Game: Southwest DeKalb vs. Cedar Grove
Date and time: August 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: SW DeKalb 21, Cedar Grove 20 (Aug. 26, 2016)
All-time series: SW DeKalb leads 7-2
Prediction: Cedar Grove 24, SW DeKalb 21
Cedar Grove facing Southwest DeKalb highlights the first full week of action for prep programs in DeKalb County.
Cedar Grove had a stellar campaign in 2016 when it brought home the Class AAA state championship, defeating Greater Atlanta Christian (GAC) at the Georgia Dome in the finals. The Saints earned 13 wins last year and defeated Union City, Jenkins, Calhoun, Crisp County as well as GAC in the postseason. Senior running back Demetrius Tharpe should see increased production after averaging more than eight yards a carry and for five scores last season. Senior wide receiver Jadon Haselwood had more than 700 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches last season. SW DeKalb won six games last season and reached the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
Arabia Mountain had its best season in program history in 2016. The Rams won a program-record nine games, their first region title and first playoff bid. Junior quarterback Bryson Williams had seven touchdown passes in reserve duty last season. Arabia Mountain hosts M.L. King on Friday.
Stone Mountain looks to rebound from a one-win campaign last season, welcoming in new head coach James Collier. The Pirates face Miller Grove on Friday. The Wolverines won four games and reached the postseason for the first time in program history.
Marist enters this season coming off a seven-win campaign in 2016 and a second-place finish in Region 7AAAA. The War Eagles also qualified for the state playoffs, an achievement that has been reached every season since 1983.
“We had a good summer,” Marist head coach Alan Chadwick said. “We had good attendance and the kids made progress. We have a lot of work ahead of us to become more consistent.
Taking the reins at quarterback will be senior Chase Abshier as the new starter. “Chase has performed well and is a good athlete who throws the ball well,” Chadwick said.
Dean Johnson will join Abshier in the backfield as a running back. The main targets at wide receiver will be senior John FitzPatrick, who averaged over 17 yards per catch last season; junior Kyle Hamilton and senior Ben Rosing.
Defensively, senior linebacker Paul Stanley returns after notching 75 total tackles last season. FitzPatrick will also play defensive end and had five sacks in 2016. The secondary includes Hamilton, who tied a team high with four interceptions last year, as well as Johnson and senior Matthew Gwin.
Three of Marist’s four losses last season came by three points or less. The War Eagles’ coaching staff has stressed the importance of finishing games in camp this offseason. Marist opens the season at Lovett on Friday.
St. Pius X won two games last season, which was its lowest victory total since a one-win campaign in 2000. The Golden Lions did extend its streak of making the state playoffs every season since 2006 with a fourth-place finish in Region 8AAAA.
This season, junior Connor Egan will be the new starting quarterback to run the triple-option attack. He will be joined in the backfield by several running backs including senior Nkem Njoku, juniors Jason Jones and Michael Benefield.
Defensively, senior linebacker Marco Dinkins leads the front seven along with Njoku and senior defensive linemen Richard Brown and Scott Braswell. The secondary includes juniors Zach Ranson and Michael Spear, Benefield and senior Ben White.
“The greatest strength we will have going into the season is our team chemistry and leadership,” St. Pius X head coach Paul Standard said. The Golden Lions open the season at Blessed Trinity on Friday.
Tucker reached the Class AAAAAA state finals last season, earning 13 wins and the Region 4AAAAAA title in the process. The Tigers face Lakeside on Friday.
The Vikings won five games last season which was the most in a single campaign since earning six victories in 2003. Senior running back Maxwell Guggemos returns after amassing 1,342 rushing yards, which was the most in all of Class AAAAAAA, and 16 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Matthew Holt had eight touchdown passes in 2016 with his main target being senior wide receiver DaMonte Pressley with five touchdown catches and a team-high 621 receiving yards. Senior defensive lineman Miles Miccichi had 120 tackles last season to lead the team in that category. Senior safety/running back Otha Evans, senior wide receiver/defensive back Ryshad Pitts and senior wide receiver/defensive back Damon Davis are also back.
Stephenson hosts Mill Creek on Friday. The Jaguars won eight games last season and reached the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
Chamblee earned two wins last season. The Bulldogs return several top players including senior running back/linebacker Levinte Washington, junior quarterback Stewart Steele, senior wide receiver Adrian Russ, senior defensive back Princeton Byrd, junior wide receiver Sydney Murray and Hamilton Hall. Chamblee faces Decatur on Friday. Decatur won one contest last season.
Druid Hills, which won four games last season, faces Columbia on Friday.
On Saturday, Lithonia faced Redan. The Bulldogs reached the Class AAAAA state playoffs last season after a five-win campaign. The Raiders earned three wins in 2016.