Collins Hill victory over Peachtree Ridge: It happens in Gwinnett

In a county with good football, it happens.

Peachtree Ridge, unbeaten and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA, lost 14-10 Friday night at home to Collins Hill, a team that was 2-3.

Surprising, not shocking, if you’ve followed Gwinnett football.

“You just knocked off the No. 3 team in the state, on their field, in their black jerseys,’’ Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach told his cheering team afterward. “That there proved we can play with anybody in the state, but you’ve got to believe.’’

Gwinnett County football is having a big year in Class AAAAA and Collins Hill epitomizes why.

The Eagles were ranked briefly after a nice win over Roswell, a team that many think will win Region 6-AAAAA.

But close losses to M.L. King and Brookwood pushed them off the radar, except in Gwinnett, where eight teams have been ranked in the state’s top 10 of AAAAA at one point or another.

Aside from Peachtree Ridge and Collins Hill, the top 10 has seen North Gwinnett, Norcross, Grayson, Dacula, Brookwood and South Gwinnett.

The list doesn’t include Parkview, the former flagship program of the county, although the Panthers aren’t bad, either. They went overtime in a loss to Stephenson, the DeKalb County team many think will win Region 2.

“There are probably 10 teams in Gwinnett right now that you can say are really good football teams,’’ Dacula coach Kevin Maloof said this week before his ninth-ranked team’s game against No. 10 Grayson on Friday, a 16-10 Grayson win. “Really good teams are not going to make the playoffs.’’

The rise of high school football in Gwinnett County has been told many times — the population boom, the migration of outstanding coaches, the feeder programs. Tradition aside, Gwinnett is outpacing the rest of metro Atlanta in the highest class with sheer numbers.

In 2009, the Georgia High School Association raised the cutoff for AAAAA to 1,900 students. For that reason and others, 18 schools dropped into AAAA and several were pretty good at football. Three of them — Northside of Warner Robins, Kell and Chattahoochee — are ranked in AAAA this week.

None of the 18 that moved down came from Gwinnett, which provides 17 of the 61 teams in a newly diluted AAAAA.

Eight of those 17 are among the 10 biggest schools in Georgia. The two that aren’t from Gwinnett — Lowndes and Camden County — have won five of the past six AAAAA titles. Not that coaching and tradition didn’t play a role, but size helps, too.

This week, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge were ranked No. 2 and No. 3. Norcross, Grayson and Dacula also were ranked, meaning fully half the top 10 resides in Gwinnett.

“It’s loaded with talent, and it’s good coaching,’’ Reach said. “Look at the top 10. We have, what, five or six teams? Week in, week out, anybody can win.’’