Walker won the region outright last year by going undefeated in the regular season, and the Wolverines have a chance at defending the title with many experienced players returning this year.
But before it’s over, Mount Paran Christian and Whitefield Academy are expecting to have something to say about the championship race.
Only two years ago, that this wasn’t the case.
Despite all three teams residing in Cobb County, the Georgia High School Association never placed all three in the same region until last season.
What it has done is help reduce some of the travel and expenses of the schools, and now the trio should be favored to finish 1-2-3 in the subregion.
“We’re excited to be part of Region 6 with Mount Paran and Walker,” Whitefield Academy coach Jimmy Fields said. “(Being the best in the subregion) speaks well of Cobb County football. That’s the way it should be.”
Mount Paran had a down year in 2012 following back-to-back Class A playoff appearances, and the Wolfpack missed out on the playoffs by losing a tiebreaker, despite finishing with a 6-4 record.
With Walker getting used to playing a slightly different brand of football after graduating standout running back Evan Kasian, the outright subregion champion could come down to late October or early November, when the teams face off against on another.
The Wolverines have always had a good rivalry with the Wolfpack. Walker and Whitefield have played every season since 2002 and the Wolverines hold a 6-5 series edge.
Walker has always had a healthy rivalry with Mount Paran as well, but it wasn’t until 2010 when they met on the football field for the first time.
It was the three-team dynamic that was missing before last season, when Whitefield was competing in Region 5A. Next season, provided the GHSA doesn’t split the teams up, North Cobb Christian will enter the mix when it begins to play a region schedule.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” said Walker coach John East, the former athletic director at Whitefield. “The kids (at Whitefield) know I love them but I want to beat them. I love what I’m doing at Walker. I love my responsibilities and I enjoy building a program.”
The Wolverines are the lone team that played last week. Their defense held Temple scoreless in Walker’s 21-0 victory. Cameron Bloebaum threw for 150 yards and three touchdowns but without Kasian, the team rushed for only nine yards.
Mount Paran will open the season Friday against Our Lady of Mercy, while Whitefield will play at Pace Academy.
The Eagles are changing offenses after its disappointing 3-7 campaign last season. Instead of running the triple-option, Mount Paran is leaning toward a shotgun formation, mixing the read option and the spread.
Junior quarterback Jake Allen will be running the offense after throwing for 505 yards and four touchdowns last season. Taylor Trammell, who had four interceptions last season on defense will help out at running back. Dorian Walker, who will also play cornerback, is another backfield option
And Mount Paran isn’t afraid to create one of the tougher schedules in the Class A, so it could be ready for teams like Walker and Whitefield. One challenge for the Eagles is playing both Walker and Whitefield on the road.
“I think we have one of the more difficult schedules in Class A, if not, the most difficult schedule,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “We start out with four tough games (Our Lady of Mercy, Brookstone, Landmark and Trion), and two of them are probably ranked in the top 10. We can’t get demoralized if things don’t go our way.”
Whitefield lost 18 players to graduation including all-everything player Max Kemether, but the Wolfpack have many of their skill players coming back that helped them get so close to making the playoffs.
Everett Pollard is in his second season as the starting quarterback and has matured since starting the 2012 campaign as the backup. Linebacker Sky Dupree is also returning after finishing with 94 tackles.
Pretty soon, North Cobb Christian is going to be in the mix. It’s likely to play a full region schedule next season.