1. Marietta Blue Devils 

The Blue Devils started their season with a win. Was it as dominant as some of the games last season? No, but it allowed the new starters to get a game under their belt and a chance to learn from their mistakes, yet still have the satisfaction of success. Quarterback Tyler Hughes was solid against the Wildcats, and with that game behind him, he should be ready for the annual meeting with McEachern next week.

2. Allatoona Buccaneers 

The Buccaneers got a little taste of revenge last week as they knocked off Harrison in a rematch of the 2019 Class AAAAAA title game. The defense led the way as Fisher Paulsen returned an interception and Vincent Canosa returned a fumble for touchdowns in the second half. Sophomore running back Jayden Ponder also made his presence known with 92 yards and a touchdown. He could become the next quality back to come out of the Allatoona program.

3. North Cobb Warriors 

The Warriors scored 35 points in 17 offensive plays against Sprayberry and built a 48-10 lead at one point. Malachi Singleton showed out with five first-half touchdowns — three rushing and two passing — and proved to be a challenge for the Yellow Jackets’ defense. He gets a big test Friday when Buford comes calling. A similar performance will make everyone stand up and take notice.

4. Walton Raiders 

The Raiders rallied from 19 points down in the second half for a come-from-behind victory over east Cobb rival Kell. While Walton likely doesn’t want to get down like that again, it showed it can overcome adversity. Plus, it proved it can score points in bunches. The performance may remind opponents of the 11-1 Raiders from 2017, rather than the 6-6 version from last season.

5. Kell Longhorns 

The Longhorns had Walton beat for much of the game and, unfortunately, could not hold on at the end. Coach Brett Sloan said in part it was a conditioning issue. Something tells us they may have had a little extra running this week in preparation for the team’s first meeting with Hillgrove. Running back David Mbadinga was held in check in Week 1. Look for him to have a big game against the Hawks in Week 2.

6. McEachern Indians 

The Indians trailed only 13-7 with about 4 minutes left in the third quarter in their opening game against North Gwinnett. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ running game was able to take control of the game in the later stages. McEachern can expect to see more of the same when No. 1 Grayson, the No. 6 team in the country according to USA Today, comes calling to Powder Springs on Friday.

7. Harrison Hoyas 

The Hoyas defense looked as good as ever against Allatoona last Friday, but the offense never got on track. Harrison has a lot of new players trying to find their way, and it may take a couple of weeks to find a groove. Luckily, the team has plenty of time, and games, before it starts region play Oct. 23.

8. Hillgrove Hawks 

The Hawks made a valiant comeback attempt against Norcross last week, but they just found themselves in a little too big of a hole. Theo Tatum played well, rallying the squad by throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. He will have to have another good game Friday if Hillgrove is expected to avoid its first 0-2 start since the 2017 season.

9. Pope Greyhounds

The Greyhounds finally get their chance to open the season when they head to Raider Valley to face east Cobb rival Walton. By not playing last week, Pope will have to face the opening game jitters, but it can overcome that by feeding the ball to featured back Joe Stellmach. The better the Greyhounds run the ball, the longer the Walton offense stands on the sideline.

10. North Cobb Christian Eagles 

The Eagles scored on their first play from scrimmage and had put up 38 points by halftime. They did it behind a solid offensive line and the running of Caleb Cannon (179 yards) and Trey Priester (150 yards). As a team, North Cobb Christian ran for 390 yards while not having to throw a pass. It may have to go to the air once or twice this week against Hebron Christian, but expect a healthy running attack along the way.

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John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and the former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter @jbednarowski


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