Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stephens to make Ware debut; Creekside to open title defense

Only about half of the Class AAAAA teams will be in action on the first weekend of the high school football season, but there are plenty of good games on the schedule. Eight of the top 10 teams in the classification play in Week 1, and most of those teams should face a decent season-opening test. And one game between unranked teams could go a long way in determining a region champion. Here are some of the stories worth watching this weekend in AAAAA:

- Franklin Stephens will make his debut as the Ware County coach at home on Friday when the fifth-ranked Gators face Class AA #4 Brooks County. Stephens came from Lamar County to replace Ed Dudley, who left for the Carrollton job after leading Ware County to a 50-16 record in five seasons. Stephens was 26-2-1 in two seasons at Lamar County after going 64-6 with two state titles in five years at Tucker. Ware County was 11-2 and reached the state quarterfinals last season.

- Top-ranked Creekside will begin the defense of its first state championship when it hosts Class AAAAAA South Cobb on Friday night. The Seminoles have four potential Division I signees – tackles Venzell Boulware and Marquel Harrell, LB Joshua Moon and WR Jayson Stanley, an AJC Super 11 pick. Creekside was 15-0 last season and won 13 games by at least two touchdowns. South Cobb won at least seven games each year from 2010 to 2012 but took a step back last year at 3-7.

- Seventh-ranked Kell has been successful against higher-classification teams in the Corky Kell Classic, going 3-1 the past four years against Chattahoochee and Grayson. This year the Longhorns will face a smaller school, but it will be a tough test when they meet Class AAAA No. 5 Carrollton at 9 a.m. Saturday. Kell won a school-record 13 games last season and reached the state semifinals for the first time. Carrollton was 13-2 in 2013 and lost to Griffin in the Class AAAA championship game.

- The early lead in 5-AAAAA will be at stake when perennial playoff teams Allatoona and East Paulding meet in Acworth in the only game on the region’s schedule this week. Both teams are among the top 13 in Class AAAAA in the computer Maxwell Ratings. The other top contender, South Paulding, opens against Sprayberry in a non-region game but will get its shot against the Raiders and Buccaneers in the first four weeks of the season.

- Mays reached the second round of the playoffs last year for the first time since 2007, and the Raiders will try to build on that success in Corey Jarvis’ second season as coach. Mays, ranked No. 10, will open the season at 8:30 p.m. Saturday against Class AAAAAA No. 10 Hughes at Tri-Cities High School. Mays has five players committed to Division I schools – DE Natrez Patrick (Georgia), OL Dallas Warmack (Alabama), WR Tyshawn Brown (Purdue), DE Aaron Cochran (Louisville) and LB Charlie Patrick (Georgia State).

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