High school football: Week 8 AP Poll hits and misses

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerOctober 18, 2012 

There were a handful of shakeups in the rankings this week, most notably at the top of Class AAAAA, where Tucker dropped from its perch at No. 1.

Tucker lost to Stephenson, 13-6, allowing Northside-Warner Robins to jump to No. 1 and Stephenson to take over No. 2.

Now, the gap between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in each classification appears to be at its widest of the entire season. Four classifications have a unanimous No. 1 and the other two are 9-1 in first-place votes.

Here's a look at the full rankings, how I voted and where I think voters went astray. As always, chime in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports

Also, be sure to join me online at 3:30-5 p.m. on Friday for the prep football chat on the Valley Preps Blog.

Class AAAAAA

1. Camden County (9) 7-0 99 1

2. Lassiter (1) 6-0 88 2

3. Norcross 7-0 77 3

4. Lowndes 7-0 72 4

5. West Forsyth 6-0 48 5

6. Grayson 6-1 47 6

7. Parkview 5-1 37 7

8. North Gwinnett 5-1 27 8

9. Lovejoy 6-1 23 T-9

T-10. North Cobb 5-1 7 NR

T-10. McEachern 5-2 7 NR

T-10. South Cobb 5-1 7 T-9

Others receiving votes: Colquitt County 6, South Gwinnett 2, Walton 2, Marietta 1.

How I voted:

1. Camden County

2. Norcross

3. Lassiter

4. Lowndes

5. West Forsyth

6. Parkview

7. Grayson

8. Lovejoy

9. South Cobb

10. North Cobb

Overvalued…

I’ve spent a lot of time just staring at these rankings, trying to come up with some fresh look at what teams are being overvalued or undervalued. The fact is, though, that I can’t really see one that stands out. I would say we might overvalue North Cobb. Looking back at past seasons, it isn’t a team that has experienced a ton of top-10 success. But then you look at games from this season, and it has a 49-17 win over Walton under its belt. The truth is, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea about Class AAAAAA.

Undervalued…

I think Grayson is in the right spot, but you can begin to see it come together as a state title contender again. I think Camden County has firmly established itself as the favorite for that distinction, but I fully expect to see a run out of Grayson come playoff time.

Just right…

Walton, this week. I was glad to see it creep back into the “receiving votes” category, though my ballot was not one that gave it any. I noticed last week that Walton was beginning to creep back toward top-10 status, and if it continues its good play, it won’t be long until that’s exactly where it is.

Class AAAAA

1. Northside-Warner Robins (10) 6-0 100 2

2. Stephenson 5-0 85 4

3. MLK, Jr. 6-0 83 3

4. East Paulding 6-0 67 5

5. Tucker 5-1 58 1

6. Thomas County Central 6-1 41 6

7. Allatoona 6-0 40 8

8. Gainesville 6-1 38 7

9. Kell 6-1 18 10

10. Warner Robins 5-1 17 9

Others receiving votes: Lee County 2, Union Grove 1.

How I voted

1. Northside-Warner Robins

2. Stephenson

3. East Paulding

4. MLK, Jr.

5. Tucker

6. Allatoona

7. Gainesville

8. Thomas County Central

9. Kell

10. Warner Robins

Overvalued…

I won’t say that Stephenson is overvalued at all. It isn’t. I voted it No. 2, and that’s where I think it belongs. I will say, however, that we should be cautious in the stock that we put behind it. It opened its season with a slim 10-point win over a team that is now 1-5, and, outside of the Tucker game, its wins have come against teams with a combined 6-18 record. A win over Tucker was huge, but I’m not sure this team is as far ahead of some of the others as our guts would have us believe.

Undervalued…

Yes, I still say East Paulding, even though it finally allowed some points in a 56-30 win over Hiram. But that isn’t the team I’ll point out this week. I think Gainesville is ranked almost exactly where it should be, but, like Stephenson, I don’t necessarily think ranking earned is equal to where it sits in comparison to other teams. Early in the season, I said that a top-notch quarterback could take a team very far, and I still believe that. After a couple of rough outings to open the season, Red Elephants quarterback Deshaun Watson has been superb. He is completing 71.8 percent of his passes for 1,877 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 521 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is one of the favorites for the state’s top player. That type of athlete can do a lot for a team.

Just right…

Alright—we can finally say it: Northside-Warner Robins is where it belongs. Alone at the top, a unanimous pick for No. 1 in Class AAAAA. We’ve all been saying for weeks that this may be the top team, but that we couldn’t unseat Tucker just because. Now, with Tucker’s loss, we can finally put Northside-Warner Robins where it belongs.

Class AAAA

1. Sandy Creek (10) 6-0 100 1

2. Marist 5-1 85 2

3. Burke County 6-1 84 3

4. Statesboro 6-1 61 4

5. Carrollton 4-2 48 5

6. Monroe Area 6-0 45 8

7. Jonesboro 5-1 41 7

8. Stockbridge 5-1 30 9

9. Griffin 4-2 25 10

10. Westside-Macon 5-1 11 NR

Others receiving votes: Chamblee 9, Ridgeland 4, Cairo 3, Grady 2, Gilmer 2.

How I voted:

1. Sandy Creek

2. Marist

3. Burke County

4. Statesboro

5. Carrollton

6. Monroe Area

7. Westside-Macon

8. Jonesboro

9. Stockbridge

10. Griffin

Overvalued…

Yeah, I’ve got Carrollton at No. 5 along with the rest of the voters, but I can’t really decide why. It has two losses, though they came against very solid opponents, and its best win is against 3-3 Chapel Hill. Can’t really see why we’ve let it stand above some of these other teams.

Undervalued…

Burke County is sitting quietly at No. 3. The team lost its opener, 21-14, to Thomson, and immediately had its chances of repeating as a state champion written off. Since then, it is 6-0 with no real struggles. It is being overlooked as a state title contender with Sandy Creek so far ahead of the field, but don’t count this team out. It might just be very good.

Just right…

I’ve got a new one this week, and its somewhat of a mea culpa from last week. Last week, I considered Monroe Area overvalued a little bit. After closer inspection, and an impressive win over Stephens County, I think this team might just be in the right spot. I watched the team play once last season (against North Hall in a state play-in game), and it looked good. It had plenty of athletes. It might not be on the same level as some of the other teams in Class AAAA, but I’m willing to say it’s a very good team.

Class AAA

1. Peach County (9) 7-0 98 1

2. Thomson (1) 7-0 90 2

3. Washington County 7-0 82 3

4. Buford 5-1 67 4

5. St. Pius X 5-1 59 5

6. Cartersville 6-0 46 6

7. Carver-Columbus 5-1 40 7

8. Blessed Trinity 5-1 24 8

9. Gordon Central 6-0 20 9

10. North Oconee 5-1 11 10

Others receiving votes: Pierce County 7, Elbert County 3, Appling County 2, Callaway 1.

How I voted:

1. Peach County

2. Thomson

3. Washington County

4. Buford

5. St. Pius X

6. Carver-Columbus

7. Cartersville

8. Blessed Trinity

9. Gordon Central

10. Appling County

Overvalued…

Not much here this week. I think most teams are either at or below where they should be.

Undervalued…

Each week, I vote Peach County at No. 1, and each week I wonder if maybe it should be Thomson. As I mentioned last week, Thomson has some great wins on its resume. I think Peach still deserves the nod at the top, but it’s very close.

Just right…

Buford stood out to me this week. It’s been in the same spot, at No. 4, for a number of weeks, but do any of us really think it doesn’t have a shot at a state title? This is a team that went to five consecutive state title games in Class AA, winning four of them. It nearly had five in a row last season with a team that may have been the finest of them all. I see it sit in the middle of the pack, doing its job each week, and I know it is improving. It has superb athletes who simply had to grow into their new roles as starters. I think that’s happened. Keep a close eye on the Wolves down the stretch.

Class AA

1. Calhoun (10) 7-0 100 1

2. Brooks County 7-0 90 2

3. Vidalia 6-0 77 3

4. Lamar County 5-0-1 63 5

5. Fitzgerald 5-2 54 4

6. Cook 6-1 49 6

7. Heard County 6-0 46 7

T-8. Greater Atlanta Christian 5-2 24 8

T-8. Jefferson 5-1 24 9

10. Benedictine Military 5-1 9 10

Others receiving votes: Bleckley County 6, Washington-Wilkes 3, Bowdon 2, Screven County 1.

How I voted:

1. Calhoun

2. Brooks County

3. Lamar County

4. Vidalia

5. Heard County

6. Cook

7. Jefferson

8. Fitzgerald

9. Bowdon

10. Washington-Wilkes

Overvalued…

Fitzgerald. By a little bit. Listen, there’s nothing to be ashamed about in a three-point loss to the No. 2 team in Class AA. But I’m thinking a handful of other teams are more deserving of a top-5 ranking at this point.

Undervalued…

I’m sticking with Heard County again this week. Yes, it barely escaped Manchester in overtime, but this is a team that appears to be gaining confidence each week. A favorable schedule should have it sitting at 9-0 when it faces Bowdon in the final week of the regular season.

Just right…

Jefferson lost to a solid Commerce team in the first week of the season, but has since impressed with a 5-0 record. With every blowout, it looks more and more like one of the best teams in Class AA.

Class A

1. Eagle's Landing Christian (10) 5-1 100 1

2. Athens Academy 6-0 83 4

3. Lincoln County 5-1 80 5

4. Emanuel County Institute 6-1 62 6

5. Prince Avenue Christian 6-1 51 8

6. Aquinas 5-1 48 3

T-7. George Walton 5-1 38 7

T-7. Savannah Christian Prep. 4-2 38 9

9. Calvary Day 5-1 27 2

10. Walker 6-0 12 T-10

Others receiving votes: Wilcox County 9, Irwin County 1, Marion County 1.

How I voted:

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian

2. Athens Academy

3. Lincoln County

4. Prince Avenue Christian

5. Calvary Day

6. George Walton

7. Emanuel County Institute

8. Aquinas

9. Savannah Christian Prep.

10. Walker

Overvalued…

Despite the shakeup over the past couple of weeks, I still don’t think there’s much of an overvalued team. I simply think we’ve got about six or seven teams that are in a very similar spot.

Undervalued…

Last week, I said Athens Academy was just right. This week, I propose the thought that we might even undervalue it a bit. Not in its ranking—it jumped to No. 2 this week—but in the chances we really give it at winning a state title. I think we’ve all selected Eagle’s Landing Christian as our favorites and haven’t looked elsewhere. But take a look at Athens Academy. Very good team.

Just right…

Prince Avenue Christian. I have it at No. 4, but I was glad to see that voters allowed it back into the top 5 this week. It has a close loss to Athens Academy, and that’s it. This is another team that has a very legitimate shot at a deep playoff run.

Who do you think should be ranked? Where did I screw up? Any other teams in the area that deserve more attention? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @leprepsports, and come back each week to see the new polls.

Also, don’t forget to join me online at 3:30-5 p.m. on Friday for the prep football chat.

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