Class AAAA - Region 1 Football Preview

2005 Football Preview
Class AAAA - Region 1

Last season was uncharacteristic for this powerhouse region. Of the four playoff teams - Ware County, Bainbridge, Thomas County Central and Americus-Sumter - only Ware County advanced beyond the first round. The 2005 season should be a better one for teams in this region. All five teams will challenge for the region title.

In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Ware County, the Gators rolled to the region title and won their first three playoff games. They advanced to the state semifinals in the Georgia Dome for the first time in school history before losing to eventual state champion Warner Robins. Coach Dan Ragle has established this program as a legitimate contender that features an explosive offense. The Gators may be good enough to win the region title by outscoring their opponents but until the team puts a strong defense on the field, Ware County will have a challenging time of winning a state title.

Thomas County Central should be much-improved after the Jackets, a state semifinalist in 2003, struggled to their worst record this decade last season. TCC should be solid on the offensive front where offensive lineman Bill Gloster (5-11, 220) and tight end Frankie Rollins (5-10, 180) return for their senior seasons. Senior wide receiver Tyler Newberry (5-9, 160) gives the Jackets an outside threat.

Look for Bainbridge to be in the mix this season. Even though they lost quarterback Pat Riley, one of region's top quarterbacks, to graduation, there is enough talent to contend for the region crown. The Bearcats feature a seasoned offensive line anchored by seniors Ward Cooper (6-3, 250) and Abe Varner (6-2, 200). One of state's more-talented players - Darryl Gamble (6-3, 210) - returns at fullback and defensive back.

It might sound strange to folks who follow South Georgia football but there is excitement in Lee County, a team that hasn't had a winning season and made the playoffs since 1999. Part of that excitement is because of three returning Division I prospects in quarterback D'Vontrey Richardson (6-1, 205), wide receiver LaValle Parker (6-0, 168) and offensive lineman Ryan Broadhead (6-6, 260). If the Trojans can play defense, they have a chance to earn a postseason trip.

A year after Americus High and Sumter County merged to form Americus-Sumter, the Panthers find themselves still trying to adjust to playing at the Class AAAA level. Americus-Sumter has to replace quarterback Cedric Johnson, a four-year starter, but there are some talented underclassmen waiting to step in.

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