2006 Football Preview
Class AAA - Region 8
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As usual, there will continue to be excellent football played in this region. However, until someone else steps up, the winner of the Nov. 3 game between Stephens County and Hart County in Hartwell should decide the region title. Both teams return a wealth of talent after making appearances in the state quarterfinals last season.
Stephens County should continue where it left off. The Indians, after losing their opener to Perry, reeled off 11 straight wins to claim the region title. Stephens whipped Chestatee in the first round, then beat a strong Cartersville team before falling to eventual state champion Peach County in the quarterfinals. The Indians return 1,300-rusher Tauren Poole (5-10, 175), a junior who can run and catch passes out of the backfield.
Hart County may have overachieved last season with a talented squad full of underclassmen. A year older and more-experienced, Hart County will not only contend for the region crown but also make another deep postseason run. The Bulldogs should be strong defensively, especially at defensive tackle where senior Shane McCord (6-1, 275) returns.
After Hart and Stephens, the region race won't be as clear. Elbert County, Franklin County and Oconee County should vie for the final two playoff spots.
Oconee County lost most of its talent from last season's state playoff team. The Warriors will be rebuilding in 2006, but there is enough talent to make a run at the playoffs.
Franklin County could be the region's surprise team. The Lions narrowly missed the playoffs last year and were good enough to beat Hart County midway through the season.
Elbert County will challenge once again for the postseason. Expect Jeff Arnette's team to be much-improved.
Monroe Area showed promise at times last year but likely won't factor in the playoff race. Apalachee should be better but not good enough to make the postseason.
Class AAA - Region 8 Football Preview
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