The chase for a state football championship begins in earnest this weekend. Can the teams that are ranked No. 1 hold onto their positions or will a longshot stun the state with a ride to the title?

This week’s GPB Sports poll, the last of the regular season, identifies the teams to beat in the Georgia High School Association’s eight classifications. And the teams at the top of the rankings are unsurprisingly the same ones that have been there for most of the season.

The No. 1 teams entering the state playoffs are Mill Creek in Class 7A, Gainesville in 6A, Cartersville in 5A, Benedictine in 4A, Calvary Day in 3A, Thomson in 2A, Prince Avenue Christian in Class A Division I and Schley County in Class A Division II.

Thomson football

Thomson won the Class 2A championship in 2022, the sixth in school history, and enters the playoffs as the No. 1 team in its classification.

Credit: GHSA

None are strangers to the pressure. Mill Creek, Benedictine, Thomson and Prince Avenue Christian won championships in 2022 and Gainesville and Schley County reached the final a year ago.

But some of the real intrigue can be found deeper in the playoff brackets where teams like Parkview, which was ranked No. 7 in Class 7A just a week ago, fell all the way to the fourth seed in its region and must go on the road to play No. 2 Colquitt County.

Click here to see the playoff brackets. 

"Because of math, tiebreakers and drawing out of a hat, you'll have some teams that will be what I refer to as 'Angry (insert number here) seeds,’” GPB’s Jon Nelson said. “It'll be a team that is lower-ranked in their region than they would be otherwise- Parkview, Appling County, Swainsboro ... these are teams that we all had a lot higher on our watchability meters that will have to do it on the road. And do it on the road almost all the way through the brackets as we know them. This will be a year we'll remember for a bunch of different reasons, I'm sure."      

Such was the case in Region 1-6A. Houston County was ranked as high as No. 3 before losing to No. 8 Lee County and No. 2 Thomas County Central. Now the Bears will be on the road in the first round against North Atlanta, which will be shown this week on GPB Sports’ Football Fridays in Georgia.

Click here to see the final regular-season rankings. The final rankings will be released after the playoffs.

Class 7A

  1. Mill Creek
  2. Colquitt County
  3. Buford
  4. Carrollton
  5. Walton
  6. Grayson
  7. Westlake
  8. Milton
  9. Newton
  10. Norcross

Also receiving votes: North Cobb

Class 6A

  1. Gainesville
  2. Thomas County Central
  3. Roswell
  4. Douglas County
  5. Hughes
  6. Rome
  7. Marist
  8. Lee County
  9. Houston County
  10. Woodward Academy

Also receiving votes: None

Class 5A

  1. Cartersville
  2. Creekside
  3. Coffee
  4. Jefferson
  5. Kell
  6. Warner Robins
  7. Ware County
  8. Hiram
  9. Greater Atlanta Christian
  10. Harris County

Also receiving votes: Arabia Mountain, Dalton

Class 4A

  1. Benedictine
  2. North Oconee
  3. Spalding
  4. Bainbridge
  5. Central Carroll
  6. Perry
  7. Stockbridge
  8. Starr’s Mill
  9. LaGrange
  10. Stephenson

Also receiving votes:  Troup, Westside, Madison County

Class 3A

  1. Calvary Day
  2. Cedar Grove
  3. Mary Persons
  4. Savannah Christian
  5. Morgan County
  6. Lumpkin County
  7. Stephens County
  8. Carver Columbus
  9. Sandy Creek
  10. Adairsville

Also receiving votes: Bremen, Hebron Christian

Class 2A

  1. Thomson
  2. Appling County
  3. Callaway
  4. Pierce County
  5. Toombs County
  6. Cook
  7. Fellowship Christian
  8. Fitzgerald
  9. Rockmart
  10. Northeast

Also receiving votes: Spencer, Columbia

Class A Division I

  1. Prince Avenue Christian
  2. Commerce
  3. Trion
  4. Bleckley County
  5. Lamar County
  6. Elbert County
  7. Rabun County
  8. Dublin
  9. Bryan County
  10. Swainsboro

Also receiving votes: Brooks County

Class A Division II

  1. Schley County
  2. Bowdon
  3. Clinch County
  4. Manchester
  5. Aquinas
  6. Macon County
  7. Greene County
  8. Jenkins County
  9. Telfair County
  10. Johnson County

Also receiving votes: Lanier County, Early County, Portal