinas and Lorenzo Smothers of Marion County.
Class AAAAAA
1. McEachern (11-3)
2. Colquitt County (11-3)
3. Archer (11-1)
4. North Gwinnett (13-2)
5 Tucker (14-1)
6. Mill Creek (6-4)
7. Lovejoy (10-2)
8. Camden County (10-2)
9. Norcross (13-2)
10. Hughes (10-2)
Class AAAAA
1. Creekside (15-0)
2. Stephenson (9-3)
3. Coffee (5-5)
4. Northside-Warner Robins (10-2)
5. Ware County (11-2)
6. Warner Robins (11-2)
7. Kell (13-1)
8. Gainesville (12-2)
9. Carver-Columbus (11-2)
10. Mays (8-4)
Class AAAA
1. Buford (15-0)
2. Sandy Creek (11-1-1)
3. Griffin (15-0)
4. Marist (11-3)
5. Carrollton (13-2)
6. Thomas County Central (8-3)
7. St. Pius (9-4)
8. Woodward Academy (9-3)
9. Whitewater (7-4)
10. Westover (9-3)
Class AAA
1. Washington County (13-1)
2. Calhoun (11-2)
3. Callaway (12-2)
4. Cedar Grove (7-5)
5. Jefferson (10-3)
6. Blessed Trinity (9-4)
7. Elbert County (8-3)
8. Ringgold (11-3)
9. Peach County (8-4)
10. Westside-Macon (7-4)
Class AA
1. Greater Atlanta Christian (10-2)
2. Lovett (14-1)
3. Benedictine (13-1)
4. Brooks County (12-2)
5. Heard County (10-2)
6. Washington-Wilkes (11-1)
7. Vidalia (10-2)
8. Bowdon (11-2)-12
9. Dublin (7-4)
10. Lamer County (14-1)
Class A
1. Aquinas (14-0)
2. Marion County (13-1)
3. Calvary Day (11-3)
4. Eagle’s Landing Christian (11-1)
5. Mount Pisgah Christian (12-1)
6. Irwin County (10-2-1)
7. Clinch County (8-4)
8. Charlton County (9-5)
9. Stratford Academy (10-3)
10. Mount Paran Christian (9-3)

105 comments
Lopezknows
Lopezknows

@jabajc I'm sure gonna enjoy this stephenson vs Creekside game! Creekside wins by 10....

Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson

@JABAJC 


Every year I watch you rant and rave about Stephenson and they always let you down... You do realize that the former Defensive Coordinator of MLK is now the head coach and still defensive coordinator and they brought back most of the previous staff before the Cortez Allen fiasco... Offensively MLK has given your precious Jaguars fits as they could not stop MLK through the air. I can pretty much guarantee the same thing will happen now that the previous staff has returned... All I can say is MLK had a great 3 year run with those guys coaching and Stephenson was becoming an afterthought. See you in October...

BcS2010
BcS2010

Lol this is going to be a fun year!! I'm trying to have fun on the blog but really I do think tucker will be just fine in 6A and we are being overlooked. Our defense really is good. Best defense we have had since the 2007 season and we always have a top 10 defense. Our offense has a lot of work to do but we did move the ball well against Stephenson we just didn't capitalize at all. The lost to creekside really made us work harder and I no 6A is tough and Tucker schedule is not easy. We open against Norcross then play Booker T Washington and we have MLK and Lovejoy we could go 6-4 but I highly doubt it. All I'm sayin is don't count us out just because we are moving to 6A. When we Moved to 5A people were saying the same thing and we had a 24-4 record in 5A with a region title and a state runner up.

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

6a is slow according to bcs. Wow. Bull crock sh-- is what that stands for.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

Well, we might as well go ahead and engrave the trophy. It seems as if the BCS is still intact and has crowned it's champion. We all knew it would be a tough year but it seems we hardly played a game. Boy, that was a short season. My wife, Lucy, gave me the news and I was shocked. I said, "Lucy, you got some splaining to do".

BcS2010
BcS2010

Past tucker teams!!

2007 13-1 lost 31-28 to Northside Warner Robins in the Final 4

2008 14-1 beat Marist 15-3 for the Championship

2009 9-3 Lost to Sandy Creek 17-14 in the second round

2010 13-1 Lost in the final 4 because of injuries.

2011 15-0 beat lovejoy 22-7 for the championship

2012 10-3 lost to Northside warner Robins 23-20 in the 3rd round

2013 14-1 lost to Creekside 52-28 In the championship.

I'll take that resume headed into a season any day of the week

BcS2010
BcS2010

A side note the years Tucker has started a new QB in the past 7 years the results have been pretty good lol

2008 Chris Beck Sr 14-1 won State

2009 Norman Hayes Jr 9-3 second round

2011 Juwann Williams Jr 15-0 won state

2013 Joe Farrer Sr 14-1 state runner up

The Qb play will get better

BcS2010
BcS2010

Just re read the post. Booker T isn't scoring 75 points on Tucker.. Not happening and lovejoy lost to Norcross in the championship there 1st year in 6A! That's a great season! The year before that Lovejoy lost to Tucker in the championship. That's sayin the classification doesn't matter. When MLK and Stephenson was in the highest classification they were elite. Honestly MLK has taken a step back since moving down a classification. Teams in 6A are bigger but slower. MLK and Stephenson was good because they was more athletic but couldn't get over the playoff hump. And they still havnt to this day! tucker on the other hand has! Like I said 6A will see what a powerhouse school is.

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

Tucker may very well beat norcross. I expect norcross to be much better at the end of the season than i do the start. Time will tell. Think it will be  a good game either way 

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

Lovejoy has been good...nobody quetioned that when they came over, but there season was ended by norcross in year one of the transition and lowndes in year 2. They have been a real good team in the two years they have been in 6 aaaaaa, but have lost to colquitt twice , lowndes once and norcross. Sportsnut will tell you that tucker is good as well, but also knows that there are some stout teams in 6 aaaaaa come playoff time and the south ( colquitt, lowndes etc) is very serious about their football. Tucker will be a good team in 6 aaaaaa , but let the season play out before making them out to be the best thing since sliced bread

BcS2010
BcS2010

Lol imma let tucker speak for themselves. Just saying y'all was saying the same thing about lovejoy and look how good they have been. That's all I'm sayin.

I guess tucker shouldn't b ranked because we are new to 6A and havnt proved anything.

Having 88 wins and 10 losses with 2 championships 1 runner up 2 final fours 1 3rd round exit and 1 second round exit isn't good. I guess Tucker isn't good at all.

Y'all 6A fans are going to b mad when y'all see what teams have been saying for 7 years now you always here about the TUCKER SPEED.

Imma chill and let y'all witness it y'all selfs. Tucker vs Norcrosd Saturday will be a start.

rwdekalb
rwdekalb

Its just a blog. Talking up your team is what makes this blog fun and interesting at times. Playing it safe is what can make it quite boring.

TuckerD
TuckerD

@rwdekalb - I understand SWD lost to Carver-Columbus 19-13 last Saturday during their scrimmage....

TuckerD
TuckerD

All these doubters saying Tucker will not adjust, we'll show you we can handle business in 6A.

WE ARE TUCKER!!!

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

@RobFromNorcross  == Every region game is meaningful. Winning them means come playoff time, you play at home. Losing them means come playoff time, you are watching from home.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

@BcS2010 ==  Most people that know Tucker understand that they will do well. What people are trying to tell you is that your enthusiasm needs to be tempered. They have yet to play a game other than the scrimmage. They will have to play the games on the field. Speaking of the scrimmage, some saw weakness. Others, like yourself, saw the best team in 6A. Be patient. It will play out on the field. 

BcS2010
BcS2010

To all y'all that think Tucker is going to suck in 6A y'all need to stop lol. tucker will be elite all season. tucker is the fastest team in 6A and has the best defense. When y'all see this y'all will change y'all minds quick. tucker shouldn't b ranked number 5 they should b number 2 behind Norcross!!! TUCKER WILL BE JUST FINE!!!

NORCROSS BETTER BE READY!!!

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

@RobFromNorcross  == They, Mundy's Mill, will be at Central Gwinnett on the 5th of next month. Maybe they will change your perception of them. They did win their first region ever last season.

rwdekalb
rwdekalb

Has anyone seen or heard anything about SWD scrimmage games. A shame if that program cant Turn things around from last season.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

By the way, 12 Oaks is also their home. We will be the visitors on our own campus on the 29th.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

That power made the quarters and lost to Gainesville last year. They are also our neighbors and rival. They are less than 5 miles away. They started their school in Lovejoy's parking lot in trailers. You should be thrilled they exist. If there was no Mundy's Mill, Lovejoy would ............ you get the picture.

RobFromNorcross
RobFromNorcross

Also, knowing that they have no region games (except Lovejoy) to get them ready for the postseason, Tucker is starting our strong with games against 2-time defending State Champs Norcross, then #1 in the USA Booker T Washington the following week.  


Compared with Lovejoy which is taking this week off, then going to play perennial powerhouse Mundy's Mill the next week

RobFromNorcross
RobFromNorcross

Region 2 of AAAAAA is not more difficult than Tucker's old AAAAA region, in fact it's an easier path to the playoffs... Lovejoy and Tucker are #1 and #2 seeds and their game with each other is the only meaningful region game of the season.  it is once they are in the playoffs that it gets tougher for Tucker.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

S-Cat said " Tucker will figure out that 6A really is not the same as 5A". I seem to remember words to that effect when Lovejoy came from 4A to 6A. We all know how that went. This should be a lesson for all those who doubt the Tigers ability to compete or for that matter anyone's chances of making a change and doing well.

NorthEastSports
NorthEastSports

4A is going to be a good classification this year and the region that Buford moves into is up for a large task taking on the giant. Buford will have to travel to some big dumps in the region to play certain teams and there is a large chance that they could hang 100 points on several teams in their region because of the lack of talent on the other side of the field. They will face teams like Madison, who hasn't won a game against anyone worth a flip in years, Monroe Area will be an interesting team to watch them play but they won't pose a threat either. 

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

S-Cat == I will take this time to address the portion of your column that you used to disrespect my screen name. Who are you? NO, it does not matter.


Losing a good coach does matter. I never said it didn't. What I have said is that Lovejoy will be O.K. When he left, he did not take the players. Lovejoy will do what we do. As far as losing talent, we are like any other school with a decent program, there is more in the pipeline. I can not claim that we have a big, extensive youth program to feed into the system like most. All we have is little Panhandle Park, the only football playing park in our city. We have Eddie White Academy, K-8 and Lovejoy Middle, 6-8. They have been and will continue to provide the Wildcats with all the talent we need to do what we do.


Coach Carson will be a fine HC. This is not a situation where an outsider came in and had to acclimate himself. His staff did not need that either. I feel the Cats are in good hands for the foreseeable future. That bodes well for Lovejoy's future, especially given that big feeder program we have.


We appreciate your concern but it is misplaced.

rwdekalb
rwdekalb

Tucker and Stephenson should do well this season. Both teams need to improve play of quarterback.

JABAJC
JABAJC

@ SchroedingersCat , well said but you left out some key points',that is, tradition is the key factor in determining top 10 teams positions.  McEarchern has a strong winning percentage, I know almost 100% of the bloggers on here only classify teams as elete if they win state championships.  But maybe the drought will finally end this year for Cobb teams.  If you wind back some years, you will see that when Parkview won their 3 state championships in a row, then Brookwood (2) Grayson (1) and Norcross (2), it was shifted from the South Georgia teams whom dominated in state championships eg. Camden, Lowdnes.  I believe that the tide will be shifting toward the Cobb County teams and other North Ga. teams in 5(A) & 6(A) divisions.  


Another key factor are the athleticism of top players from North Georgia schools, a key factor in this is an increase interest in youth recreation ball,  coaching camps that these kids are participating in more than ever before, coaching techniques and many other key factors that are shifting.  As far as, 5(A) the last two state championships were two first timers, Creekside and Gainesville, look for that to continue this year.  @ in 6(A) don't be surprise if you see a new and improve Lakeside (Dekalb) playing up in the state highest classification, Lakeside had many decades of never having a loosing season before Phil Lindsey moving on, now Stephenson whole that crown and is overdue for it's 1st state championship.  Teams like Valdosta certainly have had their bragging rights, as the state most successful programs, but that was then and this is now. "What have you done for me lately baby",  all questions will be answered in the weeks to come.


The only almost certainty is the fact that Buford might be as dominating as they were in their last two moves up in classification.  @ this is mainly due to the fact of their ability to recruit with & within Gwinnett County.  Remember last year, there were several changes in 1st place in 6(A) last year, and look for that trend to continue this year, watch out for sleepers and many upsets in the states highest classification this year before that final game played at the Ga. Dome, again good luck to every team in this great state of Ga.  SEE YOU ALL ON THE 50 YD LINE AT THE DOME IN DECEMBER 2014..... 



SchroedingersCat
SchroedingersCat

What a great time of year for Georgia High School football. It is like Christmas morning before any presents are opened, and everyone can still believe they are going to get exactly what they want under the tree.. The "L" teams - Lowndes and Lovejoy - can still believe they might win a State Championship. Cobb County can forget almost 50 years of history and believe this is the year they will win a State Championship. Tucker can believe that their success in 5A will carry over to 6A - at least until they face a Gwinnett team.


Just  a couple of games into the season, a lot of teams are going to have to face reality.


North will realize that having a great backfield makes almost no difference if you have to replace almost the entire line. Archer will go back to the drawing board once a few Georgia coaches figure out why nobody every runs with splits that wide. Norcross will wonder what happened once the new recruits fail to understand the system in the first few games. Tucker may figure out that 6A really is not the same as 5A. We do Know that Buford will dominate every team the face in 2014.


But, at least for right now, we can all dream. Even spurtsnert can pretend that losing a first class coach and some major talent will not make a difference.


For those who have not looked yet, the 2014 plays are particularly cruel. Region 7 faces Region 8 in the first round. There will only be 4 Gwinnett teams left after the first round in 6A. I wonder how many will make it to the final 4? Archer should start praying now that they will not face Mill Creek in the first round. Region 1 faces Region 2 in the first round. Lovejoy may be one and done, and I think Camden is going deep this year.


Thank you for doing this again Mr. Holcomb. Honestly, until Cobb County proves they can win a football championship I do not see how you can rate any Cobb team as #1. And until some team other than Norcross wins a 6A championship in Georgia, I do not see how you can rate any team except Norcross as #1.


Good luck to everyone. I hope you get what you want under the tree. Please drive safely, and I hope none of the outstanding young men who do such an entertaining job on the gridiron suffer any injuries.

JABAJC
JABAJC

@ Viking Legend, "What have you done for me lately", Valdosta have been a ghost for more than 10 years.  it was so sweet to see MLK break that string of the Wildcats close wins against Dekalb teams ..3 years ago

JABAJC
JABAJC

@ Mr.Johnson, Stephenson  wont beat Central, or Creekside, I agree the jury is still out on that but, MLK and be careful with Arabia and Miller Grove is hog wash, also you stated Tucker defense was average.    Fundilly dum dum is all I can say.  Sounds like you've been watching the fantasy channel.  The JAGS are one of the top premiere teams in Dekalb County and have been for several years.  The Tucker/Stephenson game was a game between two top football program in Dekalb County, I had my ringside seat as always, it was a hard hitting drop out match between two heavy weights.  As far as the Border classic between these teams, Stephenson will be just fine, they pretty much man handled Norland last year which is a rivalry game against Miami Central.  Miami has some strong football programs, but so does Dekalb.  Stephenson/ Arabia game will be a blowout take it easy show me what you got game for the JAGS, a mere tune-up for the next two weeks.   Watch my JAGS finally rise to the top of the equator this years.  LETS GO STEPHENSON JAGUARS 2014 IS YOUR YEAR....

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

Time to stop making predictions. All will fall into place here real soon

itsonlywrite
itsonlywrite

here's my take on what everybody is talkin about...

Stephenson and Tucker still have stout defenses that will give most teams they play trouble.  The difference between the 2 is that Stephenson won't run up on too many teams with a defense like theirs in AAAAA.  while Tucker will see a lot of aggressive defenses around playoff time.  The question for both is the offense.  Tucker runs a nice Wing-T, but against a good defense, they aint gon work.  Stephenson just has to play more solid on offense.  Both need to work on their passing so they can open up the run.

as far as Gwinnett Co. teams, I don't think any of the AAAAAA teams can be taken for granted.  the way that all of those teams battled last year made it seem like that was the real SEC of high school football in GA.  AAAAAA is anybody's game at this point.  No one team is superior based on what happened last year.

It's gonna be an awesome season none-the-less.

Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson

BcS2010,


I'm usually right with my predictions... Stephenson won't beat Central, Creekside, or MLK. You heard it here first. They better be careful vs. Arabia Mountain and Miller Grove as well.... Tucker's defense was average at best. Even though it was a jamboree, I'm not impressed...

BcS2010
BcS2010

@Mr Johnson... lol really?????? Stephenson will be good! Lol there defense looked good they gave up yardage but had turnovers. The offense didn't look that good but they played a great defense.

Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson

Watching Stephenson vs Tucker on Satuday and I can't see how they are ranked #2.... They will have a rough season. May not even make the playoffs.... 7-3 or 6-4 at best. Just my observation...

Marietta Fan
Marietta Fan

Ha! Well you didn't have to do that, I was just putting my opinion out there. North Cobb is certainly capable, but I think they lose to Northside WR this week and maybe Cartersville next week along with Mceachern, Marietta, and Hillgrove in region play. They still have Tyler Queen though and he took them to the semifinals out of the blue 2 years ago as a sophomore

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

I will replace north cobb with marietta...so marietta is in the official top 10. Ha

Marietta Fan
Marietta Fan

I meant to specify that I would not argue ranking Lowndes at 10, but right now IMO 6 may be a stretch

Marietta Fan
Marietta Fan

Viking Legend, I agree with your rankings except for North Cobb at 10. The Marietta Daily Journal actually projects them to finish 4th in region 4 behind Mceachern, Marietta, and Hillgrove in that order. ScoreAtlanta ranks us 10th, but I also wouldn't argue Lowndes making the top 10. The good thing about preseason polls are that they mean nothing and everything is determined on the field

Viking Legend
Viking Legend

here is the real top 10 and one that makes a lot more sense than the one posted on here.


1. Norcross ( When you are the back to back champs, this is where you are until you lose a reg season game) ...Its called respect AJC


2. Colquitt. ( lost 14-9 in semi to norcross and they return more than N gwinnett)


3. North Gwinnett


4. Mceachern


5. Camden ( left playoffs earlier than expected last year to camden nemesis hillgrove. Lost a lot, but camden is always good. No such thing as rebuilding)


6. Lowndes ( beat cross in a scrimmage, took out #2 lovejoy at 12 oaks last year. Returns a lot on offense, half on defense, more skill players on offense)


7.  Archer ( young program who made a run last year. Look for them to be a mainstay in the top 10 every year now)


8) Lovejoy.( New head coach, lost a few key guys off last years team but returns the qb neeley and sprint all star wideout preston williams . Will be a threat )


9. Tucker ( one of the best teams every year in their classification.  They are new to 6 aaaaaa so they will have to earn the way up the ladder)


10) North Cobb - Always a good team...kinda of a head scratcher type team. Seem to get hot and just when you think they are a threat, they get throttled. Enough talent back off last years team to put them in top 10.


This is the real top 10.  The other one is politics and obviously atlanta area biased. Mill creek 6-4 last year and they are #6.?? Really?  You got to earn what you get in the rankings..missing the playoffs and 6-4 does not = #6 team in state.

Sportsnutx2
Sportsnutx2

@JABAJC == "I was speaking of their region(2AAAAAA) that they are currently placed in, outside of Lovejoy, that's the same region that MLK and Stephenson dominated".  That was you statement. My point is that  if you dominated anything, it would not be this region alignment because 1) 6A is in it's 3rd year and 2) the only team in our current region that was in that old region 2AAAAA, is Newton. To that end, you have not dominated region 2AAAAAA.

RobFromNorcross
RobFromNorcross

@BcS2010 if you really believe that Tucker is "being overlooked" with their #5 ranking in their first pre-season poll in 6A you really are an emotional cripple.   This is the big boy classification, so man up.


camden74
camden74

@SchroedingersCat , Hope you're right about Camden going deep into the playoffs this season. They will be tested on Saturday. Lincoln is the typical high octane Florida team, speed everywhere! 

JABAJC
JABAJC

@Mr. Johnson Please be on this AJC blogging site when you are proven wrong on all of these accounts....

itsonlywrite
itsonlywrite

@Viking Legend just b/c Norcross is back-to-back champs doesn't mean they should be number one.. starting out the gate anyway.  If you look at how they started out last year, they didn't look too hot after being blowed out by that Miami team.  I think the AJC top 10 is pretty accurate.  The real question is what will Tucker do in the playoffs b/c they should have an easy season with only Lovejoy in the way.