10 undefeated but unranked teams to watch

North Atlanta wide receiver Grant Thompson (1) dives for a touchdown after making a long catch during the first half against Johns Creek in the 2023 Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic at Kell High School, Wednesday, August 15, 2023, in Marietta, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

North Atlanta wide receiver Grant Thompson (1) dives for a touchdown after making a long catch during the first half against Johns Creek in the 2023 Corky Kell + Dave Hunter Classic at Kell High School, Wednesday, August 15, 2023, in Marietta, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

There are 38 teams undefeated teams that GHSF Daily does not have ranked four weeks into the regular season. Here are 10 that are especially intriguing.

*Central (Carrollton): Ranked in three other polls, Central looks the part of a top-10 team, especially after blasting Hampton 42-7. The Lions lost that game last season. The computer Maxwell Ratings project Central will win Region 7 and reach the Class 4A quarterfinals. Central also has probably the least talked-about four-star running back who matches the hype. Coming off a 1,644-yard rushing season as a freshman, Jonaz Walton has run for 538 yards in four games this year, averaging 10.8 per carry. GHSF Daily most recently ranked Central in 2015.

*Dalton: The Catamounts made the playoffs out of Class 5A’s toughest region last season (beating out current No. 7 Hiram) and advanced a round but was thought sure to backslide without 1,936-yard rusher Tyson Greenwade, now at Charleston Southern. Instead, under third-year coach Kit Carpenter, Dalton is 3-0 with wins over Sonoraville and Rockmart, teams that beat Dalton last year.

*Douglas County: The Tigers have been ranked at times each of the past three seasons but failed to finish there. Only GHSF Daily and Maxwell don’t have Douglas County ranked. They beat McEachern 31-0 two weeks ago, avenging a 35-31 loss. The current team has perhaps fewer blue-chip players than in the past, but it’s probably more street smart from its recent experiences. QB Sire Hardaway is a three-year starter completing 78.2% of his passes for 281.7 yards per game.

*East Coweta: The Indians are unranked in every poll in the state despite a 4-0 start that includes avenging a 2022 loss to Starr’s Mill and beating Class 3A champion Sandy Creek 31-14 (won in overtime in 2022). They’ll be asked to testify again this week at Lowndes, another unranked unbeaten. East Coweta beat the Vikings last year, but this one is in Valdosta. The computer Maxwell Ratings call the game a pure toss-up.

*Lanier County: The Bulldogs won their first playoff game in history last season. The two computer polls (Maxwell, MaxPreps) rank Lanier County No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, in Class A Division II. Four human polls do not. What are they missing? The Bulldogs are proud of last week’s victory over Berrien, a 24-7 decision in which they held Berrien to 92 total yards. Berrien beat them 14-10 last year. The AJC has never ranked Lanier County, a south Georgia school about 20 miles from Valdosta. It’s a program that won only six games in the five seasons before hiring Kurt Williams in 2018. The Bulldogs have won 20 games in the past five seasons counting this one with at least seven left to play.

*Lowndes: What is an unbeaten like Lowndes doing in a place like this, unranked in all six GHSF Daily composite polls? This is only the second time this century, first since 2015, that Lowndes has been unranked at any point through the first four weeks of a season. The Vikings also are coming off their first losing season since 1994, which brought about the hire of coach Adam Carter, who won a state title at Grayson in 2020. Lowndes is 3-0 with victories over the No. 41 overall team from North Carolina, the No. 120 team from Florida and the No. 8 team from Maryland, according to MaxPreps assessments. Next is unbeaten, unranked East Coweta, the No. 26 team in Georgia.

*Lumpkin County: The Indians were GHSF Daily’s most improved winning Class 3A team in 2022, when they went 8-3 under first-year coach Heath Webb after winning only three games in the three previous seasons combined. MaxPreps has them ranked No. 7 now, and the Maxwell Ratings peg them an eye-raising 15-point favorite Friday at home against Hart County, another northeast Georgia team with significantly more pedigree than Lumpkin. It’s a big opportunity to sway the other polls in the GHSF Daily composite that are more skeptical. Lumpkin County hasn’t garnered an AJC ranking since 1967.

*North Atlanta: The Warriors won a playoff game for the first time in their 32-season history last year, then led Houston County 31-21 in the fourth quarter before giving way. If Houston County is Class 6A’s No. 4 team today, should North Atlanta be so far behind? The Warriors’ next opponents (Wheeler, St. Pius) beat them in close games last season. It will be hard to ignore the Warriors if they reverse those outcomes. North Atlanta is unranked in all six polls used for the GHSF Daily composite and has never been ranked by the AJC.

*Ola: The Mustangs of Henry County have played varsity football since 2006 and never won a playoff game, but the computer Maxwell Ratings project they’ll win two this year and make the Class 5A quarterfinals under second-year coach Tom Causey. The most persuasive victory was a 44-7 decision against Jackson, a team that beat Ola last season. The Mustangs are allowing 7.0 points and less than 200 total yards per game. Part of Maxwell’s faith comes from developments elsewhere. Region rivals Jones County and Dutchtown haven’t played as well as expected, and Maxwell believes Ola has passed them for the No. 2 seed, which will get a favorable playoff draw this season.

*Peachtree Ridge: It might be premature to think top-10, as the Class 7A Lions are 4-0 against teams from lower classes, but it is their first 4-0 start since 2013. Peachtree Ridge has won 10 games in one year and four weeks under coach Matt Helmerich after winning 10 in the previous three full seasons. It’s also a Gwinnett County program that has produced scores of college players. The computer Maxwell Ratings believe Peachtree Ridge is now within 10 points of Region 7 frontrunners North Gwinnett and Norcross, teams that blew out the Lions last season.

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