Class AAAA - Region 8

2004 Georgia High School Football Preview

2004 Football Preview
Class AAAA - Region 8

It's been at least a decade since Clarke Central had a dominating team. The Gladiators, under coach William DeVane, should continue improving this season with a talented group of players itching to take Clarke Central's football program back to the glory days it experienced under former coach Billy Henderson in the 1980s. If some interior lineman can be found on both sides of the ball, the Gladiators should win this region easily. Clarke has one of the top wide receiving prospects in the Southeast in senior Micah Hurst (6-2, 180), who has good speed and is a deep-ball threat. He hauled in 32 passes for 402 yards and three touchdowns last year. But the bad news is that Clarke must find someone who can get Hurst the ball. Three-year starter Nelson Browner graduated, leaving some big shoes to fill at quarterback. Sophomore running back Jasper Lumpkin had a solid freshman campaign. On defense, senior linebacker Quincy Marshall (6-0, 230) leads the way.

Cedar Shoals lost a wealth of talent, but a strong group of underclassmen are expected to contribute immediately. If the Jaguars can survive the early part of the season and allow their underclassmen to mature, they could challenge Clarke Central for the region crown. Cedar Shoals hosts Clarke Central on Sept. 10, a game that could determine the region champion.

A trio of Rockdale County schools – Heritage, Salem and Rockdale County – should jockey for playoff spots.

Heritage narrowly missed the postseason last year, finishing a game-behind Newton for the fourth seed. The Patriots won't have enough to challenge for the region title, but they have enough to make the postseason. Division I-A prospect Terrione Benefield (5-10, 175) returns at cornerback.

Salem will be improved. The Seminoles feature a strong college prospect in defensive end Dray Davis (6-2, 205).

Rockdale County struggled last season at times but should also improve.

Loganville welcomes a new coach in Eric Godfree. The former Parkview assistant is young and energetic, which could help transform the Red Devils into contenders.

Eastside and Habersham Central had subpar seasons and had it not been for Jackson County, the two teams would have occupied the cellar. The three teams should be better.

Madison County, which has played a non-region schedule the past two seasons, is playing a region schedule in 2004.

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