1. Buford: Nobody outside Buford wants to hear this, but it’s the truth – The defending champions will be more talented in 2021. Buford’s past two state champions weren’t loaded with major Division I talent in their senior classes. This one will be. RB Victor Venn is committed to Colorado. DB/RB C.J. Clinkscales is committed to Boston College. Jake Pope and Isaiah Bond, the team’s leading receivers who also start in the secondary, each have more than 20 college offers. LB V.J. Payne, LB Malik Spencer and CB Ryland Gandy are Power 5-conference recruits as well. QB Dylan Wittke, a rising junior, also has experience and multiple D-I offers.
2. Hughes: The Panthers were probably 6A’s most underrated team last season. They shut out Region 2 champion Glynn Academy 35-0 in the second round, lost to Buford in the quarterfinals and finished 11-2, their only other loss to Westlake. Five first-team all-region players are back, and that doesn’t include RB Antonio Martin, who played only five games last season (injured) after running for 1,535 yards as a sophomore. He has committed to Georgia Tech. The QB duo of freshman Prentiss Noland and junior Xavier Smith also returns. Both passed for more than 1,200 yards last season, and Smith rushed for 794. OT Bo Hugley and DB Terrance Love are top-100 national recruits in the class of 2023. Love and leading tackler Gannon Weathersby, a linebacker, were two of six sophomores who started or played significantly on defense last season.