Another high school football regular season has passed right before our very eyes. It seems like just yesterday I was at University Stadium covering Carrollton vs Newnan in the West Georgia Kickoff Classic. Now that the season is over, it is time to take a look at how all the local high school teams did this year, and how some may find themselves in the dome in a couple of weeks.
Carrollton High School (9-1, region: 7-1)
The Trojans finished their regular season 9-1 with the only loss coming on homecoming to region champion Rome. In the nine wins, the closest game was the opener vs Newnan where they won by 10 points. The other games, outside of the 13 point victory over Hiram, were virtually all blowouts. Carrollton will represent region 7 AAAAA as the #2 seed and will host Lithonia in the 1st round this Friday.
Lithonia comes into the game with a 5-5 record and will represent region 5 AAAAA as the #3 seed. The Bulldogs have had some tough losses this year and have also been blown out a couple of times. However, like Carrollton, they have put up some massive offensive numbers. According to Maxpreps, Lithonia beat Miller Grove 77-14 on October 29th on Miller Grove’s home field. So, they are very capable of scoring points. On the other hand, they have had lapses in offense that is represented by them being held to less than 21 points in 6 of their 10 games.
Carrollton has put up monster numbers this year on the offensive side of the ball. Juniors Mark Wright (QB) and Jaylan Thomas (RB) have headlined an offense that scores 37 points per game. Freshman Mecose Todd (RB) has also had a significant role in the offense as he scored 4 touchdowns in one game vs Riverdale.
The scariest part of the Carrollton defense is the fact that they are so young and performing so well. They have multiple freshman, sophomore, and junior starters that have contributed immensely on the defensive side of the ball. In three of the four Carrollton games I covered this year, their defense was responsible for a touchdown. So, the Trojans are capable of scoring in all aspects of the game.
Carrollton really should have no major problem with Lithonia on Friday when the Bulldogs come to town. If the offense keeps rolling and the defense plays even an average game, the Trojans should advance to the second round. These two teams have never met on the gridiron. However, Lithonia should not be taken lightly as they just knocked off Arabia Mountain last week by a score of 20-18. Arabia Mountain is the 1 seed from that region.
The winner of this game will face the winner of Riverdale and Thomas County Central. Carrollton already ousted Riverdale 50-14 in week 2 of the season. Thomas County Central is the #1 seed from Region 1 AAAAA, but have a 7-3 record on the year. If Carrollton can get through the 1st round, they should have another relatively average opponent in the 2nd round as well.
Mt. Zion High School (9-1, region: 6-0)
Mt. Zion has been a dominant force all year this football season. They have shown that they can blow teams out by beating Ranburne 47-0, Haralson County 49-0, and Gordon Lee 42-7. They have also showed that they can win the close game by beating Darlington 25-17 in triple-overtime and narrowly defeating Trion, 31-24.
I was on site last week when Mt. Zion took their first loss of the season. The offense of the Eagles seems very one-dimensional. In the two games I attended, they threw the ball only 12 times. However, they have a three-headed monster in the backfield. Seniors Richard Farley and Jace Jordan paired with junior Kareem Walker total 30+ carries a game. Jace Jordan is the workhouse in the backfield. In the loss to Fellowship Christian, he had 17 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
The offense has its weapons in the backfield and on the outside, but does not utilize them fully in my opinion. I feel that this method will carry them through the first couple of rounds, but may hurt them when they get deeper into the playoffs. Senior Jordan Akin (QB) has shown that he can throw the ball, but Coach Keith Holloway has not really taken advantage of that skillset.
In the two Mt. Zion games I attended this year, junior CJ Ackles (CB/WR) had two interceptions and a combined 6 pass breakups. He is a dominant force on the outside of the defense and it very tough in coverage.
Class A does a power rating system to select who makes the playoffs. The top 8 seeds will get first round buys while 9-24 will face off in the 1st round. The teams who are seeded 9-16 will host the teams who are seeded 17-24. Then, the winners will travel to face the top 8 seeds. Mt. Zion is currently ranked #3 in the power rating system, even after their loss last Friday.
The bracket has not yet been released for Class A, but is expected to be by 4 PM today. However, if the power ratings that have been released are stuck to, then Mt. Zion will host the winner of #14 Greene County (7-3) and #19 Wheeler County (5-2). The only thing holding the GHSA back from finalizing these rankings is the appeal process.
Heard County High School (7-3, region: 4-2)
Heard County has struggled with some injuries as of late in the season. Ohio State Quarterback commit Emory Jones has had troubles with his shoulder in the last couple of games. In the two Heard County games I have covered this year, I have noticed that Emory Jones and Dayvin Troy are really the whole offense. If Troy cannot find room on the ground, they air it out with Emory. If Emory is struggling, they try to establish a ground game with Troy. They sort of feed off of each other.
Heard lost to Darlington 28-14, Callaway 24-14, and Lamar County 14-10. These three teams have a combined 23-7 record with Callaway actually finishing 10-0. So, these losses are not to bad teams like some other local schools have endured.
With three weeks left in the season, it was looking as if Heard would surely host a 1st round playoff game. However, the 14-10 loss to Lamar County dropped them to the #3 spot in region 5 AA. They will now have to travel this Friday to Rockmart High school to take on the Yellow Jackets. Rockmart is 8-2 on the year and they represent region 7 AA as the #2 seed.
The two Rockmart losses on the year came from Cedartown and Pepperell. Cedartown blew Rockmart out 35-7 and then finished the year 5-5. Pepperell finished on a better note with an 8-1-1 record. The Cedartown loss is definitely considered a bad loss for Rockmart. So, hopefully Heard County can create some of the same looks Cedartown did and get the win.
The winner of this game will face the winner of #4 Dublin and #1 Fitzgerald. Heard County and Rockmart have never met on the football field before.
Bremen High School (6-4, region: 2-2)
Throughout the season, I was able to cover two Bremen games. The first was the Bowdon game where the refs made a bad call that resulted in a 20-14 loss (sorry Bowdon fans). The second was the Trion game that Bremen won 40-7. In those two games, Bremen looked like two completely different teams.
It seems as if that has been the story all year for the Blue Devils. In some games it seems like they really came to play and in others it seems like their hearts just aren’t in it. On a positive note, the four losses this year have come to teams with a combined 31-10 record. All four of those teams are in post-season play as well. So, as you can see, the losses are to very quality opponents.
The Blue Devils started the year off 0-2 and then were able to rip off three wins in a row. Kyle Bailey is a huge force for the Bremen offense and defense. His 6’2, roughly 200 pound build allows him to be very bruising runner when he carries the ball. He had one of the best runs I had ever seen in the rivalry game vs Bowdon. It looked very similar to the famous Herschel Walker run as he barreled over multiple defenders before scurrying down the sideline for a touchdown.
Bremen also has shown that they can compete with the powerhouses of Georgia High School football. They lost to Calhoun 46-21, but the score made the game seem worse than it was. Bremen was virtually in the game until Calhoun scored the last touchdown.
The offense knows how to score the ball. They have put up more than 21 points in all but one game. They, like Mt. Zion, also have multiple running backs who are capable of carrying a large workload. I feel that they have a good mix of passing and running plays to go along with their deep backfield as well.
Bremen will represent Region 6 AAA as the #4 seed. They will travel to Morgan County High School to face off against the #1 seed from Region 8 AAA. Morgan County is 8-2 on the year with a perfect 5-0 region record. Bremen fans should be happy to hear that I believe the seeds are sort of irrelevant in this game. Morgan County may be 5-0 in their region, but the 5 teams they beat have a combined 15-35 record. The best record on that list is 4-6.
As you can see, Morgan County may be undefeated in their region and the one seed, but they have played some very low quality opponents to get there. I feel that this is going to be the closest #1 vs #4 game in all of classification AAA. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Bowdon High School (6-4, region: 4-2)
I covered two Bowdon games this year. The first was the Bremen game and the second was the loss to Mt. Zion. In the Bremen game, the offense struggled big time. One of the touchdowns was a pick-6 and another came on the last drive of the game. So, Bowdon will need to get the offense rolling if they want to move on to the second round.
Bowdon lost to Mt. Zion, Darlington, Pinecrest Academy, and Troup County this year. Those four teams have a combined 31-9 record and will all most likely be playing in the post-season. All of the losses are to quality opponents. In the first loss to Troup County, Cason Parmer was still sidelined.
Like Mt. Zion, Bowdon’s offense is very one-dimensional. Sophomore Aaron Beasley (RB) is the workhorse for the Bowdon offense. In the two games I covered, he had 35 total carries. He also plays defense for the Red Devils. However, the offense has been able to branch out upon the return of the senior QB Cason Parmer.
Bowdon lost two of their last three games to drop them to the 20th overall ranking. If the appeal process does not change anything, then Bowdon will face off against #13 Miller County. Miller County is 8-2 on the year with a 7-2 region record.
The two losses came to teams that finished with a 9-1 and 8-2 record. So, this Miller County team has had no bad losses. They have held their opponents to 20 or less points in 7 of the 10 games and have shutout 3 of those opponents. As you can see, their defense is very good.
Bowdon will need to play mistake-free football if they want to win this game. Miller County is a very solid opponent that averages 32 points per game while giving up only 15.
If Bowdon is able to escape the first round with an upset victory, then they will face Clinch County in the second round (assuming the seeds hold to what they are now).
Villa Rica High School (5-5, region: 4-4)
I was only able to make it out to Villa Rica one time this year to see them take on the Carrollton Trojans. Carrollton dominated this game, but I did see some positives on the Villa Rica side. Junior Elijah Fluker (RB) is a solid runner for the Wildcats. He has over 1,000 yards rushing on the year and gets at least 15 carries a game. In the game I attended, he had 24 carries for 123 yards.
Villa Rica loss to Lagrange, Hiram, Carrollton, Rome and Kell this year. Rome, Carrollton, and Kell, who are the #1 #2 and #3 seeds from the region, blew out VR. The other two losses to Hiram and Lagrange were not as bad, but still were both by two scores or more. This season allowed VR to take the #4 seed in region 7 AAAAA.
Like Heard County, Villa Rica has struggled with injuries big time this year, specifically at the quarterback position. At one point, I believe they were down to their 4th string quarterback. This just shows how resilient and unwilling to quit this team is.
Unfortunately for Villa Rica, they must travel to face one of the toughest schools in the tournament. Arabia Mountain is 8-2 on the year and will represent region 5 AAAAA as the #1 seed. Arabia Mountain narrowly loss to Lithonia last week and East Coweta earlier in the season. They average 35 points per game while allowing only 13.
Villa Rica will need to play a near perfect game to be able to escape with a win. I am sorry to all of you VR fans that may be reading, but I just do not see that happening. However, I hope I am wrong. The winner of this game will play the winner of Griffin and Warner Robins in the 2nd round.
Local Teams Not in Post-Season Play
Temple (6-4, region: 1-4)
Haralson County (3-7, region: 0-4)
Central (0-10, 0-6)
Thank you for sticking with my articles throughout this grueling high school season. I wish the best of luck to all the athletes competing in these games. Check back next week to see how all these teams did in the first round of the playoffs.