One of the greatest high school players Atlanta has ever produced is Tennessee All-America safety Eric Berry. Remember the hit he had last year vs. Knowshon Moreno? Anyways, tonight “Wild Boyz” Berry will have his jersey retired during halftime of the Creekside’s game vs. Lovejoy.
Berry is projected to be one of the top five players taken in this year’s NFL Draft. The best thing I can say about Berry is not only is he an A+ athlete, he is also one of the most outstanding human beings you will ever meet. My gut feeling tells me life has much bigger things in store for him than football, and that’s saying a lot.
How could Berry be at Creekside in the middle of Tennessee’s season? The Volunteers, fresh off defeating UGA and Lane Kiffin’s declaration of a recruiting war in Georgia and to never again lose to the Bulldogs, have a bye week.
WINTER WEATHER – ALMOST: This year, the weather has almost been as unpredictable as the teams holding No. 1 rankings. Tonight is expected to be the first Friday night of the year that you can break out your winter clothes — at least the light stuff. Temperatures are calling for 63 degrees, with a plunge to 41 after the sun goes down. How will it affect the games? It shouldn’t that much. Well, maybe a little bit with the passing teams. But hey, they need some practice for cold November anyways.
THE MACK DADDY: M.L. King tailback Mack Brown apparently caused a big stir this week when he allegedly guaranteed a win vs. Stephenson to the AJC’s Chip Towers. All Mack said was “We’re going to win, I can tell you that.” Ever since then, Mack and M.L. King coach Corey Jarvis have been back-stepping from the comment faster than Mack runs forward in the 40-yard dash.
This is one thing I’ve never understood in sports. What was so wrong with Mack’s comment? I mean, I can understand it this week, because it will likely be a storyline during the game by the ESPNU announcers. However, what was Mack supposed to say? “We’re going to LOSE.” If ANY player goes into ANY game expecting to lose, then he needs an attitude adjustment from his respective coach.
THE BIG GAME: I’ve been asked by a lot of people who will win Stephenson-M.L. King. I really have no idea. I know both are ranked in the top 10 of Class AAAAA. I know this is only one of two Georgia games on national TV this year. But I don’t know much about M.L. King or Stephenson, other than that they really haven’t played any super-tough competition. Sorry, Stephenson fans, but that’s the truth. Neither team may belong in the top 10, OR both may play each other again in the state championship. That’s the monster range of unknown I put them in, along with several other metro teams (hello Roswell, Collins Hill and Lassiter, etc.).
However, that’s what is great about high school football. Unlike college football, there is an excellent playoff system in place. No matter where Stephenson and M.L. King are ranked, we’ll find out how good they are during the postseason. Who knows? We may also find out in the playoffs that Grayson and Lowndes got too many props, too.
On a personal note, there are few people I respect more than Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell. He oversees the best program in the state never to have won a state championship. I’d love to see the Jaguars make a run this year.
If I had to guess, I’d say Stephenson will beat M.L. King as long as it keeps Mack under 100 yards. The Jaguars have a stout defensive line, anchored by mega-prospect Michael Thornton. And Mack is hindered by a leg injury (hamstring).
The biggest knock on Mack Brown by haters is that he can’t effectively run between the tackles. He didn’t do anything to change that notion when I watched MB vs. Southwest DeKalb. However, I think that may be a little overrated. M.L. King has a quality fullback, and if Mack can get around the outside corner, he is as stellar in the open field as any player I’ve ever seen. If Mack gets “space” after the first level (d-line), he is absolutely electrifying.
And back to the inside running: I’m sure after Mack starts eating on the college meal plan at Florida, he’ll add about 10-15 pounds of muscle and be just fine with dancing inside. But his calling card NOW and THEN will always will be tremendous raw speed and foot quickness.
VALDOSTA EXPECTATIONS: The biggest story of the week — and one of the top 10 for the year — was the nation’s winningest football program (Valdosta High School) announcing it would not renew the contract of head coach Rick Tomberlin. Ironically, a few people may remember this, but once upon a time Tomberlin was coach at archrival Lowndes, and he got fired after posting a 7-3 record in 1991. Lowndes defeated Tomberlin-led Valdosta 57-15 last Friday.
Back to Valdosta: There was nothing surprising about what went down in Valdosta this week. They have huge expectations (whether or not they are realistic is another subject for another day), and Tomberlin knew the deal going in. Tomberlin, with his three state championships at Washington County, will have little problem finding another head coaching job elsewhere in 2010. I think the most interesting thing will be to see if he remains in Georgia or dips down to Florida. After all, he played ball for Bobby Bowden at Florida State.