It started Sunday when Griffin was ranked No. 7 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Class AAAA poll and continued Tuesday when the Bears where ranked No. 8 in the Georgia Sportswriter’s Associated Press poll, two of the state’s top three polls.
“Any time you can get accolades for your program it’s something good,” said DeVoursney, whose team has been preseason ranked no fewer than seven times in the 12 seasons since he has taken over as the Bears head coach. “There are a lot of programs that have never been ranked and might never be ranked.”
Griffin is also ranked No. 7 by MaxPreps and No. 10 by ScoreAll. The Georgia PrepCountry.com Coaches Poll, the state’s other top poll, is expected to be released any day.
“Everyone knows the final rankings are the ones that count, but at least people are thinking about you and think you do a good job and have a good program,” said DeVoursney. “That’s why you’re ranked — you’re doing something year in and year out.”
Of course, the Bears have been no stranger to high preseason rankings since DeVoursney took over the program in 2000. Griffin has been No. 1 state-ranked in 2006 by the AJC and No. 2-state ranked by the AJC and AP as recently as 2010 not to mention No. 3 state-ranked by the AP in 2006. They have also been ranked No. 4 by the AJC in 2005, No. 5 by the AP in 2007 and AP in 2009 and No. 6 by the AP in 2005, AJC in 2008 and AJC in 2009.
The top teams in this year’s AJC poll, from the top in order, included: Sandy Creek, Burke County, Carrollton, Marist, Cairo, Statesboro, Griffin, Stephens County, Jonesboro and Dalton.
The top team in the Associated Press poll includes Sandy Creek and defending state champ Burke County, which tied for first with 92 points and 5 first-place votes each. Third was Cairo with 72 points followed by Carrollton in fourth with 67 points. Baldwin, Marist and Statesboro scored 35 points each to tie for fifth, while Griffin was eighth with 25 points, Stockbridge was ninth with 16 points and Westside-Macon, Stephens County and Perry tied for 10th with 12 points each.
“Everybody thinks Sandy Creek is the team to beat in Class AAAA,” said DeVoursney. “Which, since they have won two of the last three state championships, means they have a good shot to win again. Statesboro is always going to be good and Marist is another team that will always be good along with Cairo — coached by Tom Fallaw, who used to be here at Griffin — as is Burke County, the defending state champ,” said DeVoursney. “And Carrollton always does a good job.”
Those teams also receiving votes in the AP poll include: Mary Persons (7 points), Monroe (7), Jonesboro (7), Dalton (7), North Clayton (5), Ridgeland (3), Grady (3) and LaGrange (3).
Griffin will face several ranked teams or teams that have received votes in one preseason poll or another, including: Northgate in the second game of the season, No. 9-state ranked Jonesboro (which was ranked as high as No. 4 in one magazine) in the third game of the season, No. 9 Stockbrodge in the fifth game of the season and North Clayton in the seventh game of the season.
None of that includes a game against Riverdale, which DeVoursney said could be one of Griffin’s toughest tests in Region 4-AAAA this season, in the fifth game of the season. Then there are dates against archrival Upson-Lee in the eighth game and against crosstown rival Spalding in the ninth game. A crossover region playoff game awaits in the final week of the regular season for the right to advance to state, if the Bears are one of the top teams in the running for a state playoff berth.