Class 6A blog: Allatoona the team to beat as 6-6A begins region play

The Allatoona Buccaneers take the field before the start of a 2018 game. PHOTO/Daniel Varnado
The Allatoona Buccaneers take the field before the start of a 2018 game. PHOTO/Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

If the first two weeks of the high school football season are any indication, the title in Region 6-6A is Allatoona’s to lose.

The chase for that championship begins this weekend, when eight of the nine teams in the region open league play.

Harrison, the 2019 state champion in Class 6A, is gone from the region, moving up to 7A in the GHSA’s recent reclassification. Also gone is 2019 playoff team Dalton, as well as the teams that finished in the fifth, sixth and seventh spots in last year’s standings (Cherokee schools Creekview, Sequoyah and River Ridge). All four of them moved to other region in 6A.

In their place, Kell, Kennesaw Mountain, Lassiter, Pope and Wheeler came on board with holdovers Allatoona, Sprayberry, South Cobb and Osborne to form an all-Cobb County region.

So far, the region has struggled, to put it mildly. Yes, Allatoona beat Harrison 27-17 in the season opener. The other eight teams, however, are a combined 0-12, and only three of those games were decided by fewer than 14 points.

Here’s a closer look at the teams of Region 6:

*Allatoona (1-0): The Buccaneers finished 11-3-1 last season and were the state runners-up. Two of the losses came against Harrison – a 21-17 game in October that decided the region champion and a 20-7 game in the state final. The Buccaneers lost a lot off the offense but return a talented and experienced defense, led by senior DBs Brett Blomquist and Fisher Paulsen and LB Bryson Arnold.

*Kell (0-1): If anyone has a shot at knocking off Allatoona, it’s probably the Longhorns, who move up from 5A after finishing 9-3 in 2019. Kell lost its opener 35-28 to Walton in a game the Longhorns controlled for much of the night. Kell QB Corbin LaFrance was 21-of-33 passing for 271 yards and a touchdown and ran for 57 yards. The Kell game at Allatoona on Nov. 6 could have a lot at stake.

*Sprayberry (0-2): The Yellow Jackets were one of the bigger surprises in Class 6A last year, reaching the playoffs as a third-place team a season after going 3-7. Sprayberry gave up 82 points in season-opening losses to North Cobb and Collins Hill, but those are good 7A teams and might not be an omen of what’s to come. Expect Sprayberry to make its presence felt in the playoff race.

*Pope (0-1): The Greyhounds, playing in Region 7-6A last year, were well-positioned to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season until a season-ending two-game losing streak closed the door. Pope lost its 2020 opener to Walton 34-10 last week. The Greyhounds led after a 61-yard touchdown run by Jasper Merriman in the opening minutes, but Walton took control from there.

*Wheeler (0-2): The Wildcats, a playoff team in 2019 that moved down from 7A, are the wild card. They were picked as the fourth-place team by the preseason Maxwell Ratings computer projections, Wheeler is also off to a slow start, but its losses have come against defending 7A champ Marietta (35-14) and a Dutchtown team (21-7) that was 11-2 and reached the 5A quarterfinals last year.

*Lassiter (0-2): Lassiter, another team that dropped from Class 7A, is going through one of the roughest stretches in program history. The Trojans are 2-20 since the start of the 2018 season, including losses in 2020 against River Ridge and Lambert, which were a combined 3-17 last season. All of that can be forgotten if the Trojans begin region play on the right foot this week against South Cobb.

*Kennesaw Mountain (0-2): The Mustangs have been playing football since 2000 and are still looking for the first trip to the postseason. Part of that was the result of playing in a tough 7A region with the likes of Marietta, McEachern, Hillgrove and North Cobb. They Mustangs aren’t off to a great start in 6A, but they have been competitive in losses to East Paulding and Discovery.

*South Cobb (0-1): The Eagles haven’t had a winning record since going 7-3 in 2012 or reached the playoff since 2011, the final two years of Ed Koester’s tenure in Austell. South Cobb lost its opener to Pebblebrook 40-21 last week. Starting on Sept. 25, the Eagles face a stretch of the schedule that includes games against Allatoona, Pope and Kell that should show whether things are looking up.

*Osborne (0-1): The Cardinals go into Friday’s non-region game against Forest Park riding a school-record 31-game losing streak which began after a 14-8 victory over Forest Park on Oct. 21, 2016. Osborne could use a boost from another non-region victory because it hasn’t won a region game since beating North Paulding in 2011 (Osborne played a non-region schedule from 2014 to 2017).

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