Seeking respect: Georgia’s 10 unbeaten, unranked teams

There are 10 Georgia football teams that are unbeaten and untied but also unranked by GHSF Daily and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Most of them have critical games this week. Three of them are playing other unbeaten (but ranked) opponents.

Here is a closer look at the 10. Also included are the computer Maxwell Ratings’ projection of each’s team’s final victory total for the regular season and the strength of schedule for games played to date.

Bowdon (6-0)

It’s hard to believe that Bowdon hasn’t won a region title since 2005. That’s the longest drought of its kind for this school in 30 years. Bowdon is averaging 49.5 points per game and was impressive in a 35-12 victory over Manchester, avenging a 2012 loss and giving Bowdon its first win in the series. That made the Red Devils the prime challenger to Heard County in Region 5-AA.

Projected wins: 9.11

Strength of schedule: 51st of 62 in Class AA

Day of reckoning: Bowdon plays defending 5-AA champion Heard County (4-1) on Nov. 8.

Etowah (6-0)

The Eagles beat previous-No. 9 Milton 24-15 last week and improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1987, but they were snubbed in the rankings in favor of five teams with losses. Much was made of some missing Etowah players last week, but backup RB Raishod Devezin rushed for 342 yards. Region 5-AAAAAA’s 0-for-4 performance in the playoffs last season works against Etowah in the rankings, but the school’s first 10-0 regular season is a real possibility under Dave Svehla, who came to Georgia in 2011 after leading teams to the playoffs in Illinois and his native Nebraska.

Projected wins: 9.07

Strength of schedule: 48th of 63 in Class AAAAAA

Day of reckoning:

Etowah lost its final three games last season to Woodstock, Walton and Lassiter. The same gantlet awaits.

Liberty County (6-0)

Liberty County is 6-0 for the first time since the coastal Georgia school opened in 1993. LB/RB Raekwon McMillan is No. 1 on GHSF Daily’s Player of the Year Watch. DB/WR Richard LeCounte has an offer from Florida as a freshman. Schedule strength is a question, though, and a mere two-point victory last week over Glenn Hills is not promising for a team that is looking at Top 10 opponents Statesboro and Wayne County the next two weeks.

Projected wins: 7.10 (out of 9)

Strength of schedule: 73rd of 77 in Class AAAA

Day of reckoning: Liberty County plays at fourth-ranked Statesboro (6-0) on Friday.

McIntosh (5-0)

McIntosh is one victory from its first winning season since 1995. Last week, McIntosh rallied from a 21-7 deficit in the second half to beat Mundy’s Mill 28-27, blocking an extra-point attempt with 1:03 left to seal it. McIntosh’s coach is Lee Belknap, who was on the staff at Starr’s Mill for three region championship teams (2000, 2002, 2005). Belknap came to McIntosh in 2008 to be defensive coordinator and was promoted to head coach in 2011.

Projected wins: 6.57 (out of 9)

Strength of schedule: 69th of 75 in Class AAAAA

Day of reckoning: McIntosh plays at home Friday against Whitewater (5-1). Whitewater beat McIntosh 48-13 last season.

Mount Pisgah Christian (5-0)

Mount Pisgah, a private school in Alpharetta, made the playoffs last season for the first time since joining the GHSA in 2006 and finished 6-5. Defensive coordinator Mike Forester was promoted to replace Doug Dixon, who left to lead a small school in Savannah. Forester, part of three state championship teams as defensive coordinator of Briarwood Christian in Alabama, has moved the program forward. The Eagles’ 29-10 victory over Class AA Model (4-1) is a good one. Even better perhaps was the 17-16 win over Our Lady of Mercy. Pisgah trailed 16-0 at halftime and won on Chase Clark’s 21-yard field goal.

Projected wins: 7.97 (out of 9)

Strength of schedule: 46th of 72 in Class A

Day of reckoning: Mount Pisgah plays at Mount Paran Christian on Oct. 25.

Northwest Whitfield (5-0)

Caleb Shiflett threw five touchdown passes for the second consecutive game last week against Heritage of Ringgold, only this time he did it in less than 15 minutes. His fifth TD pass – a 10-yarder to Clay Phillips – came with 9:16 left in the second quarter and gave Northwest a 42-0 lead. Shiflett threw five against River Ridge on Sept. 27. The Bruins are 5-0 for the first time since 2007, when they finished 9-3.They won their only region title in 2000. This season, 7-AAAA is perhaps the hardest region to predict in the state.

Projected wins: 8.16 (out of 9)

Strength of schedule: 68th of 77 in Class AAAA

Day of reckoning: Northwest Whitfield plays at home Friday against Dalton, which has won six straight and 10 of the past 11 in the series.

Pacelli (5-0)

Head coach Randy Grace was Pacelli’s defensive coordinator from 2002 through 2004, when the Vikings were 28-7, won two region titles and beat arch-rival Brookstone three consecutive times. In Grace’s three seasons back, Pacelli has improved from 1-9 to 4-6 to 5-0. And Pacelli just beat Brookstone for the first time since 2004. The team’s three leading rushers and 12 of the top 13 tacklers are underclassmen.

Projected wins: 6.97

Strength of schedule: 72nd of 72 in Class A

Day of reckoning: Pacelli plays at ninth-ranked Marion County (5-0) on Friday.

Rabun County (5-0)

Lee Shaw left Flowery Branch, where he averaged 10.5 wins from 2005 through 2011, to return to his alma mater, Rabun County. In year one, Shaw led the Wildcats to their first winning season since 2000. This year, Rabun County’s average score is 53 to 5.4. Known for his spread offense, Shaw has found a pretty good quarterback in Wes Holcombe (57-of-85 passing, 956 yards, 14 touchdowns). And while their schedule is rated the weakest in Class AA, the Wildcats had a 28-0 victory over Commerce, a team that proceeded to beat Top 10 team George Walton Academy 31-21 the next week.

Projected wins: 7.94

Strength of schedule: 62nd of 62 in Class AA

Day of reckoning: Rabun County plays defending Region 8-AA and state champion Jefferson on Friday.

Richmond Hill (5-0)

The Wildcats have improved their season victory total for five consecutive seasons – 1-9 to 2-8 to 3-7 to 4-6 to 6-4 to 8-3. Now, they’re 5-0, same as last season when Richmond Hill lost to Effingham County 16-14 on a touchdown in the final minute. That rematch is Friday. Richmond Hill is a run-oriented team. QB Nick Fitzgerald, committed to Mississippi State, has rushed for 513 yards on 58 carries and scored or passed for 19 of the team’s 27 touchdowns. Richmond Hill’s coach, Lyman Guy, got the job in mid-season of 2009. He won state titles at Robert Toombs Christian in 2003 and 2004 in the Georgia Independent School Association.

Projected wins: 8.74

Strength of schedule: 75th of 75 in Class AAAAA

Day of reckoning: Richmond Hill plays at defending 3-AAAAA champion Ware County on Oct. 18, but this week’s game against Effingham County (4-1) is big, too.

Washington (5-0)

A year ago, Washington got its first ranking in seven years after a 5-0 start but lost to Grady and Carver and finished fourth in Region 6-AAAA. So coach Rodney Hackney, in his fourth season at Atlanta’s oldest high school, doesn’t mind being ignored in the rankings this time. This is a team with only one blue-chip recruit (RB Antavius Rowe has an offer from Marshall) but a big chip on its shoulder. Six starters on defense transferred in the offseason. “We looked at it as motivation,” Hackney told GHSF Daily on Monday. “I told our players that was a slap in the face, that you’re not good enough for them to play with. They took it that way. Our kids didn’t blink and came ready to work in the offseason.”

Projected wins: 7.91 (out of 9)

Strength of schedule: 77th of 77 in Class AAAA

Day of reckoning: Games with Grady on Friday and Carver on Oct. 25 are big, but ultimate respect would be earned in a Nov. 8 region championship game and a possible meeting with Marist.

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One comment Add your comment

John

October 8th, 2013
10:32 am

Unless things have changed since last year, Region 6-A won’t have a championship game and thus Mt. Pisgah and Darlington won’t play on November 8. They use a 1 v 4 and 2 v 3 format on that week with the region title going to the team with the highest power ranking. The format doesn’t make sense but that is the region ’s choice.