By Lee Wilson
Winning a championship is tough. Defending a championship is even tougher.
In anticipation of the 2008 Georgia high school football season, it is time to review the champions from last season and see how they shape up for the 2008 campaign.
A Champion: Emanuel County Institute Bulldogs (3B-A)
The Bulldogs are still riding high after a 15-0 campaign capped by a 41-21 drubbing of Wilcox County High School in the championship.
Bulldogs coach Milan Turner will try and have the team ready as they will have to prepare for big divisional matchups against Wheeler County (Sept. 19), Jenkins County (Sept. 26), Treutlen (Oct. 10), Metter (Oct. 24) and Montgomery County (Oct. 31). The team's opener is on Aug. 29 against Savannah Country Day at the Bulldogs home field in Twin City.
AA Champion: Buford Wolves (6-AA)
The Wolves of Buford High School were untouchable in 2007. The Wolves never allowed more than 14 points in a game and compiled seven shutouts. All but one of their games they won by 21 points or more. The team finished 15-0 after a 50-0 win over Lovett in the title game.
Buford head coach Jess Simpson finally got his team a title after falling short in previous years. Now Simpson will try for an encore performance, though it may not be as easy for the Wolves. They have big divisional matchups against Lovett (Sept. 12), Avondale (Oct. 3), Cross Keys (Oct. 11), Westminster (Oct. 31) and Greater Atlanta Christian (Nov. 7).
AAA Champion: Carver-Columbus Tigers (2-AAA)
Carver-Columbus, not to be confused with Carver-Atlanta, was perfect in 2007, going 10-0 in region play and 15-0 overall. The Tigers narrowly defeated Cairo in the championship game, 16-13. The defense that shined in the championship game was reminiscent of the team's performance all year. They compiled four shutouts and allowed 13 points in all but two games. Head coach Dell McGee knows a thing or two about defense.
Carver's key games include Columbus (Sept. 26), Troup (Oct. 11), Shaw (Oct. 17), Kendrick (Oct. 25), LaGrange (Oct. 30) and Northside Columbus (Nov. 6).
AAAA Champion: Northside Eagles (Warner Robins- 4B-AAAA)
The Warner Robins team finished 15-0, capturing of the crown under the leadership of head coach Conrad Nix. They will regroup and look to do it again, only this team at the state's highest level in AAAAA.
Northside was bumped to Region 1-AAAAA during the offseason. A repeat of last year, where the Eagles held 11 of 15 opponents to less than 10 points, isn't likely to happen against the likes of Carver-Columbus (Sept. 12), Valdosta (Sept. 19), Lowndes (Oct. 3) and Coffee (Oct. 10).
AAAAA Champion: Lowndes Vikings (1-AAAAA)
The Vikings earned their third title in four years, doing it the way they did the previous two times - by defeating top competition from the northern metro-Atlanta county of Gwinnett. While it was Brookwood last year and Parkview three years ago, this year the Vikings trounced North Gwinnett 34-6 under the leadership of Randy McPherson.
Lowndes lost on opening night to Harrison a year ago, but bounced back and ran the table. Big games include Peachtree Ridge (Sept. 5), Valdosta (Oct. 10), Northside Warner Robins (Oct. 3), and Coffee (Oct. 31).