There’s some good news for Region 2-AAAAAAA football holdovers Campbell, East Coweta, Newnan and Pebblebrook. Westlake, winner of this region the past four seasons, was reclassified into the classification below for next season. So was Wheeler.
Of course, that development was tempered by the news that McEachern is the newest member of what’s now a five-team league. McEachern needs no introduction, but for the record, the Indians have averaged 10.0 wins since 2010. None of the other Region 2 teams has won a region title since Newnan in 2009.
McEachern, 12-1 in 2019 under first-year coach Franklin Stephens, won’t be invincible, though. The team lost running back Jordon Simmons to Michigan State and defensive lineman Jamil Burroughs and wide receiver Javon Baker to Alabama.
Also leaving were quarterback Carlos Del Rio to Grayson and wide receiver Dacari Collins to Westlake as transfers. Del Rio is committed to Florida, Collins to Clemson.
So there’s rebuilding to be done. McEachern’s 2019 backup quarterback, Bryce Archie, showed promise as a sophomore. He was 40-of-62 passing for 543 yards.
McEachern’s leading tackler, Ese Dubre, is the region’s only player listed as a top-100 senior recruit in Georgia. He’s a three-star linebacker.
McEachern’s 10-win standard will be a challenge given the turnover and the Indians’ schedule, which includes games against North Gwinnett, Grayson, Marietta, Hillgrove and Florida power St. Thomas Aquinas.
East Coweta, also known as the Indians, just missed a region title last season. A 24-22 loss to Westlake on Oct. 11 decided the championship. East Coweta beat Etowah 20-13 in the playoffs before losing to Grayson in the second round.
East Coweta returns five first-team all-region players, more than any other team. Two are offensive linemen, Jeden Watson and Gage Pitchford. Wide receiver Amariyon Moss had 556 yards from scrimmage as a sophomore. The others play defense – lineman Dylan Spelios and middle linebacker Chase Lewis, the region’s leader in tackles in 2019.
East Coweta also brings back starting quarterback Gabe Gray (676 yards passing, 393 rushing) and its second-leading rusher, Jayden Bolton (525 yards).
Newnan was 6-5 overall, 3-2 in the region last season. The Cougars return leading passer Michael Maginnis (1,717 yards, 11 touchdowns), leading rusher Aubrey Carter (788 yards), leading receiver Josh Harris (765 yards) and leading tackler Jaylen Jeter (45 solo tackles).
Harris made first-team all-region along with offensive lineman Adam Rush, linebacker Steven Carter and place-kicker Sam Williams.
Pebblebrook (3-7, 2-3) missed a playoff berth when the Falcons lost their regular-season finale to Wheeler 21-14. All-region defensive players Chris Rogers, a linebacker, and Trennon Mitchell, a defensive back, are back.
Campbell was 0-10 last season, the Spartans’ second winless finish in four seasons, and no all-region players are back, so that’s going to take time. The silver lining is that it takes only one victory in region play to make the playoffs. Four teams will make it; only one won’t.
About the Author
Credit: Nathan Posner for the AJC