Class 3A blog: Seven unbeaten teams head into Week 10

Oct. 23, 2020 - Norcross, Ga: A GHSA football is shown before the Georgia high school football game between Cedar Grove and GAC at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, October 23, 2020 in Norcross, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
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Oct. 23, 2020 - Norcross, Ga: A GHSA football is shown before the Georgia high school football game between Cedar Grove and GAC at Greater Atlanta Christian, Friday, October 23, 2020 in Norcross, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

There are seven unbeaten teams left in the classification entering the 10th week of the high school football season, and programs at the top of the eight regions are jockeying for playoff positioning.

The unbeaten teams with include No. 2 Oconee County (7-0, 2-0), No. 3 Sandy Creek (7-0, 4-0), No. 4 Appling County (8-0, 2-0), No. 6 Thomson (7-0, 4-0), No. 7 Monroe Area (7-0, 2-0), No. 10 Ringgold (7-0, 5-0) and an unranked Cherokee Bluff (7-0, 3-0).

Here’s the breakdown:

-- Oconee County (7-0, 2-0) and Monroe Area (7-0, 2-0) will play Friday in what could be the de facto Region 8 championship. Monroe Area wants its fifth region title (1969, 2012, 2013 and 2018), and Oconee County is trying for the program’s ninth region title and third consecutive (1971, 1984, 1999-State Champions, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2015, 2019, 2020). The Warriors have not lost a region game since 2018, when they lost to St. Pius X (28-14) and North Oconee (23-8).

-- Sandy Creek (7-0, 4-0) is tied with top-ranked Cedar Grove (5-2, 4-0) atop the Region 5 standings entering this week’s matchup against Carver-Atlanta (4-2, 3-1). The Patriots are looking for the program’s eighth region title, but first since 2013 and first under head coach Brett Garvin.

-- Appling County (8-0, 2-0) has five region titles (1992, 1999, 2000, 2008 and 2013), and this season, Pirates coach Jordan Mullis has a chance to do what only one other coach has done in the history of Appling County (est. 1952): Win a region title in his first year. Coach Bob Griffith accomplished that feat 22 years ago and defended the title the next season (2000).

-- Thomson (7-0, 4-0) leads the 4-3A standings ahead of Hephzibah (5-2, 3-0), Burke County (4-2, 2-1) and Harlem (4-3, 2-1), the Bulldogs ' Friday opponent. The storied program has been playing football in some form for more than 100 years with 24 region titles and five state championships. Thomson’s last two region titles came in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 under coach Rob Ridings. Coach Michael Youngblood has coached at Dunwoody, South Cobb and Thomson since 2018, but he never has won a region championship.

-- Ringgold (7-0, 5-0) has never gone flawless during region play. Well, it has. But in those seasons, the Tigers didn’t play a region game. The team has never won a region title, but it has a chance this season. The Tigers are tied atop the 6-3A standings with No. 9 Rockmart (6-1, 5-0), and the teams will play Nov. 5 for the likely region-title game. Ringgold’s best season came in 2013 when it reached the semifinals and finished 11-3, 6-1 in 5-3A. Since then, the best playoff performance s came with first-round exits in 2014, 2015 and 2018. Coach Robert Akins took over in 2007, and his best finish was the 2013 season. His worst? Two years ago, the Tigers went 0-10, marking Akins’ first winless season since 1989 at Tennessee’s Harding Academy, where he won his only state title in 2003.

-- Cherokee Bluff (7-0, 3-0), formed in 2018, is the wildcard of the unbeatens. The unranked Bears are fledglings in the grand scheme of things but have consistently been on the rise. Coach Tommy Jones led the team to an 0-10 inaugural season, then a 3-7 effort in 2019. Last season, the Bears won 10 games and their first region title and earned the program’s first playoff experience. Cherokee Bluff won 35-7 over LaFayette before losing to Carver-Atlanta in the second round. Jones coached at Lumpkin County (2006-2012) and Dacula before coming to Cherokee Bluff. At Dacula, he won his first three region titles (2014, 2016, 2017), then added last season’s region title with the Bears.

Class 3A top-10

1. (1) Cedar Grove (5-2)

2. (2) Oconee County (7-0)

3. (3) Sandy Creek (7-0)

4. (4) Appling County (8-0)

5. (5) Pierce County (5-2)

6. (6) Thomson (7-0)

7. (7) Monroe Area (7-0)

8. (8) Hart County (6-1)

9. (9) Rockmart (6-1)

10. (10) Ringgold (7-0)