Great football is on Georgia's mind

Originally Published: August 25, 2008
ESPNRISE.com

Which state annually produces the best high school football? ESPN Rise's editors have pared the field down to eight states. It's up to you to decide which is the last state standing.

 

Great State Debate

The Great State Debate poses a simple question: What state has the best high school football? We've edited the field down to eight. Check out our picks:

No. 1 seed Texas
No. 2 seed Florida
No. 3 seed California
No. 4 seed Ohio
No. 5 seed Pennsylvania
No. 6 seed Georgia
No. 7 seed Louisiana
No. 8 seed Virginia

Agree? Disagree? Join the debate.

No. 6 seed Georgia

Population: 9.6 million

Number of high schools playing football: 400

Pro Football Hall of Famers: Three players, including OL Rayfield Wright, DB Mel Blount, QB Fran Tarkenton.

Heisman Trophy winners: Three: Charlie Ward, Herschel Walker and George Rogers.

Top current NFL alums: DB Champ Bailey, WR Hines Ward, RB Jamal Lewis, WR Calvin Johnson (2nd overall pick in 2007 NFL draft).

Great schools: Valdosta (nation's all-time best record for a football program); Lincoln County of Lincolnton (Red Devils, with 13 state titles, led by state's winningest all-time coach, Larry Campbell); Parkview of Lilburn (Panthers had three straight unbeaten state Class AAAAA title teams from 2000-2002, led by current Atlanta Braves' star Jeff Francoeur).

Points of greatness:
• TitleTown USA. For years, Valdosta, Georgia was called Winnersville, but now the title has changed thanks to the recent ESPN SportsNation poll focused on Valdosta High's football team. With the best record in the nation, the Wildcats have captured 23 state championships. Cross-town rival Lowndes High is also an emerging power, having won three state titles in the past four years and opening 2008 as the No. 2 team in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 rankings.

• Crosstown rivalries in Georgia are not just intense in Valdosta. Similar sized communities like Warner Robins, Macon and Columbus frequently go up against each other in state-ranked showdowns.

• Georgia teams get to dream about playing in their state championships at the Georgia Dome. In the semifinal weekend, as many as 12 games are played over two days inside the dome.

• Georgia's numbers are similar to Florida's for per capita player output. More out-of-state college programs are plundering Peach State talent. While Georgia accounts for little more than three percent of the nation's population, the football-rich state churns out nearly seven percent of its college and pro football players.

• The University of Georgia relies heavily on its home state for talent. But other states have Georgia on their minds: Five programs in the ESPN Top 25 preseason rankings -- Florida, Clemson, Auburn, Tennessee and Wake Forest -- all have eight or more Georgia natives on their rosters.