NORTH FULTON – The 2013 high school football season begins with less hype regarding North Fulton’s top players, with several area teams going into the new season following heavy graduation losses.
Four of the area’s six teams in the new Class AAAAAA qualified for the playoffs last year, along with Blessed Trinity in AAA and Mount Pisgah Christian in the Class A private school division.
All the AAAAAA playoff qualifiers and Blessed Trinity had a number of standout seniors, with Alpharetta and Milton featuring multiple Division 1 signees.
The top teams in both AAAAAA regions including North Fulton schools are not expected to be as strong as they were in 2012, with some openings available for teams that did not make the playoffs last year.
Despite losing some outstanding skill position players, West Forsyth and Alpharetta again appear to be the top teams in Region 6-AAAAAA West Forsyth was the lone team in the region to win a playoff game, while the Raiders suffered their second straight heartbreaking post-season defeat.
Alpharetta was one of the North Fulton schools to graduate a number of Division 1 signees, but the Raiders still have a significant amount of returning talent, led by wide receiver Daniel Clements, one of the area’s top prospects.
Other local players expected to attract attention from college coaches include receivers Christian Robinson of Centennial and Colin Lisa of Chattahoochee and running backs Treyvon Paulk of Milton and Chase Solomon of Johns Creek.
Last year’s Johns Creek team lacked for college prospects, but the Gladiators had a deep senior class that led them to 17 wins the last two seasons. With only a handful of returning starters, the Gladiators will be a long shot for the playoffs, leaving at least one spot open.
Chattahoochee appears to have enough talent, especially on offense, to hang on to one of the other playoff spots in 6-AAAAAA, but the Cougars will have to adjust to a new coach after Terry Crowder left for Creekview in Cherokee County. Centennial and Lambert are attempting to move into playoff contention, with the Knights hoping the momentum of a strong second half showing in 2012 carries over.
Lambert won eight games in both 2010 and ’11, and started 5-0 last season before losing its last five games to miss the playoffs. The Longhorns will be looking to rebound and return to the playoffs, with South Forsyth and North Forsyth hoping for better things after going a combined 1-13 in the region last year.
Milton will again be a contender in 5-AAAAAA, with Lassiter and Walton the likely region favorites. Lassiter lost another standout quarterback, but the Trojans have replaced him with the latest in a string of talented transfers.
Wheeler was the only other team in the region with a winning record last season, with Etowah, Woodstock and Roswell all trying to improve on losing 2012 seasons. The Hornets have a new coach after going 3-17 last year, but have to replace almost all the top players from a team that could have won more than three games.
Northview has a chance to contend for its first ever playoff berth, but the Titans will have to improve defensively for that to happen. Creekview and Sequoyah were the top two teams from the Region 7-AAAAA sub-region that Northview is in, and along with Kell and Pope on the opposite side, remain among the region‘s top teams
Also in that sub-region is Forsyth Central, which went 2-8 after losing all three close games on its schedule, winning only against first year school Cambridge and a weak North Springs team, who are also in the sub-region. Cambridge will be better this season, but this is just the second year of football for the Bears.
Blessed Trinity tied for first in 6-AAA, but the Titans were hit hard by graduation and play in a six-team region with five strong playoff challengers. Only Towers is a non-contender.
With the 16 teams that qualify for the Class A private school playoffs determined by a point system, region standings are no longer the path for making it to the post-season.
Mount Pisgah slipped into the playoffs as the lowest seed of the 16 teams last year, but has a chance to move up thanks to its returning talent. King’s Ridge is hoping to contend for a playoff spot after a third straight 5-5 season, with Fellowship Christian playing under a new coach after a third 2-8 record the last four years.
All three teams are in the same sub-region in Region 6-A, with St. Francis playing a non-region schedule in its second season of varsity football.