Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Buford's Jaylen Mize (4), Dontravious Wilson (1) , Garrett Roebuck (72), Josh Cardiello (56) and Mikey Bart (44) celebrate with the Class AAA state championship trophy.
All of those Parkview football seasons that ended with deep playoff runs and state championships will never be matched, but every year carries a special place in the hearts of the players and coaches involved.
That’s why the Panthers, particularly the coaches, won’t soon forget the 2012 season.
After a forgettable 2011 when they went 4-6 and missed the playoffs, they bounced back for a 9-4 season despite suffering through some difficult injuries along the way. It put the program back in line with the high expectations of head coach Cecil Flowe and his staff, who set the bar high by reaching the state quarterfinals every year from 1995-2005.
Few people — embarrassingly yours truly, too — saw Parkview pushing the 10-win mark last season. Even fewer assumed the Panthers would knock off defending state champion Grayson, ranked No. 1 nationally at the time, but they did that, too.
It gave the players and coaches the joy of a rebound season, a feeling that is extremely satisfying.
Who’s in line for a rebound season in 2013? Here’s are five teams I expect improvements from:
• Peachtree Ridge
The Lions are way too talented to be 4-6, as they were last year. It was their lowest win total since the school was two years old.
Two new coordinator hires, Phillip Hale with the defense and Chuck Allen with the offense, both should do a good job. Peachtree Ridge also added maybe the best safety in Georgia in Nick Glass, a transfer from St. Pius, and has a solid quarterback in Chance Thrasher, who has a strong group of playmakers like Myron Burton, Jordan Ellis and Walden Davis.
One of those rebound seasons happened for the Tigers in 2011, when they bounced back from going 2-8 in their first season of region play to make the state playoffs.
Although they went 6-4 last season, they missed the postseason. Don’t expect that too much in the future.
Archer has plenty of young talent — look for a breakout season from Dylan Singleton — with the goal of making those state playoff trips a regular occurrence.
This proud program can’t sink much deeper than last season’s 1-9 record, its worst mark since 1985.
A new coaching staff led by Brookwood grad Tommy Jones has plenty of work to do, but Dacula is used to success in football and we should see a return to competitiveness sooner rather than later. I’m not sure we’ll see the Falcons in the playoffs this year, though we will see improvement.
The Longhorns had a pretty good season in 2012, considering it was their first with a region schedule. They went 5-5 and lost three Region 8-AAAA games by single digits, including one in overtime to playoff team Chestatee.
With that experience, I see Lanier making a huge push this season toward the first playoff berth in program history. Head coach Billy Wells and his staff have set up a strong foundation at the new school, so the postseason would be a nice reward for those growing pains of the past.
Finding a spot on the most improved list doesn’t happen often at Buford. How can the Wolves top a state championship last season?
They’ll do it because they’re a year older and they’re much better. I doubt we’ll see any forfeited games or region losses this year. An unbeaten season and another state title is more likely.
Will Hammock can be reached via email at email@example.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.