Or is it Kell? Walton? McEachern? Allatoona?
Each can make a legitimate claim with their play on the field.
The Trojans have won the most games, and have had playoff runs that took them to the quarterfinals in 2009, and the semifinals two years later.
Meanwhile, McEachern has the highest winning percentage, and Allatoona has gone to back-to-back state quarterfinals.
Kell is the only team to have a winning record and make the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.
Walton advanced all the way to the state championship game in 2011.
Is there a clear cut answer? No, but Alvin Richardson, the former football coach and athletic director at Morgan County High School in east Georgia, has devised a formula to figure it out.
In 2011, Richardson set out to determine the state’s top high school football programs over the previous quarter-century.
His formula gives teams one point for each win, two for each playoff win and additional points for winning percentages above 60 percent — one point for 60 to 64.9 percent, three for 65-69.9, five for 70-74.9, seven for 75-79.9 and 10 for a winner percentage better than 80.
He also gave teams 10 extra points for winning a state championship, but when using Richardson’s formula to figure out which Cobb program was the best over the last five years, no team earned the ultimate bonus.
What it does compute is that Lassiter is the best program for the last half-decade.
The Trojans are 46-15, have won two region titles, achieved two undefeated regular seasons, won the most playoff games (six), and their winning percentage is the county’s third-highest over that span at 75.4 percent.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Lassiter coach Jep Irwin said. It’s been the best five-year period in the program’s history. The senior class that left won two region titles, went to the playoffs all four years and won four playoff games.”
Former Trojans coach Chip Lindsey planted the seeds of success when he brought in the spread offense and turned record-setting quarterback Hutson Mason loose. Irwin took over when Lindsey left after two seasons, turned the offense to Eddie Printz — who finished his career as Cobb County’s all-time leading passer — and built on the solid foundation that he inherited.
“Our community has been hungry for a successful football program,” Irwin said. “We had been successful in nearly everything else. Now, we’re creating a culture of success (in football).”
Before Lindsey came to Lassiter in 2008, the Trojans had gone 20-30 over the previous five seasons, and at no time in the program’s history had it won more than eight games — and that had happened only twice dating back to the team’s first year in 1982.
That was not a problem at Kell, which came in as the second-most successful program over the last five years. In the Longhorns’ 10 years of football, they have already posted six seasons of at least eight wins, and they’ve become the most consistent program in county.
Kell has had a record of 45-14 with four playoff wins and a 76.2 winning percentage. Over the last three years, the Longhorns have two region titles and a perfect regular season, and they’re the only team in the county to advance to at least the second round of the playoffs each season.
Kell coach Derek Cook said much of the success his program is having now starts before the kids step on campus.
“It’s everything from our guys doing the necessary work in the weight room to the junior program,” he said. “Our varsity coaches teach the youth coaches the same drills we run, so, by the time our kids get to the varsity, they’ve already been in the system for a number of years.
“Winning breeds winning and, day-to-day, our kids have a model to emulate.”
Of course, neither of those programs have had the opportunity to do what Walton has done — play for a state championship. Only twice in the last five seasons have the Raiders won more than seven games, but it’s unlikely they would trade the opportunity to play for the title to be able to say they had three 10-win seasons.
It begs the question, what would fans rather have — a few average seasons and then an occasional run to toward a possible title, or consistency?
At Walton, there appears to be a cycle where, every three or four years, it breaks out with a special season. That’s likely the reason the Raiders came in third with a 44-15 record, four playoff wins — all in the 2011 run to the state championship game — and a winning percentage of 74.6.
Coach Rocky Hidalgo said earlier this week that, “By the end of the year, we could have a dynamic team capable of competing with some of the best teams in the state.”
The last time he said something like that, was two years ago, so maybe Walton is trying to shorten the wait between big years.
The team threatening to break into the county’s upper echelon is Allatoona. In only five years of varsity football, the Buccaneers have already won a region title and had back-to-back state quarterfinal appearances.
In that span, they are 38-15, with four playoff wins and a winning percentage of 71.6.
Allatoona coach Gary Varner said one of the major keys to his program — and all the quality programs in Cobb — is the continuity of the coaching staff.
“You need at least five or six coaches you can always count on,” he said. I’ve got 10, and we’ve been together five straight years.
“We have guys that want to coach, and they want to stay together. It helps the kids buy into the system.”