The reigning state champion from the largest classification in the state of Georgia hails from Region 1-AAAAAA and while the Colquitt County Packers were undefeated in region play, that doesn’t mean that it was an easy road to the championship. It also doesn’t mean that the rest of the teams in the region laid down quietly and took their lumps. It’t not uncommon for some of the games between these teams sell out before they ever even paint the lines on the field and become a standing-room-only event on Friday nights. Every season and every game Region 1-AAAAAA is as competitive as any region in all of Georgia and 2015 looks to be no different.
2014 Region 1-AAAAAA Standings
Colquitt County Packers 15-0 (5-0)
Valdosta Wildcats 9-2 (4-1)
Lee County Trojans 8-3 (3-2)
Tift County Blue Devils 7-4 (2-3)
Lowndes Vikings 6-4 (1-4)
Camden County Wildcats 5-5 (0-5)
The Colquitt County Packers finally got that state championship that they have been so close to achieving over the past few years and in 2015, they will be just as loaded as any team in the state. Now the task is repeating as state champs, which is one of the hardest things in sports to do and something that hasn’t happened in the highest classification in Georgia since 2008-2009 when region foe Camden County did it. The Packers lost just about every key player on defense and a lot on offense but do return receiver Kiel Pollard and quarterback Chase Parrish. We’ll know everything we need to know about Colquitt County after their first two games against North Gwinnett and Florida powerhouse Plant High.
The Valdosta Wildcats were a young football team in 2014 but still won a handful of one-score games to earn second place honors in region play after the Packers. What was a young team in 2014 will be a veteran squad in 2015 and it’s amazing how a 9-3 overall record is a failure in the Azalea City, especially when you were ousted in the first round of the state playoffs. Expectations are as high as ever in Valdosta and it’s going to be interesting to see if Coach Rance Gillespie and the Wildcats flourish or fold under the pressure.
Lee County was a pleasant surprise in 2014 in their first year in the region and they showed that they belong in what some call the SEC South division. The Trojans were barely edged by the Valdosta Wildcats and gave Colquitt County a pretty good game until the 4th quarter rolled around. The Trojans graduated a good bit of their playmakers from 2014 but the talent is there in 2015 as well. The Trojans relied on a high octane offense last season but the strength of the 2015 squad will be the offensive and defensive lines. After only one season, Lee County is looking more and more like a true Region 1-AAAAAA blue blood.
The Cinderella story in South Georgia last season had to have been the Tift County Blue Devils who went from write-offs to the playoffs in 2015. The Blue Devils only won five ball games in 2014 and just did miss the playoffs but were able to steal two overtime games against perennial powers Camden County and Lowndes to slide in the back door of the playoffs as the 4-seed from Region 1-AAAAAA and came only a few short minutes away from advancing to the second round. The Blue Devils are transitioning to a new head coach in 2015 but senior skill players Berry Bennett and Quay Duggins will try and lead the team to back-to-back playoff trips for the first time since 2007-2008.
When you talk about high school fan bases in the state of Georgia, the Lowndes Vikings fans have to rank somewhere near the top and when the beloved Plow Boys only win six games and miss the playoffs, a full on panic ensues. It’s been a rough off season for Head Coach Randy McPherson and the Vikings after a disastrous 2014 but you can bet your bottom dollar that Lowndes will do everything in their power to get back to the post season in 2015, especially as their cross-town rivals appear to be getting better quickly. All eyes will be on Martin Stadium on October 30th for the 2015 chapter of the Winnersville Classic.
For as long as I can remember there were three constants: the sun would rise in the morning, the high and low tides would roll in and Camden County would be in the playoffs. One of those things didn’t happen last November and the folks in powder blue were in shock along with everyone else in the state of Georgia. It had been 13 seasons since the Wildcats didn’t win at least 13 games in a season and in 2014 Camden County went winless in Region 1-AAAAAA. They weren’t far off last season though as all five losses were tight ball games in the 4th quarter. Let’s hope that 3rd year coach Welton Coffey can get the Wildcats back on track in order to keep the boo birds at bay.
Every game in this region is a big game with a lot of history, some more than others but they don’t know that. Every season it is an absolute fist fight for playoff positioning and 2015 will not be an exception to the rule. Colquitt County is looking to repeat while Valdosta is improving rapidly and nipping at both of their heels is newcomer Lee County. This is just a hunch but I wouldn’t count out the Lowndes Vikings or Camden County Wildcats from making a much-needed push to the playoffs after missing the postseason for the first time in same year ever.