Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

AA in brief: Social Circle 2-0 with 2 shutouts

The new rankings are out with only a few changes, though they are significant. But before we get into that, it’s worth noting that the defending state champs, who opened the season No. 1, had a bye last week and continue to hold onto the top spot. I would expect a lot of shuffling to the rankings will continue, but the one constant will be the Hornets at the top, from here to the playoffs.

That being said, it’s time to take a closer look at the Rockmart Yellow Jackets. They’ve been playing at a high level for years and, now with their 33-0 win over then-No. 3 Heard County, they’re in the top five for the first time since 1989. Though pollsters might not have been as privy to the Jackets, they’ve had their competition on notice since Biff Parson arrived in 2016.

Prior to Parson’s arrival the Jackets finished 2015 2-8 to cap off five straight seasons with out a winning record. Since then, they’ve finished 9-3 the last two seasons and last year took home their first region title since 1988. They Jackets started this year unranked, but have beat ranked teams in two of their first three games — they beat AAAA’s then-No. 10 Cedartown in their opener — to catapult into the top five.

For a review of last weekend’s ranked AA games, revisit the Friday night recap for Week 4.

Aside from Rockmart’s ascension, the Heard County Braves find themselves outside of the rankings after a forgettable two-game stretch in which they were outscored 66-3 by the Jackets and Hapeville Charter. With their departure comes the arrival of the Vidalia Indians at No. 10, who are 3-0 after beating Tattnall County 42-14.

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Here’s a look at the updated rankings, with the previous week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. (1) Hapeville Charter (2-0) 

2. (2) Callaway (3-0) 

3. (4) Thomasville (3-1) 

4. (5) Bremen (3-0) 

5. (8) Rockmart (3-0) 

6. (6) Dodge County (3-0) 

7. (7) Rabun County (2-1) 

8. (9) Dublin (3-0) 

9. (10) Washington County (3-0) 

10. (NR) Vidalia (3-0) 

Out: No. 3 Heard County

In brief:

  • Defending state champions Hapeville Charter open Region 6-AA play against Therrell on Friday. They’re on a 14-game win streak in league play, last losing on Oct. 23, 2015 to Pace Academy, when the private schools (Pace, GAC, Wesleyan and Lovett) hoarded 6-AA. 
  • Here’s a reminder of where championship success comes from: Hapeville Charter’s practice facilities.
  • For the first time since 2015, the Social Circle Redskins are 2-0. Brett Fowler of the Walton Tribune covered the game. Most impressively, after beating Cross Keys 62-0, they have yet to allow a point this season. It’s the first time the Redskins have notched back-to-back shutouts since 1990, according to the GHSFHA database. They’re seeking their first winning season since 2006 and Friday marks their Region 8-AA opener, which comes at home against Banks County. Fowler previews the game.
  • Speaking of Banks County, the Leopards beat East Jackson 50-10 for their first win.
  • Rockmart’s win over Heard County earned Biff Parson Coach of the Week honors from the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Parson marks the second consecutive week an AA coach as earned the Atlanta Falcons COW honor, with Douglass’ Rodney Cofield winning the week before.
  • The Gordon Central Warriors beat Gilmer 44-15 and will head into Region 7-AA play against Pepperrell seeking their first winning season since 2012.
  • In former AA player news: Braylon Sanders (Callaway) notched his first career SEC touchdown for Ole Miss; Tyleek Collins (Hapeville Charter) caught his first touchdown for UNLV; JD King (Fitzgerald) destroyed an unsuspecting defender on his way to the end zone.
  • Following Week 4, accessWDUN analyzed the run game of Banks County and the offense of Rabun County.
  • There will be plenty more PSAs coming from this guy, warning of the dangers No. 5 Rockmart brings.
  • Highlights for Rockmart include quarterback Dan Bailey completing all three of his passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, Z.J. Whatley rushing five times for 70 yards and two scores, Juke Boozer catching two passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and safety Paine Culver finishing with eight tackles, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal.
  • There’s only 10 teams that can be ranked at once, so there will be deserving teams left on the outside. One such team is the Union County Panthers, who — after beating Fannin County 49-7 — are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 129-20 in their return to AA after two seasons in AAA. They begin 8-AA play next week against Monticello. In the Fannin County game, quarterback Pierson Allison threw five touchdowns in the first half as part of a monster night.
  • Bleckley County kicker Hugh Cairney has been invited to play in the 2018 Georgia Elite Classic.
  • Also on Bleckley County: Royal Stadium is getting an upgrade, the Bleckley Progress reports.
  • The No. 9 Washington County Golden Hawks beat Greenbrier 55-7, with the team honoring senior offensive lineman Kenbrill Holmes as Player of the Week.
  • The Vidalia Indians welcomed themselves into the top 10 after their 42-14 route of Tattnall County. Southeast Georgia Today covered the game.
  • The Elbert County Blue Devils started slow and ultimately fell short to Watkinsville, 27-19. They’re 2-1 and haven’t had a losing season since 2008. They open 8-AA play on Friday against Oglethorpe County.
  • WJBF has highlights from 4-AA, including Harlem, Glenn Hills, Laney, Westside, Hepzibah, and from 2-AA’s Swainsboro. Hepzibah’s Jaiden Wofford pulled down a touchdown pass in his team’s surprise 27-14 win over Screven County to earn Top Plays honors.
  • The Blitz’s Play of the Week is a 60-plus-yard punt return touchdown from Austin Jones, which helped to propel Rabun County to its 41-14 win over Stephens County. It was the Wildcats’ first home game since the AA championship.
  • The Pepperell Dragons notched their first win of the season, topping Heritage-Ringgold 31-17 to move to 1-2. They head into 7-AA play, where just two seasons ago they won the league title, and will seek their fourth consecutive winning season under Rick Hurst. They travel to Gordon Central.
  • WTXL has highlights of the Thomasville Bulldogs’ 39-0 win over Everglades (forward to the 09:48 mark). The Bulldogs band won too, taking home WTXL’s Band of the Week honors.
  • For Thomasville, it was the first shutout since 2016.
  • Here’s Callaway’s Charlie Dixon scoring on a 75-yard touchdown reception in the Cavaliers’ 50-0 win over Cross Keys. Here’s Antinius Barnes with the game’s final score.
  • With a 21-14 loss to Claxton, Toombs County has dropped two straight and are 2-2 heading into 2-AA play, which opens Aug. 21 at Metter after their bye. Last season the Bulldogs went 10-2, their best season since 2000, and notched their first playoff win since 2008.
  • The Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets are 4-0 for the first time since 2007 after beating Brantley County 34-22.
  • Here’s how coaches voted the top 10 for AA. I tend to agree that Fitzgerald should be ranked. Keep in mind these rankings come out after “AA in brief” is published, so these don’t reflect Week 4’s results, which include Screven County losing to Hepzibah in addition to Heard County’s well-documented loss.
  • Rockmart’s Tyler Abram has been invited to participate in the Georgia vs. Florida All-Star Game.

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