Top 10 games of Week 1 of Georgia high school football:
Cartersville at Allatoona
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Buccaneer Stadium, Acworth
Records, rankings: Cartersville (14-1 in 2018) is No. 2 in Class AAAA;Allatoona (8-4 in 2018) is No. 5 in AAAAAA.
Last meeting: Cartersville won 35-0 in 2018.
Things to know: Cartersville has won three consecutive season openers against Allatoona, each one more lopsided than the year before (including 35-14 in 2017 and 30-14 in 2016). Cartersville’s three victories are tied for the most by any opponent in Allatoona’s 11-season history. This game will be the first as head coach for Cartersville’s Conor Foster, who was promoted from defensive coordinator after Joey King left to become the wide receivers coach at Coastal Carolina. King was 67-4 with two state championships and five region titles in five years at Cartersville. Tee Webb, a Louisville commit and the Purple Hurricanes’ quarterback, was 188-of-321 passing for 2,726 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2018. Allatoona must replace the top three rushers — Daniel Parsons (1,129 yards), Cameron Moore (431) and T.J. Carr (337) — from an offense that got 76.7 percent of its yardage from the running game in 2018. Senior Alex Wilson, who ran for 256 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries last season, appears first in line to take over as the feature back. Dante Marshall is the returning starter at quarterback. He was 48-of-98 passing for 818 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Hapeville Charter at Cedar Grove
When, where: 8 p.m. Saturday, Buck Godfrey Stadium, Decatur
Records, rankings: Hapeville Charter (10-2 in 2018) is No. 2 in Class AA; Cedar Grove (14-1 in 2018) is No. 2 in AAA.
Last meeting: This is the teams’ first meeting.
Things to know: This game matches the most successful programs in south Fulton County (Hapeville Charter) and DeKalb County (Cedar Grove) over the past four seasons. Hapeville is 40-11 since the start of 2015, winning three region titles and the 2017 Class AA championship. Cedar Grove is 41-6-1 in the same span, with three region titles and two Class AA championships. Hapeville’s best player is expected to be Rico Powers, a transfer from Benedictine who had 1,005 yards rushing, 561 yards receiving and 23 combined touchdowns last year. The four-star recruit and consensus No. 31 player in Georgia is expected to focus on wide receiver this season. Powers was joined on this year’s preseason all-state team by teammates Zavier Carter (DL) and Armani Maddox (DB). Cedar Grove’s Miguel Patrick will be making his head coaching debut after replacing Jimmy Smith, now the running backs coach at Georgia State. Smith was 67-14-1 in six seasons. Patrick’s first job will be finding a replacement for 2018 all-class player of the year Jadon Haselwood, now at Oklahoma. Sophomore Janiran Bonner will get the first shot at filling Haselwood's spots on both sides of the ball.
Hebron Christian at Clinch County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Donald Tison Field at Panther Stadium, Homerville
Records, rankings: Hebron Christian (6-6 in 2018) is No. 7 in Class A private; Clinch County (13-1 in 2018) is No. 1 in Class A public.
Last meeting: Clinch County won 24-17 in 2018.
Things to know: Clinch County has won two consecutive state titles, and three in four years, but the Panthers trailed Hebron Christian in the second half last year before rallying for a victory that wasn’t secure until an interception in the final minute. The setback was the first of several near-misses for Hebron Christian, which suffered six losses on the season, all against ranked opponents, four decided by a touchdown or less. This year, Clinch County will be without two key parts of its recent success — head coach Jim Dickerson retired, and Class A public-school defensive player of the year Trezmen Marshall graduated and is now a freshman at Georgia. Dickerson compiled a record of 152-44-1 with five state championships in 15 seasons. Offensive coordinator Don Tison Jr. was promoted to replace him. Hebron Christian QB Colten Gauthier is the second-leading returning passer in Gwinnett County. He threw for 2,088 yards and 19 TDs last year as a sophomore. However, his top three receivers from last year are gone (two graduated and one transferred).
Marietta at Rome
When, where: 8:30 p.m. today, Barron Stadium, Rome
Records, rankings: Marietta (5-6 in 2018) is No. 1 in Class AAAAAAA; Rome (13-1 in 2018) is No. 2 in AAAAA.
Last meeting: Rome won 51-41 in 2018.
Things to know: Last year, Rome used a 30-point second quarter to take a 37-13 lead and then held on to win a game in which the teams combined for 1,041 yards of offense. Rome’s Jamious Griffin ran for 162 yards, and Knox Kadum passed for 218 yards and ran for 89. Those two players accounted for more than 5,000 yards in 2018, but both have graduated. The strength of this year’s team is on the lines of scrimmage. OL Aiden Gaines, OL Quantavious Leslie and DL Rayquon Jones were all selected to GHSF Daily’s Class AAAAA preseason all-state team. Marietta QB Harrison Bailey, who passed for 443 yards and six touchdowns against Rome, was 212-of-335 passing for the year for 2,809 yards and 29 TDs in nine games. The Tennessee commit has averaged 297.8 yards per game in his career. Bailey, at No. 15, is one of seven Marietta players among the top 110 seniors in Georgia, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Others are TE Arik Gilbert (No. 2, uncommitted), WDE BJ Ojulari (No. 17, Tennessee), S Rashad Torrence II (No. 35, Florida), OT Jake Wray (No. 56, Colorado), WR Ricky White (No. 68, Michigan State), and WR Taji Johnson (No. 107, Boston College).
McEachern vs. Brookwood
When, where: 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: McEachern (8-4 in 2018) is No. 10 in Class AAAAAAA; Brookwood (7-4 in 2018) is unranked in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: McEachern won 31-10 in 2013.
Things to know: McEachern and Brookwood, the two founding schools of the Corky Kell Classic, have met four times in the event since its inception in 1992. McEachern won all four by an average 10.3 points. Brookwood has won the other three meetings between the teams, all coming in the playoffs. Former Ware County head coach Franklin Stephens will be taking over at McEachern for Kyle Hockman, who was 103-32 in 11 seasons before departing for the job at New Hampstead. Stephens will have plenty of offensive weapons available. Junior QB Carlos Del Rio-Wilson (committed to Florida) and senior wide receivers Javon Baker (Alabama) and Dacari Collins (uncommitted) are four-star recruits. Senior RB Jordon Simmons is a three-star recruit with 21 Division I offers. Brookwood allowed just 167 points in 2018, the fewest in Region 7-AAAAAAA, but the defense is a question mark this year because no starters return. The picture is a little clearer on offense, with five returning starters, including senior RB Eli Kohl, who rushed for 844 yards and eight TDs. Junior Jack Spyke and freshman Dylan Lonergan are battling for the quarterback job, and both are expected to play.
Milton vs. Buford
When, where: 8:30 p.m. Friday, Coolray Field, Lawrenceville
Records, rankings: Milton (13-2 in 2018) is No. 6 in Class AAAAAAA; Buford (10-3 in 2018) is No. 3 in AAAAA.
Last meeting: Milton won 6-0 in 1983.
Things to know: Buford graduated eight seniors who signed with Power 5-conference schools, four on the offensive line, plus 1,908-yard rusher Derrian Brown, now at Texas. There's also a new head coach, Bryant Appling, promoted from defensive coordinator. He’ll replace John Ford, whose 21-5 record over two seasons was below par for a school averaging 13 wins the past decade. RB Elijah Turner, OL Seth McLaughlin, DB Jalen Huff and DB T. Lee are the major D-I senior recruits on this team, less than the usual Buford haul. Buford also must replace starting QB Aaron McLaughlin, who transferred. The new man behind center is unsettled between juniors Jarvis Evans (more experienced) and Amari Wansley (more versatile). Milton also is uncertain at quarterback, with Jordan Yates off to Georgia Tech. Jackson Weaver will start, but he and Devin Farrell will share the load early. The lines of scrimmage are solid. Paul Tchio, a four-star recruit committed to Clemson, will be the team’s marquee player. Zander Barnett, Alec Hutchinson, Anthony Minella and Marcos Rangel are other linemen who got all-region recognition last year, and most play both ways. Milton is 4-0 all-time against Buford. The schools met twice in the 1950s and twice in the 1980s.
North Gwinnett vs. Colquitt County
When, where: 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Records, rankings: North Gwinnett (10-3 in 2018) is No. 8 in Class AAAAAAA; Colquitt County (14-1 in 2018) is No. 2 in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Colquitt County won 45-0 in the 2018 Class AAAAAAA quarterfinals.
Things to know: This will be the sixth meeting between the two since 2011. Both have been ranked each time. Colquitt County leads the series 3-2, though North Gwinnett won the most memorable game, a 19-17 victory in the 2017 state final. Colquitt County has won two state championships and been the runner-up twice in the past five seasons, all under Rush Propst, who was forced out amid misconduct allegations last spring. The new coach is Justin Rogers, who was 45-15 at Jones County, which had not experienced sustained excellence of that kind in its history. Colquitt, well-situated for another run, returns QB Jaycee Harden (2,498 yards passing), RB Daijun Edwards (1,480 rushing), WR Lemeke Brockington (604 receiving) and all-state DB Nyquann Washington. North Gwinnett's best player is WR Josh Downs, a North Carolina commit with 1,729 career receiving yards. J.R. Martin (1,694 yards passing) returns at quarterback. North Gwinnett lost 1,000-yard rusher Tyler Goodson and three three-year starters on the offensive line. Senior defensive ends Chuck Smith and Jared Ivey and junior LB Barrett Carter have several Division I offers each.
St. Pius at Blessed Trinity
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Blessed Trinity Stadium, Roswell
Records, rankings: St. Pius (10-2 in 2018) is No. 8 in Class AAAA; Blessed Trinity (15-0 in 2018) is No. 1 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Blessed Trinity won 35-13 in 2018.
Things to know: Blessed Trinity, the two-time defending Class AAAA champion, graduated four four-year starters and five who moved on to Division I programs. RB Elijah Green, injured much of last season, is committed to North Carolina. He'll likely replace Steele Chambers (1,680 yards rushing, now at Ohio State) as the Titans' feature back. Duncan Reavis is expected to replace Jake Smith (6,077 career yards passing) at quarterback. Jack Filipowicz, a three-year starter at center and elite heavyweight wrestler, made preseason all-state. He’s committed to Army. The best defender is CB Quinton Reese, who has several Division I offers. St. Pius returns just two starters on both sides of the ball — OL Joseph Miller and WR/FS Nick Joiner on offense, DT John McKimmy and DE Lawson Schultz on defense. Joiner is now the quarterback, replacing Connor Egan, one of seven three-year starters who have moved on. Perhaps only two or three offensive starters will be seniors this season. The defense, though young, is athletic and could keep the team competitive during the cruel pre-region schedule. Blessed Trinity has won the past six meetings in the series. St. Pius won the first five.
Warner Robins at Tift County
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Brodie Field, Tifton
Records, rankings: Warner Robins (12-3 in 2018) is No. 5 in Class AAAAA; Tift County (8-5 in 2018) is unranked in AAAAAAA.
Last meeting: Warner Robins won 40-29 in 2018.
Things to know: Warner Robins, a state finalist the past two seasons, has a new coach, Marquis Westbrook, the defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Former coach Mike Chastain left for Jones County, and all-state QB Dylan Fromm (4,362 yards passing in 2018) is now at Mercer. He threw for 441 yards in the win over Tift County last season. The new quarterback is Jalen Addie, who caught a TD pass in the Tift game last year. He's a lanky 6 feet, 3 inches, and runs well. Warner Robins' key returnee is WR Marcayll Jones, who had a state-record 2,071 yards receiving in 2018. Tift County, coming off consecutive quarterfinal appearances for the first time since 1949-51 as old Tifton High, graduated its leading passer, two leading rushers and two leading receivers and five of its six leading tacklers. But the lines of scrimmage are outstanding. Defensive linemen Byronn Williams, Jalon Miller, Charles King and Tyre West started last year, and West, a sophomore, has SEC offers. The offensive line is massive, with no starter weighing less than 250 pounds. The quarterback likely will be Lowndes transfer Joe Almond.
Westminster at Woodward Academy
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Colquitt Stadium, College Park
Records, rankings: Westminster (8-5 in 2018) is No. 4 in Class AAA; Woodward Academy (7-5 in 2018) is No. 10 in AAAA.
Last meeting: Westminster won 56-31 in 2018.
Things to know: Westminster broke a five-game losing streak in the series with last year’s win. Parks Harber threw five TD passes, but he opted to quit football this fall to focus on baseball, the sport that has him committed to Georgia. His replacement will be sophomore Denton Shamburger, the nephew of Bucky Shamburger and grandson of Buck Shamburger of Georgia Tech football lore. Westminster will rely on preseason all-state RB Paul Weathington, a Princeton-committed lacrosse player who rushed for 173 yards against Woodward last season en route to a 1,000-yard season. He’s running behind an inexperienced line. Woodward slipped to 7-5 last season after four consecutive seasons of at least 11 victories. Mike Wright, who threw for 163 yards and rushed for 128 against Westminster last year, is a 6-4 quarterback committed to Central Florida. He missed games last season injured. TE/LB Jacorrei Turner made the preseason all-state team, and LB Aaron Washington (Bowling Green commit) and DB Hunter Sellers (Pittsburgh) should shore up a defense that allowed 27.9 points per game last season, highest for Woodward in 63 years.
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