The high school football season is nearing the midway point which means regional play is in full swing. There were two pivotal games that would give the winner the inside track to the region title and one team that has won numerous region and state titles is not the dominant team they once were. And this coming weekend off football games features two Cobb County teams that are having tremendous starts to their season. Here are the top five stories on the Georgia high school scene.
5. KELL ROLLS PAST HIRAM
The Kell Longhorns are off to a great start to their season, but knew they were going to have their hands full this past Friday when they faced Hiram who like Kell was undefeated going into the Region 5-AAAA contest. But the Hiram offense could not get off the ground and Kell capitalized with a 30-7 victory.
The formula for the Longhorns' success was a healthy dose of running backs Chris Gaines and Brian Randolph. Gaines had 167 rushing yards and one score while Randolph, who also intercepted a pass on defense, tallied 79 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns. Kell now has a 5-0 record which is their best start in school history.
4. HOW SWEET IT IS
Buford is the defending Class AA state champions, but they wanted to get their revenge on Lovett who defeated the Wolves last year 28-21. So when the Wolves faced the Lions on Friday night, it was safe to say the Wolves are fired up. They were and showed no mercy against the Lions, rushing for 488 yards en route to a 37-14 win.
Buford's senior running back Seon Jones racked up 313 of those 488 yards on 15 carries with two touchdown runs. Buford was up 20-14 at halftime, but turned it up in the second half, thanks to a Jones 85-yard TD run in the third quarter which led to 17 unanswered points by the No. 2 team in AA. Buford now has a chance to run the table before they play their region play-in game on November 5. Lovett drops to 2-2, but because they are in a different sub region, they still could be a No.2 seed in the playoffs if they finish the season strong.
3. JUST NOT THE SAME
Back in the early 2000s Parkview was winning state title after state title and it looked like as long as head coach Cecil Flowe, they were going to be unstoppable. But things have changed over the years and as a result, the Panthers have not been to a state title game since 2004. In fact, they failed to make the playoff last year for the first time since 1992 and this year, they are off to one of their worst starts in recent history with a 1-3 record after losing to South Gwinnett Friday night.
One of the main problems for the Panthers is the emergence of other Gwinnett County schools such as Grayson, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge. Even South Gwinnett has gotten into the mix as they are off to a great start to their season. Peachtree Ridge won a state title in 2006 while North Gwinnett reached the finals in 2007. Can they ever be the team they once were 10 years ago. I believe so, but with the other Gwinnett teams being as talented as they are, it's going to be an up hill battler for Parkview.
2. COBB COUNTY SHOWDOWN
Over the past year, Kell has become one of the best teams in the Cobb County area. But there is another team from Cobb that is trying to make a name for themselves and are also undefeated in Region 5 AAAA. The Pope Greyhounds are off to a 4-0 start and they will have one of their biggest games in school history when they face Kell on Friday night.
Pope has been able to get off to a hot start with a steady offense and a solid defense. The Greyhounds have scored over 20 points in all four games and are led by quarterback Holland Frost and OL Thomas O'Riley who is considered one of the best in the state. They will take a on a Kell team who knows how to win big games. They took out Hiram this past Friday and edge past Grayson in the Kell classic in August. Whoever wins this game will have a strong grip for the top spot in Region 5-AAAA North Division.
1. SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL
In Georgia, Friday nights are dedicated to high school football. However, Saturday night will feature a marquee matchup between a metro Atlanta team and South Georgia team that has a lot of history. Valdosta will make the trip up to DeKalb and take on M.L. King. Valdosta comes into the game with a 5-0 record and are off to one of their better starts in recent memory. The Wildcats are one of the most successful programs in U.S. history, having won more games than any high school program in the nation and they are looking to win a record 25th state championship.
M.L. King is an upstart program that started playing in 2002. But they have had a good amount of success in a short amount of time, reaching the state quarterfinals in 2007 and the semifinals in 2004. The Lions lost their first game this season against South Gwinnett, but have gotten on a little bit of a roll with wins over Collins Hill and Westlake. The game will be on the web via Georgia Public Broadcasting.