It's going to be tough for any of Forsyth County's five Region 6-7A members to prevent Milton from winning the league title, but South Forsyth might pose the biggest threat to the Fulton County powerhouse.
For one thing, the War Eagles boast the strong quarterback play often needed to compete in the state's highest classification.
Ty Watkins will enter his second season as the South Forsyth starter after registering just under 2,000 yards passing as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior posted an impressive 18:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, while adding six rushing scores.
Despite the half-dozen touchdowns on the ground, Watkins doesn't really consider himself a dual-threat quarterback. (He totaled only 151 rushing yards in 2021.) But when the time is right, Watkins isn't afraid to call his own number.
"I can run it when I need to," he said, "mostly short yardage."
In addition to Watkins, the War Eagles (8-3, 5-1 in 2021) bring to the table a strong mix of speed at the skill positions and strength along the line of scrimmage.
South Forsyth will hope to get big contributions from brothers Chris and Josh Nelson at wide receiver and defensive back. Both players are extremely quick, with Chris Nelson coming off an incredible spring, during which he won Forsyth County News male track and field athlete of the year.
Last fall, Chris Nelson had a large advantage in receptions (46-28), but Josh Nelson posted slightly more receiving yardage (645-642). Chris Nelson did add 209 rushing yards, while Josh Nelson held a slim 7-6 lead in touchdowns and a 3-1 edge in interceptions.
"They are elite track athletes, and they are elite football players," War Eagles head coach Troy Morris said of the duo. "They have high expectations of themselves and compete like crazy, in a healthy way.
"We expect big things out of them this year to build off what they did last year."
In the trenches, South Forsyth won't be pushed around. While the county includes plenty of talented offensive linemen, two of the best are senior War Eagles.
A four-star prospect on the 247Sports Composite, Nathan Efobi is considered one of the top interior offensive linemen in the country. Even though Efobi gets most of the attention, Kristian Dawson earns his spot among the county's elite at the position.
It's a thankless role to play at times but doing so for South Forsyth makes it all worth it.
"It means everything for us," Efobi said of the importance of football season, "because that's what we live for."
Lastly, the War Eagles bring back one of the top specialists in the area in Tyler Simpson.
The senior converted 22 of 24 extra-point attempts and 5 of 8 field goals in 2021. Simpson's longest successful field goal was a 47-yarder, but during the summer, he posted a video to Twitter of himself drilling a 60-yard try from the right hashmark.
Granted there was no defense during the kick, but it showcases the leg strength Simpson possesses. The kind of strength that could earn him a chance to attempt a kick from 50-plus yards in a game.
"Simpson's got that kind of a leg," Morris said. "We'll throw him out there and give him a chance."
Given all the aforementioned factors, Watkins doesn't see any reason why South Forsyth shouldn't be able to compete for the region title this season.
"I think we all learned from our experience last year," he said. "... I think our mindset is different. I think we're hungrier than we were last year. We definitely learned the things we have to improve on to win the region championship."