Gainesville High School is the clear choice this fall to earn a Region 8-AAAAA football championship.
In a preseason poll conducted by the Barrow Journal, the Red Elephants received eight of nine first-place votes and compiled 88 overall points. Clarke Central High School earned the other first-place vote.
Flowery Branch edged the Clarke Central Gladiators for second place, however, compiling 77 overall points. Clarke Central totaled 69 points.
Gainesville was voted third on one ballot. Flowery Branch received six second-place votes, one third-place vote and one fifth-place vote.
Lanier High School finished fourth in the poll (66), voted on by newspaper, radio and other media members who follow schools in 8-AAAAA. The Longhorns earned a pair of second-place votes and were third on one ballot. Lanier was voted fourth by four voters and was also seventh on one ballot.
Heritage High School was fifth with 51 total points followed by Loganville (43), Cedar Shoals (38), Salem (24), Winder-Barrow (22) and Apalachee (17).
Locally, WBHS was voted as high as fifth on one ballot and seventh on another. The Bulldoggs also received one eighth-place vote, one ninth-place vote and four 10th-place votes.
AHS, coming off an 0-10 season, was voted as high as eighth on two ballots and ninth on four others.
The Wildcats were listed 10th by two voters. WBHS and AHS will meet Sept. 5 at W. Clair Harris Stadium for the Region 8-AAAAA opener for both teams in the Battle of Barrow contest.
The top four teams from the region will advance to the AAAAA state playoffs.
Media members participating in the preseason Region 8-AAAAA poll for the 2014 season included Nicole Saavedra, Athens-Banner Herald; David Willard, WJBB Radio; Kurt Aschermann, The Rockdale Citizen; Charles Bellflower, WMOQ Radio; David Johnson, The Walton Tribune; Charles Anschutz, WMOQ Radio; Ben Munro, MainStreet Newspapers, Inc, Chris Bridges, Barrow Journal and David Friedlander, Gwinnett Daily Post.
1. Gainesville (8) 88
2. Flowery Branch 77
3. Clarke Central (1) 69
4. Lanier 66
5. Heritage 51
6. Loganville 43
7. Cedar Shoals 38
8. Salem 24
9. Winder-Barrow 22
10. Apalachee 17
Region 8-AAAAA football