Posted: 9:53 am Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Big games in AA: GAC putting No. 1 ranking to the test 

By Brent Holloway

Here are a few of the top games in Class AA this weekend, starting with a marquee match-up at the top …

No. 3 Benedictine at No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian

Two of the top teams in AA are wasting no time putting their preseason rankings to the test. The third-ranked Cadets will travel to face a top-ranked Spartans team loaded with high-level talent and lofty expectations.

GAC is led by big-time college prospects RB/DB Micah Abernathy, WR/DB Darius Slayton and LB Tyler Cooksey. Those three have gotten the bulk of the preseason attention, but there’s a wealth of talent on the roster. In addition to Cooksey (6-3, 220) three other starters are back at linebacker, including Navy commit Paul Carothers (6-1, 225) and 2016 prospect Josh Pickens (6-2, 205).

Benedictine has its own preseason All-Stater in WR Brad Stewart, as well as a returning starter at QB in Stevie Powers, and a running back in Chance Jackson who scored 18 touchdowns last year in the Cadets’ run to the semifinals.

Keep an eye on:

- GAC is breaking in a new starter at quarterback, sophomore Davis Mills (6-3, 180)

- Benedictine’s running game. The Cadets lost two of their top three rushers from last year and all five starters on the offensive line.

No. 4 Brooks County at Ware County (No. 5, AAAAA)

Brooks County enters 2014 hoping to secure its third straight season of double-digit wins for the first time in school history. With an opening date at Ware County, the Trojans have not opted to make it easy on themselves.

Ware County has won 44 games in the last four years and has advanced to the quarterfinals or deeper in each season. It will be the Gators’ first game under new coach Franklin Stephens, who led Lamar County to the AA state championship game last year.

Brooks County has a load of offensive talent to replace, starting with All-State QB and Georgia signee Malkolm Parrish. Look for junior Demontay Jones to take over under center.

Keep an eye on:

- Brooks County senior WR/CB Exavius Medlock. The preseason All-State selection at defensive back has a knack for big plays on offense; he had 934 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 27 receptions last season.

- Ware County’s defense. The Gators held eight teams to seven points or fewer last year (four shutouts) and reportedly turned in an impressive showing against Valdosta in last week’s scrimmage outing.

Other games that have my interest piqued:

Laney at No. 9 Dublin: Hoping to build off last year’s bounce-back season, the Fighting Irish host Laney, a Class AA quarterfinalist last year now in AAA.

Pace Academy at No. 2 Lovett: The defending state champs host Pace Academy and its preseason All-State QB, Kevin Johnson, in a rare, opening-week region game.

Rabun County at Jefferson (No. 5, AAA): With Jefferson moving up to AAA this season, there’s an opening alongside Washington-Wilkes at the top of Region 8-AA. Rabun County has improved steadily under coach Lee Shaw, but hasn’t beaten Jefferson since 1955 (16 games). This game should tell us where the Wildcats are in their quest to become a player at the state level.

What games are you looking forward to this weekend? Let me know … @thebholloway

 

 

1 comments
Tiger Patpaw
Tiger Patpaw

I’ll be following Darlington to Murphy NC for a return date with the NCHSAA 1A State Champion Murphy High School Bulldogs (NCHSAA 1A Smokey Mountain Conference, 2013: 5-1, overall: 13-3, Playoffs: 5-0 1A State Champion).

This should be a good test for the Tigers who graduated 15 seniors with the class of 2014.

I’m looking forward to the venue (David Gentry Field at Bob Hendrix Memorial Stadium) and some refreshing mountain air.