Here are some of the things we learned about Class AAAAA on Friday:
- Don’t play the Red Elephants when they’re angry: Defending state champion Gainesville was coming off a humbling 38-14 loss to Class AAA Buford, and the Red Elephants took out their frustrations on Winder-Barrow in a 68-0 rout. Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson passed for 310 yards and four touchdowns, ran for a touchdown, and became the first career 10,000-yard passer in state history. It was a slight improvement from last year for Winder-Barrow, which lost 69-0 when the teams met in 2012.
- Downs making a difference: Creekside was a playoff team in 2012, but the 7-4 record and first-round exit marked the sixth consecutive season in which the former top 10 program failed to advance in the postseason. Riverdale’s Olten Downs was hired in the offseason to replace interim coach Aaron Whittington, and now Creekside is 3-0 after beating Tri-Cities 33-17. Creekside, which was 1-2 at this point last season, is likely to be 5-0 when it begins subregion play in 4-AAAAA Division B on Oct. 4 at Starr’s Mill.
- The true test awaits New Manchester: The Jaguars (4-0) already have doubled the school record for victories in a season and have knocked off a playoff contender in North Paulding, but we’ll find out whether the third-year program is a legitimate playoff threat in the next three weeks. That’s when New Manchester faces a stretch of games against East Paulding, Rome and Allatoona, the top three teams in 5-AAAAA last season. New Manchester has two shutouts in four games this season and has outscored its opponents 127-43.
- Southwest DeKalb has a pulse: The Panthers avoided their first 0-3 start since 2002 by escaping with a 14-7 victory against Lakeside-Atlanta, which is 2-21 since the start of the 2011 season. Southwest DeKalb now turns its attention to next weekend’s opponent – Mays – in what will be a crucial game in the 6-AAAAA playoff race. Tucker, Stephenson and M.L. King are likely to take three of the region’s berths, and the Southwest DeKalb-Mays winner will have the upper hand in the battle for the other spot.
- Bainbridge has an offense: The Bearcats managed a 1-1 start to the season despite failing to score a touchdown in a 3-0 victory over East Gadsden, Fla., or a 6-0 loss to Cairo. Bainbridge finally ended the drought in the second quarter on Friday when Preston Norris threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Shuwon Gardner. That opened the door to a 26-0 Bainbridge victory against Early County. The Bearcats’ defense has allowed just two points per game and held Early County to 159 yards, according to the Albany Herald.