Football rankings: 3 reigning champs No. 1; Grayson on top in 7A

Cedar Grove celebrates its victory over Crisp County in the state championship game last season. Cedar Grove begins the 2020 ranked No. 1, although the Saints won't begin their season until October as DeKalb County Schools have delayed their teams from playing games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caption
Cedar Grove celebrates its victory over Crisp County in the state championship game last season. Cedar Grove begins the 2020 ranked No. 1, although the Saints won't begin their season until October as DeKalb County Schools have delayed their teams from playing games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Credit: Photo: John Amis

Credit: Photo: John Amis

Only three defending state football champions will start the year ranked No. 1 as reclassification will make things a bit harder on the 2019′s best teams.

Cedar Grove in Class 3A, Eagle’s Landing Christian in 1A Private and Irwin County in 1A Public are the reigning champs that return as No. 1 in the preseason Atlanta Journal-Constitution rankings. Each returns a good core of its 2019 starters.

Cedar Grove has won three of the past four state titles in 3A. ELCA has won a state-record five straight, Irwin has four preseason all-state players back from the ’19 team that won its first state title since 1975.

“This team has all the tools to be special,” Irwin County coach Casey Soliday said. “It could be as good as last year.”

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In 7A, Grayson is No. 1 while defending champion Marietta is No. 8. Grayson, which defeated Marietta in the 2019 regular season before reaching the state quarterfinals, has five preseason all-state players.

Marietta graduated eight players who signed with Power Five conference teams, including, including Gatorade national player of the year Arik Gilbert. Lowndes, the 2019 runner-up, is ranked No. 2. That doesn’t mean Marietta and other rebuilding 2019 champions won’t still be factors.

“We’ve built a strong program,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “A lot of the guys you’ll be hearing from this year were second-team guys in the past. I feel they’re ready to step up.”

The defending 6A champion, Harrison, was moved into 7A and is unranked. The Hoyas are replacing 16 starters.

The No. 1 6A team is Valdosta, now led by former Colquitt County coach Rush Propst. The Wildcats made the quarterfinals last season and have two receivers who had more than 1,000 yards receiving last season. They also have an intriguing new quarterback, Jake Garcia, a Southern Cal commit who moved from California after his state pushed its season into winter.

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Georgia’s defending 5A and 4A champions also were moved up in class.

Buford, the 5A champ, is ranked No. 3 in 6A while Warner Robins, a state runner-up the past three seasons, nabbed the No. 1 ranking in 5A. Warner Robins returns quarterback Jalen Addie, the 5A offensive player of the year in ’19.

Blessed Trinity, the three-time 4A champion, is ranked No. 2 in 5A and remains a serious threat.

Marist begins No. 1 in 4A. The War Eagles have made the quarters, semifinals and finals the past three seasons under coach Alan Chadwick, who is within striking distance of 400 victories. In his 36th season at Marist, Chadwick is 386-73.

In 2A, state champion Dublin and runner-up Brooks County are now in 1A. Rabun County, which has never won a state title, starts No. 1. Rabun junior quarterback Gunner Stockton, recently committed to South Carolina, threw for 3,473 yards last season.

Brooks is ranked No. 2 in 1A behind Irwin. Dublin, which suffered heavier graduation losses, is ranked No. 4.

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Class 7A

1. Grayson

2. Lowndes

3. Parkview

4. Colquitt County

5. North Gwinnett

6. Camden County

7. Archer

8. Marietta

9. McEachern

10. Mill Creek

Class 6A

1. Valdosta

2. Lee County

3. Buford

4. Carrollton

5. Rome

6. Dacula

7. Westlake

8. Richmond Hill

9. Allatoona

10. Douglas County

Class 5A

1. Warner Robins

2. Blessed Trinity

3. Woodward Academy

4. Cartersville

5. Coffee

6. Ware County

7. Veterans

8. Jones County

9. Dutchtown

10. Clarke Central

Class 4A

1. Marist

2. Jefferson

3. Bainbridge

4. West Laurens

5. Flowery Branch

6. Troup

7. Stephenson

8. Hapeville Charter

9. Mays

10. North Oconee

Class 3A

1. Cedar Grove

2. Crisp County

3. Peach County

4. Sandy Creek

5. Oconee County

6. Greater Atlanta Christian

7. Hart County

8. Pierce County

9. Burke County

10. Dawson County

Class 2A

1. Rabun County

2. Callaway

3. Thomasville

4. Fitzgerald

5. Pace Academy

6. Lovett

7. Washington County

8. Swainsboro

9. Bleckley County

10. Jefferson County

Class 1A Private

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian

2. Athens Academy

3. Prince Avenue Christian

4. Wesleyan

5. Holy Innocents’

6. Fellowship Christian

7. Hebron Christian

8. Christian Heritage

9. Savannah Country Day

10. Darlington

Class 1A Public

1. Irwin County

2. Brooks County

3. Clinch County

4. Dublin

5. Mitchell County

6. Pelham

7. Marion County

8. Wilcox County

9. Lincoln County

10. Commerce

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