Class AAA - Region 7

2004 Georgia High School Football Preview

2004 Football Preview
Class AAA - Region 7

Until somebody gives Gainesville a challenge, this region still belongs to the Red Elephants. But it may be hard for Gainesville to top the past two seasons, which include a state runner-up finish in 2002 and a second round appearance last year.

The Red Elephants have plenty of talent returning at the skill positions on offense but graduation hit them hard up front. Senior Eric Burnette will anchor the line. The good news is that senior running back Joseph Mahaffey (5-11, 185), who topped the 1,000-yard mark last season, returns. Even though senior wide receiver Jarvis Poole (6-0, 190) didn't catch many passes last season, he gives Gainesville a deep threat. Senior John Castleberry (6-0, 175) played defensive back last season and is expected to take over the quarterback duties. On defense, senior linebacker Tony Newman (6-2, 215) is as good as it gets, but Gainesville must find more linemen on the defensive front.

North Hall lost a nail-biter to Carrollton in the first round of the postseason last year and is itching for a return. The Trojans should challenge Gainesville for the region. Senior Running back T.J. Pitts (5-11, 185) has good speed and rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season. But North Hall must find a quarterback and some interior linemen to approach last year's success.

West Hall just missed making the postseason last year. They should have a say in the race this fall. The Spartans will build around senior fullback/linebacker Steven Smigelsky (6-0, 215).

Flowery Branch also was a few plays from a postseason trip in 2003 and could be the region's surprise this year. If senior quarterback Matt Jones can execute the option effectively, Flowery Branch will be in the postseason hunt. He should find plenty of running room behind offensive lineman Paul Yu.

Johnson-Gainesvlle lost a lot of players off last season's playoff team. A pair of defensive stalwarts should lead the Knights – senior cornerback Chris Garner (5-11, 185) and senior linebacker Trey Bell (6-0, 195).

Pickens and Fannin County played well at times last season and are expected to improve but not enough to make the postseason.

With a three-quarterback system, Chestatee isn't expected to get much better. White County was a very young team with mostly freshmen and sophomores. The good news is those players are a year older, but the Warriors are still a year away from competing for a postseason berth.

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