2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Jep Irwin
THE PLAYERS: Isaac Weaver (Sr., OL), Cooper Cross (Sr., QB)
THE WORD: Jep Irwin has seen the highs - taking the Trojans
to two of their three region titles in school history - and the
lows - 2014’s 1-9 season was the worst fall for Lassiter since
1989. Unfortunately, Lassiter’s only win in 2014 came in the
form of a forfeit win over Walton - a game the Raiders won
59-16. Now senior quarterback Cooper Cross and senior
offensive lineman Isaac Weaver will try to supercharge an
offense that was able to score, but not enough to cover up
a defense that allowed a hard to believe 47 points a game.
Lassiter will face off with Kell and Hillgrove - both very difficult
games - before starting region play at Walton on September 4.
2014 RECORD: 11-2
THE COACH: Howie DeCristofaro
THE PLAYERS: Kyle McGregor (Sr., LB), David Moore (Sr.,
QB), Joshua Moran (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: Heading into 2014, the Milton Eagles had
played football for 64 years and had won only one region
title and had one ten-win season. Last fall the Eagles
accomplished both in one season. Howie DeCristofaro
inherited an Eagles program that had won only three games in
2010 and has steadily developed Milton into a powerhouse.
The Eagles narrowly lost a road game at Colquitt County in
the state quarterfinals. Now Milton will try to improve on a
record-breaking 2015 season. The players? Many return,
including quarterback David Moore. The defense is headed
by Kyle McGregor and Joshua Moran, and that group allowed
more than 30 points only t wice last fall… both games were
losses. An early season game at Norcross will be a significant
challenge for Milton and will prepare them for a difficult 5 slate
that starts when Wheeler visits on September 11.
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Kyle Adkins
THE WORD: Former Shaw coach Kyle Adkins takes over
a program in Pope that’s been near the bottom of the
standings for much of its existence. Adkins has a challenge
on his hands. Region 5 is difficult enough to begin with.
A coaching change usually signals a multi-year process
of rebuilding, and that’s likely the case at Pope. The
Greyhounds have been near the bottom of the region for
much of the last decade. Now they set their sights on a
winning record for the first time since 2012. Pope will use
August games against Harrison and South Cobb to get
ready for region play.
2014 RECORD: 8-4
THE COACH: John Ford
THE PLAYERS: LeAnthony Williams (Jr., DB), Cameron Whiteman (Sr., OL), Tre Lamar (Sr., DL), Tyrone Hopper (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: Quarterback Quintarius Neely has transferred
in to Roswell to try to get the Hornets deeper into the
playoffs. The former Lovejoy signal caller, who is 6-0,
180, was explosive while he was with Lovejoy. Roswell, a
program that’s come back from an 0-10 season in 2011 to
the playoffs in 2014, will lean on Neely and senior offensive
lineman Cameron Whiteman to keep offensive production
high. Meanwhile, LeAnthony Williams, Tyrone Hopper and
high-level Tre Lamar will continue their quest to shut down
the opposition. The Hornets, who have won three state
titles in school history, will have to figure out how to get
past Milton and Etowah. But the transfer of Neely will help
with the quest to win Region 5 in 2015.
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Mo Dixon
THE PLAYERS: Josh White (Sr., QB), Nick Orrell-Jones (Sr.,
LB), Sam Letton (Sr., TE), Forrest Evans (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: Walton’s on-field record was 5-5 in 2014,
but the Raiders’ wins over South Gwinnett, Marietta and
Lassiter were forfeited because of the use of a player in
those games who had not made a legal change of address.
Walton reported the violation and moved on with its
season. As it turns out, the forfeits didn’t have an impact
on the playoff race for the Raiders because they lost the
final three games of the season to Milton, Cherokee and
Etowah. With all of that behind them, the Raiders will try
to inch their way back up the region standings and into the
playoffs, where they have been a mainstay since the turn
of the century. Quarterback Josh Whit, offensive lineman
Forrest Evans and tight end Sam Letton are important
pieces to the puzzle on offense. Nick Orrell-Jones will have
to lead the way on defense.
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Michael Collins
THE PLAYERS: Benaiah Franklin (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: Wheeler has only been to the playoffs once since
2007. The Wildcats hit rock bottom from 2008-10 by winning
only one game in three years. Michael Collins’ program has
rallied since then to be respectable. But if the goal for receiver
Benaiah Franklin and his teammates is to get back to the
playoffs, they will have to score more often in region games.
Four times last fall the Wildcats scored 13 points or fewer
in region games - and Wheeler lost all four of those games.
Offensive production must increase for Wheeler to make an
impact in Region 5 play. The Wildcats will get ready for region
play with August games against Duluth and Harrison.
2014 RECORD: 6-4
THE COACH: Brent Budde
THE WORD: The start of the 2015 season looks manageable
for Woodstock; games with River Ridge, Johns Creek, Wheeler
and Pope all seem winnable. But Brent Budde’s crew is going
to have to get ready for the final six games of the season.
Huge challenges against Milton and Etowah come on the
road. The do-or-die game for the Wolverines might come in
the friendly confines of Woodstock Stadium against Cherokee.
If the Wolverines, who finished fifth and one spot out of the
playoffs, can top their county foes they might find themselves
back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
2014 RECORD: 10-2
THE COACH: Jacob Nichols
THE PLAYERS: Nick Carlton (Sr., WR), Johnny McDonald
(Sr., WR), Khari Cobbs (Sr., DL), Dejon Rowe (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: A coaching change got the Raiders one more
win in 2014 than they had the season before. Part of that
win total was the ten-game win streak the Raiders went
on during the middle of the season. Alpharetta will open
up with a trip to Milton on the last weekend of August.
That game will be a very good barometer for both teams. If
receivers Nick Carlton and Johnny McDonald continue their
production the offense should continue what was a pretty
good scoring pace in 2014. The defense, highlighted by senior defensive backs Khari Cobbs and Dejon Rowe, had six
games allowing ten points or fewer. If that pace continues,
the Raiders may just repeat as Region 6 champs.
2014 RECORD: 5-5
THE COACH: Lenny Gregory
THE PLAYERS: Caden Herring (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: Former Grayson assistant coach Lenny
Gregory has taken over at Centennial. This is his first head
coaching job. So not only will Gregory have the challenge
of figuring out what it is like to be the head man - he will
do it in the largest classification in Georgia, and one of
the most competitive regions in that classification at that.
Senior receiver Caden Herring will be available to help on
the offensive side of the ball, but if the last five games of
last season are any indicator, the defense needs the help.
Foes tallied 39, 39, 3, 42 and 54 points scored. That’s far
too many: and that cost the Knights, who finished a game
outside of the playoffs last season. A difficult game with
Roswell will serve as the Knights’ only non-region game.
2014 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Vince Strine
THE PLAYERS: Bryce Folsom (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: Bryce Folsom spent most of the spring of
2015 racking up college scholarship offers; he spent
much of the fall of 2014 wrapping up ball carriers. The
6-4, 250-pound defensive lineman is one of the top overall
players in Region 6. If the Cougars are going to get back to
their heyday of winning state titles, other players besides
Folsom are going to have to be productive - particularly
on offense. The Cougars averaged only 20 points a game
last fall. That’s something Strine and his coaching staff will
have to focus on for the fall of 2015.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL RAIDERS
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Benji Harrison
THE PLAYERS: Clay Nelson (Sr., OL), Mason Kinsey (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: Benji Harrison takes over a Habersham Central
after spending the last few years at Jackson County; Harrison
is the third coach in the last four seasons. That the Raiders
have managed only two wins over the last three years speaks
to the reason for the coaching transition. The problem in Mt.
Ary is on the defensive side of the ball. The Raiders allowed
40 points or more seven times last fall. That’s just a difficult
hill for receiver Mason Kinsey, offensive lineman Clay Nelson
and the rest of the Habersham Central offense to consistently
overcome. The Raiders will once again play their only non-region game against Rabun County. This time the game will be
held at Raider Stadium.
JOHNS CREEK GLADIATORS
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Matt Kemper
THE WORD: Matt Kemper is the winningest coach in the
history of his former school, Pope. He’s hoping to have the
same success at Johns Creek. Kemper might not need that
long to become the winningest coach at Johns Creek - the
Gladiators have only won 25 games in school history. That
sort of quick turnaround will require a more stout defense.
Johns Creek was blown out of games because the defense
couldn’t keep the other team out of the end zone. In
competitive games against Centennial, North Forsyth and
Woodstock, however, the offense couldn’t get the job done.
The Gladiators welcome Woodstock to Fulton County for
the only non-region game of the year.
2014 RECORD: 7-4
THE COACH: Daniel Lewis
THE PLAYERS: Tanner Hall (Sr., WR), Sean Bailey (Sr., OL),
Brian Wright (Jr., ATH), Cliff Snyder (Sr., OL), Anthony Ratliff
(Sr.,), Nick Nieuwhoff (Sr., OL), Justin Jean-Felix (Sr., LB),
Brian Wright (Jr., LB), Mac Redmond (Jr., LB)
THE WORD: The Longhorns have never won a playoff game
in their brief existence as a football program. But that day
could be closer than ever with players like seniors Tanner Hall
and Sean Bailey as well as junior Brian Wright. The Longhorns’
defense played very well in most games last fall. With the
exception of a 3-0 win over Northview, the offense played
well, too. Steady play from coach Daniel Lewis’ team earned
Lambert the No. 2 seed in Region 6. Taking out Alpharetta on
the road will be the key to winning the region this fall.
2014 RECORD: 7-4
THE COACH: Chad Davenport
THE PLAYERS: Paul Miller (Jr., QB), Jair Hawkins-Anderson
(Sr., ATH), Josh Moran (Sr., ATH)
THE WORD: No longer the new kid on the block ,the Northview Titans have improved their play over the last three
years. Paul Miller, a junior quarterback, is a player to keep
an eye on. If the Titans are going to advance in the playoffs
Miller and two talented playmakers - Jair Hawkins-Anderson
and Josh Moran - are going to have to be explosive in 2015.
A non-region game at local foe Duluth kicks off the season;
critical games with Alpharetta and Lambert are on the road.
If the Titans can win their fair share of games away from
home, they should be back in the playoffs again this fall.
NORTH FORSYTH RAIDERS
2014 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Jason Galt
THE PLAYERS: Jackson Bardall (Sr., OL), Jacob Whitten (Sr., P)
THE WORD: A powerful senior offensive lineman is going to
have to be a big part of the Raiders’ surge in the fall of 2015.
Jackson Bardall did his part, but North Forsyth only managed
to score more than seven points four time all last year. That’s
why impressive punter Jacob Whitten trotted onto the field so
often in 2014. Raider fans hope to see less of Whitten punting
and more of Bardall celebrating in 2015. North Forsyth opens
up with Cherokee in its only non-region game of the year.
SOUTH FORSYTH WAR EAGLES
2014 RECORD: 6-5
THE COACH: Jeff Arnette
THE PLAYERS: Jalen Camp (Sr., WR), Alex Barbir (Sr., PK),
Riley Hall (Sr., DL), Cameron Kline (Sr., TE)
THE WORD: According to the Georgia High School Football
Historian’s Association, the South Forsyth War Eagle are
exactly 135-135-2 as a program all time. The War Eagles
were very close to even last year themselves, but they did
enough to get into the playoffs thanks to a 6-3 record in
region play, and the fact that the War Eagles held some
important tiebreakers. South Forsyth’s offense shot out of
a cannon last season. They averaged 43 points a game the
first six games of the season. That’s why the War Eagles
got out to a 5-1 start. The close to the season wasn’t pretty
( 1-4), but any time a program that’s struggled to get into the
playoffs gets there, it is an accomplishment.
WEST FORSYTH WOLVERINES
2014 RECORD: 6-4
THE COACH: Adam Clack
THE WORD: Adam Clack’s first season as head coach of
the Wolverines saw West Forsyth on the wrong side of some
important tiebreakers that determined who got into the
playoffs, and who sat out. West Forsyth now has a shot to
correct some of the problems it had last fall during important
games. That begins with protecting Wolverine Stadium. West
Forsyth’s only three region losses came at home. In fact, all
four of West Forsyth’s losses were at home in 2014. That has
to change this fall if the Wolverines are going to get back into
the playoffs like they were from 2010-13.
COLLINS HILL EAGLES
2014 RECORD: 5-5
THE COACH: Kevin Reach
THE PLAYERS: Tomon Fox (Sr., DL), Emmanuel Belmar (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: Tomon Fox is one of the top football players
in the state. The heavily recruited senior is joined on the
defensive line by Emmanuel Belmar: that duo forms one of
the best one-two punches on the defensive line in Region
7. Still, the Eagles struggled to keep up with the powers
of the region. Against Peachtree Ridge, Mill Creek and
North Gwinnett, Collins Hill struggled to score. In all three
of those games the opposition put up at least 38 points.
Kevin Reach has shown that he can get the Eagles to fly
high - double-digit win seasons in 2010 and 2013 prove
that. But in the ever-competitive world of Gwinnett football,
programs can come and go in the blink of an eye.
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Bob Swank
THE WORD: Bob Swank moved up from being the defensive
coordinator at Duluth over the last two seasons to being the
head man for 2015. Swank has college coaching experience,
too. He will need that to turn around the Wildcats. This is one
of the most difficult jobs in the state. The Wildcats, located in
the heart of football-crazy Gwinnett County, seem to be in a
neck-and-neck race with Meadowcreek for football futility in
the county. With a slew of county schools capturing the state
title in the last 20 years - Duluth has really struggled to get any
sort of traction in the sport.