North Springs (15-11 last winter) and Riverwood (11-15 last year) will play in Region 6AAAAA as both teams face the challenge of moving up from Class AAA.
The Spartans are in Subregion A with Creekview, Sequoyah, Cambridge, Forsyth Central and Northview, while the Raiders are joined by Pope, Sprayberry, Kell and Osborne in Subregion B.
Riverwood coach Buck Jenkins is optimistic about a team that returns most of its key players and features a solid veteran core.
“We are excited about the season,” Jenkins said. “We have eight returning players from last year and couple of new additions. We have a good mixture of seniors that will provide leadership and experience. Going into a new region will be a challenge, because we are not familiar with any of the teams that we will be playing. But, we are looking forward to competing against AAAAA competition.”
Six-foot-5 senior forward Jonathan Goodson, 6-3 senior forward Connor McDaniel and 6-2 senior guard Mike Tait are among the key players for the Raiders.
Meanwhile, North Atlanta has nowhere to go but up after last season’s disappointing 2-23 record with a very young and inexperienced roster.
The Warriors, who are competing in Subregion A of 6AAAAA with Stephenson, Dunwoody, Clarkston, Lakeside of DeKalb and Tucker, will be boosted by the addition of 6-8 sophomore Noah Dickerson — a transfer from Lovett.
In AA, Lovett (12-14 in 2011-12) and Westminster (10-17 last year) will play in 6AA with Greater Atlanta Christian, Wesleyan and Hapeville.
While Lovett lost a number of players from last year’s team, the Lions have a solid veteran group in 6-0 senior guard Luke Hart, 6-1 senior guard Winn Martin, 6-7 senior center Davis Johnson and 6-2 senior forward Arthur Winborne.
“We have to replace a lot from last year,” Lovett coach Chuck Melito said. “I am anxious to see how quickly our new faces develop and mature.”
Westminster hopes to improve on its 10-17 record of a year ago with a good mix of size and athleticism.
Six-foot-3 senior forward Joe Bridges, 5-10 junior guard Quay Strozier and 6-3 senior guards Robert Howell and Harrison Butker lead the way for the Wildcats.
Holy Innocents’, Galloway, Pace, Mount Vernon Presbyterian and Atlanta International are in 5A, along with Eagle’s Landing Christian, Landmark Christian, W.D. Mohammed, Paideia, Greenforest Christian, Strong Rock Christian and Yeshiva.
Holy Innocents’ (14-12 last season) enters the season with an experienced group of players that includes three starters who have played on the varsity since they were freshmen.
The Golden Bears expect an immediate impact from 6-1 junior guard Darryl Stewart, a transfer from Los Angeles who is a Division I prospect.
Five-foot-10 senior guard Jack McGrew, 6-2 senior guard Sam Asbury and 6-7 senior forwards Jim Voyles and Ed Voyles are among the other key players.
Mount Vernon Presbyterian will attempt to continue the success it achieved the last few years in GISA — where it won two state titles in the last four seasons — in its inaugural campaign in GHSA.
Galloway (5-17 a year ago) hopes to build on the experience from last season’s rebuilding process.
Junior forward Johvonn Smith and senior guard Alex Slawson provide experience in the lineup for the Scots.
Pace will try to bounce back from last year’s 10-16 record, with 6-5 senior guard D.J. Diakite and 6-1 junior forward Denzel Franklin among the key players.
In GISA, Weber (7-14 last year) returns All-Region 1AAA players Sam Grosoff, Natan Gorod and Nate Williams, and coach Peter Weprinsky likes what he sees of his Rams.
“We are very optimistic going into the season,” Weprinsky said. “Our depth is tremendous and the kids are working very hard. What we lack in size, we are trying to make up in hustle and hard play. Our goal is to play hard every day and to improve each and every day.”