Which are the state's most improved teams?

by: GHSF Daily Updated:

Peachtree Ridge RB Jordan Ellis (1) scores the go ahead and winning touchdown against defending Mill Creek players Andrew Sciara, left, and Zac Turner, right.

The 2013 season is only a month old, but that’s long enough to see that several Georgia teams are much better than they were last season.

Today, GHSF Daily spotlights some teams that have made giant leaps.

We also use the Maxwell Ratings to provide an objective measure of teams’ improvement. They show the 10 most improved in each classification.

It doesn’t take a computer scientist to realize the team that is most improved. That would almost certainly be Towers, a DeKalb County school that is 4-0 in 2013 after an 0-10 finish in 2012.

Compare scores from 2012 to 2013:

Maynard Jackson: Lost 31-4. Won 13-0.

South Atlanta: Lost 56-0. Won 44-0.

Clarkston: Lost 34-6. Won 26-7.

Douglass: Lost 14-0. Won 32-0.

In the charts below, the IMP column is an estimate of how many points a team is improved over 2012. For example, Rockdale County might be considered a toss-up in a game against an opponent that would’ve beaten the Bulldogs by 26 points in 2012.

The “rank” columns show how the teams were ranked in their classifications in 2012 and 2013. For example, Dacula is currently rated the No. 20 team in Class AAAAAA. In 2012, Dacula was rated No. 39.

For a breakdown of all 412 teams in the state and their level of improvement, or regression, see this story.

Class AAAAAA

Peachtree Ridge has matched its 2012 win total with a 4-0 start, burying the memory of last season’s losing record, the program’s first since 2004. Coach Mark Fleetwood, in his third season, has things turned around with a special senior class that includes five certain Division I signees, according to 247Sports. They are RB Jordan Ellis (committed to Virginia), OL Orlando Brown (Tennessee), DB Nick Glass (Miami, Ole Miss lead), WR Myron Burton (Vanderbilt leads) and LB Dru Moody (Jacksonville State leads).

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Rockdale County

3-8

59

3-1

48

26.51

Westlake

0-10

55

3-2

34

25.78

Luella

2-8

60

2-2

55

24.60

North Forsyth

3-7

50

4-0

28

22.40

Pebblebrook

0-10

57

2-2

52

19.56

Peachtree Ridge

4-6

30

4-0

7

18.93

Alcovy

4-7

56

3-1

51

18.46

Tift County

2-8

48

3-1

30

17.73

Dacula

1-9

39

2-2

20

16.90

Cherokee

1-9

53

2-2

40

16.27

Class AAAAA

Give new coach Olten Downs some credit for making bold moves at Creekside, which has a good shot at its first 10-0 season since 2006, when Eric Berry was the quarterback. Younger brothers Evan and Elliott Berry are leaders on this team. Downs moved Evan from quarterback to strong safety and multiple positions on offense. New starting quarterback Felix Harper threw five TD passes against Forest Park last week. Downs also moved Elliott Berry to outside linebacker from defensive end. “Offensively and defensively we are extremely multiple, which allows us to take advantage of our skill sets,” Downs said. Creekside is 4-0 after starting 2-2 in 2012.

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Forest Park

0-10

74

1-3

67

25.59

New Manchester

2-8

58

4-1

26

24.15

Houston County

3-7

52

2-1

28

18.88

Evans

3-7

56

2-1

42

18.30

Lakeside (Evans)

5-6

42

2-1

22

16.41

Paulding County

1-9

62

1-4

52

16.30

Starr’s Mill

3-7

54

2-2

41

15.38

North Springs

0-10

75

1-2

75

15.25

Creekside

7-4

25

4-0

10

15.19

Warner Robins

9-3

22

3-0

8

14.40

Class AAAA

Raekwon McMillan and Nick Chubb are five-star recruits who rank 1-2 on GHSF Daily’s Player of the Year Watch. Neither has participated in a playoff game in their high school careers. Their teams – Liberty County for McMillan and Cedartown for Chubb – are 4-0 after finishing 6-4 in 2012. Both are more than two touchdowns better than in 2012.

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Madison County

1-9

72

2-2

59

23.77

Hephzibah

0-10

77

1-3

76

23.10

Columbus

0-10

75

1-2

65

22.97

Alexander

2-8

64

2-1

36

21.69

Statesboro

8-3

26

4-0

5

20.46

Eagle’s Landing

1-9

58

3-1

23

19.79

Carrollton

8-4

5

3-0

2

18.05

Cedartown

6-4

38

4-0

12

17.09

Liberty County

6-4

51

4-0

27

16.44

Howard

0-10

74

1-2

71

16.16

Class AAA

Jefferson County’s 4-7 finish in 2012 was the school’s worst in 10 years. His team now 4-0, coach J.B. Arnold says the biggest difference is mental. He admits that his players and staff weren’t ready to move from Class AA to AAA last season and underestimated step up. “I think we played eight teams that were ranked in the Top 10 at one point or another,” Arnold told GHSF Daily. “As coaches, you’ve got to figure out how to do that week to week. We were used to having that patsy on the schedule where we could take a break.” Jefferson County has avenged losses to Fitzgerald, Baldwin and Evans.

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Towers

0-10

59

4-0

25

42.88

Jefferson County

4-7

20

4-0

7

22.22

Henry County

1-9

52

0-4

31

19.20

West Hall

2-8

51

3-1

34

17.30

Hart County

6-6

16

3-0

9

16.60

Central (Carrollton)

5-6

35

4-1

21

16.19

Douglass

1-9

56

1-3

49

15.63

East Jackson

0-10

58

1-3

56

13.71

B.E.S.T. Academy

3-7

46

2-1

35

13.66

Buford

14-1

1

3-0

1

12.58

Class AA

Lovett remained ranked last season through a 2-4 start and a four-game losing streak and validated that faith by making the quarterfinals. The excuse was that the four losses were against ranked teams from higher classes. The Lions aren’t making excuses this time, and it’s state finals or bust. It’s unlikely that any Georgia team has ever beaten four consecutive ranked teams from higher classes to open a season as Lovett has just done.

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Dublin

2-8

50

2-2

24

31.80

Monticello

2-8

53

2-1

34

28.95

Metter

2-8

38

3-1

22

24.15

Pelham

1-9

46

3-1

31

22.57

Dade County

3-7

45

2-2

30

22.52

Murray County

0-10

62

1-3

59

21.55

Harlem

2-8

57

4-0

49

14.01

Westside (Augusta)

5-6

44

3-1

37

18.28

Lovett

8-5

7

4-0

1

17.84

Bryan County

3-7

30

4-0

20

16.29

Class A

When Landmark Christian struggled to beat Mount Paran Christian 14-7 two weeks ago, Landmark coach Wayne Brantley didn’t complain about how his team played. Instead, he said that Mount Paran – despite its 3-7 record in 2012 – could run the table and win its region. The coach looked pretty smart last week when Mount Paran bowled over previously unbeaten Trion 31-12.

Team

2012

W-L

Rank

2013

W-L

Rank

IMP

Montgomery County

0-10

70

0-4

64

19.28

Seminole County

9-3

22

4-0

3

17.86

Mount Paran Christian

3-7

39

3-1

12

17.41

Calhoun County

1-9

62

1-3

53

15.90

Hawkinsville

4-6

43

2-1

18

15.77

Charlton County

5-6

36

2-2

15

14.64

Hebron Christian

1-9

71

2-1

67

14.62

Clinch County

4-6

38

1-3

16

14.01

Fellowship Christian

2-8

63

3-1

56

13.51

Pace Academy

3-7

42

3-1

23

13.44

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