This week’s state rankings prove it.
In the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association poll released Tuesday, four of the top 10 teams in the state’s top classification come from the region.
McEachern (2-0) heads the list of rivals at No. 2, behind North Gwinnett, a unanimous pick at No. 1 by voters. North Cobb (1-0), coming off a state semifinal appearance, is ranked fourth. Hillgrove (2-0), a postseason regular since 2010, is ninth on the list, while Marietta (2-0) rounds out the top 10.
Colquitt County is third, with Peachtree Ridge, Lovejoy, Norcross and Mill Creek filling out slots 5-8.
“It’s good for the region,” said Hillgrove coach Phil Ironside, whose team will host Marietta on Friday to begin region play. “Everybody gives the same answer that rankings don’t mean anything, but it’s great excitement and good for the league. We’re off to a pretty good start. North Cobb and Marietta’s run in the playoffs last year have a lot to do with it, and McEachern has been there every year.
“This league has gotten deeper each year, and it’s good to see the programs grow. It’s a tough league.”
With McEachern, a consistent threat to win the region every year since 2009, used to getting the early-season recognition, coach Kyle Hockman took the “rankings don’t mean much” approach.
His Indians still have something to prove, after all, and that’s making it to at least the state quarterfinals. Despite winning three region championships in the last four years, McEachern has not made it past the second round of the state playoffs in that time, and it hopes to change that this season.
“It doesn’t mean a lot, but it’s nice to have respect at this point,” Hockman said of the poll. “We have that theory of reading it but not believing it. We want to be there in Week 13, 14 and 15.”
The last time four local teams were ranked in Class AAAAAA was in Week 9 of the 2012 season, when Lassiter was second and North Cobb, McEachern and South Cobb were all tied for 10th. In the final 2011 rankings, Walton was No. 2, Lassiter No. 5, McEachern No. 8 and Hillgrove No. 10.
Wheeler was the only other Cobb team to earn consideration for the poll, garnering a single vote.
Kell (2-0) got attention in Class AAAAA, ranked fourth after winning its first two games.
Allatoona (2-0), which has 10 new starters on defense, is ranked ninth and has yet to be scored on. The Buccaneers shut out Woodland-Bartow 50-0 and Paulding County 39-0 to begin the season, and their restocked defense will go up against a Wing-T offense for the first time Friday at Rome.
Walker (2-0), which has now won 13 straight regular-season games going back to the final week of the 2011 season, received five votes in Class A, but the Wolverines still had four teams between themselves and the top 10.