2004 Football Preview
Class AAA - Region 3
One of the classification's largest regions is subdividing into north and south subregions. The south consists of Benedictine, Burke County, Jefferson County, Liberty County, Richmond Hill and South Effingham. The north features Butler, Cross Creek, Glenn Hills, Harlem, Hephzibah, Richmond Hill and Thomson.
In the south subregion, Burke County and Benedictine should be the favorites to capture the subregion's two playoff positions. Benedictine hasn't done well since winning the Region 3-AAAAA title in 1996 and going a couple of rounds in the state playoffs. Dropping down two classifications should help.
Burke County, a member of Class AAAA last year, struggled after making the state playoffs in 2002. The Bears were young last season and, after a year of maturity, should return to the postseason. The good news is the return of linebacker Marcus Washington (6-1, 216), an outstanding player who has verbally committed to the University of Georgia.
South Effingham made the playoffs last year before getting thumped by Washington County in the first round. The Mustangs lost a lost of talent, but should make a serious run at the postseason.
Jefferson County also made the playoffs and with Washington County, Laney and Westside-Augusta out of its region, Jefferson could challenge for another postseason berth.
Richmond Hill and Liberty County struggled last season and with a much-tougher region, aren't expected to make much noise in the new region standings.
In the north subregion, look for Thomson to return to state dominance. After winning a state crown in 2002, the Bulldogs had to rebuild last year but still managed a berth in the second round. Eleven starters return, including seven on defense. Offensively, senior quarterback Dan Ivey (5-11, 175) will guide the offense. Replacing two 1,000-yard rushers in Ricky Hill and Danny Warren won't be easy, but senior fullback Marcus Wilson (6-0, 215) should shoulder most of the load. The return of four starters on the offensive line will help.
Butler made the second round of the playoffs last season but lost a lot of linemen on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs should still contend for the playoffs. Defensive end/tight end Tyrese Harris (6-3, 215) could be the region's best player.
Hephzibah just missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The Rebels return seven starters on defense and three on offense. Hephzibah will be led by a trio of seniors – defensive end Jeremy Thomas (6-0, 220), linebacker Bruce Lee (6-0, 185) and linebacker J'Michael Swain (5-10, 215), who will also play quarterback.
A team to watch out for is Glenn Hills. The Spartans have steadily improved since Felix Curry took over in 2001. After not winning a game that year, Glenn Hills has narrowly missed the playoffs the past two years.
Harlem hasn't had much success since making the playoffs in 2001.
Cross Creek and Richmond Academy struggled last year. None
of the three are expected to contend for playoff berths.
Class AAA - Region 3
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