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Super 25 preseason watch: McEachern

McEachern running back Taj Griffin picks up a first down during the first half against North Gwinnett in the Class AAAAAA semi-finals at McEachern. Brant Sanderlin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

McEachern running back Taj Griffin picks up a first down during the first half against North Gwinnett in the Class AAAAAA semi-finals at McEachern. Brant Sanderlin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An early look at the McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga., football team.

Leading into the 2014 high school football season, we’re taking an early look at teams and players to watch this season. Today, we’re looking at McEachern, which went 11-3 last season and made it to the state AAAAAA semifinals.

Team: McEachern, Powder Springs, Ga.

Key returnees: Senior RB Taj Griffin (1,194 yards, nine TDs), who has committed to Oregon. Offensive tackle Chuma Edoga, who has committed to Southern Cal; sophomore QB Bailey Hockman, who started three playoff games; WR T.J. Rahming, who has committed to Duke.

Key losses: DE/LB Henry Famurewa, signed with Louisville; DB Daryus Thompson, signed with Miami; FB-TE Trey Scott, signed with Tulane.

Top opponents: Aug. 23 vs. North Gwinnett (Suwanee); Sept. 5 at reigning AAA champion Buford; and Sept. 19 at Lovejoy (Hampton).

It has been 47 years since a team from Cobb County has won a Georgia football title, but this could be the year for McEachern.

The Indians reached the state semifinals last season, coming up a touchdown shy of making the finals and return three All-State players: offensive lineman Chuma Edoga; wide receiver and returner T.J. Rahming and running back Taj Griffin.

“Our speed is our biggest strength with Taj being the main weapon,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “It’s unique having a handful of guys who can really go. We have a couple of holes to fill, but we have the base of our skill guys back.”

Besides Griffin, three other backs to watch for include juniors Dorian McNeil and Michael Nwagbara and sophomore Quay Holmes.

“Offensively, we should be pretty balanced,” Hockman said. “We don’t have to give Taj the ball 40 times a game. We have three or four other guys who will get the ball close to the amount that Taj gets it.”

The offensive line should be a strength with Edoga, Chandler Jones (6-4, 305 pounds), and junior Tremayne Anchrum (6-4, 250) returning.

While the Indians lost All-State quarterback Tyler Clemons to graduation, his replacement is sophomore Bailey Hockman, who started three games in the playoffs and as the coach’s son, obviously knows the offense.

The team’s defense is its biggest question mark. Linebacker Glenn Frazier, who had 130 tackles last season, is at Tusculum College while defensive end Henry Famurewa, who had 116 tackles and 16 sacks, is at Louisville.

The cupboard is far from bare, however. Junior defensive end Julian Hochester, who has committed to Tennessee, had 136 tackles. He will be surrounded by senior defensive tackle Tavon Johnson, a returning starter, and junior defensive end Andrew Tarver. The linebackers include returning starters Cameron McGee and Ty Woodley.

Though the Indians won’t play any out-of-state foes, their non-region schedule includes defending AAA champion Buford, AAAAAA runner-up North Gwinnett (Suwanee) and AAAAAA quarterfinalist Lovejoy. That may help them become the second team from Cobb County to win a title since Marietta did it in 1967.

“We’re really making a big push in Cobb County,” Hockman said. “We’ve gotten better and better. The county has gotten better coaching, the facilities are growing. Every school we play in our region has three or four Division I players. We’re catching up with the other big regions. It should happen this year or next year.”

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Super 25 preseason watch: McEachern
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