Pius and Woodward should be the teams to beat this year in the newly formed 6AAA. Pius has found a way to be competitive recently and Woodward is always going to make a run at the playoffs.
If Decatur can run on rejuvenated energy that comes with a coaching change, the Bulldogs could be a force to be reckoned with. This should be a battle for those final two playoff spots.
Projected Order of Finish:
1. St. Pius X
2. Woodward Academy
3. Blessed Trinity
4. Cedar Grove
8. Cross Keys (non-region)
Coach: Brad Waggoner (Georgia Tech); 1st season (0-0, 57-33 overall)
2011 Record: 4-6
Starters Returning: 5 (offense), 5 (defense)
Top Returning Players: Sr. WR Terryon Robinson, 6-0/185; Sr. WR Terez Cowan, 5-11/185; Sr. DB Perez Cowan, 5-11/185; Sr. OL Jake Copenhaver, 6-2/260; Jr. LB Nick Bentley, 5-11/240; Jr. OLB/TE Vito Antinozzi, 6-1/190; Jr. DE Noah Fisher, 6-5/240
Season Outlook: Waggoner will try to do something Price Jones was not able to do in four years as the Decatur head coach this season. Waggoner wants to take the Bulldogs to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.
Decatur has the explosive players to make some noise, especially now that they don’t have to compete with Buford for region titles. It will all depend on whether Waggoner can get this team believing in what he is selling early on.
The Bulldogs trade perennial state title contender Buford for perennial playoff contenders St. Pius X and Woodward Academy.
Robinson is an explosive athlete who can make things happen on the field. If Waggoner can get Robinson to continue to lead this team, great things could happen.
The team returns five starters on each side of the ball and have the experience to make a run at the postseason. Only time will tell if it was beneficial to change head coaches at this venture.
Aug. 31: at Grady (Grady)
Sept. 7: vs. Therrell
Sept. 14: vs. Greenville
Sept. 21: at Clarkston (Hallford)
Sept. 29: at Cedar Grove (Panthersville)
Oct. 5: vs. Woodward Academy
Oct. 12: at Blessed Trinity
Oct. 26: vs. Towers (HC)
Nov. 2: at McNair (Panthersville)
Nov. 9: vs. St. Pius X
ST. PIUS X GOLDEN LIONS
Coach: Paul Standard (The Citadel); 12th season (96-34)
2011 Record: 12-1
Starters Returning: 5 (offense), 5 (defense)
Top Returning Players: Sr. FB Ryan Braswell, 5-11/210; Sr. TE J.P. Graves, 6-4/210; Sr. OL Grayson Klinger, 6-1/220; Sr. OL David Marsau, 6-0/240; Sr. DE Quincy Neiporte, 6-1/230; Sr. WR Matt Pearson, 6-3/170; Sr. QB Jack Spear, 6-3/190; Jr. OL Michael Carragher, 6-2/250; Jr. TE Chandler Cooper, 6-4/230; Jr. LB Daniel Crochet, 6-3/220; Jr. S Nicholas Glass, 6-0/210; Jr. OL Nicholus Ruffin, 6-1/180
Season Outlook: Pius had a season to remember last year that ended prematurely. The Golden Lions decided to stay in Class AAA when reclassification happened. The Golden Lions get to continue the rivalry with Woodward Academy and it should be another battle to see who is the dominant team in the region.
That game will be the eighth game of the season rather than the region championship as it was last year when Pius won 21-6.
Both teams will have aspirations to make it into the playoffs again and that game should make for some interesting late-season fireworks. If the Pius defense is as dominant this season as it was last season, the Golden Lions should come out on top.
The team pitched five shutouts and held eight opponents to less than a touchdown. There is no doubt Standard will have his team playing at top form again this season. A postseason appearance this season would make it seven straight for the Golden Lions.
With star defensive back Geno Smith at Alabama and star quarterback Trey White gone as well, the Golden Lions will look elsewhere for leadership.
If the past is any indication, they will find it by the end of the season.
Aug. 31: at Westminster
Sept. 7: vs. North Oconee
Sept. 14: at Thomson
Sept. 21: vs. Lovett
Sept. 28: vs. Towers
Oct. 5: at McNair
Oct. 19: vs. Cedar Grove
Oct. 26: at Woodward Academy
Nov. 2: vs. Blessed Trinity
Nov. 9: at Decatur
CROSS KEYS INDIANS
Coach: David Radford (Indiana); 5th season (4-34-2)
2011 Record: 1-8-1
Starters Returning: 1 (offense), 1 (defense)
Top Returning Players: Jr. RB/SS Patrick Huff, 5-5/150; Jr. QB Tomi Adeleyo, 5-8/160; Soph. WR/FS Sam McDade, 5-9/140
Season Outlook: The Cross Keys Indians will again play a non-region schedule in an effort to be more competitive on the field. The Indians have not won more than three games since an 8-2 season in 1994.
That season was also a non-region season. The past two seasons have been non-region as well for the Indians, but the team has managed a 3-15-2 record in those seasons.
With only two starters returning to a team hit hard by graduation, the Indians may have a few more rough seasons ahead before they get that elusive winning season.
Aug. 31: at Best Academy (Grady), 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 7: at Pinecrest Academy
Sept. 14: vs. Hebron Christian (Adams), 5:15 p.m.
Sept. 22: vs. Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (Adams)
Sept. 28: at North Cobb Christian
Oct. 5: at St. Francis
Oct. 12: vs. Lakeview Academy (North DeKalb)
Oct. 19: vs. Mt. Zion-Jonesboro (HC) (North DeKalb)
Oct. 26: vs. Clarkston (Adams), 5:15 p.m.
Nov. 2: vs. Hapeville Charter (Adams), 5:15 p.m.