There isn’t enough room get put everyone in the preseason rankings. They are mostly based on the results from the previous year. That’s a good indication of what to expect, since many of the same programs are competitive year after year.
Here are five teams that could be ready to jump into the Class AAA rankings if – and when – any of the top 10 stumble for the first time.
Callaway cracked the top 10 at the end of last season when they finally got around to sewing up the Region 4 championship. The Cavs lost the opener to Heard County and ran the table with a solid mix of offense and defense. Led by linebacker Keshun Freeman, a Georgia Tech commitment, they are again the favorite to win an otherwise average league. Callaway will be tested by Heard, which is led by Duranta Dunson, who rushed for 1,622 yards and 24 touchdowns last year.
North Oconee has won two straight region titles and built a program with a lot of pride. Despite losing all-state all-everything back Nick Colvin, the Titans may have the league’s best running back in Kawon Bryant. He hurt his ankle early last year and still managed to rush for 1,174 yards and 14 touchdowns. Much will be expected from quarterback Tate Adcock, who split time at the position last year and threw for 738 yards and seven touchdowns.
Pierce County scored more than four touchdowns in eight of its 10 regular season games last year. The Bears return starting quarterback Tyler Harris, an honorable mention all-state choice last year. Harris, who has committed to SMU, is one of the top pro-style quarterbacks around and could wrack up a lot of yards and points in an average region.
Ringgold has an outstanding quarterback returning in Slade Dale, who has already committed to play baseball at Georgia. Dale, who threw for 1,268 yards and 16 touchdowns and also ran for 1,000 yards last year, has two excellent receivers in Kile Sholl and Christian Plott. But the defense has to show a lot of improvement; giving up 30 points, as the Tigers did in their five losses last year, won’t cut it.
White County made great strides in its second season and made the playoffs under coach Bill Ballard, who was a big-time winner at Tucker and Peachtree Ridge. The Warriors were competitive against everyone except big dogs Buford and North Hall. This year they’ve got nine defensive starters back, including linebacker Dalton Whitfield.
Others to watch include Elbert County, Appling County, Adairsville, Gordon Central and Cedar Grove.
Who else looks like they could be a threat to break into the rankings in the early part of the season?