Preseason Football Power Rankings
The 2020 season is upon us. We have individually highlighted each team in our coverage area to identify key players, strengths, areas of focus, etc. Use the links below to navigate to each team in case you missed it. That said, after gathering intel from all teams in the area, we forecast our initial Power Rankings for 2020. These rankings stem not from solely last season, but what teams have coming back in terms of proven leadership and skill, region outlook, personnel and coaches, etc.
#1 RABUN COUNTY
COACH – Jaybo Shaw (2nd Season)
2019 – 12-1; State Quarterfinals; Region 8-AA Champions; #1 State Ranking
It all starts with the incredible coaching staff. Incredible football minds. And the culture. These guys want to play for something bigger than themselves. AND Gunner Stockton is back for his junior year. That’s the nation’s top QB in the class of 2022. While Braxton Hicks (UGA) is gone after one of the top WR careers of all-time in Georgia, Rabun has reloaded the receiving corp with newcomer Adriel Clark (Riverside). Add in Cory Keller’s emergence as a freshman last year at RB, and this offense won’t miss a beat after averaging over 44 points per game last year. The defense lost some key pieces from a year ago, but there are still many of those standouts back this year. Not to mention the brilliant schemes of Rob Stockton. Unfortunately, Rabun County loses a game on the schedule after Riverside bailed out on football for 2020, but the Cats are heavy favorites to earn a seventh consecutive region title and make yet a legitimate run at a state championship.
COACH – Gene Cathcart (4th Season)
2019 – 10-2; State Quarterfinals; Region Champions; #3 State Ranking
The Dragons had an incredible run last season, and nearly got into the Semifinals. The returning cast is so strong for Jefferson, despite the loss of one of the program greats in Colby Clark. Malaki Starks will take over at QB, and he’s a big-time 5-star recruit in the Class of 2022 who is getting numerous Power 5 offers. The dangerous thing about this team is the variety of ways they can beat you. Last year, 17 different players scored TDs. 14 of those players are back this year. Of the 17 All-Region selections from a year ago, 12 are returning. There’s a lot to like here, even though Jefferson is moving back up into Class 4A after a couple of years in 3A.
#3 DAWSON COUNTY
COACH – Sid Maxwell (6th Season)
2019 – 8-4; State 2nd Round; #6 State Ranking
Sid Maxwell is one of the great football minds around, and plays to his personnel’s strength. That said, he has a lot of guys at his disposal. Make no mistake, some great talent is gone on the defensive side, and even star RB Shawn Thomas is gone, but Zach Holtzclaw returns as a junior after a huge breakout season at QB. Dakohta Sonnichsen is back also to be an incredibly lethal weapon, and one of the state’s top kickers in Caleb Bonesteel too. The all-new region 7-AAA, which consists of Dawson/Lumpkin/White and four other programs shows that the Tigers very well could be front-runners right now.
#4 WHITE COUNTY
COACH – Tim Cokely (4th Season)
2019 – 5-5
The Warriors have a great shot to battle Dawson for a potential region title. That’s due to the experience and skill of the offensive weapons, starting with J Ben Haynes. The senior QB is looking to polish off his career in style, and has great talent around him, including star WR Cooper Turner and RBs Riley Stancil, Zion McMullen, and Seth Stonecypher. On the flip side of the ball, it’s McMullen, Silas Mulligan, and Jaquez Williams that will be HUGE assets for White County. This could be Tim Cokely’s best season in Cleveland yet.
COACH – Michael Brown (8th Season)
2019 – 9-3; State 2nd Round; #3 State Ranking
The Tigers under Michael Brown have been making history time and time again. There is a great chance and almost certainty of making more in 2020, as Commerce looks to make a 24th consecutive playoff run. Tyelon Brock will be the key to the Tigers, as well as Trey Huff, who takes over at QB after the departure of mainstay Nate Ray. The defense is set to be as good as usual, headlined by a cast that starts with Grey Holbrook and Elijah Burns. The Tigers have a tough non-region slate that makes up the first half of the schedule. Should be a great season in Commerce.
#6 UNION COUNTY
COACH – Brian Allison (19th Season)
2019 – 10-2; State 2nd Round; #6 State Ranking
The Panthers are fresh off their first-ever playoff win and first-ever 10-win season. Momentum is up. But the personnel group took a major hit with the graduation of Pierson Allison, Sawyer Drake, John Mancuso, Sloan Sutton, Cayden Rich, and Kyle Morlock. Big-time key pieces for this program. While there are still some players who are proven (Jonah Daniel at RB), there are a lot of areas that need to grow quickly and prove themselves. That’s a great challenge, and the one in the spotlight will be Logan Helcher at QB, a junior who got his feet wet last year in his lone start, a win at Banks County. Union, like Rabun, loses RMA on the schedule, and makes it a 4-team region. That means state is a certainty, but where they come out in the region is the real question.
#7 HABERSHAM CENTRAL
COACH – Benji Harrison (6th Season)
2019 – 3-7
The Raiders have some holes to fill at QB with the graduation of Ryte Woodruff, and in athleticism in the loss of Arian Curry. However, there is a glut of talent coming back starting with Joshua Pickett and Jackson Clouatre, both back for their senior years. Add in Patrick Tedder, Tanner Wade, Garrett Heaton, Grayson Taylor, and Austin Wood, and Habersham Central has the pieces to really compete. The strength is in the skill positions; the areas of focus starts with the defense. Always in a tough region, things got more ridiculous for Habersham with the inclusion of Buford and Central Gwinnett, not to mention still having region foes Dacula and Lanier.
#8 STEPHENS COUNTY
COACH – Wesley Tankersley (3rd Season)
2019 – 1-9
Things didn’t go according to plan last year with injuries, etc taking a toll on the Indians. Hudson Spurlock is gone as the featured RB, but there are solid experienced players back, notably WR Gamarion Carter. Kenny Colwell is back at QB and will split reps with Ben Stowe. The region got tougher as the Indians moved down from 4A to 8-AAA.
#9 BANKS COUNTY
COACH – Jay Reid (3rd Season)
2019 – 3-7
Like Rabun and Union, Banks County loses RMA on the calendar, so will have a 9-game schedule. State is ensured, but the Leopards won’t settle just to be a playoff team. They will want to prove it on a game-by-game basis. There is a lot of turnover from last year, but some talent returns in guys like Jace Bennett, Cade Herrin, Roman Haynes, Carter Stroud, and Josh Stapleton. Bowen Roberts will be the new QB.
#10 LUMPKIN COUNTY
COACH – Caleb Sorrells (2nd Season)
2019 – 1-9
Just give it time. Lumpkin is working first on culture and buy-in. That’s happening, because Sorrells reported that there are 30-plus in the freshman class alone. That’s huge for the future of the program. In 7-AAA, things will be difficult with a region that contains playoff-bound teams like Dawson, White, North Hall, etc. Drew and JoJo Allison will be two names you will hear a lot, as well as Cooper Scott, who takes over at QB.
#11 TOWNS COUNTY
COACH – Jason Roquemore (2nd Season)
2019 – 0-10
Ditto from Lumpkin County. Roquemore is rebuilding a program, and has the battle of getting bodies in numbers. The good news is Garrett and Kyle Oakes are back, and Colin Crowder is back after being sidelined all last season by injury. Mason Thomas will be the QB, and Oakes will be the other skill players counted on.