2013 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Matt Kemper
THE PLAYERS: Taylor Wolf (Sr., QB), Carson Day (Sr., WR),
Matthew Pittarelli (Sr., OL), Matthew Jones (Sr., OL), Mike
Kemper (Sr., TE), Max Kemper (Sr., OL), Kyle Woyce (Sr., LB),
Patrick Burke (Jr., WR), Braden Zarbnisky (Sr., DB), Keegan
Phipps (Sr., DB), Logan Cooperman (Sr., DB).
THE WORD: Pope has never been a football power. That didn’t
change in 2013, but coach Matt Kemper is the program’s
winningest coach and has given the Greyhounds their only
10-win season ever. But after four winning seasons in a row
Pope took a step back and finished 3-7 last year. Pope’s
move into the largest classification in Georgia isn’t going to
make matters any easier on them. The defense was a concern last season – allowing 35 points or more seven times.
That means quarterback Taylor Wolf and the offense are
going to have to step up their production.
2013 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: John Ford
THE PLAYERS: Mechane Slade (Sr., ATH), Hunter Coleman
(Sr., WR), James Whitaker (Sr., QB)
THE WORD: Roswell, after only seven wins over the last three
years, is eager to get back to the top end of the region. The
Hornets have not been to the playoffs since the 2010 season.
In order to get back they will rely on three seniors to put points
on the scoreboard. Quarterback James Whitaker, receiver
Mechane Slade and athlete Hunter Coleman form a pretty
good nucleolus for the Hornets to put points on the board. But
the defense, which allowed 30 points or more last season,
needs to get better, too. A pre-region trip to traditional power
Lowndes should help Roswell get ready for the region schedule.
2013 RECORD: 6-5
THE COACH: Mo Dixon
THE PLAYERS: Davis Pidgeon (Sr., TE), Ben Hood (Sr., WR),
Taquar Stewart (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: The Raiders have consistently been one of the best
teams in Cobb County over the last half decade. But Rocky Hidalgo’s team managed only a 6-5 record in 2013 – a step back
from where they have been finishing since 2010. Part of that
was Walton’s aggressive pre-region scheduling. Part of that
was the competitive nature of the region – four of the Raiders’
region games were decided by a score or less. Walton hopes
to get offensive production from three seniors: tight end Davis
Pidgeon and a pair of receivers Ben Hood and Taquar Stewart.
If that happens the Raiders could get deeper into the playoffs
than they did last season, which ended with a blowout 41-7 loss
at Collins Hill in the first round.
2013 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Michael Collins
THE PLAYERS: Harland Howell (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: Wheeler managed to win only one region football
game last season. The Wildcats were coming off their best
campaign in a half a decade, but stumbled as the calendar
flipped from September to October. Still, the Wildcats have one
of the top playmakers in the state in senior receiver Harland
Howell. If he can make plays it is possible that Wheeler can get
back to .500 and beyond. 5-AAAAAA is a large region allowing
only two out-of-region games. Wheeler will play at Duluth and
host Harrison before starting with back-to-back road games at
Woodstock and Cherokee to start the region slate.
2013 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Brent Budde
THE PLAYERS: Justin Agner (Sr., QB), Jacob Schoeb (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: The Wolverines are going to lean on senior quarterback Justin Agner this fall. Woodstock scored last fall, but
was inconsistent offensively. Woodstock was inconsistent
in general last year – and that led to a 2-5 region record
that left the Wolverines out of the playoffs for the third year
in a row. Senior linebacker Jacob Schoeb will try to help a
defense that allowed 34 points a game last season drop
that number under 27 points a game – a number that would
have given the Wolverines four more wins last season and a
birth in the playoffs.
2013 RECORD: 9-3
THE COACH: Jason Dukes
THE PLAYERS: Austin King (Sr., QB), Andrew Butcher (Sr., DE),
Austin Hoffman (Sr., DE), Lem Cobbs (Sr., RB), Miles Smith
(Sr., RB), Rustin Suter (Sr., WR), James Marbaugh (Sr., WR),
Jake Behrend (Sr., LB), Khari Cobbs (Jr., DL), Dejon Rowe
(Jr., DB), Devin Mayers (Sr., DB), Cary Shirley (Sr., OL), Nick
Torrance (Sr., OL).
THE WORD: Jason Dukes has slowly built Alpharetta into a
program in Fulton County that has to be dealt with. Gone are
the days where three-win seasons are normal. Now nine-win
seasons are more common than not. Last season Dukes’
program added another accomplishment – the first playoff
win in school history, a 41-23 win over South Gwinnett at
home. Collins Hill ended any momentum the Raiders had
with a painful 48-0 drubbing a week later. A longer run in the
playoffs is certainly possible, but players like quarterback
Austin King and defensive ends Andrew Butcher and Austin
Hoffman, all three seniors, have to perform.
2013 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: Jeff Carlberg
THE PLAYERS: Chris Calhoun (Sr., DE), Garyn Grace (Sr., DE)
THE WORD: Centennial is trying to get a program that’s been
struggling back on the tracks, and that won’t be easy in a
region as competitive as 6-AAAAAA. A talented duo at defensive end could help slow down offenses. Both Chris Calhoun
and Garyn Grace will be charged with changing the Knights’
horrid 37 points per game allowed last season. That’s just
too many to allow and expect success in a region as good
as this one. The ten-team region allows only one non-region
game. Centennial will play at Roswell to open the year.
2013 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Michael Owens
THE PLAYERS: Josh Weisberg (Sr., LB), Brando Ernest (Sr., WR)
THE WORD: After nine seasons and a fair amount of success with former coach Terry Crowder, the first year under
Michael Owens was a tough one for Chattahoochee. The
Cougars finished 4-6, their worst showing since 2009. The
last time that happened, the following year, however, was
a great one – a 15-0 season and a state title. No one is
predicting that, but seniors Josh Weisberg and Brando Ernest would certainly take that. Chattahoochee will have to
navigate a region that has some good teams, but several
with very poor records coming out of the 2013 campaign. So
perhaps a little early winning could go a long way. Still, the
schedule includes a start against some of the better teams
in the region. If Chattahoochee can get rolling early perhaps
a run into the playoffs isn’t out of the question.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL RAIDERS
2013 RECORD: 0-10
THE COACH: Michael Pollack
THE WORD: Habersham hasn’t had a ten-win season since
Tavarres King was playing for the Raiders in 2007 – that’s a
long time ago. He’s in the NFL now, and the Raiders are in a new
region. Handersham slid over from 7-AAAAAA where they struggled to compete with the powers in Gwinnett County. Now they
have the powers of the north Atlanta suburbs on their plate.
The reality is that Habersham will have more opportunities to
win, but will have a hard time getting into the playoffs this fall.
JOHNS CREEK GLADIATORS
2013 RECORD: 0-10
THE COACH: Mike Cloy
THE PLAYERS: Kyle McGregor (Jr., LB)
THE WORD: Programs go up and down over the long haul. In
a way Mike Cloy’s Gladiators were ahead of schedule when
they won 17 games over a two-year stretch in only the program’s third and four seasons ever. But the Gladiators took
a major step backwards last fall going 0-10. Surprisingly the
only game that was decided by a score or less was came at
Alpharetta – a 31-26 loss to the team that won the region
with an undefeated record. The challenge for Cloy is to get
his Gladiators, led by junior linebacker Kyle McGregor, to
play like that all season long.
2013 RECORD: 6-5
THE COACH: Sid Maxwell
THE PLAYERS: Sean Bailey (Jr., OL), Jeremy Johnson (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: Lambert’s second-place finish in the region last
year was good enough for the Longhorns to host a playoff
game, but it came against Brookwood. Sid Maxwell’s bunch
wasn’t good enough to get past the Broncos – losing 35-16.
Now Sean Bailey and Jeremy Johnson will try to get their
team deeper in the playoffs. Only six years old, Lambert is
the newest school in Forsyth County and is holding its own
with its in-county rivals. Lambert will play Lanier in its only
2013 RECORD: 5-5
THE COACH: Chad Davenport
THE PLAYERS: D.J. Pearson (Sr., QB), Clay French (Sr., DB),
Devan Johnson (Sr., LB), Turner Fortin (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: Chad Davenport’s team narrowly missed out on
the program’s first winning season ever last year. A 33-29
loss against Riverwood cost the Titans a winning season
and a trip to the playoffs. That would have been a great win
for Northview to move into the state’s largest classification.
Instead seniors D.J. Pearson, Clay French, Devan Johnson
and Turner Fortin will have to find their way in the new classification without that accomplishment. Still, to have that
many seniors at key positions, including Pearson at quarterback, has to make coach Chad Davenport feel good about
his chances this fall. Northview will play Duluth in its only
NORTH FORSYTH RAIDERS
2013 RECORD: 7-4
THE COACH: Jason Galt
THE PLAYERS: Jackson Bardall (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: North Forsyth’s season seemed to change the night
Lambert tripped them up 14-13 at home. The Raiders came
into the game 4-0, but lost three in a row. Still, North Forsyth
recovered in time to earn a trip to the playoffs. A 34-7 loss at Archer in the first round of the playoffs didn’t take away from one
of the best seasons in a decade for the Raiders. Junior Jackson
Bardall, one of the top offensive linemen in the region, will be a
key to offensive success for North Forsyth. The Raiders will play
at Cherokee in its only non-region game.
SOUTH FORSYTH WAR EAGLES
2013 RECORD: 7-3
THE COACH: Jeff Arnette
THE PLAYERS: Alex Barbir (Jr., PK), Griffin Landrum (Sr., OL),
Cameron Kline (Sr., LB)
THE WORD: South Forsyth wound up losing the wrong game. A
17-12 loss at North Forsyth cost them a spot in the playoffs.
The seven-win season last fall was another step in the in the
right direction for a program that has only won six games
or more twice since 2004. Jeff Arnette took a program that
was struggling to win more than three games a season
and made them respectable. In order to get back into the
playoffs (the War Eagles haven’t been since Arnette’s first
season in 2010) Alex Barbir, Griffin Landrum and Cameron
Kline are going to have to lead the way. South Forsyth will
play at Mountain View in its only non-region game.
WEST FORSYTH WOLVERINES
2013 RECORD: 7-4
THE COACH: Frank Hepler
THE PLAYERS: Hampton McConnell (Sr., QB), Kyndall Phillips (Sr., DB), Alec Coburn (Sr., OL), Trevor O’Brien (Sr., RB),
Hunter Stewart (Sr., DL), Nate Schmitz (Sr., WR), Ryan Guthrie (Sr., LB), Eli Huggins (Soph., LB), Carson Adams (Sr., DL),
Allen Pearson (Sr., OL), Austin Sanders (Sr., LB).
THE WORD: After back-to-back ten-win seasons, Frank Hepler’s Wolverines took a step back in 2013. A painful five-point
loss at Dacula in the first round of the playoffs marked the
first time since 2010 the program didn’t win a playoff game.
Still, West Forsyth has established itself as the top program
in the county, and one of the best in the region. Quarterback
Hampton McConnell will call signals for one of the better
offenses in the area. West Forsyth scored four touchdowns
or more in nine games last season. But with a region as top
heavy as 6-AAAAAA, the Wolverines will need to play better
in big games. In their four losses, all considered big games,
they lost by an average margin of 17 points a game. West
Forsyth will play Mill Creek in its only non-region game.
COLLINS HILL EAGLES
2013 RECORD: 11-2
THE COACH: Kevin Reach
THE PLAYERS: Miles Fox (Sr., DT), Thomas Harris (Sr., RB),
Tomon Fox (Jr., DE), Robert Snyder (Jr., LB), Emmanual Belmar (Jr., LB), Jordan Bertrand (Jr., DB), Braxton Hale (Sr., OL).
THE WORD: Collins Hill had some very good wins in 2013. That
helped the Eagles have a three-way tie atop region 7-AAAAAA,
and ultimately representing the region in the playoffs as region
champs. But a narrow 35-32 loss to powerful McEachern in
the quarterfinals ended the best run for the Eagles since 2010.
Now the Eagles, who recovered from a 6-5 season in 2012 to
11-2 in 2013, look to go even further and capture the school’s
first ever state title. It won’t be easy, but back-to-back state
champs Norcross won’t have as much fire power this fall. The
28-0 loss at Norcross last season was the program’s worst loss
in seven years – and the only time the Eagles have failed to
score since 2008. Defensive lineman Tomon Fox, considered
one of the top rising juniors in the state, is a name write down.
2013 RECORD: 3-7
THE COACH: Jason Conner
THE PLAYERS: Devin Terry (Sr., WR), MyQuon Foote (Sr., DB),
Khalil Newton (Soph., WR), Rodney Jones (Sr., LB), Cameren
Carter (Soph., DL), Darius McCray (Jr., DL), Kert Sullivan (Sr.,
RB), Jelani Brown (Sr., DB), Jordan Davis (Sr., DB), Theo Bur-nette (Sr., RB), Deon Powell (Sr., DL), Josh Newton (Sr., WR),
Nyles Preston (Sr., RB), Donald Boone (Jr., OL), Marcellos
Sparks (Soph., QB), Eric Crockett (Jr., LB), Tyrik Price (Sr., WR).
THE WORD: It is never easy being a struggling program in one
of the best regions in the South – Duluth knows that just
about as well as anyone except Meadowcreek. The Wildcats
have not been able to get above the four-win mark in almost
a decade. Still, senior quarterback Thad Bell and second-year coach Jason Conner hope that Duluth can fight their
way above the .500 mark this fall. The eight-game region
schedule allows for three winnable games against Wheeler
and Lakeside (DeKalb) and at Northview. Local rival Meadowcreek comes at the end of the season. So the Wildcats
are going to have to figure out how to trip up the Mustangs
and another two teams to get to 6-4 or better this fall.
2013 RECORD: 1-9
THE COACH: George Pugh
THE WORD: Meadowcreek has won three games since 2003,
and George Pugh was their coach in two of them. The Mustangs, who have traditionally struggled to figure out how to
win in powerful Gwinnett County football, struggled to be
competitive in region play last fall. Habersham Central, the
lone region win last year for Meadowcreek, is gone from
region 7-AAAAAA. So the Mustangs must figure out a path to
victory some other way in the ultra-competitive region. Scoring more would help, but might be easier said than done.
Consider that region champs Collins Hill scored one less
point against the Mustangs ( 68) last year as Meadowcreek
scored all year ( 69).