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Murphy: It doesn't take rankings to know who's good

POSTED: August 21, 2011 11:35 p.m.

If there's one thing I've never understood the need for in high school football, it's rankings.

The idea that we need to stratify or order the perceived best teams in the state with 15- to 18-year-old amateur athletes is a little silly and frankly unnecessary.

I've always felt that it would be pretty easy to crown region and state champions without the hype of rankings getting in the way. It would be the most natural way of doing things, but maybe that's just my opinion.

Now, I feel that having Buford (1-0) ranked in the top spot in Class AA is a pretty safe bet.

Anything short of a fifth straight state title for the Wolves this season would be a huge surprise, considering the abundant amount of talent in their senior class.

But the rest of the preseason No. 1 teams in the state, Clinch County in Class A, Sandy Creek in Class AAA, and Brookwood in Class AAAAA, is just re-hashing defending state champions, making it pretty useless in my mind.

Ask any coach that's won a state title, they'll tell you it's extremely hard to repeat with the cycle of talent that goes through schools.

That, in my opinion, is one of the best things about high school football.

Schools very rarely stay at the very top for an extended period of time, making the action on the field that much more compelling.

In Class AAAA, Flowery Branch opens the season at No. 5, mainly because they only made the second round of the playoffs last season.

I could easily see the Falcons making the state semifinals, or playing for a state title this season based on their returning talent and level of coaching under 10th-year coach Lee Shaw.

Of course, most sports writers voting in these polls haven't seen Flowery Branch play in recent seasons, if ever, making it even more just complete guesswork.

Then in Class AAA, Gainesville almost cracked the top 10, despite graduating 14 starters and most of the defensive firepower from last year's squad.

Now, as the season plays out, the polls will have a little more merit.

Any team that enters the playoffs at 10-0 or 9-1 is a little more worthy of a high ranking.

Still, I don't see the need in ranking programs from all corners of the state that have little regular-season interaction, common opponents or chance of seeing each other on the field short of the state finals in the Georgia Dome.

Any coach that is in the midst of a state title hunt and sees his program grab that No. 1 ranking would probably gladly let another team have it.

It puts too much pressure on kids that should be having fun on a Friday night playing with their friends and teammates, instead of trying to live up to the expectations put on them by outsiders.

Bill Murphy is a sports writer for The Times. He can be reached at bmurphy@gainesvilletimes.com.

 



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