Four defending state champions begin the high school football season ranked No. 1, but none of the seven 2014 champs should be counted out in their bids to repeat.
In Class AAAAAA, champion Colquitt County begins the season behind No. 1 Archer and No. 2 McEachern, teams that Colquitt defeated in the 2015 playoffs.
Archer, the 2014 runner-up, has seven seniors or juniors who are rated as three-star recruits or better, including one that made The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super 11 team (defensive back Dylan Singleton). McEachern has six seniors and a Super 11 member of its own (defensive tackle Julian Rochester).
Colquitt has only a couple of prominent recruits (linebacker Ja’Quain Blakely and receiver Kiel Pollard), but does return starting quarterback (Chase Parrish). Colquitt also owns a streak of six state semifinal appearances, a Georgia record. Neither Archer nor McEachern has won a state title.
Northside-Warner Robins, the defending AAAAA champion, got the No. 1 ranking but will be hard-pressed to defend its Region 2-AAAAA title. No. 2 Houston County has perhaps the best quarterback-receiver pair in Jake Fromm and Darion Anderson, unless the best duo is No. 5 Jones County’s Brad Hunnicutt and Nick Singleton. Stockbridge, at No. 3, is metro Atlanta’s highest ranked team in the class.
In AAAA, Buford holds the No. 1 ranking and a 40-game winning streak, but No. 2 Cartersville has four preseason all-state players, including Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1-rated sophomore quarterback in the nation. Buford beat Cartersville 27-3 in the semifinals last year.
Defending champion Calhoun is No. 1 in AAA. Quarterback Kaelen Riley, the reigning AAA offensive player of the year, returns. Blessed Trinity, which lost to Washington County in the 2014 semifinals, is No. 2 and seeking its first state title.
Benedictine, the 2014 champion in AA, graduated an all-state quarterback and receiver, but returns its best defensive player (linebacker Tru’Self Cooper) and lineman (tackle Sanders Creech). The Cadets are ranked No. 1.
Class A is the most unpredictable classification. Mount Paran Christian (private) and Hawkinsville (public) took heavy graduation losses from their championship teams, although each is expected to contend again. The No. 1 preseason team is Eagle’s Landing Christian, which has the most playoff victories by far (14) of any Class A school during the past five seasons and made the private-school final in 2014.
UPDATES: Check current Georgia high school football rankings on the AJC scoreboard
1. Archer 2. McEachern 3. Colquitt County 4. Grayson 5. Roswell
6. Peachtree Ridge 7. North Gwinnett 8. Lee County 9. Tucker
1, Northside-Warner Robins
2. Houston County 3. Stockbridge 4. Kell 5. Jones County
6. Mays 7. Allatoona 8. Gainesville
9. Ware County 10. Carver-Columbus
2. Cartersville 3. Woodward Academy 4. Sandy Creek
5. Marist 6. St. Pius 7. Griffin 8. Carrollton
9. West Laurens 10. Mary Persons
2. Blessed Trinity
4. Elbert County
6. Cedar Grove
7. Peach County
8. Washington County
9. Hart County
10. Pierce County
3. Greater Atlanta Christian
4. Lamar County
5. Brooks County
6. Macon County
8. Rabun County
10. Pace Academy
1. Eagle’s Landing Christian
2. Marion County
3. Irwin County
4. Landmark Christian
5. Charlton County
7. Prince Avenue Christian
8. Mount Paran Christian
10. Calvary Day
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