The Lee County football will begin its quest for a third consecutive Class AAAAAA championship when the 2019 high school season kicks off next week.
The Trojans completed a dominant 15-0 season when they beat Region 1 rival Northside-Warner Robins 14-0 in the state final Dec. 11 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Lee County allowed just 5.1 points per game, best in the state, and the championship game was its closest of the season. Only two teams – playoff opponents Mundy’s Mill (13) and Creekview (20) – scored more than seven points against the Trojans all season.
Lee County lost 42 seniors off last season’s team, including 20 who will be playing in college this fall, and that was after losing 41 seniors from the 2017 championship team. However, the Trojans remain optimistic.
“We are embracing the high expectations but stressing that each year’s team is a new team,” coach Dean Fabrizio said during the spring. “These kids have learned from the ones that have come before them and want to uphold the standard that has been set here at Lee County. … We have a lot of players in our program. Last year, we had 11 seniors that have been in our program since middle school and hadn’t gotten any significant playing time start for us. All of them had great years. We have only lost one JV game over the past six seasons, and we have a lot of kids that haven’t played a whole lot that are ready to step up and make a name for themselves.”
Lee County opens the season Aug. 24 against Dougherty at Albany State.
Here are some of Class AAAAAA’s top stories from the offseason and things to watch in 2019.
*Region 1 dominance: Lee County’s back-to-back championships gave Region 1 three consecutive state titles, and four in five years, in the state’s second-highest class. Valdosta won in 2016, and Northside took the title in 2014. Only Region 6’s Allatoona in 2015 has been able to break through the Region 1 streak. Expect more of the same in 2019, as four of the region’s five teams hold down the top four spots in the preseason computer Maxwell Ratings – No. 1 Lee County, No. 2 Northside, No. 3 Valdosta and No. 4 Coffee.
*Eventful offseason: New Manchester promoted defensive coordinator Cedric Jackson to replace head coach Myron Terry, but the process was a lot more complicated than that. Terry left to join the staff of his co-offensive coordinator, Steve Robinson, who got the head-coaching job at Drew. New Manchester then handed the program to former Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley, but he left last month to join the staff at Georgia Southern. Jackson, in his fourth season at the school, is now a head coach for the first time.
*More new coaches: Robinson and Jackson are just two of the 11 new head coaches in Class AAAAAA this season. The others are Bradwell Institute's Kyle Adkins, Alcovy's Jason Dukes, Forest Park's Gerren Griffin, Hughes' Daniel Williams, Tri-Cities' Terrance Banks, Creekview’s Trevor Williams, Chattahoochee's Mike Malone, River Ridge's Mike Collins and Centennial's Shane Sams.
*Keeping the momentum going: Creekview is coming off the best season in the program’s 13-year history, winning a school-record 12 games (the previous best was nine), winning its first region championship and advancing to the semifinals for the first time. The job of building on that success belongs to new head coach Trevor Williams, the former South Forsyth defensive coordinator who was hired to replace Adam Carter, who left to take the head coaching job at Grayson after one season at Creekview. The Grizzlies must find replacements for graduated all-state players RB Cade Radam, OL Nick Pendlay and DB Andy Davis.
*Top-rated senior: Phillip Webb of Lanier is the state’s top AAAAAA prospect. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outside linebacker is ranked No. 4 at his position and No. 38 overall nationally and the No. 6 player in Georgia. Webb was a first-team all-state pick after recording 86 tackles (20 for losses), 10.5 sacks and 27 QB hurries in 2018, when the Longhorns reached the semis for the first time in the program’s nine-year history. His has not made a commitment, but his reported leaders are Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and LSU.
*Dalton seeks to bounce back: Dalton has had only one losing season since 1959, and even that one came as the result of four forfeits in 2011 that turned what would have been an 8-3 record into a 4-7 season. Last year, however, the Catamounts missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, coach Matt Land’s first year on the job, after finishing in fifth place behind Creekview, Sequoyah, Allatoona and Harrison in Region 6. Leading the way this year will be Jahmyr Gibbs, a Georgia Tech commitment who rushed for 1,431 yards in 2018 and scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning. He is ranked as the No. 39 player in Georgia.
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