Class AAAA blog: A look at the remaining unbeatens

The first team to reach 4-0 in the classification is North Oconee and the Titans will visit Franklin County this Friday night to conclude the first half of their regular season schedule. There are 10 other teams without a loss heading into Week 5. Westover, Shaw, West Laurens, Woodward Academy, Troup, Sandy Creek, Cartersville, Marist and Flowery Branch are each 3-0 and Denmark is 2-0 due to last week’s contest with Forsyth Central being cancelled.

This is North Oconee’s first 4-0 start since the program’s undefeated regular season finish in 2011. The Titans visit the Lions this Friday night and then host Walnut Grove on Sept. 27 to close out their non-region schedule. Following the matchup with Walnut Grove, North Oconee will observe back-to-back bye weeks before facing off with Madison County in its region opener.

Westover was 1-2 at this point last year under first-year head coach Olten Downs. This year, against the same three opponents, the Patriots carry a flawless record with a whopping 27.3 average margin of victory. Westover scored a 43-13 win over Columbus this past week to open its region schedule, and will meet up with an 0-3 Northside-Columbus team this week in Region 1-AAAA action.

Shaw already has two Region 1-AAAA victories (48-14 over Kendrick and 20-7 over Dougherty) heading into its visit to Americus-Sumter this Friday. Americus-Sumter went 0-2 in non-region play, but defeated Dougherty (19-12) in its region opener. Last year, Americus-Sumter scored a 21-0 win over Shaw. This is the first 3-0 start for Shaw since the 2004 season.

West Laurens will host a 3-0 Class AAAAA South Effingham team Friday night looking to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 1990 season. West Laurens won this matchup 37-0 last year and competed well against its non-region schedule. A 1-4 finish in region play, however, snapped the program’s four-year playoff streak. West Laurens’ latest victory came in a wild 42-28 finish against Dodge County, where the Raiders rallied by scoring five of their six total touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Woodward Academy’s 3-0 start includes its 13-10 win over two-time defending state champion Blessed Trinity, a 19-0 win over Westminster and a 35-7 win over Grady. This week, Woodward hosts McDonough High School (formerly Henry County) in its Region 4-AAAA opener. Last season, the War Eagles showed defensive vulnerabilities and they earned the No. 3 seed behind Eastside and Salem. The massive improvements on the defensive side of the ball, however, have Woodward Academy looking like the clear frontrunner to earn this year’s top seed.

Region 5 had three undefeated teams in it with Cartersville, Sandy Creek and Troup. All three of these teams are off to outstanding starts. Cartersville has outscored opponents 112-13, Sandy Creek has outscored its opponents 142-10 and Troup has outscored its opponents 160-58. Cartersville’s 14-13 win over Allatoona in the opener is looking a lot more impressive after the Class AAAAAA Bucs’ followed it with a 37-7 thrashing over Creekview and a 38-0 win over River Ridge. Cartersville followed its one-point victory over Allatoona by defeating Luella (47-0) and McNair (51-0) The Purple Hurricanes host Class AAAAAAA Cherokee this Friday, which has opened its season with a strong 4-0 start.

Troup’s next game sets up an outstanding cross classification showdown that should make Auburn fans especially excited. Auburn commit Kobe Hudson will lead the Troup offense while Auburn-commit Cartavious ‘Tank’ Bigsby takes handoffs out of Class AA Callaway’s backfield. Hudson has already accounted for nine passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns with 1,051 total yards from scrimmage. Callaway opened the year with a 10-9 loss to Opelika (AL), but has followed it with two dominant performances. The Cavaliers defeated LaGrange 56-10. Bigsby took 12 carries for 182 yards and four touchdowns. This past week, Callaway cruised to a 69-0 win over Cross Keys. In the Cross Keys victory, Bigsby took the first play from scrimmage in for a 65-yard touchdown and later found the endzone on carries of 30 and 69 yards.

Sandy Creek is clicking on all cylinders as they prepare for Friday’s home game against Class AAAAA McIntosh (2-1). The Patriots have defeated Whitewater (52-0), Hampton (47-3) and Ridgeland (43-7) the last three weeks. Sandy Creek led Ridgeland 31-0 at the half. Quarterback Matt Williams threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers (Ahmad Jackson, Dealo Parson and Miles Thornton). Also, Rashad Amos added two rushing touchdowns for the Patriots.

Similar to Region 7, there are three undefeated teams (Marist, Flowery Branch and Denmark) in Region 7-AAAA heading into Week 5. Denmark will take a trip to Class AAA Dawson County. The Tigers are also 3-0 and scored a 38-21 win over Denmark last season—giving the brand new Danes program their first-ever defeat. Denmark has wins over Cherokee Bluff (41-0) and North Springs (63-0) this season and has not allowed a single point.

Flowery Branch has a Week 5 bye and is fresh off last Friday’s 7-0 win over Winder-Barrow. Similar to Denmark, the Falcons have not allowed a single point this season with wins over East Hall (50-0) and Clarke Central (38-0) preceding the victory over Winder-Barrow.

Marist will face rival St. Pius, its first Class AAAA opponent of the season this Friday Night. The War Eagles opened the year with a 49-0 win over Class AA Lovett, a 45-8 win over Nevada’s Canyon Springs and a 14-0 win over Westminster—a game that was called in the first half due to weather. Marist won last year’s meeting 24-8 and has a 34-18-3 edge in the all-time series.