Region 6-AA may have gotten tougher with the addition of former Class AAA schools Westminster and Blessed Trinity, but it’s still top heavy.
You can probably add both new teams into the playoff race with Buford, Greater Atlanta Christian and Lovett, but in reality, it’s been Buford and then everybody else since the Wolves joined the region in 2006.
The region’s representatives swept 8-AA in the first round of the state playoffs last year, and combined for a 12-3 postseason record, thanks largely to Buford’s and Lovett’s run to the state championship game.
Westminster enters the region after a second round appearance in the Class AAA state playoffs last season. The Wolves trounced Gainesville, 48-8, in the first round before getting bumped by Carrollton. Since coach Gerry Romberg’s third season in 1994, Westminster has had just two losing seasons.
Lovett has been in the Class AA semifinals each of the past two seasons, and has experienced a resurgence since Mike Muschamp took over the program for longtime coach Bill Railey in 2005. But the Lions lost 25 seniors from last year’s team. They might have enough to get back to the postseason, but another deep run once they get there is unlikely.
Favorite/defending champ: Buford
By now, picking the 6-AA region champ isn’t even a discussion. Going back to their Region 8-AA days, the Wolves have won seven straight region championships. They haven’t lost to anybody but Charlton County since 2004, and they’ve picked up four state championships along the way, the latest of which came last season.
Key elements of every unit of the 2007 team have graduated, but in Buford, it seems capable replacements are always there waiting for a chance. Storm Johnson picks up the baton at tailback after rushing for 274 yards (7.6 per carry) as a reserve in his sophomore season. He’ll split carries with all-purpose back Cody Getz, one of the team’s fastest players.
Dallas Lee, who’s verbally committed to Georgia, anchors both the offensive and defensive lines. He and senior defensive end Andrew Sachais combined for 20 sacks last season.
Darkhorse: Greater Atlanta Christian
It’s hard to say any team is likely to knock off Buford until you actually see it happen.
Greater Atlanta Christian, Westminster and 2007 Class AA runner-up Lovett have all been tabbed by various media outlets as top 10 teams in 2008. Of the three, the Spartans might have the best chance at unseating the Wolves.
GAC doesn’t have a tailback in the mold of recent standout Caleb King, but quarterback Colton Chapple could end up as a Division-I recruit and he’s got Julian Horton, who’s already got at least one SEC offer, to throw to.
Defensively, linebacker Christian Robinson is out, but Blake Southerland, who has committed to Vanderbilt, remains.
The Spartans also have experience on the line coming back, and a winning tradition that includes 13 consecutive playoff appearances and at least nine wins per season every year since 2000.
Colors: Hunter green and Vegas gold
Coach: Ricky Turner
2007 results: 7-3 (Region 5-AAA)
Offensive scheme: Pro I
Defensive scheme: 3-5-3
Key players: OT Matt Crisafi (6-4, 302, Sr.); RB Sam Berkhalter (5-10, 205, Sr.); QB Cole Hegestschweiler (6-3, 190, Sr.)
Colors: Green and white
Coach: Gerry Romberg
2007 results: 9-3, second round state playoffs (Region 5-AAA)
Moved to: Region 5-A
2007 results: 7-5, lost second round of playoffs
Moved to: Region 8-A
2007 results: 5-5
Moved to: Region 6-A
2007 results: 2-8