What We’ve Learned

1. Jonesboro has arrived a year early

Since its members entered as freshmen, the Class of 2013 was being counting on to put the Cardinals football program on the map. With the help of several members of the junior class, the Cardinals have arrived a year ahead of schedule. Jonesboro is 7-1 and can lock down the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff game at home with a win over winless Morrow tonight. Much of the talk this season has been about do-it-all junior Cameron Sutton, who plays on offense, defense and special teams. He is labeled a game-changer with his explosive speed and elusive moves. If you are going to beat the Cardinals, you better account for Sutton.

2. Drew is a contender

A close loss to ranked and playoff contender Cairo on the road was no fluke. The Titans are for real. Drew has a shot at finishing as runner-up in a competitive Region 4-AAA race. Junior quarterback Jay Murray has overcome his inexperience to lead an explosive offense. The defense is built around the speed of skill players Jadarius West, Bradley Street and Devon Miller. They are also the main offensive weapons that Murray has been able to utilize. Coach Jarrett Laws is starting to build a solid foundation at Drew, much like the respectable program he had at nearby Mount Zion.

3. Dutchtown disappointment

Coming off an 11-2 season that ranks as the best in school history, the Bulldogs set their sights on even higher heights. They had players colleges drool over in Darian Small, Jamal Watkins and Donovahn Jones. But they also had one thing head coach Jason Galt was wary of — inexperience in some key areas. And if there’s a testimony to the value of experience, it is Dutchtown’s 4-4 season, in which the Bulldogs are now reduced to playing out the string, with no hope of repeating their romp to the Class AAAA quarterfinals.

4. Lovejoy’s defense is all-time good

Others sometimes refer to the Wildcats as hailing from the “University of Lovejoy,” but in truth they’ve done a good job making it look like they are college kids toying with high schoolers. And not just against overmatched competition. Led by Nathaniel Norwood and Veion Robinson, they shut down Region 4-AAAA playoff probables North Clayton and Jonesboro. The Wildcats were expected to be good, but six-shutouts-in-eight-games good goes beyond the optimistic forecasts. Even hearkening to some of their other successful seasons — the 11-1 they went under C.W. Campbell in 1999 under current coach Al Hughes in 2003 and the 10-win seasons of 2001 and 2010 — the Wildcats have never done this.

5. That Luella is legitimate

Don’t get it twisted, the Lions still have a little ways to go before they are considered Region 2-AAAAA contenders. When they ran into East Coweta, M.L. King, Stephenson and Newnan after starting the season with three consecutive non-region wins, they fared as expected. But along the way, the Lions put up respectable fights. They trailed only 7-0 at halftime against Stephenson and played M.L. King to within a touchdown in a wild 49-42 affair. Coach Nic Vasilchek got his Lions to dare to dream big, and their results can only get better from here. All that said, Luella has already doubled last year’s win total with two games to play. Victories against Westlake and Newton would give them a winning season, while a split would ensure a .500 campaign.