Question of the day for the blog –
What are the five most interesting things about the season ahead in Class AAAAAA?
Here are my answers, or questions, as it were:
- Will Norcross make a run at a national title? Or maybe the first question is whether Norcross will win the state title. Grayson was ranked No. 1 by one national poll a year ago and fizzled out. But Norcross, ranked in the top six of six polls, is the only Georgia team (AAAAAA) in good position to win a national title, which hasn’t been done by a Georgia team since 1992 (Valdosta). Norcross opens Saturday vs. B.T. Washington of Miami, the No. 1 team in USA Today. On paper, this Norcross team could be special. There are 16 starters back, a half-dozen major Division 1 recruits and couple of key move-ins at the positions most hurt by graduation (QB, TB). Sure would be good to see the Blue Devils knock out the BTW and stay in the hunt.
- How will Camden County do? I expect the ‘Cats will be fine, as usual, but it’s been a while since a top school lost a coach that had the success that Jeff Herron had – three state titles in 13 seasons. The successor is Welton Coffey. There are lots of teams with intrigue, but this one stands out to me.
- What stars will emerge this season? There aren’t as many marquee players returning in AAAAAA as last season, guys such as Tyren Jones, Robert Nkemdiche, Eddie Printz, Josh Dobbs. This season, the rushing and passing leaders are more unknown. Nine of the Top 10 teams have new starting quarterbacks. North Cobb’s Tyler Queen is the only one who was a full-time starter in ’12. None of the Top 10 has a running back who was considered for all-state last season. Who will be a star in 10 weeks? Jeremiah Kirkland of Lovejoy? Taj Griffin of McEachern?
- Who will the surprise teams be this season? Preseason rankings are unreliable, especially in the highest classification. In defense of preseason rankings, the No. 1 team in preseason wins the title almost one-third of the time, but they’re still just guesses. Remember that Norcross was unranked in preseason a year ago. Lovejoy was No. 7. In 2011, eventual champ Grayson was No. 5. In 2010, Brookwood was unranked. Not saying an unranked team will win it, but an unranked team will be a major factor. Who will it be? Mill Creek? Parkview? Valdosta? Walton? Hillgrove?
- What Top 10 team won’t be a factor at all? In 2012, there wasn’t a bad case of this. Preseason No. 4 Walton faded, but only after injuries took a toll. No. 8 Alpharetta was good, but not special. All of the Top 10 teams performed reasonably well. Not so sure this season because of there was more turnover in personnel. Ranking Grayson at No. 10 drew some fire. The Rams lost 21 starters and seven D-1 signees. No. 9 Lassiter lost its best two players in QB Eddie Printz and WR Willie Police, and that was after losing in the first round last year. Lovejoy lost its best two players in RB Travis Custis and LB Nathaniel Norwood. Inevitably there is one team that can’t pick up the pieces. Who will it be?