The Blue Devils own the county’s only Georgia High School Association state championship, have most wins with 527, and they have more region titles than any other program in Cobb history.
But it looks like Marietta won’t be the undisputed leader in at least one of those categories any longer.
If McEachern can win one of its last two games against either Harrison or Hillgrove, the Indians will equal the Blue Devils’ record of 15 region titles.
Indians coach Kyle Hockman said right now, that would probably not be that big of a deal to the current players, but it is something they will be able to appreciate a few years down the road. He said for the former players and students that went to McEachern, it may be a different story.
“For the graduates and the alumni that’s a significant deal,” he said. “There is a lot of historical significance.”
The Blue Devils won their first region title in 1948, their last in 2005. The Indians won their first title in 1986, and if they claim the Region 4AAAAAA title either this week or next, it will be their third in the last five years.
It’s the kind of winning atmosphere that builds expectations. It’s the kind of culture schools like McEachern, Lassiter, Walton, Hillgrove, Allatoona and Kell have constructed over the last half decade or longer, and it’s where Marietta, North Cobb, South Cobb, Pope and others are building toward.
During the recent surge of high school football success in the county, there is no coincidence that the teams listed above are the ones that are in the playoffs on a consistent basis. But what might surprise is that with Lassiter’s win last Friday, the Trojans own the longest current playoff appearance streak at only five seasons. Kell can join them if the Longhorns win their play-in game a week from Friday.
The Indians will make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance and Allatoona and Walton will be in for a third straight year, but other schools that want to continue their streaks will have some work to do.
The current longest playoff drought belongs to Osborne. The Cardinals have not seen the postseason since 1994 and will miss the postseason for the 18th straight year. Kennesaw Mountain has never made the playoffs and will extend its streak to 13, but the team that has the third longest drought may move off this list in about 11 days.
Walker will not only have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005, the Wolverines may win its first region title in program history.
Hockman said championships of any kind help build a program – and expectations.
“We want to win championships,” he said. “If we are winning (region) championships then we have a chance to continue our season.”
After losing so many talented players to graduation over the last few years, many outside the Indians’ locker room may have expected McEachern to have a down season this year. After an 0-2 start, it looked like critics may be right. All the Indians have done are run off six straight wins to quiet the naysayers, and heightened the expectations.
“Expectations are how you define success,” Hockman said. “When we won our first region title (as a staff in 2010) and went 10-1 we were ecstatic. When we went 10-2 last year, we were disgusted, but each year is a little different.”
“(You become a winning program) by having good players, being organized and getting a few breaks.”
Last year, Cobb County sent 12 teams to the state playoffs. It was the most teams to advance to the postseason in county history for a single season. This year, if the season ended today, the county would send 10 teams to the playoffs.
Based on the region standings through Week 10, this is what the playoffs would currently look like. If two or more teams are tied, a projection is made.
No. 1 McEachern vs. Colquitt County. An Indians victory would bring either Newnan or Alcovy to Cantrell Stadium for Round 2. West Forsyth, Collins Hill, Walton and Brookwood complete McEachern’s quarter of the bracket.
No. 2 Marietta vs. Valdosta. A Blue Devils win would either send them to face Langston Hughes or they would host Rockdale County in the second round. Lassiter, South Gwinnett, John’s Creek and Mill Creek complete Marietta’s part of the bracket.
No. 3 South Cobb at Camden County. If the Eagles pull the upset on the No. 1 team in the state, they would either travel to Lovejoy or host Tri-Cities. Parkview, Woodstock, North Gwinnett and Alpharetta complete South Cobb’s portion of the bracket.
No. 4 North Cobb at Lowndes. A Warriors’ victory would send them to either Newton or East Coweta for Round 2. Norcross, Chattahoochee, Grayson and Milton complete North Cobb’s part of the bracket.
No. 1 Lassiter vs. South Gwinnett. A Trojans win would bring Johns Creek or Mill Creek to Frank Fillmann Stadium for Round 2.
No. 2 Walton vs. Brookwood. A Raiders’ victory would either send them to West Forsyth or bring Collins Hill to Raider Valley for Round 2.
No. 2 Allatoona vs. Heritage-Conyers. A Buccaneers’ win would either send them to the M.L. King or allow them to host Sequoyah in the second round. Whitewater, Lee County, Effingham County and Jones County complete Allatoona’s part of the bracket.
No. 1 Kell vs. Stephenson. A Longhorns victory brings either Gainesville or Rome to Cobb Energy/Corky Kell Stadium for Round 2. Thomas County Central, Mundy’s Mill, Warner Robins and Richmond Hill complete Kell’s part of the bracket.
No. 3 Pope at Tucker. A Greyhounds’ win sends them to East Paulding or allows them to host Clarke Central. Ware County, Lakeside-Evans, Union Grove and Bainbridge complete Pope’s quarter of the bracket.
No. 3 Walker vs. George Walton Academy. A Wolverines’ victory would bring either Prince Avenue Christian or Athens Christian to Robertson Field for the second round.
Class A will have two state champions this year – one public school and one private school. Determining the playoff teams in each Class A tournament is based on a power matrix based on a team’s record and the success of their opponents.