There’s been significant change in Georgia high school football this year, both in the region alignments and the heat rules that have altered how preseason practices get done. Seems most schools wanted to buy themselves an extra week to prepare. In Class AAAA, that meant few official games this week; there are just eight involving AAAA teams.
With that said, there are questions to be answered. Here are a few:
1. Can Carrollton’s Rayvan Teague get his 200th win? Well, yes. Teague, who has had just two losing campaigns in 22 seasons with LaFayette, Swainsboro and Carrollton, is sitting on 199 after going 11-2 in 2011. The Trojans open next week with a home game against Oxford (Ala.), to whom they lost a year ago. Carrollton has won at least 10 games eight times in 10 seasons under Teague, so it’ll get done, but the early portion of the schedule appears cupcake-free. After Oxford, they face a solid Chapel Hill program and then defending AA champion Calhoun.
2. Can Dalton turn the page? Again, yes. There was considerable backstory to the Catamounts’ 4-7 record in 2011, officially their first losing season in 51 years. (By comparison, the state’s winningest program, Valdosta, last had a losing season in 2006.) That record included four forfeited wins. So Dalton went 8-3 on the field, and the forfeits were games they won by a combined score of 178-29. They should be strong again, with QB Cole Calfee and WR Brandon Dale to key the offense and LB Eder Mora and DE Robert Hardaway leading the defense. The Catamounts open Friday on the road against Ringgold, whom they beat 28-16 last year.
3. What’s with the games on college campuses? Neutral-site events for the opening weekend seem to be mushrooming, including a couple involving AAAA teams. Alexander takes on Class AA Bremen in a multigame event at the University of West Georgia. The Cougars have cracked .500 just once since 1997. Wayne County takes on Class AAAAAA Brunswick at Georgia Southern’s Paulson Stadium Saturday. Wayne County is coming off a 4-5-1 campaign in 2011 and hasn’t finished above .500 since 2005.
4. Will 2012 be kinder to Stone Mountain? The Pirates open Friday at Greater Atlanta Christian School in a matchup of teams that missed the state playoffs last year in spite of 8-2 records. Stone Mountain closed 2011 with three straight shutouts (it would have been four but they allowed a safety in the seventh game.)
5. Can we get a darkhorse state title contender? Don’t sleep on Griffin. In what was thought to be a rebuilding year in 2011, the Bears went 9-3 with a team that had a lot of inexperienced players. Under head coach Steve Devoursney, Griffin has won nine or more games in each of the past eight years.