I'm not gonna lie, I've been ready for some high school football since March. I think that was about the time I stopped crying over Black Friday. You know, the day all of Gwinnett's Class AAAAA teams and defending Class A state champion Wesleyan lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. But I'm over it now.
It's time for this season to begin and it's time to bring the state championship back to Gwinnett County. That's probably the million dollar question I got this summer, who is gonna be the top team in Gwinnett?
Of course, Buford and Wesleyan in the small classifications, but in AAAAA I like North Gwinnett, South Gwinnett, Grayson and Peachtree Ridge to make the deepest playoff runs.
You can read more about the upcoming season and a team-by-team look of every Gwinnett County school in Sunday's Daily Post when we release our annual football preview.
Here's a question I have, though. Can Buford four-peat?
No team has won four state championships in a row since West Rome in the early 80s. Buford is coming off three Class AA state titles, but can the Wolves win it again? We should get a pretty good idea after the Sept. 3 game against Carver-Columbus, one of the top teams in Class AAA in recent years.
So can they repeat? I think they will. Buford is loaded at the skill position players. Lets put it this way, a 1,000-yard rusher is their third-string running back. They have a solid quarterback in Alex Ross and probably the most talented secondary in the state.
Offensive and defensive line are considered a weakness. But lets be honest, when have the Wolves ever struggled up front?
Super Six released
In case you missed it, here's the Daily Post Super Six. These players were selected as the top six pre-season players in the county this season.
Xavier Walker, Duluth
Demetrius Alston, Norcross
Andre Sims, Brookwood
Edward Muldrow, South Gwinnett
David Andrews, Wesleyan
C.J. Uzomah, North Gwinnett
As you might guess, picking the top six players in Gwinnett County is pretty tough. There's so much talent in the county that these six were picked from a list of about 25 candidates.
All six of these players have committed to major Division I programs or are mulling offers from some of the top schools in the country.
What do you think about the Super Six? Did we make the right picks or should someone else have been on selected?
Well there's quite a bit of changes in Gwinnett County football -- new coaches, new region alignments, new school.
Gwinnett County welcomes six new head coaches this season. Jonathan Sanks (Berkmar), Todd Wofford (Central Gwinnett), Kevin Reach (Collins Hill), Corey Jarvis (Duluth), Tim Cokely (GAC) and Deario Grimmage (Meadowcreek) will find out what it takes to coach in the toughest area in the state.
Here's what Grimmage thought about the opportunity.
"You got some phenomenal coaches in this region. You got phenomenal coaches in Gwinnett County period," said Grimmage, who was an assistant at Meadowcreek last season. "And that's why I love Gwinnett County because of the standard it holds academically and the accountability that comes with it. Football is magnificent here."
Grimmage wasn't the only new coach to speak volumes of the county that is known to produce deep playoff teams and dozens of Division I players. Here's what Sanks said about coaching in Gwinnett.
"I've always, even when I was coaching in DeKalb, would see if Northside won," said the former Northside-Warner Robins player and Towers head coach. "Second thing I would do was see who won in Gwinnett. I just wanted to see what was going on. I've always been fascinated with these Gwinnett County teams and I've been itching to get up here and get in this ball game. Now we'll see what we match up against. Because if you can coach here, you can coach anywhere. I'm biased, but besides middle to south Georgia, it's the best brand of football you can find. Probably all together it may be the best."
As for the new region alignments, not a lot changes. The biggest change is probably Meadowcreek moving from Region 8-AAAAA to Region 7. The region also added second-year school Mountain View and lost the Forsyth County teams. Region 8 added second-year school Archer.
The biggest shocker though was Dacula stayed in the same region. The Falcons have bounced from Region 7 to Class AAAA to Region 8 over the last six seasons.
Lanier, which draws students from North Gwinnett, was the only new school to open this season. Former Collins Hill head coach Billy Wells will lead the program as AD and football coach in Class AAA.
Parkview still among county's elite?
Lets face it, Parkview isn't the dominant program it was in early 2000s. The Panthers missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993 last year and have lost in the first round the previous three seasons. But whenever you talk to coaches around the county, they still consider them one of the top teams in the area. Here's what longtime Parkview coach Cecil Flowe thought about that.
"I would certainly like to think so. Our record hasn't proved it in the last three years," he said. "We've been kind of average in the pack kind of team. You don't want to get used to that."
Do you still consider Parkview one of the elite teams in the county or has their time passed?
New playoff streak
The two longest active playoff streaks in the county came to an end last season when Parkview (15 years) and GAC(14 years) missed the playoffs last year.
That distinction now goes to Buford, which has made the playoffs the last 11 seasons. Brookwood holds the longest streak in Class AAAAA with eight years.
Where you should go each week
Are you a fan of high school football and just want to see a good game each week or just some of the top players in the county? Well, here's my list of top games each week during the regular season.
Friday Norcross at Dacula
The Maloof Bowl. Brothers Kevin (Dacula) and Keith (Norcross) go at it for the seventh time, with Kevin winning the last three games and leads the series 5-1.
Aug. 21 Corky Kell Classic (Georgia Dome)
Four of Gwinnett's top teams -- Grayson, North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge and Brookwood -- take on teams from Cobb County.
Aug. 27 Buford at Gainesville
The AA state champs (Buford) vs. the AAA state runner-up (Gainesville) from last year.
Sept. 3 Crenshaw (Calif.) at North Gwinnett
Two nationally ranked teams meet on ESPN.
Sept. 10 Dacula at Brookwood
Region 8 matchup pits two hard-nosed teams against each other.
Sept. 17 Collins Hill at North Gwinnett
After a two-year layoff, the Battle of Suwanee resumes.
Sept. 24 Buford at Lovett
The Lions were the only team to beat Buford last season.
Oct. 1 Brookwood at South Gwinnett
The Battle of Snellville will feature some of the top offensive players in the county.
Oct. 8 Grayson at Dacula
Hard-nosed football at its best. Two grind it out offenses against stubborn defenses.
Oct. 15 Peachtree Ridge at Norcross
Athletes all over the field in this game.
Oct. 22 Grayson at South Gwinnett
Rivalry game could decide the region title.
Oct. 29 Grayson at Brookwood
For the last five years, the winner of this game has gone on to win the region crown.
Nov. 5 North Gwinnett at Peachtree Ridge
This game has decided the region title in recent years and likely will again this season.
Here's my predictions for how all of Gwinnett County's teams will finish this season. I'm sure it will be bulletin board material for a lot of teams.
Let me know what you think. Am I on target or way off?
For much of the decade, the region title has come down to Brookwood and Parkview. Grayson has bursted on the scene in recent years and has won the last two crowns. But this year it seems wide open to me. Grayson lost a lot of key players, while other teams have emerged as legitimate contenders.
"It's not a two horse race anymore," Parkview coach Cecil Flowe said. "You've got to show up and play. It's not anywhere close to a two horse race anymore. There's four or five teams that can figure out a way to make it happen."
South Gwinnett (9-1)
The Comets return a nice group of weapons on offense, including the county's leading passer in Kent Rollins.
How will Grayson replace 4,000-yard career rusher Ean Pemberton and four Division I signees on defense?
The Broncos came on strong at the end of last season. Can they keep that momentum going with a new sense of senior leadership?
The Falcons relied on several sophomore players last season and still made the playoffs. That experience should help a team that will feature a stout front seven on defense.
Defense will be a strength for the Panthers, but how will Jack Esmonde and the rest of the offense develop this season?
The Generals graduated their entire offensive backfield, so there could be some early struggles to build consistency on that side of the ball.
Central Gwinnett (3-7)
The Black Knights break in their fourth head coach in five years in Todd Swofford. A new coach and new system will take some time to develop.
Head coach Jonathan Sanks was hired in July, so there hasn't been much time to establish the program.
The second-year school will take its lumps as it builds the program from scratch.
North Gwinnett won its first region title in school history last year, but the Bulldogs don't return many players. Region 7 is arguably the toughest in the state. The No. 3 through six spots could drastically change.
North Gwinnett (9-1)
When you got the best player in the county in quarterback C.J. Uzomah touching the ball every down, you always have a chance to win.
Peachtree Ridge (7-3
The Lions graduated nearly every position, especially on offense, but have a lot of young talented players that need to step up this season.
The Blue Devils regain their starting quarterback and have one of the toughest front sevens on defense.
Mill Creek (7-3)
The Hawks return their three major skill position players in their quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
Collins Hill (4-6)
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke will carry the load now that running back Charles Perkins is gone.
A new head coach has brought a lot of enthusiasm to a program that hasn't made had a winning season since 1995.
Mountain View (3-7)
The second-year program won't be a push over against some of the top teams in the state.
The Mustangs move from Region 8 where they were 0-10 last season.
The Wolves are loaded at skill position players. If they can find some linemen, then another deep playoff run is in Buford's future.
The Spartans will be better this season after posting the worst record in team history last year.
The Wolves have Mr. Everything on offense, running back Kyle Karempelis back, giving them a scoring threat on every down.
The first-year program will play a non-region schedule that features only one varsity game.
The Lions will be strong on offense with the addition of Christian Davilla at quarterback.
Check back next week. I'll have recap of the Corky Kell match ups and a look at the first week of the regular season. Also, I'm gonna release my all-county team. Who do you think should be on it? Until then, check out this video to get you fired up for the football season.