Johns Creek football group tackle

Group of Johns Creek tacklers led by Patrick Taylor (21) take down Pope’s Nate Braun during contest earlier this season. / Staff - Dave Williamson

Five local teams find themselves in one of the most competitive football regions within Class AAAAAA of the Georgia High School Association this season as each one vies for a playoff spot and a chance for a state championship.

Alpharetta won Region 7AAAAAA last season with an 11-win campaign and reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs. The Raiders have reached the postseason seven out of eight seasons including the last two years. Alpharetta’s offense averaged 30 points last season and will see increased production from two senior skill position players in wide receiver Robbie Ruppel and running back Kevin Watkins. The offensive line features senior center William Wagner. Defensively, the Raiders allowed only 15 points a contest which was its lowest amount in three years. Senior linebacker Dane Motley is the top returning tackler with 55 tackles and 15 pass breakups in 2017. Senior defensive ends Jack Stanton and Jackson Michaels each had 38 tackles and 32.5 tackles respectively last season. Senior cornerback Jiquez McCurdy leads the defensive backfield.

“Fall camp has been successful so far,” Alpharetta head coach Jacob Nichols said. “We have a lot of starters and major contributors to replace but our guys are working hard. Offensively, we have to find consistency at the quarterback and offensive line positions. We have a lot of great athletes but we have to have all 11 pieces working together on that unit. Defensively, we will play a lot of young guys with our biggest hole being in the secondary. Our guys are getting physically ready, but they are going to have to grow up fast and gain experience on the fly.”

Chattahoochee also reached the state playoffs last season after winning seven contests and placing third in the region. It was the Cougars’ first postseason appearance in five years. The team’s offense averaged 27 points last season led by senior Max Webb who had 1,344 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. Defensively, Chattahoochee looks to improve on its mark of allowing 30 points last year.

Centennial was a postseason squad last season with an eight-win campaign and second-place finish in the region. It was the program’s second-consecutive playoffs appearance and the first time the Knights have had consecutive winning seasons since 2003. Centennial also won a playoff game for the first time since 2002. The offense averaged 37 points a contest last season led by senior quarterback Max Brosmer who threw for 3,750 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. Senior Cal Dickie is the top returning receiver after having 1,113 yards and nine total touchdowns in 2017.

Cambridge looks to improve on its four-win mark from 2017 and find itself back in the playoff picture. The Bears’ offense, which averaged 20 points last season, returns senior Ridge Polk who amassed 1,907 all-purpose yards including a team-high 974 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns. Senior receiver Nick Owens and sophomore running back Philip Michael Collins will also be top skill position players for the Bears. The offensive line will include seniors Kasra Bojnordi and Andrew Chishom along with junior Billy Judge. The defense allowed 20 points a contest last year and returns top tackler in junior defensive lineman Daniel Graham who had 38 stops last year. The rest of the line rotation will include seniors Andrew Longo and Garrick Kourany. Junior linebacker Josh Bodunrin had 31 tackles, junior defensive back Lance Bradford posted 28 tackles and Polk had 21 stops as well last year.

“The preseason has gone really well and just trying to get better every day,” Cambridge head coach Craig Bennett said.

Johns Creek looks to improve on its three-win campaign from last season. The Gladiators return senior quarterback Zach Gibson who threw for 1,989 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. Senior running back Nate Hope had a team-high seven touchdown runs along with 648 yards on the ground and five TD catches last year. Senior receiver Matt Casey also had five touchdown catches in 2017. Johns Creek’s defense brings back senior Neil Ilenrey who had 69 tackles last year. Junior Patrick Taylor had 68 tackles while senior Aaron Hamilton posted 67 stops.

Northview earned two wins last year. Senior running back William Caylor had four rushing touchdowns last season to lead the Titans. Senior Mac Bolton led Northview last season with 701 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.

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