There are 12 new schools playing football this season. GHSF Daily ranks how they’ve fared (the teams’ records reflect only games considered varsity contests).
1. Grovetown (5-2): The Augusta-area school in Columbia County has seven seniors and 20 juniors with varsity or junior varsity experience, most of them from Harlem High. Among them is Seth Hill, who is looking for his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Grovetown has beaten more established schools in Pacelli and Allatoona. The Warriors even took on Buford but lost 51-0. They play Northside of Warner Robins on Oct. 17. Rodney Holder, who has been an assistant at Greenbrier, is Grovetown’s head coach.
2. Lambert (3-0): Lambert, which took all of its students from South Forsyth, has beaten news schools River Ridge (24-7), Johns Creek (42-7) and Locust Grove (17-3). Lambert is coached by Sid Maxwell, who helped build Sequoyah from scratch in the 1990s. Lambert has ninth- through 11th-graders and an enrollment of 1,350, so it should be ready to compete against a region schedule in 2010. Maxwell had 137 players out for spring practice. The Maxwell Ratings rank Lambert as stronger than Grovetown.
3. Mountain View (2-0): Many would predict Mountain View to be the new school most likely to succeed. It is cut from the districts of Collins Hill, Mill Creek and Dacula and figures to have the support of a fairly affluent and football-hungry constituency. It has victories against Archer (29-22) and Johns Creek (48-27). Mountain View’s coach is Tim Hardy, a former quarterback and assistant coach at Wheaton College.
4. Archer (0-1): Archer hasn’t won a game, but it played Mountain View closer than Johns Creek, and there’s a logical order of who has beaten whom that would suggest Archer is ahead of most new programs. Remember that Archer is getting about 40 percent of its students from Grayson, the No. 1 team in Class AAAAA. Archer’s head coach is former Mill Creek assistant Andy Dyer.
5. Johns Creek (2-2): The new school in north Fulton County has beaten Langston Hughes twice (24-12, 23-15) and lost to Lambert (42-7) and Mountain View (47-27). Its coach is Mike Cloy, who was 107-88-1 in 19 seasons at Centennial (1997-2004) and North Springs (1980-90). He started the Centennial program. Johns Creek has about 1,100 students but is built for 1,850. It takes from Chattahoochee and Northview.
6. Langston Hughes (1-5): The Panthers have only one victory (26-6 over Arabia Mountain) but have lost to Grovetown twice and even dared play powerful Brooks County of Class AA. That was a 61-12 road loss. But comparative scores indicate that Hughes is a little ahead of the teams below it. Hughes is drawing from Creekside and Westlake, which should ensure a wealth of talent through the years, as those districts have produces scores of college players. The coach is Willie Cannon, a former Creekside assistant.
7. Locust Grove (3-2): Locust Grove is coming off a 27-6 victory against North Murray in which a freshman, Blayne Christian, returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown. Locust Grove is a Henry County school that took from Ola and Luella. It already has 11th-graders so could be ready for region play next year. The coach, Clint Satterfield, was 12-20 in three seasons at Jonesboro, his alma mater, which was winless the season before he arrived.
8. Drew (1-2): Drew got its first victory last week, 20-6 over Arabia Mountain. The Titans have lost to Marion County (21-0) and Locust Grove (20-13). Drew is a Clayton County school that takes mostly from Riverdale and Mount Zion. Its coach is Jarrett Laws, who led Mount Zion to the Class AAAA quarterfinals last season.
9. Arabia Mountain (1-3): Arabia Mountain is DeKalb County’s newest school and will get students from much of DeKalb, perhaps mostly from M.L. King and Lithonia. New DeKalb schools have done pretty well in recent years, with M.L. King being the shining example. Arabia Mountain’s lone victory was against Walnut Grove (29-13). Its coach is Christopher Beal, formerly an assistant at Johnson of Savannah.
10. Walnut Grove (1-3): The Warriors got their victory against River Ridge (56-0) last month. Walnut Grove is Walton County’s third high school and draws from Monroe Area and Loganville. Its coach is Harris Rainbow, a former head coach at Worth County and Riverwood.
11. North Murray (1-1): This is Murray County’s second high school. There are only ninth- and 10th-graders, and enrollment is about 750, making it smaller than most of the new schools. North Murray got its victory against River Ridge (34-6). North Murray’s coach is Larry Cornelius, who had been an assistant at Murray County.
12. River Ridge (0-3): The new school in Cherokee County has only ninth graders, so it was projected to have the weakest team out of the gate. It got its students from Woodstock and Sequoyah, schools that have been ranked this season, so there’s reason for optimism. The coach is Robert Praucht, formerly the head coach of Pine Ridge in Florida.
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