August 14, 2010

Instant Analysis: Best games in Georgia

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

High school football is upon us. The games have started in Alaska and are set to kickoff all around the country.

The RivalsHigh100 football rankings have been released and the top players have been named.

The only thing left to do is take a trip around the country to check out some of the best games.

In the second of an eight-part tour we look at the best games inside the state lines of Georgia.

We have already profiled the best in Pennsylvania and will look at the best games in California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas before the games really fire up on Aug. 20.

Georgia: Top 10 games for the 2010 football season
10. Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County vs. Montgomery (Ala.) Carver
Sept. 24 at Colquitt Co.
When the schedule was first released, this seemed to be a gloss-over game for the Packers. But, after seeing Montgomery-Carver at the National Select 7-on-7, it became much more than that. Colquitt will be a team that likes to throw the ball, which is just fine for Carver as the team has a young quarterback in sophomore Jeremy Johnson and a solid wide receiver in Antonio Pitts, who will present match-up problems for Colquitt. If Colquitt County is ready to take the next step, and Georgia wants to maintain its reputation as a top state, this is a must-win game for Colquitt but not a gimme by any means.

9. Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson vs. Lithonia (Ga.) Martin Luther King
Nov. 5 at Stephenson
Stephenson is one of the more talented teams in Georgia with a roster that already has six college commitments and a potential for five more. M.L. King is a typical Atlanta team that has plenty of athletes and a handful of college-level players of its own. Stephenson could have the Region 2 title sewn up before this game, but that will not take the intensity level down at all. The Jaguars nearly made it to the state semifinals in 2009 and look like a team ready to take the next step in 2010. With this being the final game before playoffs start, we should see two well-oiled machines on the field.

8. Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett vs. Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones
Aug. 28 at North Gwinnett
Similar to the Colquitt vs. Montgomery Carver game, this is a tell-tale game for Georgia football. North Gwinnett enters the season as the No. 3 team in the state and ranked nationally in the RivalsHigh 100, while Bob Jones is a team who has moderate expectations placed on it in Alabama. North Gwinnett used an upset victory over Prattville (Ala.) High last year to announce its presence on the scene. That role could be reversed on them this year by a talented Bob Jones team. Led by C.J. Uzomah, the Bulldogs have the headliner talent on the field, but Bob Jones has shown to be a fairly complete team in its own respect. This game could be a high scoring affair and one that North Gwinnett needs to come out on top of.

7. Columbus (Ga.) Carver vs Buford (Ga.) High
Sept. 3 at Carver
One of the strengths of Georgia football is its depth at all levels. This Class AA battle checks in as the No. 7 game in the state as two teams who could meet again deep in the playoffs will do battle. Buford won the Class AA state title, while Carver lost in the third round of the Class AAA playoffs in 2009. The talent arrow is clearly in favor of Carver, who returns two of the best in the state in running back Isaiah Crowell and defensive tackle Gabriel Wright. Both are Rivals.com four-star players. The Tigers also have three-star player Quincy McKinney on the defensive line and Kentucky commitment Riyahd Jones in the defensive backfield. Buford, not devoid of talent itself, will have a solid defensive backfield to reckon with.

6. Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside vs Warner Robins (Ga.) High
Oct. 1 at Northside
While this game may not be what it was a handful of years ago, the fans in Warner Robins certainly will be out in force at this one. Both teams have now dropped down to Class AAAA and are not the name-brands they once were. Northside is the clear favorite in this rivalry game and enters the season as the No. 5 team in all of Georgia. Northside had won four in a row in the series but lost last year, 21-20, so revenge will be on the mind of the Eagles. This game will likely determine the winner of the AAAA Region 1. Neither team has the prospect advantage, so it is a toss-up in that respect, but Northside does enter the season with a new coach and that could make for an unsettled start to the year.

5. Valdosta (Ga.) High vs Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
Oct. 8 at Valdosta
The Winnersville Classic, as it is aptly named, will pit two teams who may be a bit "down" from their normal expectations. The South Georgia powers share city limits and plenty of animosity towards one another. Lowndes has had the upper hand in the match up, winning the last six games, and only allowing Valdosta to score over 10 points in one contest in that span. Valdosta has a new coach at the helm this year but the Lowndes rushing attack has been nearly impossible to stop. Last season, Lowndes rolled to a 57-15 victory, the most lopsided score in the long rivalry and pride will be on the plate for the Wildcats. The talent on the field may be a moot point for the first time in a long while, with Valdosta having its fair share of top end talent - especially on the defensive line.

4. Newnan (Ga.) High vs Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake
Oct. 8 at Newnan
Truth be told, each week in this region is a tough game, but this starts a stretch of very vital games for Newnan against one of the more talented teams in Atlanta. Trevor Tanner and the rest of the Cougars defense will need to play big against the Lions. For Westlake, this is a big game because it wraps up a stretch of games that includes Colquitt County, Martin Luther King, and Stephenson all immediately preceding this match-up. That four-game stretch will ultimately determine whether or not Newnan makes the playoffs and, if this game is to avoid a sweep, the Lions will be playing for pride. It may be very difficult to throw on the Lions this season with Ronnie Harris and Chris Tavarez in the defensive backfield. It is an important game for two very different reasons for these teams.

3. Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes vs Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County
Oct. 15 at Lowndes
This is the biggest regular season game between two Georgia teams. Both enter the year ranked in the state's preseason Top 5 with Lowndes No. 4 and Colquitt Co. No. 2, and also nationally in the RivalsHigh 100 at No. 58 and No. 35 respectively. Class AAAAA Region 1 got much easier with reclassification and the loss of Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside, and this game will likely determine the winner of that region. Colquitt County seems to be the overall measuring stick for the state of Georgia this season, with one of the most difficult schedules. This game toward the end of the season will be yet another with a playoff-like atmosphere. Taking on the very physical team from South Georgia will be just what it needs to get ready to win one of the most difficult classes in the nation.

2. Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett vs Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw
Sept. 3 at North Gwinnett
This game is an amazing cross-country measuring stick game for two of the power states in high school football. Remarkably, Georgia will be tested often in 2010 for its spot of supremacy in the high school landscape and this is a game that will be a great for doing that, as the No. 3 team in the preseason from Georgia will take on the No. 3 team in the preseason from California. In one of only a few games for North Gwinnett, C.J. Uzomah will not be the most talented player on the field as Crenshaw features one of the best running backs in the country in De'Anthony Thomas, a five-star player committed to USC, and two mammoth offensive linemen in Marcus Martin and Antonio Loggins, both who tip the scales at more than 320 pounds. The biggest thing in the favor of the Bulldogs will be the travel for Crenshaw, but the disadvantage for them is that this game is just five days after the Bob Jones game.

1. Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County vs Batesville (Miss.) South Panola
Aug. 28 at Colquitt County
Highlighting the rare measuring-stick year for Georgia football is a matchup between the No. 2 team in Georgia and the No. 1 team in Mississippi. Both teams are ranked in the RivalsHigh 100 with Colquitt checking in at No. 35 and South Panola at No. 5. It is rare to see South Panola make this kind of trip out of state but this is a great matchup for both teams to see where they stand nationally. The game is going to be near noontime in Georgia, so the sweltering heat and humidity would tend to favor the Packers, while the depth and experience with winning sides with South Panola. Both coaches, Rush Propst for Colquitt County and Lance Pogue at South Panola, will be playing the underdog cards with their team in this high-profile game.

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