Three surprises in high school football, three teams to watch

Three surprises

Norcross: The Blue Devils are ranked No. 7 in Class AAAAA at 5-0, which matches the total number of wins from last season (5-5). Quarterback Matt Poole, after missing last season with a shoulder injury, is one of the state's best-kept secrets, completing 44 of 68 passes for 582 yards and six touchdowns. Norcross has 36 seniors on the roster. "I am excited about how we have started the season off," coach Keith Maloof said. "The road ahead just gets tougher, and we can't be satisfied with what we have done." Next up for Norcross? No. 2 North Gwinnett and No. 3 Peachtree Ridge.

Kell: Everybody predicted the No. 4 Longhorns would be good after moving down to AAAA, but not necessarily 5-0 good. Kell opened the season with a stunning upset over Grayson in the Corky Kell Classic -- the only Cobb school to win against Gwinnett teams in the four games. AJC Super 11 selection Brian Randolph has rushed for 325 yards and six touchdowns, while registering 85 tackles on defense. Dual-threat quarterback Austin Petrik has completed 41 of 69 passes for 519 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for nearly 200 yards.

Allatoona: The third-year school is less than a minute away from being undefeated, losing to Dalton on the road with 19 seconds remaining. Allatoona (3-1) opened the season with a win over a AAAAA school (Kennesaw Mountain) and upset then-ranked Ridgeland. Miles Jones has rushed for 564 yards and 10 touchdowns, while K.B. Maison leads the defense with 55 tackles. Said coach Gary Varner, "I think maybe we caught some teams off guard. We're a new program, and we probably took advantage of them maybe not looking at us as a difficult team."

Three to watch

Grayson: The Rams (3-1) suffered heavy losses to graduation after spending most of last season ranked in several national polls. No one is quite sure what to make of the Rams. Quarterback Nick Schuessler is one of the state's more accurate passers, completing 69 percent of his passes for 577 yards and six touchdowns. "We lost a lot of good players," coach Mickey Conn said. "We have a lot of good players [with] very little experience. They are growing up fast and really starting to come together as a team. The boys are learning to trust each other and play hard for one another."

Chattahoochee: The Cougars are 4-0 and have a good chance at an undefeated regular season. Quarterback Timmy Byerly has completed 29 of 40 passes for 685 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 281 yards and six touchdowns. Teams are running away from noseguard Barron Dixon, who is being recruited by Arkansas and Tennessee. However, Dixon still has 31 tackles, including three for losses, along with two sacks. "Our senior leadership has been outstanding, and defensively we are playing much better," said coach Terry Crowder, explaining the reasons behind the team's start.

Mays: Even though the Raiders are 5-0, they get overlooked. That's what happens when you play in the same region (6-AAAA) with state powerhouses Tucker and Marist. Mays, which has posted two shutouts, is off this weekend before its showdown with Tucker next Friday and plays Marist on Oct. 29.

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