High school football: Week 10 AP Poll hits and misses

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerOctober 31, 2012 

There are a couple of things worth mentioning in the rankings this week.

The first thing that jumped out at me as I was going through the polls was something that has been going on for a number of weeks now.

There are a handful of teams having very solid seasons—undefeated, no less—but which have not yet gained the full confidence of the voters.

In Class AAAAA, it’s Allatoona, which is 8-0 and ranked No. 7 behind three one-loss teams. In Class AAAA, Monroe Area is 8-0 and ranked No. 6 behind three one-loss teams and a two-loss team. Cartersville is 8-0 and ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, behind a pair of one-loss teams and a three-loss team (though, it should be noted that two of Buford’s losses came via forfeit). Class AA features an 8-0 Heard County team which is also ranked No. 6, and Walker is undefeated and No. 9 in Class A.

This is going to happen, of course. Some teams play harder schedules or have a better history of success. But I wonder at what point we will start to give more weight to the wins a team is picking up on the field.

For example, Lovett is tied for No. 10 in Class AA, but has lost four games this season. Has it had some good wins? Yes. Have its losses come to some solid teams? Sure. But isn’t there a point where we have to stop crediting a team for “good” losses?

If you look at my voting, you’ll notice that I am guilty in many cases of the very thing I am speaking against. I’m simply wondering when we as voters, myself included, will start to give more weight to some of these undefeated teams.

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 (10) 8-0 100 1

2. Lassiter 8-0 86 2

3. Norcross 9-0 77 3

4. Lowndes 9-0 73 4

5. Grayson 7-1 62 6

6. North Gwinnett 7-1 45 8

7. Lovejoy 8-1 40 9

8. West Forsyth 7-1 23 5

9. McEachern 6-2 18 10

T-10. Walton 6-2 6 NR

T-10. Parkview 6-2 6 7

Others receiving votes: Marietta 5, South Gwinnett 3, Colquitt County 3, Johns Creek 2, Valdosta 1.

How I voted:

1. Camden County

2. Norcross

3. Lassiter

4. Lowndes

5. Grayson

6. Lovejoy

7. North Gwinnett

8. McEachern

9. West Forsyth

10. Parkview

Overvalued…

Last week I spoke on the noticeable gap between No. 4 Lowndes and then-No. 5 West Forsyth. While the latter was undefeated, I said, there was a big leap between those two teams. After West Forsyth’s loss, however, the gap between Nos. 4 and 5 has shrunk significantly. In fact, if we’re talking solely on the quality of the team, I think Grayson might be higher on the list. This week, I think we need to take a look at Parkview. I have it ranked No. 10, where I think it deserves to be for now. But there have been signs that it simply doesn’t have the complete team needed to compete deep into the playoffs. I’m not sure that it’s one of the 10 best teams in the state.

Undervalued…

I’ve consistently undervalued North Gwinnett all season, but I chose this week to elevate it in my ballot. The team’s only loss is to No. 3 Norcross, and that was by only 10 points. This is a very good football team.

Just right…

West Forsyth. It was a hiccup, no question, for this team. But one loss doesn’t completely unravel a great season. That’s still a solid team.

Class AAAAA

1. Northside-Warner Robins (10) 8-0 100 1

2. MLK, Jr. 8-0 89 2

3. East Paulding 8-0 78 3

4. Tucker 7-1 59 4

5. Gainesville 7-1 55 T-5

6. Thomas County Central 8-1 53 T-5

7. Allatoona 8-0 46 7

8. Kell 7-1 33 9

9. Warner Robins 7-1 26 10

10. Stephenson 5-2 5 8

Others receiving votes: Ware County 3, Pope 2, Creekview 1.

How I voted

1. Northside-Warner Robins

2. MLK, Jr.

3. East Paulding

4. Tucker

5. Gainesville

6. Thomas County Central

7. Allatoona

8. Kell

9. Warner Robins

10. Stephenson

Overvalued…

I think we nailed it this week. Stephenson getting bumped to the back of the pack, I think gives an appropriate order for the top 10.

Undervalued…

Again, I think we nailed it. It should be noted that I bumped MLK, Jr. over East Paulding this week after its win over Stephenson. Definitely earned the bump.

Just right…

I think Tucker is in an interesting position. It’s among the elite teams at the top, but also a couple of notches behind because of its loss a couple weeks ago. I think we all know how good that football team is, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it among the last teams standing in the playoffs.

Class AAAA

1. Sandy Creek (10) 8-0 100 1

2. Marist 7-1 89 2

3. Burke County 7-1 81 3

4. Statesboro 7-1 61 4

5. Carrollton 6-2 60 5

6. Monroe Area 8-0 46 6

7. Stockbridge 7-1 35 8

8. Jonesboro 7-1 27 7

9. Griffin 7-1 25 9

10. Westside-Macon 7-1 13 10

Others receiving votes: Cairo 6, Chamblee 6, Monroe 1.

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…

Only one of Carrollton’s wins has come against a team with a winning record (Chapel Hill). I kept it at No. 5 this week ahead of Monroe Area simply because I believe it is probably a better team. But as I stated in the open, results on the field should begin to carry more weight. Granted, Carrollton played Calhoun to a 46-35 loss, but when that is your best game, it certainly raises questions.

Undervalued…

How about Burke County? As is the case with the other state champions already mentioned (Tucker and Grayson), Burke County lost early in the season and has steadily brought itself back into the conversation up at the top. Now, it’s going to have a tough time unseating Sandy Creek, but it is in the conversation.

Just right…

I’ll say Monroe (not Monroe Area). Monroe has a vote in the poll, and maybe should have even a little more support. It is 6-2, and its two losses have come by a combined six points to Brooks County (No. 2 Class AA) and Westover (5-3 record). Not bad.

Class AAA

1. Peach County (9) 8-0 99 1

2. Thomson (1) 8-0 91 2

3. Buford 5-3 74 4

4. Carver-Columbus 7-1 65 7

5. Washington County 7-1 60 3

6. Cartersville 8-0 57 6

7. Blessed Trinity 7-1 40 8

8. Woodward Academy 7-2 20 NR

9. North Oconee 7-1 18 9

10. St. Pius X 6-2 12 5

Others receiving votes: Pierce County 7, North Hall 4, Appling County 3.

How I voted:

1. Peach County

2. Thomson

3. Buford

4. Cartersville

5. Carver-Columbus

6. Washington County

7. Blessed Trinity

8. Woodward Academy

9. St. Pius X

10. North Oconee

Overvalued…

This is the most out-of-order top 10, though I think teams are where they should be right now. Let me explain: Some teams that lost games are teams that I believe to be among the best in the classification. The truth about Class AAA is that there are a lot of teams that could contend for a state title. Peach County, Thomson, Buford, Carver, Washington County, etc. These are all very good football teams. In fact, because these are all such good teams that have slipped up at some point, I don’t think we really have an overvalued team. Instead…

Undervalued…

I think we have a lot of undervalued teams. Thomson just beat Washington County, and I’ve already mentioned that I think Thomson might have proven itself to be the top team in Class AAA. I considered giving it a bump to the top spot, but why do that when Peach County faces Carver on Friday? A Carver win, and Thomson gets the top spot anyway. A Peach County win, and it would have jumped back of Thomson. No, it was best to leave things be for this week. And then there is Cartersville, which should have benefited from a couple of other teams’ losses, but didn’t at all. There it sits, undefeated and No. 6. Meanwhile, North Oconee and St. Pius X sits near the bottom of the rankings, when both of them could be among the elite. And poor Pierce County, which, as a result of Woodward Academy’s win over St. Pius X, dropped out of the rankings completely despite an easy 35-14 win over Savannah. And then there is North Hall, which hasn’t gotten much attention at all this year, despite winning game after game in blowout fashion.

Just right…

Everyone, and no one. About the only team’s ranking that I have no qualms about is Buford, which sits at No. 3. Every other team might be in the exact right spot, or it might be grossly underestimate. I’m thinking the playoffs in Class AAA could be very interesting.

Class AA

1. Calhoun (9) 8-0 99 1

2. Brooks County (1) 8-0 91 2

3. Vidalia 8-0 75 3

4. Lamar County 7-0-1 65 4

5. Fitzgerald 7-2 62 5

6. Heard County 8-0 42 7

7. Cook 6-2 41 6

8. Greater Atlanta Christian 6-2 35 T-8

9. Jefferson 7-1 26 T-8

T-10. Screven County 7-1 3 NR

T-10. Lovett 4-4 3 NR

T-10. Washington-Wilkes 7-1 3 NR

Others receiving votes: Bowdon 2, Bleckley County 1, Early County 1, McIntosh County Academy 1.

How I voted:

1. Calhoun

2. Brooks County

3. Lamar County

4. Vidalia

5. Heard County

6. Jefferson

7. Fitzgerald

8. Cook

9. Bowdon

10. Washington-Wilkes

Overvalued…

Lovett. A million times, Lovett. Listen: Is this a very good football team? No question, it is. It’s one of the best-coached teams in the state and is perennially among the elite. But as I stated before, at some point we need to take into account what happens on the field. Would I be surprised if Lovett made noise in the playoffs? Certainly not. But these top-10 rankings don’t determine playoff seeding. It’s a combination of what teams we believe are the best and what we believe teams have earned. I can think of a handful of teams that have earned more than Lovett has.

Undervalued…

How about Jefferson? This team hasn’t lost since its season-opener, and has a win over North Hall, which looks very good at this point. Perhaps it shouldn’t have slipped up against Commerce, but I think this is a solid team.

Just right…

Calhoun is always a safe way to go here. It is the best team in Class AA until another team proves differently.

Class A

1. Eagle's Landing Christian (10) 7-1 100 1

T-2. Lincoln County 7-1 80 2

T-2. Athens Academy 8-0 80 3

4. Emanuel County Institute 7-1 68 4

5. Prince Avenue Christian 7-1 62 5

6. Savannah Christian Prep. 6-2 50 6

7. Wilcox County 6-2 31 8

8. Calvary Day 7-1 30 7

9. Walker 8-0 22 9

10. Wilkinson County 6-2 15 10

Others receiving votes: Irwin County 5, Miller County 4, Brookstone 2, Seminole County 1.

How I voted:

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian

2. Athens Academy

3. Lincoln County

4. Prince Avenue Christian

5. Emanuel County Institute

6. Calvary Day

7. Savannah Christian Prep.

8. Walker

9. Brookstone

10. Wilcox County

Overvalued…

Class A is the opposite of Class AAA. I think there’s a good grasp of where each team belongs, though I have just a couple of differences in how I voted.

Undervalued…

I’m a little surprised that I’m the only person—again—to throw a vote Brookstone’s way this week. This time, I put it at No. 9. Marion County was a very good football team that Brookstone was able to put away last Friday. I thought, maybe, that would get voters’ attention. I don’t think, by any stretch, that the Cougars are among the elite yet. But they have demonstrated a strong defense and their offense has really come to life. Sooner or later, voters will take notice.

Just right…

The top five in whatever order you want to make it, as long as Eagle’s Landing Christian is on top.

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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