There’s never been a high school football season in this area without surprises.
With many schools halfway through the regular season, I wanted to give the five biggest developments that didn’t necessarily register on the radar when the season opened five weeks ago.
It only took Gainesville (5-0, 1-0 Region 7B-AAA) three weeks to get to the top of the polls in Class AAA. That’s not a surprise on the basis of talent. The Red Elephants probably have as much, if not more, than any other school in the classification. However, Gainesville probably couldn’t have gotten to the top spot on its own merit. The Red Elephants had to have a loss by previously top-ranked Carver-Columbus to make that happen, which took place when the Tigers fell to Class AAAAA juggernaut Northside-Warner Robins on Sept. 11. Maybe a thank-you card is in order.
Jefferson’s offense has been simply unstoppable. The seventh-ranked Dragons (5-0, 4-0 Region 8-AA) put up 63 points — which tied a single-game scoring record dating back 32 years — last Friday against Union County. Jefferson’s also scored over 50 points in a game three times this year. Such high offensive numbers weren’t something I saw coming with a new head coach and many key players off last year’s Region 8-AA title team at Jefferson now gone. Instead, the Dragons have just gotten better.
North Hall’s lopsided win against Creekview (3-1, 0-1 Region 7A-AAA) to open subregion play was a big surprise in my eyes. Now that’s not so much a shocker based on a preseason outlook. I picked the Trojans (2-2, 1-0 Region 7A-AAA) to win the subregion in the polls before the season opened. However, after seeing North Hall play Buford, followed by an ugly loss to Gainesville, I had to question that initial impression. But fitting to the Trojans past performances, the team looks like it is going to keep getting better as the season progresses through the subregion stretch to the playoffs. I’ve always felt that under coach Bob Christmas, no team around here is more noticably improved as the season progresses year-in, year-out than North Hall. That’s not just based on personal opinion, just look at the record books.
Another huge surprise is that Buford (3-1, 1-1 Region 6-AA) lost a regular season game. That in itself is something that only happens about once every Presidential administration. The Wolves’ loss to Lovett snapped a 49-game regular season winning streak, and was their first regular season loss to a team in their classification since a 2000 loss to Commerce. It looks as though there will finally be competition for the Class AA state title this season, after Buford’s won back-to-back state crowns.
I’m probably not the only person that’s surprised about how Union County (2-3, 1-3 Region 8-AA) has taken its lumps early in the season. The Panthers looked like they would be Jefferson’s main competition for the region title this season. However, Union County’s season has gone a little sideways after a 31-30 loss to North Oconee on Sept. 11. However, it is important to note that the Panthers will likely still be in the playoff hunt at the end, with their toughest games against the Titans (5-0, 4-0), East Jackson (5-0, 4-0) and Jefferson already out of the way.