Week 1 highlights: 6 defending champs, No. 1-ranked teams lose openers

Six defending champions or No. 1-ranked teams lost Friday in the first busy night of games in the Georgia high school football season.

Going down were champs Grayson, Pierce County and Prince Avenue Christian along with No. 1-ranked Rabun County, Brooks County and Eagle’s Landing Christian.

Buford, the only defending champion that started No. 1, survived, winning 35-27 against North Cobb, the No. 3 team in Class 7A. Buford, the reigning 6A champion, scored all of its points in the second half.

The night’s most stunning result was the fall of Grayson, beaten 19-14 by Creekside, the 10th-ranked team in Class 5A. It was Creekside’s biggest win since its championship season of 2013.

Grayson was a 37-point favorite, according to the Maxwell Ratings, but the computer model didn’t take into account Grayson’s heavy graduation losses. Only about six starters returned from a 14-0 team generally regarded as the state’s best in any classification.

Pierce County, the 3A champion, lost to Brunswick 20-13. Brunswick is a 6A playoff team but lost to Pierce County 31-10 to open the 2020 season.

Calvary Day knocked out Prince Avenue Christian 21-13. The 2020 Class A Private winner, Prince Avenue Christian is without all-classification player of the year Brock Vandagriff, now at Georgia. Prince beat Calvary Day 42-7 last season, but Calvary is no slouch. The Savannah private school went on to reach the semifinals last year.

Rabun County, Brooks County and Eagle’s Landing Christian each lost to bigger schools. Rabun County, in fact, lost to another No. 1 team, Jefferson of 4A. The Dragons won 22-13 in a game featuring AJC Super 11 players Malaki Starks of Jefferson and Gunner Stockton of Rabun.

Brooks County, the No. 1 Class A Public school, lost to 2A’s No. 4 team, Thomasville, 35-21. Brooks County beat Thomasville 20-14 last season and made the state finals.

ELCA, No. 1 in Class A Private, lost to Woodward Academy, a 5A school, 17-14. ELCA beat Woodward Academy 14-0 last season.

Fifteen other Georgia teams lost Friday, but only three of those losses entailed a lower-ranked team beating a higher one or a smaller school beating a larger one.

One was Harrison’s 25-17 overtime victory over No. 6 Allatoona in a rematch of the 2019 Class 6A championship.

The others were unranked Emanuel County Institute of Class A Public beating A Private’s No. 6 team, Savannah Christian, 28-21, and No. 8 Flowery Branch of 4A beating 5A’s No. 8 team, St. Pius, 21-14.

Among the rest, the most impressive victory probably was No. 2 Trinity Christian’s 59-7 decision over No. 4 Athens Academy in an A Private game. Trinity Christian was the class’s runner-up to Prince Avenue Christian last season. One of the best games was No. 5 Colquitt County’s 28-25 comeback victory over No. 8 Marietta in Class 7A.

The opening weekend of the season continues Saturday with 16 games, including five at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as part of the Corky Kell Classic.