It is that time again, everyday over the next four months, you can consider this one of your central locations for Georgia high school football information. During the season, each day, I will release The Mooneyham Poll. My rankings inside each classification, with tidbits of info about each team attached.
Here is the schedule leading all the way up to kick off on Friday, August 21st:
Today: GHSA Football, 3A season preview
Friday 7th: GHSA Football, 4A season preview
Monday 10th: GHSA Football, 5A season preview
Tuesday 11th: GHSA Football, 6A season preview
Wednesday 12th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 1A Football
Thursday 13th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 2A Football
Friday 14th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 3A Football
Monday 17th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 4A Football
Tuesday 18th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 5A Football
Wednesday 19th: The Mooneyham Poll…GHSA 6A Football
Thursday 20th: The Top 15 games of the 2015 GHSA football season
Friday 21st: Lineup for kick off. We preview our first 680 The Fan Friday Night Football Game of the Week.
A brief look at the top teams and storylines in 3A Georgia high school football, 2015:
Calhoun’s 2014 state title truly solidified their place in state history and ended much of the debate surrounding their successful run over the last decade; the Yellow Jackets are now 2-5 in state title games, 2005-present. They will begin the season at number one, and may end there too. The Jackets are certainly the favorites to repeat. Dynamic senior quarterback Kaelan Riley returns (2014: 60%/ 2463 Passing Yds/ 23 Tds/ 775 Rush Yds/ 14 Tds). As does senior tight end/defensive end Landon Rice (2014: 68 T/ 8 TFL/ 5 Sacks/ 13 Rec/ 154 Yds / TD/ Auburn commit); and of course, they will show off their stable of running backs. Leading the offensive charge on the line of scrimmage will be senior tackle Jack DeFoor (Ole Miss commit) and guard Drew McIntyre. The Jackets “D” never allowed more than 20 points in a contest last year; with graduation that will change, but they should have enough back on both sides of the LOS to win both slugfests and high scoring affairs.
Cedar Grove. I am higher on these guys than most; and when I say higher, I mean, (Mooneyham clears his throat), I believe the Saints can win the state title. I know they lost two really good players in Cumberlander and Fredrick. However, they return a host of supremely athletic players who can match anyone, including Calhoun, in natural ability. First, you have to mention SR DL Antwuan Jackson. He is 6’2/ 304 and can play his college ball wherever he wants; now rated by every recruiting service in the top 10 for defensive linemen this year. SR RB/DB LaBron Morris (2014: 1200 Yd’s) is primed for a attention grabbing, breakout season. SR ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse (6’3/ 232) is a top 10 inside linebacker nationally, JR OG Netori Johnson (6’5/ 330) has already verballed to Alabama, JR QB Jelani Woods (Pro Style/ 6’5/ 215) is goiong to be D1, and JR DB Tre Shaw (6’0/ 180) is rocketing up ranking boards. It can happen, even with depth issues at other key positions.
If Calhoun slips, and Cedar Grove can’t assume the spot, it could be none other than Blessed Trinty. In fact, BT should, and in my mind is, the most likely to assume the mantle. The Titans are coming off of their greatest year in program history (13-1, Region Champions, lost to Washington County in the state semifinals) and they return four of their top five players, arguably. Senior running back Milton Shelton (2014: 1,356 yards/ 17 touchdowns/ missed four games with injury) has played significant snaps or started since his freshman year. Conner Davis and Garrett DuPuis might be the toughest players an opponent will see all year. Plus, and I mean this as no offense toward any particular coaches, the Titans have Tim McFarlin. Coach McFarlin has championship pedigree and has the pieces laid into place exactly how he needs them. They will play smart, hard and with passion. In a year where 3A could be up for grabs, the intangibles could serve as the tie-breaker.
Washington County’s 2014 team will be one of my all-time greatest, non-state title winning teams. They were so deep; and now, so much of that talent has graduated. The Golden Hawks were 38-4 over the last three years with consecutive title game losses. The word out of East Georgia is they have another couple of young backs they love and the defense will be solid. Still, it is extremely difficult to replace someone like AJ Gray, one of the best two-way players in this state’s history.
Peach County could be one of the more hotly debated teams in pre-season, regardless of class. On one hand, the Trojans lost three-year starting running back Keyshawn Lowe, two-year starting quarterback Robert Allen and defensive end Marquise Price. On the other hand, they return senior defensive back Tyrique McGhee, three offensive linemen, two stud linebackers, and they add Coach Campbell’s brother, Lee, to his staff as DC. The boys from Fort Valley could be championship contenders; or out in the first round, like last year.
Last year, the Westminster Wildcats delivered one of the more underrated, surprise seasons, in any class, in the state. They finished 12-2, defeated Lovett, Laney (twice), Elbert Co, Central-Carrollton, and Hart Co; before falling to Calhoun 19-8 in state semifinals. The diminutive junior Zay Malcome will be returning to the back field to scoot and shift his way around the state. Plus, Gerry Romberg’s squad will have at their disposal one of the top legs in America in senior Blake Gillikin. They will need to replace quarterback Rankin Wooley and hard-hitting linebacker Charlie Trense, but the balance of both sides of the LOS should be adequate.
Let’s preview five teams at once, inside of what will be a tremendously entertaining Region 8. Of these five teams, everyone should be ranked at some point this year, and someone is going to have a really good year and be left out of the playoffs. Oconee County could be the sleeper contender in 2015 for a deep playoff run. They should start the season 6-0. Then, they play Morgan County, Hart County, Jefferson, and Elbert County; in that order. Oconee County will lose less talent than any of these teams. Senior linebacker Jaleel Laguins and senior quarterback Zeb Noland could both be top five players in the region. Jefferson could be just shy of rebuilding. The Dragons will certainly be a playoff team; even with quarterback Evan Sherriffs, WR TJ Skelton, RB Sammy Williams, WR Dalton Hill all graduated. Meanwhile, Elbert County returns one of the top 50 athletes in the country, in Mecole Hardman; but head coach Sid Fritts needs to find him some help. Hart County loses Cameron Fouch from the quarterback position, Sean Harper at wide out and two high impact defenders. Finally, Morgan County has First Team All-Region running back Trey Chapman and junior defensive end MJ Webb both returning for 2015.
Tomorrow: GHSA Football, 4A season preview