I know it’s early.
We’re only four weeks into the season — five if your team played in an early bird game Aug. 20 — but four teams have been most impressive and have clearly separated themselves from the pack.
Baldwin. Dublin. Northside. Peach County.
Northside and Peach County are the usual suspects, the programs fans expect to be playing deep into November.
The Eagles played for the state championship in four of the past five seasons. They won it in back-to-back undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2007. They played for the title in both GHSA Class AAAAA and Class AAAA.
I’ve seen the Eagles only once this season, in a blowout win over Kendrick, which was hardly a difficult opponent, so it’s dangerous to gather much from that game.
What is indisputable, however, is the amount of talent the Eagles returned this season and the expertise their coaches take into each game.
The Eagles allowed 12 yards of offense through two games, and they have outscored opponents 103-7 through three games after a 30-7 win over Lakeside-Evans on Friday night.
The offense has some room to grow, but the defense is more than good enough to pick up any slack.
Like Northside, Peach County has a defense that can win games by itself. Some people I’ve talked to said Peach County has the best defense they’ve ever seen. I can’t say that quite yet, but the Trojans have the fastest defense I’ve ever seen.
Through four games, the Peach County defense still has allowed six points — which came in garbage time in a 55-6 win over Central. Veterans scored on a kickoff return against the Trojans, but the defense is still perfect. The Trojans’ offense has sparkled as well, but the Trojans haven’t been tested much in their past three games. Maybe Westside can regroup and give them a test next week.
Dublin is a perennial power, but the Irish had a down year in 2009, and expectations around the state might not have been as high this season.
The Irish have stormed out of the gate and have cracked the top five in both polls. All of the players who were inexperienced and green last season have stepped up their game. The Irish are still young, but they are battle-tested. The biggest challenge Dublin will face is whether or not it can avoid Buford and Carver-Columbus early in the playoffs.
Baldwin opened my eyes with its 35-0 win over Westside last week.
The Braves faced tough odds to begin the season. They didn’t have a spring practice, and head coach Dexter Copeland was hired with little time to prepare for the season.
But Copeland has installed his wing-T hybrid offense successfully with a good quarterback in DeAndre Thomas. Copeland also convinced defensive coordinator Ronnie Baker to stay instead of following college buddy Jesse Hicks to Dougherty. That has obviously paid dividends.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure other teams will factor into the championship chase, but they are clear right now.
Mount de Sales could be a threat in GISA Class AAA, but the Cavaliers still don’t have a marquee win. Tattnall hasn’t beaten a GISA heavyweight yet, although the Trojans appear to be rounding into form. I need to see a little more out of Westfield.
Wilcox County is reeling following a blowout loss to Clinch County, but the Patriots overcame a blowout loss to Twiggs County last year to win the state championship.
Fitzgerald has been unpredictable so far. I’m sure some teams will come from off the radar as the season goes on, but for now, four teams stand alone.
Contact Jonathan Heeter at 744-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org