Class A - Region 8 Football Preview

2005 Football Preview
Class A - Region 8

They may not reach the quarterfinals again this year, but the green and white clad Athens Academy Spartans should repeat as Region 8 champs. Even though they lost some good athletes to graduation, including the best kicker in Class A, the Spartans will simply re-load with the capable guidance of Coach Michael Gunn. QB Malloy VanGorder got thrown into the fire in last year's playoff game against the eventual champs from Hawkinsville and gained invaluable experience, but he's since moved with his family to Florida where his father, former UGA defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, is now a coach with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Finding a replacement will be the key to whatever success the Spartans have. The defense always plays with intensity and returns enough starters to make them a dominant force to deal with.

Coach Bill Navas and the Jefferson Dragons lost to the Spartans by a single point last season and lost to annual power Commerce in double overtime. They traveled to Bremen for another loss in the first round of the playoffs and finished 8-3. The Dragons will be hard-pressed to better that mark this season.

Even tough Commerce will be in a rebuilding mode after losing basically their entire backfield along with several quality linemen and defensive players from last year's 7-5 team, they should contend for the region title as always. Returning to lead Coach Steve Savage's defense, which is always aggressive and hard-hitting, is senior linebacker Hunter Roop, an All-State candidate. Offensively the Tigers will have a lot of youth in the line-up with sophomore quarterback Reuben Haynes under center. Lining up behind him in the "I Bone" will be Taylor Streetman at fullback, Randy Womack at two back and Josh Hill (Region 8 200-meter champ) at tailback. Roop will be the "bell cow" in the offensive line.

At Social Circle Coach Ken Stoudenmire will be looking to replace his All-State tailback Elijah Wyatt in addition to a talented quarterback and wide receiver. The new featured tailback will be Marquis Williams, who averaged over 10 yards a carry last year. The Redskins return most of the offensive line including Division 1 prospect Levi Bailey and several defensive players including linebacker Keith Bramblett, who should be the leading tackler in the 'Skins' 5-2 scheme.

The Towns County Indians will repeat their 0-4 region record and the Athens Christian Eagles play a non-region schedule.

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