Tucker survives, but losses by Valdosta, Northside shake up Top 10

(Branden Camp/Special to AJC)

The shakeup in the Class AAAAAA rankings was a significant one this week after the No. 2 and No. 4 teams were knocked off by their city rivals in the season openers on Friday.

It might have been even bigger had top-ranked Tucker not survived a tough challenge in the Corky Kell Classic.

Valdosta, the defending state champion and ranked No. 2 in the preseason, lost to Lowndes 45-0 in the most-lopsided game in the history of the heated rivalry. Lowndes led 10-0 at halftime but broke the game open in the third quarter. The Vikings finished with a 244-65 advantage in total offense. The loss ended Valdosta’s three-game winning streak in the series.

Fourth-ranked Northside lost to Warner Robins 28-17. Northside beat the Demons 55-3 last season but lost do-it-all quarterback Tobias Oliver to graduation. Warner Robins had a lot of talent returning and added in some key transfers from Houston County, including QB Dylan Fromm (229 yards and four touchdowns passing vs. Northside) and WR/RB Jaeven West (nine receptions for 111 yards and a TD).

Tucker escaped with a 28-27 overtime victory over Kell, avenging its only regular-season loss of 2016. The Tigers scored a touchdown and a conversion on their overtime possession, but Kell missed the extra point on the ensuing possession. Tucker WR Josh Vann had seven receptions for 157 yards and three touchdowns, including a 79-yarder with 3:58 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score 21-21 and a 15-yarder on the first play of overtime.

Tucker retained its hold on the No. 1 ranking, followed by Harrison, Lee County Dalton and Mays in the top five. Valdosta dropped to No. 9, and Northside is No. 10.

Here are some of the other top stories from Week 1 in Class AAAAAA:

Rough night for Region 1

In addition to the losses by Valdosta and Northside, Houston County was blown out by Jones County 42-3 at the Corky Kell Classic. Lee County (beat Mary Persons 21-17) and Coffee (beat Effingham County 35-20) came through with victories to give the region a 2-3 record for the weekend. Last year, the five teams in Region 1 went 26-3 during the regular season in non-league games.

Jonesboro in first place

Jonesboro is the only AAAAAA team that is 1-0 in region play after beating Mount Zion-Jonesboro 24-10 in a Region 4 game. Jonesboro led 3-2 at halftime despite being outgained 107-17, according to the Clayton News Daily, but eventually pulled away. Mount Zion won 9-7 last season, but that victory was later overturned by forfeit, helping the Cardinals lock down a playoff berth.

Region 7 is upside down

Dunwoody and North Atlanta were the bottom two teams in nine-team Region 7 last season, winning a combined three games, but both got off to a great start this season. Dunwoody beat Lakeside-DeKalb 38-21 and North Atlanta shocked Grady 21-7. However, the region went just 2-4 last week, and two of the four losing teams (Johns Creek and Alpharetta) reached the playoffs last season.

Habersham’s offense clicking

Habersham Central set a school record for points when it opened the season with a 72-55 victory over East Hall. Quarterback A.J. Curry was 9-for-20 passing for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and Daniel Matkovic and Baylor Hinshaw combined for 489 yards and six touchdowns rushing, according to the Gainesville Times. The Raiders averaged 23.5 points per game last season and finished 5-5.


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