The Impact of Reclassification
One of the big changes this year for high school football in Georgia is the GHSA’s addition of a sixth classification for member schools. During the off-season schools were re-classified to accommodate the change and the impact on DeKalb County teams is dramatic.
Perennial AAAAA playoff contenders Stephenson and M.L. King were placed in the newly created Reg. 6-AAAAA, along with former AAAA teams Tucker (2011 state champion), SW DeKalb, Dunwoody and Mays. Lakeside, Miller Grove and Arabia Mountain (AAA in 2011) also join what is considered to be one of the state’s most competitive regions.
A few matchup dates to circle on your calendar: September 8 (SW DeKalb vs. M.L. King), September 28 (SW DeKalb vs. Stephenson), October 12 (Tucker vs. Stephenson), October 19 (Tucker vs. SW DeKalb), October 26 (M.L. King vs. Stephenson), and November 2 (Tucker vs. M.L. King).
The renewal of the SW DeKalb-Stephenson rivalry – which the Panthers lead 5-3 despite the Jaguars having notched a 6-0 win when the teams last met in 2005 – pits two of the most playoff bound programs in DeKalb over the past seventeen years against each other.
SW DeKalb and M.L. King – two schools separated by only a couple of miles – have met just twice, the last time in 2009 when the Lions won 13-9 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
The M.L. King-Stephenson series is tied 3-3 with the last two victories giving the Lions a region title. The 2011 game went down to the final seconds with M.L. King winning on an 80-yard kickoff return by Georgia signee Blake Tibbs.
Two-time state champion Tucker will play its first-ever regular season games against both Stephenson and M.L. King this year. The Tucker-SW DeKalb series is 10-6-1 in favor of the Tigers, and always seems to have playoff implications.
Druid Hills, which posted a 4-6 overall record last year, moves up to the new AAAAAA classification where they’ll play in Reg. 2, Subregion A along with Alcovy, Newton and Rockdale County. The only two DeKalb County teams still on the Red Devils’ schedule this year are Clarkston (August 31) and Chamblee (September 7).
Preseason Scrimmage Games Involving County Teams
You’ll have to wait another week for games that count. But if you’re like me, you’re ready for some football, so here’s a list of preseason scrimmage games this weekend involving county teams:
Arabia Mountain at Forest Park (7 PM, Tara Stadium)
Chamblee at Bainbridge (7:30 PM, Bainbridge)
Clarkston at Meadowcreek (7 PM, Meadowcreek)
Columbia at Tri-Cities (7:30 PM, Tri-Cities)
Dunwoody at Alcovy (7:30 PM, Sharp Stadium)
Holy Innocents at Decatur (7:30 PM, Decatur)
Lithonia at Salem (7 PM, Salem)
McNair at South Atlanta (6:30 PM, South Atlanta)
Miller Grove at Westlake (7:30 PM, Westlake)
North Gwinnett at Stephenson (7 PM, Hallford Stadium)
St. Pius at Stephens Co. (7:30 PM, Toccoa)
Towers at Therell (6 PM, Therrell)
Cedar Grove at M.L. King (7 PM, Panthersville Stadium)
Druid Hills at Lakeside (6 PM, Adams Stadium)
SW DeKalb at Newton (7:30 PM, Sharp Stadium)
Three of the games are among Georgia High School Football Daily’s feature matchups of the week.
Stephens County is an early contender for the Reg. 8-AAAA title and they have a stud RB in Chaz Thornton (2,179 rushing yards in 2011). The Indians face St. Pius Friday night in Toccoa and the Golden Lions have a pair of highly regarded players themselves in junior RB/DB’s Nick Glass and Nick Ruffin.
Two county teams face off Saturday night at Panthersville Stadium when Cedar Grove takes on M.L. King. The Saints send out talented QB Johnathon McCrary, a Vandy commit, against a strong Lions squad that has to come up with a replacement for last year’s QB Jonquel Dawson (8,798 career passing yards). Senior Dean Bickley and juniors Monqavious Johnson and Roland Rivers are the candidates.
It’ll be former player taking on former coach Saturday night in Covington as SW DeKalb visits the Newton Lions. Newton’s coach Cortez Allen played for SW DeKalb coach Buck Godfrey on a Panthers’ team that won the state title in 1995. Allen says his Lions have the state’s best defensive line and points to seniors Treyvon Richardson and Kingsley Ejike as the anchors.
Friday night’s game between Stephenson and North Gwinnett features two players named this week to the IMG Academy 2012 All-Madden Football Team. Brandon Washington is the Jaguars’ leading returning rusher, gaining 181 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and scoring three touchdowns in 2011. Right guard Justin Haymes is in his first year at Stephenson and is already committed to Georgia Southern. North Gwinnett has another outstanding team this year, so this should be a great matchup.
There were two scrimmage games played last Friday.
In a matchup of the past two AAAA state champions, Tucker squeaked by Chattahoochee 14-13. The game was Bryan Lamar’s debut as the Tigers’ head coach.
Also last Friday Stone Mountain came out on the short end of a 28-0 score with Wheeler.
Redan and Cross Keys will scrimmage next Saturday August 24 at 4 PM at Cross Keys High. Marist and Centennial will scrimmage the same day at Centennial High in Roswell.
It’s a great slate of action and will only serve to get fans juiced up for next week’s start of the regular season. If you don’t see another game you like, come on out to Adams Stadium Saturday at 6 PM and join me for Lakeside vs. Druid Hills.
Let the (scrimmage) games begin!
John Becker is a 30-year Atlanta resident, currently living in Virginia-Highland. John’s a freelance writer and an avid high school, college and pro football fan (much to the detriment of most other productive activities during the fall). As the Voice of Adams Stadium (public address announcer), John brings a unique perspective to his analysis of high school football in DeKalb County and he looks forward to sharing his insight with fans through his blog.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter at @JNBecker.