Here’s what to look for this weekend in Class AAAAAA –
- The new No. 1-ranked team, Colquitt County, gets its shot on a national stage Friday when the Packers play Hoover, the defending Class 6A champion in Alabama. Both teams are nationally ranked, and both are No. 1 in their own states. Hoover has won two state titles (2009, 2012) since Colquitt coach Rush Propst resigned there in 2007. Propst won five titles at Hoover. Colquitt’s defense was good against Grayson, but the team needs a big game from QB Daniel Mobley to beat Hoover.
- No. 8 Lassiter opens at No. 4 McEachern on Friday as part of a double-header that pits Hillgrove and Walton in the first game. Lassiter has become a Top 10 program for the first time in its history under quarterbacks Hutson Mason and Eddie Printz. But they’re gone, and Lassiter’s current ranking is open to question. Also graduated are star receivers Willie Police, Ryan Jenkins and Juwan Dickey. The Trojans hope Will Anderson, a transfer from Wesleyan, or junior Russell Aarons will be the answer at QB. McEachern looked very good in its 31-10 victory over Brookwood with RB Taj Griffin (154 yards, 10 carries) and QB Ty Clemons (109 on nine).
- North Gwinnett is ranked No. 1 in a couple of polls and might take that spot unanimously if Colquitt County fails to win and the Bulldogs are impressive at Grayson. This is a rematch of North Gwinnett’s surprising 28-10 victory in the second round of the playoffs last year. Both teams have new quarterbacks. Grayson junior Hunter Schuessler was 9-for-15 passing for 50 yards with two interceptions in a 21-6 loss to Colquitt County. North Gwinnett senior Hayden Sphire was 15-for-27 for 206 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 34-14 victory over Camden County.
- The best game that nobody is talking about is Peachtree Ridge vs. Parkview. The Ridge beat Walton last week in the Corky Kell and is ranked in the Top 10 of two polls this week despite a 4-6 finish last season. Parkview, on the other hand, is not ranked in any of six polls despite a 9-4 finish last season. Neither is ranked in the AJC, but the winner here has an outstanding case.
- Valdosta looks vulnerable in its opener at home against Thomas County Central, the No. 8 team in AAAAA. Central returned 10 starters on offense, including AJC Super 11 QB Adam Choice. Valdosta’s quarterback, Cole Massingill, was lost for the season to a knee injury. Valdosta feels good about its defense, which returns seven starters, but the offense is a question mark despite all-state candidates in RB Nelson Herring, RB Malcolm Joseph and WR Alex Cason. The offensive line lost four starters.