Who’s the favorite in AAAA? Carrollton coach weighs in

By David Purdum / For the AJC

On Nov. 1, No. 2 Carrollton hosts No. 1 Sandy Creek in the game of the year in AAAA. But Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague isn’t sure that either of those Region 5 rivals is the best team in the classification.

“I think people are putting too much stock into either Sandy Creek or us and not putting enough stock into a Griffin or a Monroe Area,” said Teague. “I think it’s wide open. I think the competition in AAAA is way up this year. “

Teague’s Trojans are 5-0, heading into a tough Thursday game at Troup. Teague is in his 12th season at Carrollton. He visited with me this week about what he believes is the most talented team he’s had at Carrollton and how AAAA might posses the most talent of any classification.

Q: What stands out to you about this year’s team?

Teague: It does have the most Division-I caliber athletes that we’ve had on one teams since I’ve been here. We’ve got five that’s already committed, and there’s a couple more that has a chance to play at that level. Probably from projected Division I athletes, we have more than normal. A lot of our really good teams have had zero or maybe one or two, but to have five-plus, that’s something new for us. This past winter was pretty hectic around here.

(The five Carrollton players committed to Division I schools are: DT Dontavius Russell, Georgia, TE Cole Cook, NC State, OT Jake Sanders, Duke, P/K Tyler Newsome, Notre Dame, DE Brandon Walton, Appalachian State).

Q: Your talent seems very equally distributed throughout your team. Is this your most balanced team as well as your most talented?

Teague: We knew offensively that we’d be pretty good this year. We had nine starters coming back. We felt like the offensive line would be one of our strengths. We played without four starters on offensive line against Oxford, and were without three of them against Chappell Hill. We didn’t get the full starting lineup in there until two weeks ago when we played Columbus.

Defensively, we graduated six guys, on the defensive line in particular. What we ended up doing was rolling some of those offensive guys to the defensive side of the ball; either doing away with them on offense or alternating them on offense.

The kicking game last year, the kickers did a great job, but the kicking team units kind of let us down. We fumbled the ball in the kicking game against Calhoun several times and it cost us. We gave up a kickoff return and a long punt against Oxford, and it cost us. In the Sandy Creek game last year, we had two snaps go over our head and it cost us. This year, they’ve been really solid. Of course, we put a lot of work into it. We have some experience back.

Q: Eight different players have scored rushing touchdowns this season. Three players—Trey Chivers, Malik Sheppard and Jarvis Terrell—have more than 300 yards rushing. How do you get everyone involved?

Teague: That’s one reason we’re in the wing-T, so we can spread it around. Both wing backs and our fullback get the ball. The fullback is usually the featured back in the wing-T, but in this year’s version, all three are capable of doing the work, so we’ve been able to mix it up well there.

Our quarterback, Will Garrett, has done a great job throwing the quarterback, and we have some guys doing a great job of catching the football. We’ve been able to be a lot more balanced.

Q: You have yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. What’s impressed you the most about your defense so far?

Teague: Our kids have really taken well to the coaching, playing pretty good technique. We’ve got some size up front. We’re not huge, but we’ve got some decent size up front.  The secondary we thought was going to be a strength and it has been. We’ve got some depth back there, some kids have come through. Malik Sheppard is a three-year starter at strong safety, so he’s got a lot of big-game experience.

The secondary play has been solid, which has helped us against the run, because the fact that we can actually lock people down on the backend, allows us to do more up front. We’re playing 3-4 and 4-3. We’re probably more of a zone (coverage) team than we are a man team, but we’re able to get some more people down in the box and involved in the run when necessary because we’re not scared of the matchups outside.

We actually have three corners that alternate in there. Taylor Johnson and DeAntoine Cammons are the two returning starters. Johnson was hurt and didn’t play in the first three or four games. Another young man, Dante Wigley, came on and had a pick-six the other night. He’s done a great job. So now we have two to make three.

Q: It’s three weeks before the Sandy Creek game, the biggest game of the year in the classification. How do you approach the build-up to that game?

Teague: If we don’t do what we’re supposed to weekly, it won’t be such a big game when we get there.  Obviously, this week against Troup, they’ve established themselves as a legit threat. They tested Sandy Creek last week. Within this region, Troup, LaGrange and those folks we still have to play.

Our main thing is to try to stay healthy, but continue to try to get bigger, stronger, faster in the weight room and on the track. Try to continue to get more and more physical, without getting them busted up at the same time. So that we can be at our best when we do play the better teams

The playoff bracket, I don’t think there is a good one from where we’re coming from. I think first or second has their work cut out for them. The two seed has a really tough bracket that the way it’s shaping up right now, it looks like our second-place team could run into an undefeated Monroe Area team in the second round. And our first-place team runs into an undefeated Griffin team in the third round. Either way, you’re going to play the top teams probably before you even get to the semifinals. It’s a tough bracket.

I think AAAA has a really good, competitive field. I think there are probably six or seven teams that could beat anybody on any given night.

Q: If you look around AAAA, an argument could be made that this classification has as much or more college talent than any other classification. Agree?

Teague: If you look at it, obviously AAAAAA has the numbers, but year in and year out, AAAA is like that. I think it’s the size of the schools, where you still have a lot of the larger community schools that are involved in it, and those are the towns that are involved in it and put a lot of emphasis on it, have great tradition and support. The kids really buy into it, and that’s where you’re talent is developed at the very best. It seems like AAAA is always that way.

Q: How would you define the rivalry between Sandy Creek and Carrollton?

Teague: We’ve had some very competitive, but they’ve come up on the winning side three of the four meetings. We’ve only won once, so I don’t know if it’s a rivalry until the series is even. Right now, they’ve been able to whip us in the majority of the meetings.

The games have been close. We beat them in the first meeting. They turned around and beat us in a pretty close game the second time. Of course, the third time was for the state championship and they beat us with us fumbling on the six-inch line.

Last year, they had their way with us. They were better than us. We were young, inexperienced. They hammered us pretty good, even though the score was 30-7. It was close into the first half, until the two bad snaps. It was still a pretty dominating performance by them. I thought they were by far the best team in the state last year and played like it. The offense that they have coming back, with the skill kids they got, they’ve got to be the heads-on favorite. I don’t know if anyone can stop them. You might can slow them down a little bit, but you’re not going to stop them.

The question mark is about the defense, but, without two or three of their better kids, but when they get them all back, they’re still going to be Sandy Creek. They’re going to be fundamentally sound, fast, aggressive, strong. They’re going to be hard to dethrone.

I still wonder about Griffin, as well. My eyes are on Griffin, Monroe Area, Sandy Creek and then I never count out Marist. Obviously, Statesboro and Wayne County have good teams, and Burke County has (QB Donquell) Green. He keeps them right in the middle of everything. There are seven or eight teams that can eek their way into it. I think Stockbridge has a good team. But probably the team I’ve been most intrigued with so far has probably been Griffin. I know what kind of athletes they have and what they had last year and what they do offensively and defensively and so I’m intrigued by them a lot. And Monroe Area has as good of skill players as anyone in the state, and they have some size and experience coming back. The question with them is what their defensive unit was going to do, because offensively they can play with anybody. Now, you say all that and then Marist consistently knocks off teams and works their way through the bracket.

28 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

October 8th, 2013
11:15 am

It will be something to see.

hollywoodraiders

October 8th, 2013
12:49 pm

Enter your comments here

Trojan56

October 8th, 2013
12:51 pm

Good job. Great Q&A. Can’t wait til Nov. 1. Hope both teams take care of business until then.

hollywoodraiders

October 8th, 2013
1:02 pm

carrollton we are proud of you guys,but there is much work to do.loving the 3-4 4-3look over tradional 50base and loving more balanced offense have to change with the times.keep up the good work coaches great job and your leader.it dnt matter if everybodysays in AAAA everybody playing for seond.as long as yall dnt think so goodluck!

manblk22

October 8th, 2013
1:30 pm

Finally seeing some balance by the Trojan coaching staff. I’ve seen film on the top teams on in AAAA .Carrollton is the only offensive balance team other than Sandy Creek. If you can’t pass and run. You want win the state championship.

Just a Fan

October 8th, 2013
1:52 pm

Sandy Creek is the champion until proven otherwise but the next four-Carrollton,Griffin,Monroe&Statesboro all look like contenders. It is hard to judge the strength of 1 region against another until the playoffs.

True Fan

October 8th, 2013
2:36 pm

Hey Just a Fan i am from Griffin i Agree with you.

Old Bear

October 8th, 2013
2:36 pm

Sandy Creek, Carrollton, Griffin, and Statesboro are the top 4.

BEARMAN

October 8th, 2013
3:13 pm

I’m one of Griffin’s biggest fans and I will say a BIG IF…If we can stay healthy with no big injuries I think we will contend for a state title. But you have 4 or 5 teams that I will say that have a big chance also:Sandy Creek,Carrollton and Stateboro are the front runners along with Griffin. I was at Griffin in 1978 and I think this team is as good as that team if not better with a lot of potential D-1 players and maybe a few NFL players. But you have to have a little bit of luck and the marbles to fall your way to win a state championship. Good luck to your teams and as our P.A. announcer says Gentlemen start your engines!

Patriot Power

October 8th, 2013
5:48 pm

If we can get all of our defensive players back and healthy, we (Sandy Creek) should be in good shape for the Carrollton game. We might be considered the underdogs in that game since Carrollton has looked so good this year.

TROJAN FAN

October 8th, 2013
6:11 pm

Carrollton has not been tested at all this year. Worries me a little. 1 seed or 2 seed .AAAA playoffs should be fun this year.

Just a Fan

October 8th, 2013
6:28 pm

Looks like #1 seed will see Griffin in round 3 and #2 seed will see Monroe Area in round 2(speaking of region 5).It worries me too that Carrollton starters have not been able to get a lot of quality playing time having had 4 of their 5 games use the “mercy” rule. Looks like Troup could be the biggest test since Oxford Al. It would surprise me if there were any wide margins in scores among these top 4 or 5 teams. Dont write off Stockbridge or Burke Co. yet either.

That Dude Says...

October 8th, 2013
6:46 pm

I take all this with a grain of salt when any coach has certain questions like this asked to him. I’ll agree with him on Griffin and Marist. Those two programs like Carrollton are strong year in and year out. I wouldn’t be to worried about Monroe Area. Sandy Creek beat them like a drum last year (35-0). I just can’t see them being a legit contender to the throne.

Creek Rising!!!

October 8th, 2013
9:44 pm

I’m a believer in Griffin this year and I definitely wouldn’t want to play them on their home field in the playoffs. Monroe has serious speed this year so they can pull off the upset. I love the Creek, but they haven’t shown up on defense yet this season. We got beat up pretty bad physically against Plant and have been nursing injuries ever since. If Carrollton can run on Creek, which I believe they can this year, they will win easily Nov.1. I’d love to see the Carrollton vs Griffin matchup, but its a shame that it would take place in the third round. By the way, I saw Statesboro manhandle Burke County. BC got their only score with 3 minutes left, but they were totally dominated that night, so don’t sleep on Statesboro.

FirstDownCreeek!!

October 8th, 2013
10:40 pm

the Sandy Creek @ Carrollton should be televised on GPB that Friday. It is going to be a GREAT GAME! Winner of that game goes into the state playoffs with a lot of confidence. Creek should be healthy and with their full complement of players on defense. The college scouts will be all over the place that night!

Trojan94

October 9th, 2013
2:29 am

This is just a four team race carrollton sandy creek griffin and statesbroro. Really can’t see anybody else winning state outside of these four teams……@firstdowncreeek!! I agree scouts will be falling out the sky into grisham stadium that night.

Trojan94

October 9th, 2013
2:36 am

@TROJAN FAN I was thinking the same thing but outside of sandy creek griffin and statesbroro haven’t really been tested either.

WarEagle

October 9th, 2013
6:03 am

@Trogan94 — Statesboro was tested and passed vs Burke. Griffin was tested and passed vs Stockbridge. Just 1 game, but it counts for something. As for the 4-team race comment, we’ll see — a lot of football yet to be played.

Just a Fan

October 9th, 2013
8:33 am

War Eagle-you have it right on the testing-all top 4 teams have been tested at least once with Sandy Creek probably having the toughest schedule. Also there will probably be upsets in the playoffs-Cant discount Marist untill its over. Mary Persons still an unknown quality& Monroe Areas only question is defense having played a weak schedule. Looks like some of the top 10 will exit early.

DDSTODD

October 9th, 2013
11:52 am

Oxford was a big time game, as they have lost only two games one to Carrollton and one to Clay the number two ranked team in Alabama, and Oxford had the lead most of that game. Both Carrollton and Clay are listed on the top 25 in the southeast list. Calhoun has only lost to Carrollton their only loss in the regular season in the past 55 games! Will be interesting to see how we play vs Troup as Sandy Creek shut them out 21-0 last week.

Trojan94

October 9th, 2013
12:34 pm

Guys everything you guys are saying I already know who played who. But out of those four teams how many got tested for the whole entire game the only team is sandy creek everybody else dominated there toughest opponents so far. As far as my four team race comment stockbridge have never won one of those statement games that makes you take them serious same can be said about Monroe area liberty co and a few others marist and burke co could make a push but marist lost to Lovett now either Lovett is that good or marist lost some major talent from last year’s team as for burke co they have two losses both by teams with top talent on there teams so when they where tested they lost that gets me down to my top four and from what it looks like i’m not the only one who thinks that..

Trojan94

October 9th, 2013
12:40 pm

Could I be wrong sure but my opinion is my opinon just like everybody else have an opinion.

TROJAN FAN

October 9th, 2013
6:11 pm

Really like that everyone has reasonable opinions. No one freaking about rankings or polls. One game at a time( cliché ) 5 more before any of this matters. Having said that, really want go to the Dome.

Trojan '85

October 9th, 2013
6:30 pm

I would like to add something but Coach Teauge said enough. Well said Coach.

Creek Rising!!!

October 9th, 2013
6:31 pm

Being a fan of Sandy Creek, I can attest to the fact that we have had some pretty good offensive teams lately, but it has always been our defense that got us to the dome. Though the talent is there, I don’t see the effort of the championship teams. I see the team that lost to Gainesville. Creek is primed for the upset this year. My hope is that upset comes during the regular season and can be used as a wake up call.

badbrad

October 10th, 2013
6:11 am

I agree Creek Rising. For both Walkers, Rodney and Chip, defense has been the mainstay but it is missing that edge this year. Every week is a shootout, granted our fire power has been sufficient thus far. Plant was a good test and we had to fight for our lives to break even on that one. I hate that the Carrollton game is the night before the GA-Fla game as I will miss it to be in Jax. Should be one to remember.

Trojan '85

October 10th, 2013
9:15 pm

Carrollton 42-0 just before half time and we botched a punt in the redzone giving the any easy score. 49-6 at the end of the 3rd qtr when removed all starters and Troup put put a late touchdown against the JV with all of their starters still in the game. Really looking foward to Sandy Creek vs Carrollton.

Trojan '85

October 10th, 2013
9:17 pm

Final score 49-13 Carrollton.