We all feel it. The offseason is always tough. But with no spring football and an agonizing two months of quarantine, Friday night lights can’t come soon enough. This offseason has built up more anticipation than Dr. Dre’s Detox. But the football season is surely going to leave us much less disappointed.
As we continue to count down the days until Aug. 21, the debates are heating up more and more about our favorite high school football teams.
We’re now 73 days from opening kickoff, and the anticipation builds as with one of the craziest couple of months in recent memory football is a welcome return to some normalcy. Whether there’s fans in the stands or not, people are ready for the games.
Which teams can repeat as champions? Who is the best quarterback in the state? With all the predictions and rankings already being made, here are my five bold predictions for the 2020 season in June.
1. South Georgia responds in a big way.
Last season was a disappointing year for many Middle and South Georgia teams. Only two teams from those areas won state championships, Dublin in 2A and Irwin County in 1A. Even in classifications such as 6A, which has been dominated by southern schools over the last few years, many teams and fans were left a little disappointed in the results of their teams.
This season, they respond. We’ll see a bounce back from a lot of teams that expected more last season, and we’ll see the southern part of the Peach State take home four state championships out of the eight classifications. Look for Irwin County, Crisp County, Bainbridge, and Warner Robins to take home state championships in 2020.
2. Grayson finishes the season ranked top five in the nation.
One region that I didn’t mention as a South Georgia state championship is 7A, as Grayson has put together one of the most impressive rosters in the country. They currently have seven players ranked in the top 112 in the state. The offensive triumvirate of Carlos Del Rio at quarterback, Phil Mafah at running back, and Daejon Reynolds at wide receiver make this group extremely impressive. But for all of the talent they have in the skill positions, the trenches is where Grayson is special, with a big offensive line and Noah Collins rushing the passer.
It won’t be a walk in the park for the Rams by any means. They have a difficult road game against McEachern early in the season, paired with back-to-back games at home against Parkview and on the road against Brookwood. These will be difficult contests, but the Rams will still run the table on the way to a state championship and a top five ranking.
3. Amaad Foston breaks a few records.
Amaad Foston has been a one-man wrecking crew for John Milledge Academy and is the best high school football player you’ve never heard of. Last season, his 2,772 rushing yards was the ninth best in a single season for Georgia high school running backs, 51 yards better than Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb’s best season in high school. His 46 touchdowns were tied for third all time in the state, one better than the great Herschel Walker.
He saved his best for last in 2019. In the GISA state championship game, he torched Valwood for 423 yards and eight touchdowns, which are tied for eighth and second, respectively, all time in one game.
This season for Foston will go one step further. He is going to break the all-time yards and touchdowns records for a season. For that to happen, he’ll need 3,173 rushing yards and 59 touchdowns on the season. He beats those numbers as the Trojans win another state championship.
4. Clinch County beats Irwin County in the regular season, but the Indians still repeat.
One of the best rivalries in the state is in Class 1A, as the state championship lately has been usually decided between one of the two schools each of the past three seasons. While Dublin and Brooks County will be in the conversation this season as they move down due to reclassification, the Indians will be looking to repeat as champions in 2020. Unlike in 2019, they’ll get a scare in 2020, as they lose against Clinch County on Oct. 30. The Panthers will be highly motivated for this one, as they lost twice to Irwin County last season by a combined score of 50-0. This was after beating the Indians in the state championship the previous two seasons.
But all won’t be lost for Irwin County. They’ll rebound in the playoffs and repeat as state champions, beating Brooks County (who will knock off Clinch County).
5. Even as they move up, Buford keeps winning.
Since 2001, Buford has been one of the most dominant programs in the state of Georgia. They move up to 6A in 2020, shortly after winning in one classification below the year before. Despite the constant step up in competition, it hasn’t been a problem for the Wolves before, so why should it stop now?
6A may be the best classification in the entire state this year, with power houses all around the state in Carrollton, Rome, Valdosta, Lee County, and Westlake. All of those teams have incredibly talented offensive players, and all six could realistically take home the trophy in 2020. But it will be Buford, led by star running back Gabe Ervin, taking home the silverware.
With a victory over Valdosta in the state championship, it will give the Wolves their sixth state championship since 2010, and it will give them a Roberto Duran-like run with a title in 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A during that same span.
Written by: Kyle Grondin