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Georgia High school football roundtable: State title contenders and which game to watch this week

We debate some of the biggest topics in Central Georgia high school football. Lehgo!!!

MACON, Ga. — The high school football season is here, and we are through the first three weeks of Football Friday Night. The team at 13WMAZ gathered around the table to discuss the hot topics so far this season and look ahead to this week. Lehgo!!!

Which team from Central Georgia has the inside track to a state title?

Frank Malloy: I still think it’s really hard to tell this early in the season. I do think John Milledge will be really hard to beat in GIAA AAA. On the GHSA side, Northeast showed they can compete with the top-ranked team in AA, losing by a point to Fitzgerald, and Perry is flexing its offensive muscle early.

Marvin James: I feel like Perry is set up to have a lot of success if they are able to grab victories over Veterans and Peach before they enter region play. Armar Gordon Jr, Dakari Anderson, Demetrius Carter and company are helping guide the Panthers into something special this season. 

Connor Hines: When it comes to an inside track, I automatically think John Milledge Academy. Only time will tell whether or not JMA’s new opponents in the GIAA will be any cause for concern, but it feels like the Trojans seem to be on a mission yet again this year. 

Justin Baxley: I am on the Perry bandwagon. Armar Gordon Jr. is the type of player that can carry a team to a state championship, but this team has weapons all over the field on offense and defense, so he is not doing it alone. I think the Panthers, despite the loss to a good Houston County team, are still the favorites to take home some hardware this season. Give me JMA on the GIAA side of things. JT Wall is one of the best coaches in the state, and I think will guide them to another title.  

Who is your player of the year through the first three weeks?

Frank: It is still very early, but Perry QB Armar Gordon Jr and HoCo QB Antwann Hill Jr. are both performing at very high levels.

Marvin: Too early to say at the moment, but what Jones County senior Javious Bond is doing in all three phases of the game, as a lockdown corner, an explosive runner/receiver and return man, it doesn’t get much better even if it doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet. But time will tell. 

Connor: It’s quite a small sample size, but what Perry quarterback Armar Gordon Jr. has done through two games is pretty incredible. After a game they should’ve had against Houston County, Gordon and the Panthers bounced back like it was nothing at all, easily topping Jones County 42-14. That response showed us everything we needed to know about what Perry’s quarterback is capable of this season.

Justin: It really seems to be a coin flip between Gordon and Hill. Hill has the head-to-head win, so he gets the nod slightly, but these two will likely battle it out all season to see who the top guy is. Gordon may have the inside track, though, as Perry might be better equipped to make a deep playoff run. Houston County, on the other hand, has been one of the most pleasant surprises through the first few weeks; let's see if Hill and the Bears can maintain this level of play. 

What team’s record is most deceiving? 

Frank: Definitely Northeast. The Raiders are 0-2 with a rain-shortened two-point loss to Mary Persons and a one-point loss to Fitzgerald. The Raiders are young but talented, and they should continue to improve as the season moves along.

Marvin: Impressive but deceiving is Houston County’s 3-0 record. Now they don’t win all three of these games last year, but their lone high-quality win so far was a walk-off shootout with Perry. After this week with Locust Grove, they battle six straight playoff teams from a year ago, which will form a far greater challenge to the Bears; however, no doubt HoCo is much improved this season and will be playoff bound in year one under Head Coach Jeremy Edwards. 

Connor: Northside. The Eagles’ two losses have come against a talented Jones County team in the season opener and then against their rival, Warner Robins, in a game that literally came down to one final play. But taking a look at how they dismantled Peach County on the road showed not only what they’re capable of from a skillset standpoint but also the ability to respond after tough losses. With a week off to regroup this Friday, I expect the Eagles to respond well once again.

Justin: Northeast and Northside. Northeast, like Frank, pointed out, is 0-2, but one is in a rain-shortened game against a good Mary Persons team, and the other is a one-point loss to a perennial title contender. There may be no such thing as a good loss, but the Raiders haven’t taken a bad loss yet.

Northside is in the same boat with a big win over Peach County to go with losses to Jones County and Warner Robins. The Eagles are a team that can compete with anyone in the state. That should be the takeaway after watching them through the first couple of weeks. I expect both of these teams to be battle-tested by the playoffs and could go on a run. 

Watch out for Baldwin, too, as they face a similarly tough schedule but should be well-prepared by the time region play starts. 

What game are you most excited about this week?

Frank: Jones County at Peach County should be entertaining along with Bleckley County traveling to Schley County and the battle of Bibb County unbeaten teams with Rutland vs. Westside.

Marvin: Peach vs Jones County. Not a must-win because it’s non-region but an important game for both programs that don’t like to lose. Both are coming off losses, so I’m very curious to see which side punches back in the win column this week. 

Connor: I think we learn a lot more about where Warner Robins stands after this week’s game with Valdosta. The Demons got an early reality check with a week 1 loss to Lee County, and after responding with a win over rival Northside, it’s another big-time region test for the defending state champs. I think we’ll learn a lot more about the talent that the Demons have at their disposal come this Friday night.

Justin: Rutland versus Westside. Rutland is undefeated through two games for the first time since 2013, which happens to be the year I graduated from there. As a proud Rutland alum, it is good to see them heading in the right direction. Westside is pushing hard for coach Spoon Risper to reach 100 wins as quickly as possible. This game should tell you a lot about both teams. If Westside beat Rutland in dominating fashion, then look for the Seminoles to make some noise come playoff time. If Rutland pulls off the upset, then this might just be a special group out of south Bibb.  


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