Class 3A Blog: Important questions need answers after Week 3

It is extremely hard to know what to think three weeks into the Class 3A football season.

And the latest poll released Sunday doesn’t really help.

Sandy Creek made the biggest jump in the new Class 3A rankings -- from No. 8 to No. 5 -- after its 35-34 victory at Class 7A Newnan on Friday. Sandy Creek was unranked entering the season, but defeated Northgate 24-3 Aug. 21 and entered the top 10 at No. 8. The Patriots will play at home against Class 5A No. 5 Starr’s Mill on Friday.

That is what we know. What’s left? Questions needing answers:

Q. What’s up with Peach County? The Trojans have not won a game, and Friday’s scheduled game against Griffin was canceled due to COVID. But Peach is at No. 4. Why?

A. Peach likely will win Region 2-3A and carry a No. 1 seed into the playoffs, regardless of pre-region woes. The Trojans’ biggest challenges will come against region mates Crisp County (also 0-2) and Mary Persons. Keep in mind, Peach lost to 6A Northside-Warner Robins 28-14 and to one of Alabama’s best programs, Central-Phenix City, 42-23. Also keep in mind that the last time Peach was 0-2 was in 2005, when the Trojans started 0-3 and then went undefeated throughout the regular season and postseason to capture the state title.

Q. Is No. 2 Oconee County the best program in the class?

A. That is hard to say with Cedar Grove at No. 1. The Warriors may not be the best, but I think the easy argument is that they are just as good. Cedar Grove, Oconee and Pierce County each could stake the claim that they are the best. Pierce is the defending champion, and Oconee is the runner-up. Pierce learned from its 20-13 season-opening loss to 6A Brunswick and has since not allowed a score since, with a 25-0 victory against Wayne County and a 38-0 victory against Claxton. Oconee hasn’t lost a game and is getting strong performances from quarterback Jacob Wright and running back C.J. Jones. Cedar Grove, which won state titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019, is playing head-to-head with higher-classed ranked teams.

Q. Is there a darkhorse in the class?

A. Yes, Hart County. The Bulldogs are outscoring opponents 151-71 after victories against Elbert County (54-21), White County (49-13) and North Hall (48-37) and will face two South Carolina teams – Crescent and Westside – in the next two weeks before Region 8 play. The Bulldogs will be battle-tested through a Region with No. 2 Oconee County and No. 9 Monroe Area, and that could help in the playoffs.

A few top-10 facts

-- At the top, No. 1 Cedar Grove stayed in place despite a 28-19 loss to Class 7A No. 6 Colquitt County on the road Friday. But the Saints are competing against higher-classed programs and hanging around. That will pay dividends later.

-- Oconee County (No. 2) and Pierce County (No. 3) both enjoyed predictable victories and stayed put in the poll. Oconee beat Clarke Central 21-2, and Pierce beat Claxton 38-0.

-- Peach County (No. 4) has yet to win a game – its most-recent contest against Griffin was canceled due to COVID – but the Trojans are still at No. 4 in the poll.

-- Westminster beat Pace Academy 31-21 and dropped one spot to No. 6.

-- Appling County (No. 7) stayed in place after beating South Effingham 41-10.

-- Thomson was scheduled to play Washington County, but the game was canceled due to COVID. The Bulldogs climbed one spot to No. 8.

-- Monroe Area climbed one spot to No. 9 this week after beating Morgan County 30-0. The Purple Hurricanes have allowed just one touchdown – to Loganville in a 28-7 victory – this season.

Updated top 10

1. (1) Cedar Grove (1-1)

2. (2) Oconee County (3-0)

3. (3) Pierce County (2-1)

4. (4) Peach County (0-2)

5. (8) Sandy Creek (2-0)

6. (5) Westminster (2-1)

7. (7) Appling County (3-0)

8. (9) Thomson (2-0)

9. (10) Monroe Area (3-0)

10. (6) Crisp County (0-2)