Michael A. LoughComment

Monday Morning Quarterback: Still No. 1? Newcomers to the polls? Around the neighborhood; Yo, Class A?

Michael A. LoughComment
Monday Morning Quarterback: Still No. 1? Newcomers to the polls? Around the neighborhood; Yo, Class A?
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 Division I (6A, 5A, 4A)

1. Jones County
          Friday night was certainly an attention-getter. Putting up 56 points? No biggie. Putting up 56 on Northside, no matter experience on the defensive side? Wow. There are months in which the Eagles don’t give up 56 points. In region play. Like two years ago, 51 points in four 1-6A games.


2. Warner Robins
          The timing of the early week off didn’t hurt last year, the Demons thumping Baldwin. It’s good and bad this year, the Demons needing to keep the momentum going, but having a chance with some new starters to fine-tune can’t hurt a bit.

 3. Northside
          Vacancies are appearing on the bandwagon – where in the world was everybody for the Peach County game? That excited for Georgia-Vandy? – after a stunning Friday night. Lighten up, Francis. Northside has scored one less point and given up all of 14 more points through the same three games. Recall what happened last year.

4. Veterans
          Despite replacing a good chunk of quality players on both sides, the Warhawks are again 3-0, with similar scoring O and D to last year. QB Blake Etheridge has been efficient, and Veterans survived another state-fair-type game against Baldwin.

5. Houston County
          The Bears were going to bring Rutland back down to earth and did. Regardless, a good sign for a still-rebuilding program is to take care of business, and Houston County did that. Are they sharp enough, and can they be disciplined and patient enough, to stay with Peach County for four quarters?


Division II (3A, 2A, A, others)

1. Peach County
          Beating Lee County wasn’t that much of a surprise. Delivering such a thorough beatdown? Yeah. Sure, Lee County has lost a good chunk of elite defensive players the past few years, and no equal replacements have moved in, but the Trojans from Leesburg haven’t given up that kind of yardage and those kinds of points, to bigger teams, in a long time.

2. Dublin
          So much for worries about conditioning or rust for a team having played one game less than a year ago, and had the opener stopped in the second quarter. Except for the drastic lack of balance, Dublin shares many traits with Peach County: fundamentals, speed, physicality. Exploring some balance wouldn’t be a bad thing.

3. Washington County
          You can’t improve on undefeated, but you can improve on the field. The Golden Hawks are in a good news/bad news mode: they’re good enough to be 2-0 despite mistakes and leaving points out there (mainly against Jefferson). Playing a 6A team from a bad region, they’ll survive that again this week, but Swainsboro is after that.

4. Westside
          Defense will remain something to watch, but the Seminoles avoided letting Perry convert some yards – especially through the air – into points. Of course, that effort came a week after Harris County dropped 48 on the Seminoles. Howard brings a bigger test.

5. Dodge County
          Among the bigger surprises Friday? Dodge County lost a two-touchdown lead. At home. In the fourth quarter. And continues to throw the ball. As frustrating –and surprising – as it was to lose the lead and then the game to West Laurens, that kind of loss is the kind that can straighten up a team mighty quick. Plus, West Laurens is the best 4A team in Central Georgia, so there’s no shame in that loss.

6. Lamar County
          Sure, the schedule so far has only one playoff-caliber opponent, Mt. Zion-Carroll. But beating a team 27-6 that you lost to 34-0 a year earlier is a sign of legit progress. Four Trojans scored in the first half last week, and Lamar County is showing some balance.

7. Mount de Sales
          The Cavs’ schedule has a hiccup this year, with consecutive off weeks. Two games and two weeks off early aren’t exactly desirable.

8. John Milledge
          The Trojans had a battle with Brentwood, which did a superb job with run defense, holding JMA and Amaad Foston to 50 yards. The passing game and defense took over to win on the road.

9. Bleckley County
          The Royals have scored more through three games than last year, and given up a chunk fewer.

10. Vacated
          Of the remaining unranked AA and A GHSA programs, none have a winning record. Central Georgia’s Class A GHSA teams are 7-23, Class AA 12-12.


Around the neighborhood

          Anybody who had Southwest beating Macon County by double digits is fibbing. The Bulldogs are in, well, a “situation” after their worst loss – major points against a non-playoff regular in any class – since *gasp* falling 33-13 to Central Talbotton – last playoff trip was 1994 – in 2011.

          Context? Northside beat Macon County 23-0 only two years ago. Southwest’s last shutout?  The last time Macon county was skunked? Only 7-0 to Taylor County in 2013, the Vikings finishing 6-5. …

          Speaking of Central Talbotton, the Hawks broke an 11-game losing streak Friday by beating Crawford County. The last team to lose to the Hawks? Crawford County, 26-0 in the 2017 season finale. …

          The good news: Twiggs County is one point short of tying its scoring total from last year, when the Cobras didn’t score last year until Game 5.

          The bad news: Twiggs County is on a 23-game losing streak.

          The notable news: Twiggs County is on its 10th new head coach since the turn of the century. And six have lasted one year, including Dexter Copeland on his return.


          FPD and Brentwood have had one head coach in that span.

          Northside, two, once since 2010 and two since 1994; Dublin, two, once since 2002; Washington County, two, once since 2006 and two since 1992; Wilkinson County, two, since the mid-1990s; Westside, one since 2009, two since 1997.

          It’s not easy, but it’s not hard. …

          And speaking of clusters, there’s Dooly County, a better program than we realize amid a mess with the eyes-always-looking-elsewhere Ashley Harden and an administration, plus an apparently unsettled fan base and team.

          Folks in smaller towns: raising too much of a ruckus for no reasons puts you in a downhill mode, because it becomes harder and harder to attract good coaches. Nope, don’t know the whole story, but last week’s activities aren’t a good look.


The surprises

          The severeness of Peach County’s win over Lee County does remain a surprise, and the local Trojans may be done with surprising anybody.

          The biggest surprise from Maxwell picks? Putnam County was a 19-point underdog and eight-point winner.

          Southwest won by 29 more points than expected, and Upson-Lee had an 18-point turnaround in a win.

          Mary Persons being a 33-point favorite was a little silly, and the Bulldogs won by one.

          Crawford County is still in the figuring-it-out mode, but losing to Central Talbotton? Ouch.

          Westside being in control, and from such an early point, over Perry wasn’t expected. The Panthers have to get some consistency going on both sides, are they’ll be that team in the so-even region on the outside looking in.

          Of course, in 2-4A, that looking-in team will change every week or so the rest of the way.


Didn’t Class A used to be pretty good?

          Life is rougher for Central Georgia’s smaller Class A programs the past few years.

          In the past five years, Hawkinsville and Macon County have won Class A public championships, and the local private schools were more often in the top half of the playoff power ratings than not.

          Now? We can expect more of what we got last year, which was one Central Georgia Class A team, period, in the top 10 in a ranking, Mount de Sales at No. 10.

          Tattnall and Stratford were bubble teams at 20th and 22n d, with FPD out of the hunt fairly early. Little seems much different so far.

          Dooly County was No. 14 in Public, and that’s clearly not going to happen again. Hancock Central was 19th, Macon County 21st, and Taylor County 22nd.

          Hancock Central appears about the same, Taylor County might be a smidge better, and Macon County isn’t looking promising.

          Seven Class A teams made the playoffs last year. There won’t be that many this year.


Note to keepers of standings, results

          In this age of technology, certainly more teams can have stats on Friday night or Saturday morning to send to centralgasports@gmail.com so folks can find out what happened, other than seeing a few plays that don’t tell much about the game.

          Thanks last week to Brentwood, Northside, and Dublin for game-night information, and to Perry, Peach County, Jones County, and Howard for some names and numbers later on.


Dear beloved Friday night gamecasters

          Occasional sounds of silence aren’t terrible – particularly considering the alternative, in some cases – so speed-talking, especially in attempts to impress or dazzle, doesn’t help a listener understand what’s happening. Slow down.

          Go into a break: score and time. Come out of a break: score and time. Clock stops: score and time. Has nobody mentioned that the score and time are relevant to people listening?

          The archive:

          Kinda take it easy on raging shmoozing hyperbole, overuse of "great" and "aweome" and "good" and "remarkable" and "incredible." And avoid telling us what you don't know and then keep talking about what you don’t know. Skip those kindsa things. And it’s funny how the more verbal exclamation points we get, the worse the team actually is.

          You're watching only the ball, whereas refs all have different things to watch, and from pretty much the worst angles. Just because you didn't see it doesn't make it horrible. And 17-year-olds will commit dumbness 30 yards from the ball. So, ya know ...

          One a time. Please. One person talk at a time. When one person is done, the other person can start. Otherwise, well, the brilliance get lost because of people talking over each other for no apparent reason other than the glory of hearing one’s voice.

          And the now-weekly reminder: time and score, score and time, and school name over nicknames. Go into a break, time and score. Come out of a break, time and score. Awaiting for the next flash of an attempted Munsonism, time and score.