The first Friday night saw nine of our teams begin the 2019 season, while two (Union & White) got another week to prepare. Of our nine locals who kicked off the slate, only four grabbed opening wins. Here’s the latest BLITZ Power Rankings.
#1 RABUN COUNTY WILDCATS
LAST RANKING: #1
WEEK 1: W 34-13 vs Bremen
The Wildcats were as good as always, racking up 500 yards of offense behind Gunner Stockton’s elite performance in a 34-13 win over Bremen in the Erk Russell Classic at Georgia Southern. Stockton, a 5-star dual threat who ranks as the top QB in the country for 2022, had 211 passing yards and 257 on the ground, with four total TDs. Jaybo Shaw earned his first career head coaching win. The defense played spectacularly, allowing just one touchdown in the final seconds.
#2 UNION COUNTY PANTHERS
LAST RANKING: #3
WEEK 1: Bye
The anticipation for the Panthers’ season is at an all-time high. These guys are chomping at the bit to get the season started. Pierson Allison and his star-studded cast of receivers and playmakers are set for what should be a historic year for Union.
#3 DAWSON COUNTY TIGERS
LAST RANKING: #4
WEEK 1: W 27-13 vs Habersham Central
The Tigers used an electric performance by Shawn Thomas, who is no longer going to fly under the radar after putting up 280-plus all-purpose yards. He took the opening season kickoff 95 yards back for a TD, and had 157 rushing yards as well. Zach Holtzclaw proved a viable option at QB, and had his moments of showing he can be that go-to guy for Dawson. The defense played very well aside from two big passing TDs allowed, but shut out the Raiders in the second half. Any time you get a win over a school that is three classifications ahead of you, you’re bound to move up the list.
#4 COMMERCE TIGERS
LAST RANKING: #5
WEEK 1: W 48-17 @ West Hall
The Tigers got a huge boost from Tyleon Brock (128 rush yds on 6 carries, 2 TD; punt return TD). Commerce shrugged off a sluggish first half (for their standards) and poured it on late to a huge win over West Hall. Again, beating a school three full classifications ahead speaks volumes here.
#5 JEFFERSON DRAGONS
LAST RANKING: #2
WEEK 1: L 20-21 vs #10 Oconee County
This just shows how crowded our local programs are in terms of solid play. It’s almost not fair to push the Dragons back to #5, but taking a home loss to #10 Oconee was not what these guys deserved. They fought hard and dropped this game very late despite a solid night from Colby Clark (3 total TD) and company. Jefferson will assuredly rebound and learn from this.
#6 STEPHENS COUNTY INDIANS
LAST RANKING: #6
WEEK 1: W 42-21 vs Franklin County
No movement in the rankings for Stephens County, but an upward tick in all other areas. It was a big statement win for the Indians at home, as Hudson Spurlock’s five touchdowns and 164 rushing yards were more than enough. MJ Jones added 157 yards as well. These guys are very good!
#7 HABERSHAM CENTRAL RAIDERS
LAST RANKING: #7
WEEK 1: L 13-27 @ Dawson County
Habersham Central stayed in the game against Dawson and had an early lead despite falling behind in the first few minutes. The Raiders showed promise with many new faces stepping into big roles. Notably, it was impressive how well Ryte Woodruff handled the offense, as he threw for 237 yards and a pair of TDs. Grayson Taylor emerged as a leader in the receiving group with 128 yards and a score. The defense also played solid throughout most of the contest.
#8 WHITE COUNTY WARRIORS
LAST RANKING: #8
WEEK 1: Bye
The Warriors, like Union (above), had to be itching to play while having to sit back and watch everyone else have fun on Friday night. J. Ben Haynes and company are set for making another playoff run in 2019.
#9 LUMPKIN COUNTY INDIANS
LAST RANKING: #9
WEEK 1: L 22-25 vs East Jackson
The Indians dropped a heartbreaker after leading this one 22-6. It was almost in the bag, but East Jackson got back into it and scored late in the third to take the final lead and hold on to win. There was still plenty of optimism in the way Lumpkin played in the first half.
#10 BANKS COUNTY LEOPARDS
LAST RANKING: #10
WEEK 1: L 0-7 @ Jackson County
Banks County’s defense deserves a HUGE pat on the back. Nearly blanking any opponent is impressive, especially an offense of Rich McWhorter, a legitimate legendary coach with four state championships on his resume.
#11 TOWNS COUNTY INDIANS
LAST RANKING: #11
WEEK 1: L 0-35 vs Hayesville
Boy, this was a tough start for the short-handed Indians in coach Jason Roquemore’s debut.