Preseason football rankings: Hughes, Schley County join four 2021 champs at No. 1

Four 2021 champions begin the Georgia high school football season ranked No. 1, and two schools that have never won state titles are on top, too.

The returning champions are Warner Robins in Class 5A, Benedictine in 4A and Cedar Grove in 3A, plus Buford, the 2021 6A champion now playing in 7A.

Those starting No. 1 seeking their first state titles are Hughes in 6A and Schley County in the new Class A Division II.

The other preseason No. 1 teams are Eagle’s Landing Christian in 2A and Prince Avenue Christian in Class A Division I.

The football season begins this week with more than 200 games scheduled.

Buford, a winner of three consecutive state titles and 13 this century, is playing in the highest classification for the first time. The Wolves have five college prospects rated as four or five stars, led by AJC Super 11 running back Justice Haynes.

Buford will be in the same Region 8 as defending champion Collins Hill, which must replace all-class player of the year Travis Hunter, now at Jackson State, and all-state quarterback Sam Horn, now at Missouri. Collins Hill is ranked No. 6.

Hughes, the 2021 runner-up to Buford, is ranked No. 1 for the first time in the south Fulton County school’s 14-season history. Super 11 offensive lineman Bo Hughley and quarterback Prentiss “Air” Noland lead the Panthers.

Warner Robins, starring Super 11 defensive tackle Vic Burley, can win its third consecutive title in 5A, and Benedictine, in 4A, can win its fourth championship in 10 seasons. Cedar Grove is going for its fifth title in seven seasons in 3A.

In 2A, defending champion Fitzgerald starts No. 2 behind classification newcomer ELCA, moving up from Class A Private. ELCA has four senior three- or four-star recruits. The rest of Class 2A has six.

Class A no longer has public and private divisions but is divided into I and II based on enrollment. Prince Avenue, the 2020 private champion, starts No. 1 in Division I ahead of 2021 public champion Brooks County. In Division II, Schley County will chase its first state title in its 23 seasons.

These are the rankings with the teams’ 2021 win-loss records:

Class 7A

1. Buford (14-1)

2. Grayson (10-4)

3. Colquitt County (8-3)

4. North Cobb (10-2)

5. Mill Creek (11-2)

6. Collins Hill (15-1)

7. Brookwood (10-3)

8. Lowndes (10-3)

9. Walton (9-4)

10. Milton (13-2)

Class 6A

1. Hughes (13-2)

2. Lee County (11-2)

3. Rome (8-3)

4. Roswell (10-3)

5. Woodward Academy (11-1)

6. Marist (10-2)

7. Northside, Warner Robins (9-4)

8. South Paulding (8-3)

9. Douglas County (8-4)

10. Blessed Trinity (9-5)

Class 5A

1. Warner Robins (14-1)

2. Creekside (11-3)

3. Cartersville (11-1)

4. Calhoun (12-3)

5. Jones County (10-3)

6. Jefferson (9-2)

7. Ware County (9-2)

8. Clarke Central (10-3)

9. Coffee (8-3)

10. Cambridge (9-2)

Class 4A

1. Benedictine (13-2)

2. North Oconee (10-4)

3. Cedartown (11-2)

4. Perry (11-2)

5. Trinity Christian (14-0)

6. Whitewater (11-2)

7. Bainbridge (9-4)

8. Troup (8-3)

9. Holy Innocents’ (11-2)

10. Starr’s Mill (8-4)

Class 3A

1. Cedar Grove (12-3)

2. Crisp County (9-3)

3. Carver-Columbus (13-2)

4. Carver-Atlanta (11-3)

5. Oconee County (10-2)

6. Calvary Day (12-1)

7. Sandy Creek (9-2)

8. Peach County (8-4)

9. Dougherty (10-3)

10. Monroe Area (11-1)

Class 2A

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian (7-7)

2. Fitzgerald (13-2)

3. Appling County (12-2)

4. Pierce County (11-3)

5. Fellowship Christian (12-2)

6. Callaway (10-3)

7. Rockmart (9-2)

8. Putnam County (12-1)

9. South Atlanta (11-2)

10. Washington County (5-5)

Class A Division I

1. Prince Avenue Christian

2. Brooks County

3. Rabun County (11-2)

4. Irwin County

5. Metter (13-1)

6. Swainsboro (11-3)

7. Bleckley County (11-1)

8. Whitefield Academy (6-5)

9. Darlington (11-2)

10. Lamar County (6-4)

Class A Division II

1. Schley County (10-2)

2. Macon County (11-1)

3. Wilcox County (10-4)

4. Turner County (6-7)

5. Bowdon (10-2)

6. Clinch County (3-7)

7. Charlton County (7-4)

8. Lincoln County (8-4)

9. GMC Prep (10-1)

10. Johnson County (7-4)