The Corky Kell Classic dominates the Class AAAAAAA schedule this week with four games between high-class teams Saturday at Georgia State Stadium.
The Colquitt County-Norcross and Mill Creek-McEachern games match two ranked teams and are previewed by GHSF Daily’s Top 10 Games. You can read more about them there, along with a Lowndes-Valdosta preview.
North Gwinnett and Walton are middling teams trying to rebuild under new coaches – Bill Stewart (former Mill Creek defensive coordinator) at North, and Daniel Brummer (promoted assistant) at Walton.
Brookwood, ranked No. 6 in preseason, returns 10 offensive starters from a 8-4 team and is a nine-point pick by the Maxwell Ratings over Archer (4-7 last season).
Here are a few more thoughts on the opening weekend in the highest classification:
-The most competitive game in the highest classification that no one is talking about could be Woodstock at West Forsyth. Both were playoff teams last season. Woodstock lost to Brookwood 45-42 in the first round. West Forsyth beat East Coweta before losing to Grayson 59-21. West Forsyth beat Woodstock 24-21 last season and is favored by one this time.
-Another pretty good Friday matchup is South Gwinnett vs.Central Gwinnett. South has two major defensive-line prospects in Robert Cooper and Justin Mascoll. Central has the preseason all-state quarterback, Jarren Williams. South won 54-21 last season and is favored by eight this time. South Gwinnett’s new coach is Steve Davenport, who put Woodland of Cartersville on the map. He replaces John Small, who left for East Coweta.
-Buford’s 18-point projected win over Hillgrove is a little steep. Hillgrove returns most of its key players, and the Marietta Daily Journal has projected the Hawks as the favorites to win Region 3-AAAAAAA. Players to watch include TE/WR Chigoziem Okonkwo (expected to sign with Maryland or Georgia Tech), DB Jaylen McCollough (nation's No. 3 safety in the Class of 2019) and QB Hunter Arters (2,100 yards passing in 2016).
-Chip Walker, the coach who won three state titles at Sandy Creek, makes his Newnan debut today against Carrollton, the No. 5 team from Class AAAAA. Carrollton is a 13-point favorite, per the Maxwell Ratings.
-Marietta, despite just a 3-7 record last season, is a team to watch. Sophomore QB Bailey Harrison is a possible five-star recruit in the making, and the Blue Devils have been bolstered by a few significant transfers.
Here is how Maxwell sees the opening weekend for AAAAAAA teams. Keep in mind that the projections are based on historical performance, not off-season personnel changes.
Carrollton vs. Newnan -13
Newton vs. Drew -15
Buford vs. Hillgrove -18
Collins Hill at Shiloh -2
Duluth at Alcovy -3
East Coweta vs. Lovejoy -3
Etowah vs. Campbell -39
Hiram vs. Kennesaw Mountain -4
Lassiter at Johns Creek -13
Milton vs. Alpharetta -7
Mountain View vs. Osborne -39
North Cobb at Cherokee -9
North Paulding at Paulding Co. -17
Peachtree Ridge vs. Parkview -6
Pebblebrook at South Cobb -7
Rockdale Co. at Berkmar -32
Roswell vs. South Forsyth -27
Sequoyah vs. North Forsyth -9
South Gwinnett vs. Central Gwinnett -8
Tift Co. vs. South Effingham -32
Valdosta at Lowndes -3
West Forsyth vs. Woodstock -1
Wheeler vs. Marietta -4
Archer vs. Brookwood -9
Colquitt Co. vs. Norcross -18
Mill Creek vs. McEachern -6
North Gwinnett vs. Walton -3