The new-look Region 5AAAAAAA is expected to be ultra-competitive in 2020.
Gone are Cobb County rivals Walton and Lassiter, which have been replaced with Alpharetta and 2018 Class AAAAAAA state champion Milton.
“Walton has been a powerhouse forever, and they aren’t there anymore, but you slot in Milton, who are two years removed from a state championship run, and you still have an extremely competitive region,” said Etowah coach Matt Kemper, coming off a three-year tenure as the coach at Roswell.
Although what was once the Cherokee-heavy Region 4AAAAAAA was won by Kemper’s Roswell team in 2019, the Hornets will have an uphill battle this year. After losing starting quarterback Ethan Roberts and leading rusher Nnamdi Orjioke, Roswell will be vulnerable to losing the title defense.
The best bet to dethrone Roswell will be its longtime archrival, Milton. The Eagles return starting quarterback Devin Farrell and boast a talented duo of tailbacks in Jordan McDonald and Dylan Miller.
Still, coach Adam Clack always seems to have Milton ready when the time comes.
“Coach Clack has done a really great job over there, so that will be a hard program to top this season,” Kemper said.
Another rising team within the region in 2020 will be Cherokee. The Warriors, who finished 7-3 in 2019, grabbed the region’s final state playoff berth last season.
Coach Josh Shaw believes Cherokee has one of the best junior classes in the state, led by quarterback A.J. Swann and running back Keith Adams Jr. The Warriors also return quite a bit on defense, making them the biggest threat for Milton at the top of the region.
Shaw knows that if he wants to catch Milton, his team has to be ready for the five region games to end the year.
“The last five are the ones that count, and those are the games that will help you reach your goals at the end of the year,” Shaw said.
Etowah rounds off the top pack of teams in the region and should be one of the teams to grab a playoff spot again this year. The Eagles are returning a good chunk of their defense, as well as some offensive weapons.
Kemper sees his team as the most disciplined and focused in the region, and he hopes to use that to his advantage.
“I got a great bunch of kids,” said Kemper, who took the Etowah helm after Dave Svehla left for West Forsyth. “They listen, they’re coachable and they work their butts off.”
Woodstock will look to get back to the playoffs this season. The Wolverines’ head coach since 2010 and an assistant for 12 years before that, Brent Budde knows his team and will find ways to get the ball into the hands of Georgia commit David Daniel on both offense and defense..
Alpharetta is a program that knows how to win. The Raiders made the Class AAAAAA state playoffs in 2019 before moving up to Class AAAAAAA this year.
The reclassification may work to its disadvantage in 2020, but Alpharetta will be a potential region contender over the next couple years.