BOYS Armuchee Indians
Head coach: Clint Decker
Key returning players: Jax Gribble, Sr.; Luke Mayhall, Sr.; Kody Manikas, Sr.; Wyatt Miller, Jr.; Chandler Cook, Jr.
Outlook for this season: The Indians lost nine seniors off last year’s squad, but head coach Clint Decker is excited about what the team has to offer this season. “We have a team that is not the tallest, but we are a very quick team and they play really aggressive defense,” Decker said. “On any given night a team can get hot and beat anyone.”
Head coach: John McFather
Key returning players: Jaylen Nelson, Sr.; Zeph Philyaw, Sr.
Outlook for this season: The Eagles continue to be a longstanding postseason fixture as the team looks to make the playoffs for the 10th straight year this season. The Eagles lost several seniors from last year’s squad, but could still contend in a competitive Region 7-AA.
Head coach: Nathan West
Key returning players: Wit Szymanski, So.; Marcus Mumber, So.; William McClain, Sr.
Outlook for this season: With the departure of key players J.D. Hull, Andrew Land and Barrick Wade, Wit Szymanski returns for his sophomore season after stepping up last year when the Tigers were hampered by injuries.
Model Blue Devils
Head coach: Jacob Travis
Key returning players: Jared Bomer, Sr.; Jackson Mathis, Jr.
Outlook for this season: After missing the playoffs for two straight years prior to the 2018-2019 season, the Blue Devils hope to build on last year’s success. Model earned a spot in the Class AA state playoffs thanks in part to the scoring of Jackson Mathis, who returns for his junior season.
Head coach: Zach Mendence
Key returning players: Payton Rhoades, Sr., Kemp Edge, Jr.; Ben Whelchel, Jr.
Outlook for this season: After missing the playoffs last season, the Dragons will try to regroup with a squad that head coach Zach Mendence said has strengths in effort, intensity and coachability. Mendence said his team’s size could be an obstacle for them this season, as well as a difficult Region 7-AA.
Head coach: Terry Smith
Key returning players: Justyn Smith, Jr.; Justin Ingram, Jr.
Outlook for this season: With the departure of leading scorer Caleb Byrd, the Wolves lose a huge offensive weapon. Justyn Smith and Justin Ingram return for their junior seasons to lead a group of players that first-year head coach Terry Smith is optimistic about. With only one senior on the squad, Smith said one of the team’s biggest obstacles will be its youth, while playing in what the coach called one of the toughest regions in the state.
Unity Christian Lions
Head coach: Matt Claytor
Key returning players: Huston Bryant, Sr.; Drew King, Jr.; Zach Irmscher, Jr.
Outlook for this season: Unity leading scorer Huston Bryant, who averaged 15 points per game last year, returns for his senior year as the Lions face a difficult schedule. With their region realigned, the Lions now have to deal with Shiloh Hills and Grace Christian, which both won region championships last year. Despite the team’s youth, head coach Matt Claytor is optimistic about the Lions’ chances this season.
GIRLS Armuchee Lady Indians
Head coach: Michelle Arp
Key returning players: Julia Williams, Jr.; Olivia Moses, So.; Katie Shinholster, Sr.; Grace Stanley, Sr.; Chloe Purdy, Jr.
Outlook for this season: The Lady Indians take a young team into this season as Armuchee tries to make its way back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Michelle Arp, entering her ninth year as head coach, said a tough Region 7-AA is a big obstacle. “Region 7-AA is always a very competitive and talented region to play in where we will have to compete with hustle and heart in every game.”
Coosa Lady Eagles
Head coach: Robby Dooley
Key returning players: Jordan Roberts, Sr.; Kasey Thacker, Sr.; Parris Woodard, So.
Outlook for this season: Entering his second year as head coach, Robby Dooley wants to see his team continue to build on the improvements he saw last season despite the team’s 2-20 record. “We try not to measure on wins and losses,” Dooley said. “We’re just trying to get better every day at practice and in every game we play.”
Darlington Lady Tigers
Head coach: Hazel Hall
Key returning players: Caroline Dingler, Sr.; Olivia Adams, Sr.; Emmaline Ratledge, So.
Outlook for this season: Olivia Adams and Caroline Dingler return for their senior seasons as the Lady Tigers try to build on last year’s efforts that saw them reach the second round of the Class A Private state playoffs. The duo of seniors will be joined by freshmen Jy Jy Johnson and Georgeanna Dempsey, whom second-year head coach Hazel Hall expects to have an impact on this year’s squad.
Model Lady Blue Devils
Head coach: Sally Echols
Key returning players: Madison Harper, Sr.; Nia Allen, Sr.; Montana Moats, Jr.; Madison Moats, Jr.; Brooke Roberts, Sr.
Outlook for this season: Model head coach Sally Echols says her team’s size could be an obstacle for the Lady Blue Devils this season, but with a core group of starters returning, Model looks to be able to continue the success its enjoyed during Echols’ previous 14 years as head coach. Playing in a tough Region 7-AA that kept the Lady Blue Devils from winning a fifth straight region title last season, Echols expects this season to be just as competitive as it has been in the past.
Pepperell Lady Dragons
Head coach: Emily Claytor
Key returning players: Kinsey Wright, Sr.; Mattie Blalock, Sr.
Outlook for this season: After missing the Class AA state playoffs last season, first-year head coach Emily Claytor is looking to get her team ready to compete in a difficult region. Kinsey Wright and Mattie Blalock return for their senior seasons, and Claytor is expecting the same strong performances from them as well as looking forward to seeing what sophomore Ellie Cox and freshman Aysia Day can add to the team.
Rome Lady Wolves
Head coach: Jason Harris
Key returning players: Amberly Brown, Sr.; Justyce Moore, Sr.
Outlook for this season: Rome High coach Jason Harris said one of the biggest obstacles his team will face this season is its Region 7-5A opponents. The Lady Wolves have already proven they can be successful when challenged in last season’s playoffs as they upset Jackson-Atlanta 82-68 to advance to the second round. Seniors Amberly Brown and Justyce Moore return to provide leadership for the Lady Wolves.
Unity Christian Lady Lions
Head coach: Mel Thornbury
Key returning players: Annie Plant, Jr.; Sydney Wells, Jr.; Julia Ackerman, So.
Outlook for this season: Unity Christian head coach Mel Thornbury is looking to some young players to help fill some holes this season. The seniors who graduated from last year’s roster averaged 30 points per game, and Thornbury is interested to see who will fill those spots. “My girls have been training in the weight room and in the gym since school started,” Thornbury said. “We are strong, in shape and ready for the season.”