Sandy Creek safety Javon Jackson leads a stingy Patriots defense to Auburn, Ala. Friday against one of Alabama's top teams. (PHOTO: Gabriel Stovall)

PREP FOOTBALL Predictions: ELCA, Sandy Creek, Mundy’s Mill have ‘statement game’ opportunities this week

Big performances from ELCA linebacker Chase Burdette, left, and running back Trevor Gear could help the Chargers compete against Class AAAA No. 1 Woodward Academy. (File)

Big performances from ELCA linebacker Chase Burdette, left, and running back Trevor Gear could help the Chargers compete against Class AAAA No. 1 Woodward Academy. (File)

Jonesboro and quarterback Zerrick Cooper will try to notch just its third win over Griffin in 43 tries Friday. (PHOTO: Michael Clifton | www.kombatkamera.com)

Jonesboro and quarterback Zerrick Cooper will try to notch just its third win over Griffin in 43 tries Friday. (PHOTO: Michael Clifton | www.kombatkamera.com)

Lovejoy coach Ed Carson is in the midst of a tough non-region schedule, but is still pointing his team toward improvement for region play. (File)

Lovejoy coach Ed Carson is in the midst of a tough non-region schedule, but is still pointing his team toward improvement for region play. (File)

Say it ain’t so.

The 2015 high school football season is almost at its midpoint already. It just goes too fast, doesn’t it?

So far it’s been an exciting year, full of long-playing story lines, upstart teams trying to fit into the November/December Cinderella slipper and the emergence of some of Georgia’s biggest football talents coming from right under our noses in the four county area.

Lots to talk about in this big, fat football notebook. But before we get to predictions, let’s take a peak at the latest Georgia Sportswriter’s Association Rankings, and compare the cumulative results with how I voted.

Class AAAA still sees Sandy Creek and Jonesboro holding fast in the rankings. Spalding is gaining momentum, Stockbridge maintains its season-long spot in Class AAAAA and ELCA and Landmark are among Class A’s best, a month away from their Region 5-A clash.

Here’s this week’s GSWA high school football poll:

Georgia Sports Writers Association High School Football Poll

CLASS AAAAAA

School | Points | Last Week 

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Colquitt  County (17) 170 1

2. Grayson 151 2

3. Roswell 121 3

4. Archer 118 4

5. McEachern 87 5

6. Mill Creek 80 6

7. Walton 67 7

8. Lee County 53 8

9. Norcross 44 9

10. Camden County 22 10

Others receiving votes: Tucker 5, Etowah 2, Lowndes 2, Peachtree Ridge 2, Tift County 1, Valdosta 1.

Dropped out: None.


 

CLASS AAAAA

School | Points | Last Week

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Northside-Warner Robins (15) 165 1

2. Ware County 144 2

3. Houston County (2) 139 3

4. Stockbridge 121 4

5. Mays 95 6

6. Lanier 84 7

7. Jones County 52 5

8. Kell 43 8

9. Coffee 20 NR

t10. Allatoona 17 NR

t10. Stephenson 17 NR

Others receiving votes:  South Paulding 14, Creekside 11, Northgate 6, East Paulding 4, Carver-Columbus 2, Starr’s Mill 1.

Dropped out: Creekside, South Paulding.


 

CLASS AAAA

School | Points | Last Week

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Woodward Academy (12) 163 1

2. Cartersville (4) 152 2

3. Buford (1) 144 3

t4. Mary Persons 101 5

t4. Sandy Creek 101 4

6. Thomson 92 6

7. Marist 53 7

8. Bainbridge 37 10

9. West Laurens 31 8

10. Jonesboro 29 9

Others receiving votes:  Burke County 11, Spalding 9, Eastside-Covington 3, Howard 3, St. Pius X 3, Worth County 2, Stephens County 1.

Dropped out: None.


 

CLASS AAA

School | Points | Last Week

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Calhoun (17) 170 1

2. Blessed Trinity 152 2

3. Jefferson 134 3

4. Elbert County 118 4

5. Central-Carollton 96 5

6. Cedar Grove 70 6

7. Peach County 69 7

8. Hart County 51 8

9. Westside-Macon 35 10

t10. Adairsville 13 NR

t10. Dodge County 13 9

Others receiving votes: Pierce County 5, Jackson 3, Oconee County 2, Westminster 2, Callaway 1, Decatur 1.

Dropped out: None.


 

CLASS AA

School | Points | Last Week

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Benedictine (15) 168 1

2. Fitzgerald (2) 149 2

3. Greater Atlanta Christian 139 3

4. Pace Academy 120 4

5. Wesleyan 101 5

6. Screven County 86 6

7. Darlington 69 7

8. Dublin 44 10

9. Model 20 NR

10. Union County 19 NR

Others receiving votes: Rabun County 11, Macon County 7,  Vidalia 3, Brooks County 1, Lamar County 1.

Dropped out: Vidalia, Macon County.


 

CLASS A 

School | Points | Last Week

(First place votes in parentheses)

1. Mt. Paran Christian (15) 168 1

2. Prince Ave. Christian (2) 148 3

3. Calvary Day 130 4

4. Charlton County 106 5

5. Eagle’s Landing Christian 100 6

6. Marion County 70 2

7. Landmark Christian 62 7

8. Aquinas  50 8

9. Lincoln County 46 10

10. Irwin County 17 NR

Others receiving votes: Athens Academy 12, Greenville 9, Turner County 7, Pinecrest Academy 3, Commerce 3, First Presbyterian Day 2, Savannah Christian 1.

Dropped out: Clinch County.


 

And here’s how I ranked ‘em:

CLASS AAAAAA

1. Colquitt County

2. Grayson

3. Roswell

4. Archer

5. Norcross

6. McEachern

7. Mill Creek

8. Lee County

9. Walton

10. Etowah


 

CLASS AAAAA

1. Northside, Warner Robins

2. Ware County

3. Stockbridge

4. Houston County

5. Jones County

6. Mays

7. Lanier

8. Kell

9. Creekside

10. East Paulding


 

CLASS AAAA

1. Woodward Academy

2. Cartersville

3. Buford

4. West Laurens

5. Sandy Creek

6. Mary Persons

7. Thomson

8. Marist

9. Jonesboro

10. Eagle’s Landing


 

CLASS AAA

1. Calhoun

2. Blessed Trinity

3. Jefferson

4. Elbert County

5. Hart County

6. Central-Carrollton

7. Cedar Grove

8. Peach County

9. Dodge County

10. West Hall


 

CLASS AA

1. Benedictine Military

2. Fitzgerald

3. Greater Atlanta Christian

4. Pace Academy

5. Wesleyan

6. Screven County.

7. Darlington

8. Vidalia

9. Macon County

10. Rabun County


 

CLASS A

1. Mount Paran Christian

2. Marion County

3. Prince Avenue

4. ELCA

5 Calvary Day

6. Charlton County

7. Landmark

8. Aquinas

9. Clinch County

10. Lincoln County


 

PREDICTIONS

I’ll attempt to make these quick today, but let me first update my record to prove that I’m not a complete hack in regard to football crystal ball knowledge.

Okay, maybe that’s still debatable. Nevertheless,

Last Week’s “Big 6″ Picks: 4-2. I won on Starr’s Mill-Forest Park, Henry County-Pike County, Whitewater-ELCA and McIntosh-Mundy’s Mill. I whiffed on Spalding’s record-setting win over Spalding, and Woodland’s 10-7 defensive slugfest win over Dutchtown.

I went six up and three down in the other picks where no analysis was given, and although I snagged a 3-1 mark on my state college picks, I was left befuddled at Tech’s performance at Notre Dame, and am slightly — okay, thoroughly surprised that Georgia State scored as many points as it did in Eugene.

So now, let’s get on with this week’s Big 6 Picks:

SANDY CREEK at AUBURN (Ala.): After a week off to regroup, heal, rest and recharge, the No. 4 Patriots travel across I-20 to face what Maxpreps.com considers the No. 25 team in the state of Alabama. Despite Auburn’s 2-3 record, the losses have been admirable while facing some of Alabama’s best football teams.: A one point setback to Alabama No. 2 Opelika, a three-point overtime loss against No. 7 Central and a one point loss to No. 24 Jefferson Davis. Sandy Creek topped Auburn 24-17, and while Auburn will be looking for a little payback, the Patriots, I believe, are still motivated to take each game as a statement that it’s still state championship ready. The Patriots’ two point loss to No. 10 Jonesboro looks better and better as the Cardinals continue to play well. PREDICTION: SANDY CREEK 21, AUBURN 20.

GRIFFIN at JONESBORO (Tara Stadium): It’s tough seeing Griffin struggle as they are. The Bears haven’t lost two straight regular season games since 2011. You’ll have to go back to 2008 to find the last time Griffin split its first four games of the season. And the lopsided 37-12 loss to Eastside, Covington — a team that Jonesboro smashed 43-14 last Thursday — was especially disappointing. It’s tough because Griffin is such a perennial powerhouse, and second-year coach Jarrett Laws is such a class act. No. 10 Jonesboro is 2-40 all time against Griffin. Griffin is a proud program. Its seniors were sophomores during its most recent championship run. They’ll play hard, but the Cardinals should add to that win total Friday. JONESBORO 27,  GRIFFIN 14.

ELCA at WOODWARD ACADEMY: This one could be an intriguing matchup, given the health of the two teams, in that ELCA is healthy again with the return of junior running back Trevor Gear and senior quarterback D.J. Hammond, III. Meanwhile, Woodard’s star tailback Elijah Holyfield will miss this week with a foot injury. He was on a stellar pace too, rushing for 316 yards on just 36 carries with six scores. But don’t get it twisted. While Holyfield’s absence will leave a void, the War Eagles still have a very efficient offense engineered by an accurate quarterback in junior Ryan Glover who’s completing passes at a 65 percent clip. Minus a 36-29 double OT loss to St. Pius X, the stingy defense has given up just 14 points all season. ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said if his team can get early first downs and begin to control tempo, they can stay in the game early. Last time ELCA was full strength against an upper-classification foe, it almost pulled off a monumental upset of Class AAAAA No. 4 Stockbridge. In this one, ELCA keeps it close for a while, before falling late. WOODWARD 35, ELCA 17.

MUNDY’S MILL at NORTHGATE: Check out these scores: 45-0. 56-6. 47-0. 56-0. That’s what Northgate’s done in its first four games against Shaw, Troup County, Woodland and Morrow. So why aren’t the Vikings not getting the love? Probably because of the quality of opponents. The combined record of Northgate’s first four opponents is 8-15. Five of those wins come from Woodland. They haven’t faced a team as fast or as talented as Mundy’s Mill though. Greg Manior’s Tigers are a two point loss to Lovejoy in Week 1 away from being 4-0. The Tigers are one of the better teams in the area that no one talks about. Manior has taken Mundy’s Mill to two straight playoff appearances. But this season’s 3-1 record is the best four-game start for the school since 2005. The fact that Northgate will have this game at home will help, but I think the Tigers are on to something special this year. MUNDY’S MILL 28, NORTHGATE 24.

EAGLE’S LANDING at EASTSIDE: We’ll get the chance to see how resilient Eagle’s Landing is after the heartbreaking loss to Spalding last Friday on the game’s last play. They’ll play their second straight road game at Eastside, Covington Friday which is a good team, despite coming off a blowout loss to Jonesboro. This will be a stiff challenge. And the Golden Eagles can either regain traction, or start veering off in another direction with depending on this week’s performance. Of course we all know about Eagle’s Landing’s Antonio Gibson — one of the most electrifying players in the state. But the Eastside Eagles can score as well. Junior quarterback Austin Holloway has thrown for 869 yards and 10 TDs with ZERO interceptions. 5-foot-10 WR Josh Sims is his favorite target. Here’s a bold prediction: The Eagles will win (cue the snare drum and cymbal for a bad joke). EAGLE’S LANDING 27, EASTSIDE 20.

MAYS at LOVEJOY: The hits keep coming for the young Lovejoy team that, at 1-3, is a better team than what the record shows. How do I know? because the schedule would be such that the state championship challenging Wildcat teams would struggle with. Last week it was Class AAAAAA No. 6 McEachern. This week they draw Class AAAAA No. 6 Mays. While I don’t expect Lovejoy to win this one, I do believe this tough schedule will pay off once Region play starts next week against Rockdale. MAYS 38, LOVEJOY 21.

Here are the rest of the predicted high school winners in CAPS:

RIVERDALE at Mount Zion (Thursday night at Jonesboro’s Tara Stadium)

McNair at NORTH CLAYTON (Thursday night at Riverdale’s Southern Crescent Stadium)

Morrow at MCINTOSH

FAYETTE COUNTY at Cedartown

SPALDING at Pike County

HENRY COUNTY at Hampton

LOCUST GROVE at Walnut Grove

DREW at Forest Park

 

 


 

COLLEGE PICKS

No. 7 GEORGIA 65, SOUTHERN 6: Let’s hurry up and take these kinds of games off the Division I Power 5 conference teams’ schedules. Please.

No. 20 GEORGIA TECH 38, DUKE 21: The setback at Notre Dame was disappointing, but the Jackets get their strength back against the Blue Devils in conference play — where the games really count.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN 45, IDAHO 24: Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams. The Eagles will cruise.

GEORGIA STATE 27, LIBERTY 24: After a three point opener loss against Charlotte, a road win at New Mexico State and a fairly respectable outing at Oregon, the Panthers may be a little bit better than we originally thought.

Gabriel Stovall is the founding editor of thecrescentbuzz.com. Got a story idea? Hit him up at gstovall@thecrescentbuzz.com. Or you can follow him on Twitter @GabrielStovall1. Follow our site on Twitter also @crescent_buzz. 

 

 

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