Preseason rankings: Five ‘12 champions start No. 1

Five of seven 2012 state champions start the new season ranked No. 1 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s preseason rankings.

The season begins this week with 56 games, six that match Top 10 teams.

Defending their titles and starting No. 1 are Norcross (Class AAAAAA), Gainesville (AAAAA), Sandy Creek (AAAA), Buford (AAA) and Eagle’s Landing Christian (A).

Emanuel County Institute, the Class A public champion, is No. 2 behind ELCA. Class A rankings include public and private schools, although they compete in separate state playoffs.

The only other 2012 champion not ranked No. 1 is Jefferson, which returns seven starters on both offense and defense but must replace all-state quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, now at N.C. State. Also gone is retired coach T. McFerrin, a 300-game winner who was succeeded by offensive coordinator Ben Hall

Calhoun, which is 57-3 over the past four seasons, got the No. 1 spot in AA.

The other reigning state champions return most major ingredients.

Norcross, which is ranked as high as No. 2 in national rankings, brings back 16 starters, including defensive end Lorenzo Carter, an AJC Super 11 pick who is rated the No. 1 college prospect in the state. Norcross will open Saturday at home against Booker T. Washington of Miami in an ESPN-televised game between consensus top-five nationally ranked teams.

Gainesville, coming off its first-ever state title, is led by Super 11 quarterback Deshaun Watson, who holds the state record for career passing yards.

Sandy Creek returns a 2,000-yard passer (Cole Garvin), two 1,000-yard rushers (Eric Swinney, Delvin Weems) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Super 11 pick Demarre Kitt). Sandy Creek is ranked No. 5 in one national ranking.

Buford has a Super 11 pick in linebacker Korie Rogers, one of more than 10 major college prospects suiting up for the Wolves.

ELCA returns its starting quarterback in Dalton Etheridge and a D-1 prospect in defensive end Andrew Williams.

Games between ranked teams Friday are Blessed Trinity at Westminster, Burke County at Thomson, Eagle’s Landing Christian at Washington County and Woodward Academy at Lovett.

On Saturday, the Corky Kell Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome pits No. 4 North Gwinnett against No. 5 Camden County and No. 2 Colquitt County against No. 10 Grayson in AAAAAA games.

Only about one in three preseason No. 1 teams win state titles. Sandy Creek was the only one to start and finish No. 1 in 2012.

Class AAAAAA

1. Norcross

2. Colquitt County

3. Lovejoy

4. North Gwinnett

5. Camden County

6. McEachern

7. North Cobb

8. Lowndes

9. Lassiter

10. Grayson

Class AAAAA

1. Gainesville

2. Tucker

3. Stephenson

4. Northside-Warner Robins

5. M.L. King

6. Ware County

7. Whitewater

8. Kell

9. Thomas County Central

10. Flowery Branch

Class AAAA

1. Sandy Creek

2. Carrollton

3. Burke County

4. Marist

5. Stockbridge

6. Cairo

7. Monroe Area

8. Griffin

9. Ridgeland

10. Monroe

Class AAA

1. Buford

2. St. Pius

3. Cartersville

4. Carver-Columbus

5. North Hall

6. Washington County

7. Blessed Trinity

8. Peach County

9. Thomson

10. Woodward Academy

Class AA

1. Calhoun

2. Lamar County

3. Jefferson

4. Greater Atlanta Christian

5. Brooks County

6. Fitzgerald

7. Westminster

8. Lovett

9. Heard County

10. Vidalia

Class A

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian

2. Emanuel County Institute

3. Prince Avenue Christian

4. Dooly County

5. Lincoln County

6. George Walton Academy

7. Wilcox County

8. Savannah Christian

9. Wilkinson County

10. Athens Academy

117 comments Add your comment

Coach

August 18th, 2013
11:14 am

Why is Stephenson and Colquitt ranked so high?/

Gamer

August 18th, 2013
11:58 am

You are being very generous to Northside-WR based on previous seasons. The team to beat this year in Warner Robins is: The WR-Demons. They should be in the top ten. Northside should be in the 12 through 15 rating position.

rwdekalb

August 18th, 2013
2:39 pm

3 teams from region 6 in the top 10.

gradyhigh

August 18th, 2013
3:01 pm

what about GRADY HIGH?

eaglesnation1

August 18th, 2013
3:16 pm

gamer,the eagles are reloaded and ready,we run warner robins…..

BcS2010

August 18th, 2013
4:01 pm

I respect the rankings for 5A.. But tucker is the best team and will in state!! They beat #4 ranked Marist 24-3 in the scrimmage and they are big,fast and elisha shaw didnt even play!! This tucker team is something special and will show it this year!

Hey Now

August 18th, 2013
4:02 pm

What about Grady? Another weak non-region schedule, easy early region games — leading to regular complaints about lack of AJC respect — and then late season losses, maybe another early playoff exit, if they are lucky That’s about it.

WarEagle

August 18th, 2013
4:07 pm

@BcS2010 — it was a scrimmage. Players missing on both sides. That said, was fun to watch Tucker — their defense will be tough. Expect a lot from the Tigers this year. Hoping for a lot from the War Eagles too!

BcS2010

August 18th, 2013
4:16 pm

@WarEagle…. Yes true and I like y’all QB this season he was number 15 I think and I think y’all are a good team but I really love my tucker tigers this season!

Just a Fan

August 18th, 2013
5:03 pm

Got to agree with the AAAA rankings although I think that after SC at #1 the rest is a tossup.

FanMan

August 18th, 2013
5:14 pm

@gradyhigh…how did Grady do in their scrimmage with Mays?

Camden74

August 18th, 2013
6:00 pm

Could there be a bit of proof reading in order?

“Five of seven 2012 state championships start the new season ranked No. 1 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s preseason rankings”.

Why is Colquitt ranked above Lovejoy? Oh, I forgot, it’s preseason rankings…… :-)

HSFB Follower

August 18th, 2013
6:09 pm

Grady beat Mays 27-6 in scrimmage.

FanMan

August 18th, 2013
6:30 pm

Thanks HSFB Follower. Grady 27 Mays 6 is a bit of a surprise even for a scrimmage. Expectations are always high at Mays but even more so this year after they dismissed their coach. Could anyone post other scrimmage scores of note from the weekend?

rwdekalb

August 18th, 2013
6:36 pm

Mlk 40-6 over Cedar Grove. N Gwinnett 9-0 over Stephensen. SWD 55-25 over Newton Co.

TomDawg

August 18th, 2013
7:13 pm

Why is Dooly Co and Lincoln Co ranked so high? Really?

Carver Panther 1

August 18th, 2013
7:13 pm

All this discussion about Grady and Mays. Carver beat both last year in route to a 9-2 season. This year should be more of the same in the regular season but we are poised to take the next steps in the playoffs this year. We are finally getting the talented kids that were leaving their area to play at those other schools. In addition to that we have big time players transferring in. It is a new day at Carver. We are probably in the top 15 and when the dominos start falling we will be in the top 10 shortly.

Creek Rising!!!

August 18th, 2013
7:20 pm

Scores don’t mean much in scrimmages, but Sandy Creek crossed the goal line about 7 or 8 times in 3 quarters against Starr’s Mill which leads me to believe they are ready. Carrollton has a great team this year. They have improved greatly from last season and could very well win it all. Won’t be a surprise to see Monroe Area or Burke County advancing deep into the playoffs, but I am looking forward to seeing what Cairo does this year.

Dekalb23456

August 18th, 2013
7:42 pm

Westlake 25 Miller Grove 0

YELLER JACKETZ1

August 18th, 2013
7:47 pm

GO CALHOUN !!!!

camdenfan2013

August 18th, 2013
7:57 pm

After the Classic on Saturday be prepared to move Camden County up a spot. Speed kills.

blu eagle

August 18th, 2013
8:11 pm

Well NSWR has been down graded this year, that Eagle spirit may take over just like it always does whether they graduated 38 and the kitchen sink or not!

Class A Fan

August 18th, 2013
8:11 pm

Please, please, please…create separate Class A Private and Public rankings as they play separate state championships. Why are you mixing them now more than one year in to the separation.

Sportsnut

August 18th, 2013
8:17 pm

This is a surprise. Maybe the prognosticator heard about the scrimmage that saw Lovejoy put up 43 with varsity players, in 3 quarters. The Jv. ended 14-0 Lovejoy, who took over playing the 4th quarter.
Total final score, Lovejoy 57, Peachtree Ridge 21.

Jeff Turner

August 18th, 2013
8:37 pm

Going to be a great year! Sandy Creek is going to be a tough team to upend in AAAA, but I think my Carrollton Trojans will give them everything they want this season. Looking forward to it

FB FAN

August 18th, 2013
8:57 pm

What’s the review of the Stephenson/North Gwinnett scrimmage? Is Stephenson ready this year?

Camden74

August 18th, 2013
9:02 pm

Camdenfan2013……Do you know where Travis Johnson ended up? I thought he was a Jr. last season, but I was told he was a senior. Release the CATS!

BcS2010

August 18th, 2013
9:06 pm

Region 6 5A with 3 teams in the top 5!! It’s gonna be another great year!

Coach

August 18th, 2013
9:12 pm

People need to stop underestimating Grayson!!!! They were big headed and under pressure last year. This is still a dangerous team.

Stud

August 18th, 2013
9:24 pm

How did Chamblee do in its scrimmage?

Dawg

August 18th, 2013
9:30 pm

Grayson graduated 21 or 22 starters and is ranked in the top 10??? Please explain Todd.

trojan power

August 18th, 2013
10:00 pm

Carrollton is loaded. Sandy creek is loaded. Top 2 teams in AAAA. In the same region. Wow! But guess wat? Sandycreek has to come to Grisham Stadium this year on the turf. Not many survive!! Were gone take that national ranking.

Big lou

August 18th, 2013
10:25 pm

Benedictine will be the big surprise in AA.

is1396

August 18th, 2013
10:40 pm

How did Lamar get ranked so high? They beat BC (Benedictine) by 3 points on a Game Winning Field Goal. Vidalia beat BC by 5 points. Better watch out for BC! Go Cadets!

Todd Holcomb

August 18th, 2013
10:52 pm

”Grayson graduated 21 or 22 starters and is ranked in the top 10??? Please explain Todd.”

Grayson has been a Top 10 program for 6-7 years now. I don’t think they’re going away. I’d bet 8-AAAAAA coaches would still vote them the team to beat.

”How did Lamar get ranked so high?”

It’s a semifinal team that lost to Calhoun by 7 in the final four and returned its three best players, all pledged to Georgia Tech.

re: Benedictine – They got consideration for Top 10. I know a lot of people are picking them to win their region.

re: Class A – These are classification rankings. The GHSA classifies them together, so the AJC (and the AP and GPB) ranks them together. Not saying you don’t have a point, but nobody is choosing to rank them separately. It’s also consistent with how things were done last season. S. Thomas Coleman’s Class A blog, which should start next week, may break them down separately. I know that he did last season.

WildHawg2012

August 18th, 2013
11:06 pm

Well its about that time!! Good luck to all and Grayson we are on the way!!! And when u guys show up at the dome make sure u bring coach with u so he can see why we are ready for this season. Go Pack Go!!!

Ugabulldogs1123x

August 18th, 2013
11:55 pm

North Gwinnett actually beat Stephenson 9-7

Stephenson scored late on a fourth & goal

And North Gwinnett’s touchdown was on defense

Jefferson

August 19th, 2013
6:40 am

Go Jackets 15 to go

FayetteCoFan

August 19th, 2013
8:26 am

My prayers goes out to the Turman family. Went to Sandy Creek/Starr’ Mill scrimmage on Thursday and SC offense is really strong got all kinds of weapons to beat you with and the defense didn’tn have a bad showing either. Defense was a little to aggressive and the secondary is going to be alright.

Titletown USA

August 19th, 2013
8:31 am

Man, this is shaping up to a be a stellar season for Georgia HS football, we are truly blessed as fans and I wish every success, and more importantly safety. I often hate the phrase, “putting things into perspective” because they should already be there, but the loss of that young man this past weekend really fits at this point. I even second guessed my decision to allow my 8 yr to play rec league.

I have been reading the UGA and Falcons blogs and I have to say that the leve of dialogue on those threads are totally inferior to the discussion on the high school site…ironically, you have a more mature outlook and discussion on here and I hope it stays that way.

Just a Fan

August 19th, 2013
8:42 am

Creek Rising- You are right-Carrollton is much improved this season but SC will still be a big favorite when the two meet. If a defense revamped in some areas steps up big it could get a lot closer. Good choice on Stockbridge- also Monroe area could be a factor if they have the complete team to go with 2 outstanding backs.

Camden 79

August 19th, 2013
8:43 am

Camden 74 Travis Johnson is a Senior this season, he looked pretty good friday in the scrimmage, a little work to do but I think we’ll be competative, lot’s of speed on both side’s of the ball….The new era has begun, Ga. Dome bound on Friday…………

Just a Fan

August 19th, 2013
8:44 am

Sorry-I meant Burke Co but Stockbridge can still be a factor.

Camden74

August 19th, 2013
9:20 am

Camden 79…..Thanks, but if I’m not mistaken, it was Anthony Johnson that had a pretty good showing at the scrimmage on Friday. Remember, there were two Johnsons on the defensive line. #s 47 and 45. Go to YouTube to see Travis’ recruiting video. I thought both of them were Juniors last year, but I was told yesterday that Travis was a senior last season. So I was just wondering what happened to him, because at 6′ 3″, 234, with good strength, speed and quickness, some school should have given him a scholarship.

The CATS are a bit young this season, but they seem to be really fast and really physical. Can’t wait to see what they look like on Saturday……Thanks again! RELEASE the CATS!!!! :-D

Jusfellofftheturniptruck

August 19th, 2013
9:28 am

Well said titletown, couldn’t agree more. I often watch a lot of high school games from field level and the speed and intensity of the game has really picked up over the past 5-10 years. Every play has the potential of serious injury, or worse.

Camden 79

August 19th, 2013
9:35 am

Camden 74 I do believe you are correct, man could you believe all the speed that kept coming into the game and I was told this morning Kalvarezz Bessent has “INGTPMB” SYNDROME don’t know how long that’s gonna last just hope he wake ’s up if you get my drift!!!!!!!!!!!

kramers2009

August 19th, 2013
10:05 am

Lovett has an incredibly brutal schedule again this year. They play ranked teams from higher classifications in their first 6 games. Then finish with two more ranked teams in their own region ranked higher than them in AA. Going to a be a rough slate for a good team that always seems to be there in the 3rd round.
Opponents in order:
Woodward (#10 AAA); Blessed Trinity (#7 AAA); Marist (#4 AAAA); St Pius (#2 AAA); Fort Payne, AL (#10 AAAAA – went 10-1 last year); Washington Co. (# 6 in AAA); Westminster (#6 in AA); GAC (#4 in AA).

That Dude Says...

August 19th, 2013
10:11 am

In AAAA everybody is just playing for runner up this year. Sandy Creek has AAAA on lock this year.

MIGHTY LION KING

August 19th, 2013
10:23 am

Guud preseason scrimmage for Mlk with a 40-6 victory over cedar grove..but their is still morebwork to be put in.. congrats to the Top 10 preseason picks, a lil bit bias if u ask me but who cares,thats what the regular season and the state championship is for..Go 6-5A and Go Lions !!!

LION NATION/THE DOMINATION!!!!

ALL TUCKERRED UP

August 19th, 2013
10:41 am

I do not think Marist did bad. They moved the ball in the 1st half. It wasn’t until Tucker Scored on that pass play at the end of the 2nd quarter did Tucker start to dominate. I think both have some things to hang their hat on. Which is the way you want it!!!!!!!