No. 2 Calhoun will make its Class AAA debut on Friday night against one of its oldest rivals.
The Yellow Jackets will play Dalton in the continuation of a series that began in 1925. This will be the 44th meeting between the two regional rivals. Even though Dalton leads the series 34-8-1, Calhoun has won five straight.
Calhoun will unveil a new quarterback in Kaelan Riley, a junior who played some a year ago. He threw three touchdowns in a scrimmage two weeks ago, as the Yellow Jackets compiled 700 yards of total offense.
Calhoun has been one of the state’s most consistent teams during the tenure of coach Hal Lamb. The Yellow Jackets have won 10 or more games in 13 straight seasons. They were 11-2 a year ago, including a 17-2 win over Dalton.
Here are four of the other top AAA games that will be played this week:
Cedar Grove at Southwest DeKalb: The No. 4-ranked Saints have one of the most talented teams in Class AAA when it comes to college recruits. But will that equate to wins or a Region 4 championship? A partial answer to that may be revealed against the Panthers, a team Cedar Grove has not beaten in six previous meetings, most recently in 2007.
Cedar Grove has an outstanding quarterback in James Hartsfield, who threw for 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns last year. He’s got a solid target in receiver Benjy Parrish. But most of the strength is on defense, where end Gus Cumberlander, tackle Quentez Johnson and cornerback Chris Fredrick are considered top prospects
Peach County at Warner Robins: The No. 9 Trojans slipped to 8-4 last year, a disappointment only because they had averaged 13 wins the previous four seasons and reached the state championship game in 2011. The series is tied 3-3; Warner Robins won 54-21 a year ago to break a three-year Peach victory streak.
The Trojans hope to make big steps on defense, where David Shores joins the staff as the new coordinator. The defense is led by Marquies Price, a big lineman who has commited to Duke. Peach will be breaking in a new quarterback, Tyrique McGhee, who started in the secondary a year ago. But the Trojans will still depend greatly on running back Keywhawn Lowe, one of the team’s key pieces a year ago.
Blessed Trinity at St. Pius: The No. 6-ranked Titans have been trending upwards since Tim McFarlin became head coach in 2011. Since then Blessed Trinity has gone 25-12 and are coming off a 9-4 season that saw it reach the quarterfinal round. One of those wins was a 21-20 win over St. Pius; the two Catholic school rivals were in the same region last year, but St. Pius moved in AAAA for 2014.
Lovett at Westminster: “The Battle for Paces Ferry Road” resumes and Westminster will be trying to snap Lovett’s two-game winning streak in the series. Westminster leads the series 16-10. Westminster, which moved up in class this year, has made the playoffs the last seven years and should again be in the mix in the new Region 4-AAA