There are a couple of things that stood out to me in this week’s Associated Press High School Football Poll.
First, I was interested before the poll was released how voters would treat Buford, since it has been stripped of two of its region wins this season. Instead of 6-1 and undefeated in Region 7-AAA, it is 4-3 and 2-2, in a five-way tie for second in the region.
Voters treated Buford as I did, however: The same.
Sure, the three losses look a little strange at No. 4 in the rankings, but this is a case of an ineligible player that had very little impact on the Wolves’ success thus far this season. The player played only a handful of plays, and coach Jess Simpson should be praised for submitting the clerical error to the league.
The forfeits will have little effect on Buford’s season, in my opinion.
In a conversation with a follower on Twitter, we discussed the repercussions. The gut impulse is to say that since Buford likely will finish second in its region, it will have a tougher path to a sixth consecutive state title appearance (the other five came in Class AA).
In reality, I think it hurt the third seed in Region 6-AAA even more. Whichever team that is (right now it looks like Cedar Grove or Woodward Academy), that team went from playing North Hall, a good team, to Buford, one of the best teams in the state.
Either way, the point is that I think Buford deserves its No. 4 ranking, or better, until it loses again. Its only loss is to Class AAAAA Gainesville, which is quickly becoming one of the better teams in the state.
The other thing that stood out to me was the stranglehold Sandy Creek has over the rest of Class AAAA.
The Patriots are one of only four undefeated teams in that classification (Chamblee, Carver-Atlanta and Monroe Area are the other three), and no team is even close to touching its No. 1 ranking.
It’s crazy to me to think that, if not for an upset against Gainesville in the state quarterfinals last season, we could be talking about a 51-game win streak for Sandy Creek, which would be the longest in Georgia history. As it is, it is 48-1 in its last 49 games.
Alright, enough rambling.
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.
1. Camden County (11) 7-0 110 1
2. Lassiter 7-0 95 2
3. Norcross 8-0 85 3
4. Lowndes 8-0 80 4
5. West Forsyth 7-0 58 5
6. Grayson 7-1 53 6
7. Parkview 6-1 44 7
8. North Gwinnett 6-1 31 8
9. Lovejoy 7-1 23 9
10. McEachern 6-2 10 T-10
Others receiving votes: Colquitt County 8, South Cobb 7, Marietta 1.
How I voted:
1. Camden County
5. West Forsyth
9. South Cobb
North Cobb was (sort of) my overvalued team last week. I’ll give myself a minor pat on the back for that. This week is even harder to pick than a week ago. The fact is that I think voters have a pretty good grasp on this classification. If you even look closer than the rankings and at the voting totals, you can see the gap between No. 4 and No. 5, which I think is very accurate. While West Forsyth is undefeated and one of the top five teams in the state, I do think it is a tier below the top four. We’ll find out where West Forsyth belongs come playoff time, I think.
I mentioned Grayson last week in a short two-sentence blurb here. I want to stress a little further that I think Grayson is firmly in the state-title picture. Let me be clear, it is ranked exactly where I think it should be ranked. But if I’m going simply by which teams I think are the best, I’d rank it a close second behind Camden County.
Welcome back into the top 10, McEachern. You are right where you belong.
1. Northside-Warner Robins (11) 6-0 110 1
2. MLK, Jr. 7-0 93 2
3. East Paulding 7-0 90 4
4. Tucker 6-1 67 5
T-5. Thomas County Central 7-1 55 6
T-5. Gainesville 7-1 55 8
7. Allatoona 7-0 48 7
8. Stephenson 5-1 34 2
9. Kell 6-1 24 9
10. Warner Robins 6-1 21 10
Others receiving votes: Miller Grove 6, Lee County 2.
How I voted
1. Northside-Warner Robins
2. East Paulding
3. MLK, Jr.
6. Thomas County Central
10. Warner Robins
Oh, ho! Look at me putting the nail on the head with Stephenson. Ok, no I did not expect it to lose to Miller Grove. But that’s sort of what I was saying. We based Stephenson’s lofty ranking off of reputation and a single win against Tucker, albeit a good win. Still, I’m not shocked to see it fall from its perch. And, you know what? I’m going to say the same for Miller Grove this week. It received six votes, an appropriate number, but let’s not go overboard with this team. It was a good win, but it still has a long way to go.
I jumped Gainesville over Allatoona this week, but I was torn. At the same time I was doing it, I was thinking how unfair it is to a solid, undefeated Allatoona team. I think it is a very good team that simply hasn’t had enough time to establish itself among the usual suspects in Class AAAAA. We’ll see where it stands down the road.
I’m amazed at how many weeks Kell and Warner Robins have not moved from Nos. 9 and 10. Other teams may move around them, but they stay the same every week. It’s because they’re in the right place, though they are definite darkhorses as the season progresses.
1. Sandy Creek (11) 7-0 110 1
2. Marist 6-1 96 2
3. Burke County 7-1 91 3
4. Statesboro 6-1 68 4
5. Carrollton 5-2 63 5
6. Monroe Area 7-0 47 6
7. Jonesboro 6-1 38 7
8. Stockbridge 6-1 37 8
9. Griffin 6-1 26 9
10. Westside-Macon 6-1 14 10
Others receiving votes: Chamblee 6, Cairo 5, Ridgeland 4.
How I voted:
1. Sandy Creek
3. Burke County
6. Monroe Area
I had ever intention of moving Monroe Area over Carrollton this week, but Carrollton had a solid 45-12 win over a Shaw team that I think is much better than its record. That said, I’m still torn on whether I think it belong in the top five right now.
I’ll extend that statement to say that, perhaps, we underestimate Monroe Area. It is just two seasons removed from back-to-back winless campaigns, but this is a team that is clearly headed in the right direction. It won 11 games in 2010, eight in 2011, and is 7-0 so far in 2012. It’s schedule hasn’t exactly been the toughest, but there are some great players on this team.
Old reliable: Sandy Creek. As I previously mentioned, it’s clear how big of a gap there is between the Patriots and the rest of Class AAAA.
1. Peach County (10) 8-0 107 1
2. Thomson (1) 8-0 99 2
3. Washington County 8-0 90 3
4. Buford 4-3 70 4
5. St. Pius X 6-1 70 5
6. Cartersville 7-0 51 6
7. Carver-Columbus 6-1 48 7
8. Blessed Trinity 6-1 34 8
9. North Oconee 6-1 18 10
10. Pierce County 7-1 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Appling County 5, North Hall 3, Woodward Academy 3, Callaway 2.
How I voted:
1. Peach County
3. Washington County
5. St. Pius X
8. Blessed Trinity
9. North Oconee
10. Pierce County
For the sake of having a fresh talking point here, what about Peach County? Yes, it’s 7-0, but, with the exception of a 29-24 win over Warner Robins, it hasn’t played a very difficult schedule. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be No. 1. It should. I am saying that there are plenty of teams that will have something to say by season’s end.
I didn’t vote North Hall into the rankings, but perhaps I should have. I covered this team last season while on staff at the The Times in Gainesville, and, to be perfectly blunt, it wasn’t a very good team. It lost its best player, running back Imani Cross, to graduation (he now plays at the University of Nebraska), and I figured it’d be more of the same from the Trojans. Wrong. This team hasn’t just won games, it has decimated opponents. Since its first, and only, loss of the season, North Hall is 4-0 and has outscored opponents 212-33. Are you serious?
As I did with Sandy Creek, I’ll reiterate that I think this is where Buford belongs. Forfeits or not, this is one of the best teams in the state and will prove it come playoff time.
1. Calhoun (10) 8-0 109 1
2. Brooks County (1) 8-0 100 2
3. Vidalia 7-0 82 3
4. Lamar County 6-0-1 70 4
5. Fitzgerald 6-2 64 5
6. Cook 7-1 53 6
7. Heard County 7-0 48 7
T-8. Greater Atlanta Christian 5-2 29 T-8
T-8. Jefferson 6-1 29 9
10. Bleckley County 6-1 8 NR
Others receiving votes: Benedictine Military 4, Washington-Wilkes 3, Bowdon 2, Lovett 2, Screven County 1, Early County 1.
How I voted:
2. Brooks County
3. Lamar County
5. Heard County
Maybe Greater Atlanta Christian. I don’t know if there’s such thing as a “good loss,” but that’s basically what this team has. It’s only two losses have come to Chamblee and Thomson. That said, in order to be considered among the best, a team has to win big games. That’s why I think this team might be a tad high.
Yes, Heard County again. Alright, I know what I’ve said about tough schedules. But my gut tells me this team is more than just a good team taking advantage of some easier opponents.
I’ll resort to the cliché this week and say Calhoun. Always worth a reminder that this team has been to four consecutive state title games and finally won it a year ago.
1. Eagle's Landing Christian (11) 6-1 110 1
2. Lincoln County 6-1 90 3
3. Athens Academy 7-0 89 2
4. Emanuel County Institute 6-1 77 4
5. Prince Avenue Christian 7-1 66 5
6. Savannah Christian Prep. 5-2 56 8
7. Calvary Day 6-1 35 9
8. Wilcox County 5-2 26 NR
9. Walker 7-0 23 10
10. Wilkinson County 5-2 13 NR
Others receiving votes: Marion County 7, Miller County 6, Irwin County 3, Seminole County 1, Aquinas 1, Johnson County 1, Brookstone 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.
9. Marion County
Ditto last week’s post. I think everyone is pretty set this week.
A couple of things: First, Athens Academy dropped to third, which surprises me. I think it has done enough for a No. 2 ranking, and dropping it arbitrarily doesn’t make much sense to me. Second, I’m going to give a shout to Walker this week. Is it a state title contender? Maybe not. That remains to be seen. But this team had not won more than six games in a single season until this year and hadn’t won more than three games since 2006. It is 7-0. That deserves a mention.
Brookstone. Yeah, I’m the only person that gave it a vote. But I think No. 10 is an adequate place. It plays Marion County on Friday night, and I think a win would really solidify its position.
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.