Valley Preps

What to expect from Chattahoochee Valley 5A and 4A football teams this season

Carver High Marching Band readies the crowd for football

Listen the Carver High Marching Band as the Tigers take the field
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Listen the Carver High Marching Band as the Tigers take the field

High school football is finally back, and gets started this week.

The Ledger-Enquirer is previewing each school in the coverage area as preps football season gets going. The previews will be by classification, unless warranted (for example, private schools and Alabama schools get a seperate preview).

Up next are the local GHSA 5A and 4A teams.

GHSA 5A

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Spotted at the Carver vs. Harris County football game Friday night Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden


Harris County

Jamie Fox’s first season in Hamilton, Georgia, went about as well as he could’ve hoped.

The Tigers didn’t have a winning season, but made the playoffs after opening the season with four consecutive losses. They won four of their final six regular season games and finished 2-2 in the region.

The Tigers have not seen great success since the 9-3 2014 season that saw them narrowly fall in the Class 5A playoffs to top-seeded Gainesville, but there’s a sense of optimism about this year’s team.

The Tigers have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and return Davion Mahone, a three-year starter at quarterback.

Key Players:

  • Davion Mahone, quarterback
  • Craig Suber, Kicker
  • Tailique Williams, receiver

Key Games:

  • VS. Carver, August 23
  • At Warner Robins, Oct. 11
  • VS. Veterans, Oct. 18

GHSA 4A

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Northside football coach Dave Nurnberg watches his team on the sideline during Friday night’s game against Columbus at Kinnett Stadium, November 2, 2018. Darrell Roaden Special to the Ledger-Enquirer


Northside

Northside’s 4-6 record was not enough for a playoff berth in 2018, and given the region the Patriots compete for, that’s not entirely a surprise. Competing with Cairo, Carver and a rejuvenated Columbus High (among others) is a tough ask for any program.

The Patriots, though, remain optimistic, despite knowing it’ll take their absolute best effort, every week, if a playoff berth is to happen this season. In a way, though, that’s kind of a silver lining.

It certainly doesn’t allow any room for error.

The Patriots open with Shaw and travel to Cairo in Week 3, and it only gets tougher from there. A home tilt against local power Harris County preludes an early-October matchup with Carver, and the Patriots close the season with the annual game against Columbus High.

Key Players:

  • Zarquell Grubbs, defensive lineman/offensive lineman
  • Chandler Blanton, quarterback

Key Games:

  • VS. Carver, 10/4
  • At Hardaway, 10/31
  • At Columbus, 11/8

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Spotted at the Columbus versus Shaw High School football game Fri., Oct 12, 2018 Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

Shaw

Al Pellegrino’s second year at Shaw saw the Raiders win at least two games for the first time since 2015, but the Raiders failed to make the playoffs and finished second-to-last in a crowded GHSA Region 1-AAAA.

If the Raiders are to make a playoff push, they’ll have to start beating some of the better area teams. That’s easier said than done in a region that includes Carver, Columbus, Hardaway and Northside, but it’s doable.

The Raiders face a tough challenge immediately with Northside in Week 2, then play Columbus, Carver and Cairo in three consecutive weeks in late October/early November.

Key Players:

  • Wason Davis Jr., quarterback
  • Michael Jones, defensive end/linebacker
  • Deion Lacy, receiver/defensive back

Key Games:

  • VS. Columbus, Oct. 19
  • VS. Carver, Oct. 24
  • At Cairo, Nov. 1

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Spotted at the Columbus v. Hardaway football game Friday, October 19, 2018 Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

Hardaway

Hardaway’s winning season (6-5) included wins over Columbus and Westover, and narrow losses to Northside and Carver.The Hawks also made the playoffs last year, beating out Westover for the final GHSA Region 1-AAAA playoff spot.

Now, Michael Woolridge’s Hawks are ready for more.

The Hawks open with Kendrick, a team they blew out last year. It gets tougher from there, though, as they face Carver and Cairo in back-to-back weeks. The Hawks also get Dougherty at home, a big plus.

However, some of the younger talent will need to step up — six Hawks made the All-Bi-City team last season, all seniors. Running back Tahjee Hudson, an All-Bi-City honorable mention last year, now steps into a major role in the Hawks’ offense.

Key Players:

  • Tahjee Hudson, running back
  • Jakeveon Upshaw, linebacker/defensive tackle
  • Mykel Williams, defensive end/linebacker/tight end

Key Games:

  • VS. Carver, Sept. 13
  • VS. Cairo, Sept. 20
  • VS. Dougherty, Oct. 18

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Spotted at the Columbus vs. Northside football game Friday night Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

Columbus

Columbus’ breakout 2018 season ended with a second-round playoff loss to Baldwin, but should not put a damper on what was a big year for the Blue Devils.

Columbus finished third in Region 1-AAAA behind Cairo and Carver, beat rival Northside 34-3 and advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years. Head coach Phil Marino was the All-Bi-City co-coach of the year.

Now, the Blue Devils are out to show everyone that last season wasn’t a fluke. And to do so, they must replace a plethora of departed experience.

The Blue Devils face Carver and Cairo in back-to-back weeks, and close the season with the annual rivalry game against Northside.

Key Players:

  • Tre Peterson, running back/safety/cornerback
  • Jahshua Jackson, quarterback/receiver
  • Tajuan Wynn, receiver

Key Games:

  • VS. Carver, Sept. 26
  • VS. Cairo, Oct. 4
  • VS. Northside, Nov. 8

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Carver’s Kam Venisee returns the opening kickoff from the 10-yard line past the 40-yard line in the first first quarter of the GHSA Class AAAA first-round state playoff game against Woodward Academy on Friday night, November 9, 2018 at Kinnett Stadium. Darrell Roaden Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

Carver

Traditional local power Carver did not miss a beat in Corey Joyner’s first year.

The Tigers went 9-2 and finished second in the Region 1-AAAA standings, but lost to Woodward Academy in the first round of the state playoffs. The Tigers return lots of talent (and quite a few Division I prospects) this season, so another playoff appearance — and possibly a deeper playoff run — is an entirely reasonable expectation.

The Tigers open with 5A Harris County in what’s likely the biggest game of Week 1. They also play Columbus, Northside and Cairo in consecutive weeks.

Key Players:

  • Khiari McCoy, running back
  • Jacyais Credle, receiver
  • KeAndre Harper, linebacker

Key Games:

  • VS. Hardaway, Sept. 13
  • VS. Columbus, Sept. 26
  • VS. Cairo, Oct. 11

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ROBIN TRIMARCHI rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.comShaw High hosts LaGrange - first half action in Thursday night football at Kinnett Stadium. 10.22.15 ROBIN TRIMARCHI rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

LaGrange HS

Lagrange High struggled last season, but improved on Chuck Gibbs’ first season, in which the Grangers went winless.

The Grangers won two games in 2018 and went winless in Region 5-AAAA, the two wins coming against Hampton and Shaw. However, they went 0-10 the year before, so 2018 was a marked improvement. They haven’t won a region game in three years, so that’s the next step.

If the Grangers are going to do it, it’ll likely come against Central-Carrollton, which finished one spot above LaGrange in last year’s region standings.

Key Players:

  • Charles Crawford, quarterback
  • Caleb Ross, running back
  • Montavious Martin, defensive back

Key Games:

  • VS. Central-Carrollton, Sept. 27
  • VS. Troup, Oct. 18
  • At Chapel Hill, Nov. 1

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Spotted at the Hardaway versus Troup County football game Thursday night, August 17, 2017 Special to the Ledger-EnquirerD

Troup County

The Troup Tigers came within one win of a state championship appearance last season. Now, they return the talent to make another deep playoff run.

The Tigers are headlined by two major Division I prospects — quarterback Kobe Hudson (an Auburn commit as a receiver) and defensive end Andy Boykin, who holds offers from Auburn, Alabama and Florida State.

The Tigers face several local schools: Callaway, Columbus, Harris County and LaGrange. But the bigger tests start once region play begins. Region champion Cartersville went 14-1 last year, and both Sandy Creek and Cedartown made the playoffs.

Troup beat Northside 53-6 in a preseason game last week.

Key players:

  • Kobe Hudson, quarterback
  • Andy Boykin, defensive end
  • Mark-Anthony Dixon, receiver
  • Trey Williams, running back

Key games:

  • VS. Sandy Creek, Oct. 4
  • At Cedartown, Oct. 25
  • VS. Cartersville, Nov. 8
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Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.
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