The Stephens County-Hart County rivalry didn’t need an influx of excitement — the game has decided the Region 8-AAA championship each of the last three seasons. But when Ren Teasley, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher for the last two seasons, showed up at Stephens County practice to start the 2008 season, that’s exactly what it got.
“It’s disappointing,” Hart County coach Joby Scroggs told the Hartwell Sun. “He participated in all our camps and practiced all summer. ... Our goal is to teach these players integrity. I feel like we failed with Ren.”
Teasley is expected to fill the 2,000-yard void left by Tauren Poole (now at the University of Tennessee) in the Indians’ offense. The Bulldogs will get a chance to face their former teammate when they travel to Stephens County on Sept. 26. By that time, the Indians should be tested, to say the least. They open the season playing host to Flowery Branch and then travel to LaGrange on Sept. 19 before opening their region slate.
The addition of Eastside, Morgan County and Jackson County should stir things up in the region. Eastside went 7-3 in Region 8-AAAA last season, but missed out on the playoffs. Morgan County was 7-4 in 2007 and has made seven consecutive Class AA playoff appearances. Jackson County was winless last year, but coach Billy Kirk feels like his team will be ready to compete this season.
Favorite/defending champ: Stephens County
The Indians have won the last three Region 8-AAA titles and four of the last five. They’ve lost three-year starting running back Tauren Poole and quarterback Ethan Martin, but a strong junior class, a history of winning and the unexpected addition of one of the area’s best running backs makes it tough to pick against the Indians in 2008.
Since Travis Noland arrived in 2005, Stephens County has gone 32-5, advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs each year. Receivers Kadaryl Burtch and Jaquan Trammel could be the primary targets for new quarterback Dacen Cash, but a newcomer might be the linchpin in Noland’s mulitple set offense.
Ren Teasley, who led rival Hart County in rushing each of the last two seasons, is now enrolled at Stephens County and could lead the way to another region championship.
Darkhorse: Oconee County
The last time a team other than Stephens County or Hart County finished as Region 8-AAA’s top two was in 2004 when Oconee County took the title. That was also the last year the Warriors posted a winning record, so 2008 might be their best chance since then at repeating the feat.
Zach Mettenberger, a University of Georgia recruit who’s considered one the nation’s top quarterbacks, will shoulder the bulk of the offensive responsibility. Despite a losing record last season, he led the team to a playoff berth, completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,300 yards.
Colors: Hunter green and silver
Coach: Rick Hurst
2007 results: 7-3 (Region 8-AAAA)
Offensive scheme: Shotgun spread
Defensive scheme: 3-5-3
Key players: QB Justin Wray (6-2, 205, Sr.); FB Broderick Alexander (6-1, 215, Sr.); WR Anderico Bailey (6-0, 175, Sr.); OL James Johnson (6-2, 285, Sr.); DE Jacorey Maddox (6-3, 215, Sr.) LB Hunter Parker (5-7, 165, Sr.)
Colors: Red, black and white
Coach: Billy Kirk
2007 results: 0-10 (Region 8-AAAA)
Offensive scheme: Split back
Defensive scheme: 50
Key players: LB Charles Smothers (5-11, 195, Jr.); RB Rob Williams (5-10, 175, Jr.); LB Jon Holton (5-11, 198, Jr.); C Jacob Hyder (6-0, 217, Sr.); LB Matt Robinson (6-0, 210 Sr.)
Colors: Red, black and white
Coach: Bill Malone
2007 results: 7-4, lost first round of playoffs (Region 8-AA)
Offensive scheme: Multiple wing-T
Defensive scheme: 4-4
Key players: QB/DB Terence Harper (5-9, 165, Jr.); OL/DE Philip Stovall (6-0, 225, Sr.); WR/OLB Clay Duvall (5-10, 165, Sr.); ILB Brandon Rivers (5-11, 185, Sr.); FB/LB Ryan Glosson (5-8, 170, Sr.)
Moved to: Region 8-AAAA
2007 results: 6-6, second round playoffs
Moved to: 8-AAA
2007 results: 3-7