“I think that preseason polls are based a lot on how you finished last year, because nobody has even played a game yet,” said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin, whose team, a state semifinalist in 2011, was ranked fifth in Class AAAAAA. “It’s always flattering, but it doesn’t affect how we prepare at all. I don’t think Hillgrove will care that we are the No. 5 team.”
Though it’s hard to take stock in polls that are made without a single snap having being taken, the standout performances of Cobb’s teams garnered them respect for this season.
In the poll for the newly created Class AAAAAA, Cobb had three teams in the top 10, including No. 2 Walton, No. 5 Lassiter and No. 7 Hillgrove.
McEachern and Marietta were among other local teams that received votes.
Defending state champion Grayson, which beat Walton in last year’s state title game to finish undefeated, topped the poll with all 10 first-place votes.
“That’s awesome,” Walton coach Rocky Hidalgo said of his team’s No. 2 ranking. “Honestly, at some point in time, we will be a very good football team this year, but we have so many new pieces and moving parts that are a work in progress. Our kids are trying to learn what to do, in addition to how to do it.
“Our goal is to go out there and compete on the state level. We’re working our tails off to get better every day. I can’t worry about polls. We have bigger fish to fry right now.”
More than being ranked in the top five, Lassiter and Walton both realize that the polls point out something the coaches in Cobb County already know — the strength of the county’s teams continues to be on the rise.
“I think that just about every Cobb coach you ask in the last two years would say that Cobb football is definitely on the rise,” Irwin said. “We had great success last year in the playoffs. Kell had a big upset. Allatoona had a big run in Class AAA. Three of four teams won in the Corky Kell Classic, and I wouldn’t bet against any of the teams to lose this year either. A lot of (people) have told me that it’s the best that it’s ever been (for Cobb football).”
In Class AAAAA, Kell was ranked third behind Tucker and Northside-Warner Robins, while Allatoona tied with Ware County at 10th. Pope also received votes.
In Class A, Mount Paran Christian fell just shy of Charlton County for No. 10.