Top teams in highest class get high national praise

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Five Georgia Class 7A teams are in the top 35 nationally in this week’s High School Football America poll after a dominating weekend by most of them in their season openers.

HSFA lists them as No. 4 Buford, No. 13 Colquitt County, No. 23 Mill Creek, No. 28 Walton and No. 35 Carrollton.

Not far off are No. 57 Milton and No. 98 Westlake, and some would say that Parkview, at No. 214, is underrated. The Panthers beat Kell 43-24 last week after leading 36-7.

Class 7A’s top teams certainly set a high standard last week for anyone with pretentions of contending for a championship.

It started at the top with No. 1-ranked Buford, which beat St. Frances Academy of Maryland 18-0 in a game between teams ranked in virtually every top-10 poll nationally.

St. Frances had seven seniors committed to Division I programs, more than Buford, but was shut out for the first time since 2016. Buford QB Dylan Raiola, the five-star recruit committed to Georgia, was 14-of-26 passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

At No. 2 is Colquitt County, which took on South Carolina’s reigning Class 5A champion, Dutch Fork. The Packers dominated, winning 48-17. It was 28-0 at halftime.

Ny Carr, one of two Colquitt County five-star recruits (TE Landen Thomas is the other), had seven receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Neko Fann was 18-of-27 passing for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Colquitt was in the top 25 of six national polls last week and is sure to climb.

Defending champion Mill Creek, another team with multiple national rankings, also was impressive. The Hawks beat North Gwinnett, an unranked but tough customer, 49-14. Cam Robinson rushed for 229 yards (he ran for more than 250 in the 2022 title game against Carollton). Mill Creek’s new quarterback, Shane Throgmartin, was 11-of-17 passing for 143 yards and three touchdowns, two to Trajen Greco, who is committed to Georgia Tech. Mill Creek is ranked No. 3.

Ranked No. 4 is a Walton team that is perhaps its most talented in history. The Raiders beat Buford and made the semifinals last season.

In their opener Saturday, the Raiders walloped Grayson 49-27. Grayson perhaps is down and rebuilding under a first-year coach, but it’s still one that has made no worse than the quarterfinals for five straight seasons.

Walton had a five-touchdown lead in the third quarter before letting up. Jeremy Hecklinski was 16-of-24 passing for 289 yards and four touchdowns to four receivers.

Carrollton, the 2022 runner-up, dropped to No. 5 in the rankings for losing to 2022 Class 6A champion Hughes 39-34. That’s not a bad loss, though. Carrollton had first and goal at the Hughes 2-yard line with 11 seconds left but couldn’t reach paydirt. Ju Ju Lewis was 20-of-30 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown.