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Prep football: Region 8-AAAA preview

POSTED: August 31, 2008 5:01 a.m.

In Region 8-AAAA, the subregion system which led to an undefeated team taking a No. 2 seed into the AAAA playoffs has been scrapped for 2008. But that means there’s no room for non-region warm-up games. This year, every game counts in this 11-team region.

Last year, both Habersham Central and Salem marched unbeaten through their subregion schedules, but never played each other. Both teams earned a share of the region championship, but Salem took the No. 1 seed simply because it was subregion B’s turn.

This year, the region title could be decided when the Seminoles travel to Habersham Central on Halloween night.

The Raiders will be looking for their fourth consecutive winning season, a streak not achieved at Habersham Central since a five-year run that ended in 1984.

Both Athens schools (Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals) could also figure prominently in the playoff picture.

The Gladiators have stumbled since their Billy Henderson-led heyday of the ’80s, but have rebounded with back-to-back trips to the postseason under coach Leroy Ryals.

With a new coach in Xarvia Smith, Cedar Shoals will be looking for its second straight playoff berth and its 19th consecutive winning season.

Favorite/defending champ:

Habersham Central and Salem

These two split top region honors last year — though Salem got the No. 1 seed in the playoffs — and appear to be the frontrunners again this season.

The Raiders lost a ton of talent, including their starting quarterback, two leading rushers, numerous quality linemen on both sides of the ball, a Division-I linebacker and the most prolific receiver in the school’s history. That’s a mouthful.

But Habersham Central coach Gene Cathcart won’t say the team is in rebuilding mode, and neither are the rest of the region’s coaches. Quarterback Austin Brown showed potential in limited action as a freshman and will begin what figures to be a three-year term as the starter this year.

Salem is becoming a fixture near the top of the region.

The Seminoles, who failed to record a winning record in their first 10 years of existence, now haven’t had a losing one since 2001.

Senior center Sam Watts, who verbally committed to Mississippi State in February, is a leader on the Seminoles’ offensive line. Senior safety Deonte Fletcher returns for his third season as a starter in Salem’s defensive backfield.

Who’s new

Monroe Area

Mascot: Purple Hurricanes

Colors: Purple and white

Coach: Matt Fligg

2007 results: 3-7 (Region 8-AAA)

Offensive scheme: Spread/no huddle

Defensive scheme: 3-5-3

Key players: WR/CB Lavel Smith (6-0, 175, Sr.); WR/CB D.J. Hendricks (5-9, 160, Sr.); C Caleb Nix (6-3, 240, Jr.); DE Bradley Smith (6-6, 212, Sr.); H-back Greg Outland (6-0, 180, Sr.)

Apalachee

Mascot: Wildcats

Colors: Navy blue and gold

Coach: Shane Davis

2007 results: 6-6, lost second round of playoffs (Region 8-AAA)

Offensive scheme: Wing T

Defensive scheme: 4-3

Key players: LB/WR Chaun Gresham (6-3, 205, Sr.); RB/DB Jon Lee (5-10, 175, Jr.); OL Chris Parr (5-10, 245, Sr.)

Who’s out

Eastside

Moved to: Region 8-AAA

2007 results: 7-3

Alcovy

Moved to: 4-AAAA

2007 results: 2-8

Dacula

Moved to: 8-AAAAA

2007 results: 5-5

Jackson County

Moved to: Region 8-AAA

2007 results: 0-10



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