It's the start of the high school football season. Everyone has high expectations right now. But let's be honest, not every school is going to make the playoffs. I'm here to let you down easy and in December we'll come back and say I told you so or you'll come back and tell me I'm wrong.
Either way, here are my predictions for the upcoming season. (Editor's note: the record for each team was predicted prior to Saturday's games.)
For what it's worth, I picked six of the eight playoff teams in Class AAAAAA last year and seven of eight in 2011.
The region title has been won by Grayson or Brookwood the last eight years. This season it appears to be the most wide-open.
1. Parkview (8-2)
A last-second South Gwinnett field goal kept the Panthers from winning the region crown last year. Parkview has enough coming back to make a run for the title again.
2. Grayson (8-2)
The Rams graduated nearly their entire team, but Grayson has a knack for plugging in new players and being successful. They will have to grow up fast with a tough early schedule, but will finish the regular season strong.
3. Brookwood (7-3)
The Broncos' defense struggled last season. If that unit improves as expected, Brookwood could be battling for another region title.
4. South Gwinnett (5-5)
The Comets graduated nearly their entire team, but have enough to keep them in the playoff hunt this season.
5. Archer (6-4)
The Tigers have some really good players. The only problem is they are young. This season will give them much-needed experience to propel them for next year.
6. Central Gwinnett (6-4)
The Black Knights got their first winning season since 2006 last year. The defense still remains a concern and a new QB will be pivotal to the offense.
7. Shiloh (5-5)
The Generals are on the cusp of being really good. It just won't happen this year. They will beat a team they are not supposed to and finish with a non-losing record for the first time in 10 years.
8. Berkmar (3-7)
The Patriots could be the surprise team in the region. They were much improved last year. Based on previous history, they are not expected to finish high. But with 16 starters back, the Patriots could pull off an unexpected win or two.
9. Dacula (1-9)
The Falcons break in a new head coach in Tommy Jones. This will be a rebuilding season.
North and Norcross have won the last four region titles. It's hard to imagine another school beating both of them to win the title.
1. Norcross (10-0)
The defending state champions have nearly the entire offense back and a solid group returning on defense. The game against North Gwinnett in the region opener will decide the region crown again.
2. North Gwinnett (9-1)
North has never finished lower than No. 2 in the region in the last seven years under head coach Bob Sphire. They are projected as the No. 2 in the region, but are a serious contender again for the No. 1 spot.
3. Mill Creek (8-2)
They Hawks have never defeated Norcross or North, so it's hard to put them any higher. A standout QB and a stable of running backs makes the offense very dangerous.
4. Collins Hill (7-3)
Other than North, the Eagles have the longest current playoff streak. If the offense continues to click with their new QB, the Eagles should be in the postseason again.
5. Peachtree Ridge (6-4)
The Lions made some coaching changes in the offseason. Depending on how the players adjust, they could be in the mix for a playoff spot.
6. Duluth (4-6)
The Wildcats have a new head coach in Jason Conner, who was previously the offensive coordinator. Duluth has been on the cusp of a breakout season and maybe Conner can give it to them.
7. Mountain View (3-7)
The Bears are entering their fifth year and desperately need a breakout season. They'll have to shock some people to try and break .500.
8. Meadowcreek (1-9)
The Mustangs haven't won a game since 2008, but that will change this year. They will get that elusive win midway through the season against Habersham.
9. Habersham Central (0-10)
The only non-Gwinnett team in the region will once again struggle in the region.
4. Lanier (6-4)
The Longhorns nearly reached the postseason last year in their first season of region play. Two close games kept them out last year, but they will make the playoffs this season.
The Wolves were young last year, but still won the state title. A more experienced Buford team makes them dangerous.
1. GAC (10-0)
The Spartans return a large portion of their semifinal team a season ago. Once again a tough non-region schedule will get them prepared for the postseason.
4. Wesleyan (5-5)
A tough non-region schedule will skew the Wolves' record. They will still make the playoffs in the five-team region.
4. Hebron (3-7)
The Lions were really young last season. Nearly the entire team returns, so they should be improved.
THOUGHTS FROM SATURDAY'S GAMES
Norcross loss not good for Gwinnett, Georgia
I wish I could come up with a good reason why Norcross was embarrassed 55-0 to Florida's Booker T. Washington. But the defending state champions have 16 starters and a lot of Division I talent. They shouldn't have lost the way they did, even if it was to the nation's No. 1-ranked team. Maybe all the bright lights from being on ESPN scared them. Either way, the loss wasn't good for Gwinnett County, which takes pride in its high school football. Gwinnett teams have typically fared well in those types of matchups. South lost a close game to Lincoln (Fla.) prior to the Norcross game. Grayson defeated No. 1 nationally ranked Miami Central last year, while North Gwinnett has defeated nationally ranked teams from Alabama and California. The Norcross loss shines a bad light on Georgia football.
In my mind, there's only way they can correct it. Finish the year undefeated with another state title. And in December people will look back and say that game was a fluke.
Brookwood needs Brown
Ask anyone around the Brookwood program and running back Josh Brown in the best player on this year's team. So for him to go down at halftime with a knee injury against McEachern, that's not a good sign.
The Broncos have two weeks to get him healthy before their next game. If not, it could be a long season.
Lions are better
I'm not ready to say Peachtree Ridge is back, but they sure looked good against Walton in the Corky Kell. The Lions didn't score a point until Game 3 of last season. They scored on the opening drive this year.
Grayson will be fine
A 21-6 loss to Colquitt County wasn't pretty, but I still think Grayson will be fine this season. The interception returned for TD on the first drive really hurt the Rams, who like to get up early on an opponent. It may take another week, but Grayson will be in the thick of the playoff race again.
South was surprising
I gave South Gwinnett no shot against Lincoln (Fla.) on Saturday. When Lincoln rattled off 17 points in the second quarter, I thought the Comets were done. But to see them fight back in the third quarter makes me think this South team might be a little better than I thought.
North win big for morale
North Gwinnett's biggest hurdle has been South Georgia teams in the playoffs. So for them to beat a very good Camden County squad 34-14 has to be a big confidence boost later in the season when they make the playoffs.
Pick the winners
Each week, pick the winners in the Daily Post's 'Pickem contest. Our winner for week one was Kevin Strickland. He won a $25 Simon gift card from the Mall of Georgia. Each week is a new round -- so if you missed week one, don't worry. We'll have great prizes every week. Click HERE to play.
Football preview is out
The Daily Post's high school football preview came out in Sunday's paper. We'll have it online this week. You'll notice it's a little bigger than previous years. It was expanded to 64 pages, so we included our pre-season all-county team, 2012 state leaders and other great info.
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