The top ten teams have been chosen and the discussion about their legitimacy has begun. Also under discussion is the notion of when the elite teams will stumble.
Very few teams have the ability to skate through the season without a scare. This year will be no exception. Everyone will likely have to dig deep at least once during the regular season to avoid being picked off.
Here is a look at the preseason top 10 with an idea of when each team can expect to face its earliest challenge.
Buford: Even the mighty Wolves will have an early season test. In the second week they’ll travel to Gainesville, which won a state championship and defeated Buford a year ago. Might want to go ahead and start lining up for this one.
St. Pius: The Golden Lions have numerous questions to answer, particularly at quarterback. But this program isn’t tied to one or two players, which is why Pius has been so successful since Paul Standard became coach. Thomson, which beat Pius at The Brickyard last year, will be the biggest hurdle.
Cartersville: The Purple Hurricanes have one of the smoothest rides to a perfect season. Their non-regular schedule isn’t difficult at all. Their first big test may come when they play back-to-back midseason games at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Gordon Central.
Carver Columbus: The Tigers will face a huge test when they travel to Moultrie to play Colquitt County. It was the only blemish on their regular season a year ago. Colquitt County is ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAAA and has size and numbers – as well as the homefield advantage – in their behalf.
North Hall: The Trojans won the region last year when Buford’s season was lost with an administrational mistake. Their triple option attack looks as strong as ever, but they’ll be tested in midseason when they take a trip to White County.
Washington County: The Golden Hawks open the season with Class A power Eagle’s Landing Christian, part of a very challenging schedule. Waco also plays non-region games with Baldwin, Laney and Lovett before entering into region competition. That’s a difficult path to tread.
Blessed Trinity: Early landmines await the Titans. Right off the bat they travel to Westminster and then turn around and host Lovett. BT’s schedule is definitely front-loaded; they don’t deal with mighty St. Pius until the next-to-last game.
Peach County: The Trojans have an aggressive non-region schedule with road games against Baldwin and Warner Robins. A win in those will set Peach up nicely for a run through until a Region 2 showdown with Carver.
Thomson: The Bulldogs will be tested right off the bat in a non-region game against Burke County, a contest that carries plenty of regional interest. If Thomson gets past that, they’ll have their hands full with a big trip to Atlanta to play St. Pius.
Woodward Academy: The talented War Eagles have a difficult opening game at Lovett, but otherwise
look good until the midseason encounter at Blessed Trinity. This is a team that could find itself moving up the rankings.
See it differently? Where do you see these teams having to fight and claw the hardest?