MACON, Ga. — The high school football season is here, and we are through the first four 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 do you have as a lock to win their region this year?
Frank Malloy: Northeast is starting to roll, and it will be tough for someone to trip up the Raiders during the rest of the regular season. They are young but tough with a very balanced offense.
Marvin James: I like the odds with Perry. They are continuing to show strength on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. We hear so much about the great efforts from Anderson, Carter and Gordon, rightfully so but their defense has been pretty stellar as well. De’untae Kendrick has like 4 pick sixes this season. I’m going with Rock Perry Rock!
Connor Hines: After last week’s convincing win over ACE, I really don’t see anybody slowing down the Northeast Raiders as the rest of the regular season goes on. Jeremy Wiggins has a bunch full of confident dudes, and Northeast looks as balanced as ever. With their already favorable schedule in hand, the Raiders are going to be tough to stop anytime before the GHSA state playoffs.
Justin Baxley: I know it is a bit repetitive, but Northeast is the right answer. The Raiders are rolling and have looked like a top-five team in Central Georgia through the first five weeks. The losses came against a top-tier team in Fitzgerald and half a game against Mary Persons. Both losses have come by less than three points. Barring an upset, this team looks like a lock to win their region.
What has been the biggest surprise in the new GIAA?
Frank: The fact that FPD, Mt. de Sales, Stratford and Tattnall all lost last week. The Trojans and Vikings fell in one-score games while the Cavaliers and Eagles struggled to stay close against Westfield and St. Anne-Pacelli. Also, the CFCA Lancers upgraded their schedule this year and continue to find a way to win every week.
Marvin: I’ll go against the grain and give JT Wall his flowers. Albeit not a total surprise, his team is dominating in GIAA. Often in sports, we all become spoiled by what we are used to seeing. Then we interpret it as being easy and the norm. What Coach Wall and JMA consistently and continuously do on the field is surprising to an extent because it’s HARD to maintain, especially in the high school ranks.
Connor: Following their state championship run last year, I don’t know if it’s fair to be “surprised,” but the CFCA Lancers have picked up right where they left off. Moving from the GAPPS to the GIAA has not phased this program in the least. Even a GHSA program like Crawford County proved to be no problem for Coach Walls and Company, and I give CFCA a great shot to now finish the regular season undefeated.
Justin: I think I expected more immediate success for the group of Macon schools. All four teams lost last week. I think they will have the ship righted by the time the playoffs roll around, but it hasn’t been as smooth as I anticipated. Though I guess there shouldn’t be much panic after just one down week. On a more positive note, JMA and CFCA are looking really good. John Milledge looks destined to bring home another state title.
Is Perry the team to beat in 4A?
Frank: I believe so, even though both Howard and Westside are also off to fast starts. The Panthers are so explosive on offense, led by quarterback Armar Gordon Jr., and they appear to be a team on a mission poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Marvin: Most definitely, they are in Central Georgia. The rest of the state remains to be seen. But I do like their chances. Teams like Cedartown and North Oconee also have had special seasons thus far. Hopefully, Perry can earn home-field advantage and perhaps some luck with the coin flip to continue the workings of a talented group that has the experience for the long run.
Connor: Until they’ve been beaten, the answer for me is undoubtedly yes. Up to this point in the year, the only blemish on the schedule is the 57-56 loss to Houston County, which anyone in Perry will tell you the Panthers should have had in the bag. In the time since, we’ve seen the resiliency of this team and how they frankly just refuse to lose, no matter the opponent. They have weapons at every position, and I see the Panthers cruising to a second straight region title. Of course, the test will come in the state playoffs, but even then, I like Perry’s chances against anyone else in class 4A.
Justin: The short answer: Yes. The longer answer is that this team looks like one that is on a mission. The heartbreaking loss to Houston County might be the wake-up call that the doctor ordered. The biggest thing is they just have to continue to play up to their potential, and they might just be raising a trophy come season's end.
What under-the-radar game do you have circled this week?
Frank: Schley Co. vs. Macon Co. in Montezuma. These two rivals are neighbors and also play in a very competitive Region. Friday’s winner takes a big step towards securing home-field in the opening round of the playoffs come November.
Connor: Stratford (3-1) at Brookstone (3-0). It’s been a nice start to the year for the Eagles, and a road win against Brookstone would be just what the doctor ordered after being handed their first loss of the year at home against St. Anne-Pacelli last week. While this one will be played in Columbus, I think it’s a winnable matchup for Stratford and would give them some much-needed momentum into the second half of the year, with those big matchups against Macon’s GIAA schools still looming ahead.
Justin: Crisp County at Northside. If not for the big game across town between Warner Robins and Houston County, this one might be getting more attention. Both are really good squads, but I expect Northside to continue to build its resume, as this might be a sneaky team to make a deep playoff run.
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