The Hornets are trying to repeat after sharing the title with Peachtree Ridge a year ago. Big time players return on both sides of the football including QB Dustin Taliaferro and RB Alex Daniel to lead a potent offensive attack. Defensively, they're just as stout with arguably the top LB prospect in Georgia, Ebele Okakpu. Duke commit Curtis Hazelton bolsters the defensive line and big CB Garrett Embry has the size and ability to take away one side of the field. Losing superb athlete P.J. Beidel to a knee injury in the offseason will hurt their chances but 35 seniors should provide enough leadership for Roswell to take home back to back Titles.
Others In Contention: Lowndes, Norcross
After losing a few close games a year ago, Lowndes should be a better side in 2007. Senior RB Darriet Perry is one of the best in the State and a tough region 1 slate of games should have the Vikings battle tested come playoff time. Norcross is once again loaded with athletes, especially on the perimeter with senior receivers DeVonta Bolton and Brice Butler. Their ability to explode at any one time could prove valuable in tight contests late in the season.
AAAA Northside Warner Robins
The Eagles and head coach Conrad Nix finally took the monkey off their backs in 2006 as they completed a perfect season with a blowout of Marist in the Championship game. Northside returns arguably the most explosive offense in the state with QB Marques Ivory at the helm. His #1 target Nick Bass returns on the outside and should have the Eagle passing game flying once again. RB Tijuan Green also is back and is one of the fastest tailbacks in the State, giving Northside big play potential at every skill spot on the offensive side of the ball. A total of 30 seniors are back in all and with the load relieved from their shoulders a year ago, they should be poised to bring home another title. Former Eagle Chris Johnson lost a tragic battle with cancer during the summer and Northside will wear his #96 on their jerseys this season in honor of him.
Others in Contention: Tucker, Marist
Tucker endured a coaching change in the offseason, as Franklin Stephens steps in to replace Bill Ballard. What hasn't changed however, is the talent level for the Tigers and they return arguably the most athletic football team AAAA. The secondary is unquestionably their strength with seniors Neiko Lipscomb and Jamoris Slaughter patrolling the defensive backfield. St. Pius X transfer Jonathan Davis gives Tucker a big time tailback and one of the best linebackers in the State as well.
Head coach Dell McGee led a remarkable turnaround in 2006, taking the Tigers to the Georgia Dome after winning just 3 games the previous season. Talent is everywhere for this squad but it starts behind center with QB and Auburn commitment, DeRon Furr. Furr is a big and versatile athlete with great arm strength as well as ability to make plays with his feet and punish defenders once he breaks it into the secondary. His top target Jarmon Fortson also returns on the outside and gives Carver a big advantage in athleticism and size at the wide receiver position. It all starts up front however and Carver is bolstered along the line of scrimmage by a big and experienced offensive front led by massive tackle Sanford Banks. McGee's squad got a taste of what it's like to compete at the highest level a year ago, and I think they're prepared to take the next step in '07 in what should be a wide open race in AAA.
Others in Contention: Hart County, LaGrange, Peach County, Carrollton
It could be a free-for-all this season in AAA with no clear cut favorite anywhere to be found. Hart County returns arguably their best squad in some time with senior QB Kurvin Curry under center. The optimism abounds for the Bulldogs and many in Hartwell are believing this could be the year they break out and get the job done. Peach County may not have their star power of recent years on this ballclub, but to think the Trojans are going to be anywhere else but in the championship mix come seasons end would be foolish. Coach Pardue's Grangers will also be right in the thick of it after losing just 1 game a year ago to eventual State Champion, Peach County.
It may be a different year, but it's the same ole story in Buford with the Wolves once again poised to bring home a AA Title. Defense is the strength of this group with talent everywhere led by senior DT Omar Hunter in the middle and outstanding LB T.J. Pridemore behind him. In all, 6 starters return from a unit that allowed less than 10pts in 9 of their 12 contests a year ago. Offensively, Coach Simpson's squad will have to replace 7 starters but that doesn't mean they lack talent. Senior QB Twoey Hosch will lead the attack and FB Tyler King could prove to be one of the best lead blockers in the state. Firepower could come in the form of little guy Cody Goetz who has created a lot of buzz around the Buford program with his speed and ability to take it the distance.
Others in Contention: Charlton County
It looks to be another battle between the Indians and Wolves in AA this year. Charlton lost a lot of talent off last years Championship squad who also blew out Buford in the playoffs. You know Coach McWhorter will again field a good squad however, but they'll need to lean heavily on star player Ralph Bolden, both offensively and defensively. Bolden averaged 12.0ypc in 2006 and also added 4 interceptions.
A Emanuel County Institute
Head Coach Milan Turner is responsible for turning around the ECI program and they have their eyes fixed on the Championship in 2007. The Bulldogs turned in a perfect 10-0 regular season last year, scoring at least 35 points in all of those contests. They were stopped in week one of the playoffs however by a battle tested Hawkinsville program who had slipped to the #4 seed. ECI may have been unlucky to draw a program like Hawkinsville in the first round, but 2007 should be the year they finally make a run to the title. Young DT J.C. Lanier is one of the best football players in the state and will be a top prospect in the class of 2009.
Others in Contention: Wilcox County, Seminole County, Lincoln County, Clinch County
Wilcox is the most intriguing of this group with twin brothers Lorenzo and Alfonzo Dennard leading a talented Patriots squad. Lorenzo has started every game at QB since he was a freshman and broke out last season to become one of the most prolific passers in single A. Alfonzo is among the top college recruits in the Peach State and he does it all for the Patriots as their most talented player. Alfonzo recorded 5 INT's a year ago and reached the endzone on 13 of his 45 receptions. The Mark Ledford coached squad won 9 games in 2006, their most since the 80's. They should surpass that win total and make a run at the title in 2007.
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