Georgia High School Football Spring Preview AJC 30 In 30 Series: Brookwood Broncos

Is No. 21 (white jersey) the best overall player in Georgia? Brookwood WR-DB Andre Sims will be one of the top candidates to watch for 2010 (AJC)

Is No. 21 (white jersey) the best overall player in Georgia? Brookwood WR-DB Andre Sims will be one of the top candidates to watch for 2010. By the way, Sims caught this pass. (AJC)

(This is part of the AJC’s “30 in 30″ series — with quick hits on top high school football teams across the metro area and state during spring football practice. We’re doing 30 football teams in 30 days. Click here for a master list. Hey AJC, what about spring sports? You know, the non-football sports? Go here)

It’s always tough to replace a legend.

Brookwood coach Mark Crews has performed admirably in succeeding his mentor, the legendary Dave Hunter. In eight years as head coach of the Snellville school, Crews has guided the Broncos into the state playoffs every season.

Last year, Brookwood sent shockwaves around Georgia by knocking off previously undefeated McEachern in the playoff opener.

What about this year? Will it be nine years in a row under Crews?

Things are looking good for Brookwood as they return a top candidate for the best “player” — not college prospect — in Georgia. That would be Andre Sims, the 5-foot-8 missile who can score from anywhere on the field. Last season, Sims had 57 catches for 921 and 9 touchdowns. He also starts at defensive back. Sims has committed to Michigan State. His biggest value to the Broncos is leadership.

Here are some of Brookwood’s other top players:

  • Ben McLane, QB, 6-2, 215: The two-year starter threw for 1,780 yards and 16 TDs, completing 58-percent of his passes.
  • Nick Moore, WR-DB, 6-2, 210: With defenses primed to stop Sims, Brookwood is counting on another big year out of Moore. He caught 16 passes for 275 yards and 2 TDs last year — more than 17 yards per reception. On defense, Moore posted 75 tackles and 4 interceptions.
  • Blake Fussell, OL-DL, 6-2, 280: The team’s most consistent lineman on both sides of the ball.
  • Cameron Lynch, LB, 5-11, 230: The bruising hitter had 135 tackles, including 4 sacks and 7 QB hurries. Lynch has early offers from Syracuse, Air Force, and Buffalo, along with serious interest from many other schools.

What about this spring? Crews needs a few good men along the defensive front, and will be determining whether Nick Tompkins will be the No. 1 tailback. The 5-8, 175-pound Tompkins started at DB last year as a sophomore.

RELATED: North Gwinnett returns star QB, but not much else(click here)

Team: Brookwood Broncos

Spring Game: Public scrimmages on May 12 and May 21.

Spring practice dates: Until May 21

Last year’s record: 6-6

Starters lost: 11

Head coach: Mark Crews

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24 comments Add your comment

Delbert D.

May 11th, 2010
3:06 pm

Wow! Superman in flight!

SouthGARules

May 11th, 2010
4:42 pm

Yes, Brookwood will make the playoffs again as well as South Gwinnett and Grayson with Parkview & Dacula battling for the #4 seed. Central, Berkmar, Archer & Shiloh bringing up the rear. Probably South being the only one to make noise in the playoffs (if they can tighten up their defense-could not get Grayson’s ball control attack off the field & Hutson Mason passed them silly).

Ron

May 11th, 2010
6:05 pm

Not looking for Brookwood to go very far,,the South will do it agin,,,,,, go camden

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 11th, 2010
7:50 pm

“What about this year? Will it be nine years in a row under Crews?”

Yes, Brookwood will make the playoffs for the ninth year in a row under Crews. As evidenced by the Broncos humongous upset of McEachern in the playoffs, the switch from a run-first, second, third, fourth and so on, and so on offense to a spread offense has done wonders for a Brookwood program that looked as if it was starting to go into neutral for an extended period, if not a period of slow decline if it had stuck with the run-oriented offense that it had done best for many years. Brookwood was throttled by McEachern in the opening game of the season in the Corky Kell Classic, but the players got more and more familiar with the spread as the season went on, familiar enough to come from the middle of the pack in the late weeks of the season and earn a somewhat improbable playoff berth out of Region 8-AAAAA, albeit a berth that was helped by a very talented Parkview collapsing out of the playoff picture after losing it’s starting QB to a season-ending injury. By the time that Brookview visited McEachern for a rematch in the first-round of the playoffs, the Broncos had become so much more adept at defending the spread that they were able to defensively shutdown an exceptionally potent McEachern offense, the same McEachern offense that shredded them for 42 points in the first game of the season, and pull the epic upset.

I think that Brookwood will continue to improve at operating and defending the spread in 2010 as I look for the Broncos to compete with Parkview to push a Grayson team that may take a small step back after some significant losses to graduation and make some moves back upwards in Region 8-AAAAA. With their improving ability to operate and defend the suddenly proliferating spread, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos were able to stay competitive with South Gwinnett and be in the hunt for second place or maybe possibly even compete as a darkhouse with an outside shot at the Region title, but everything would have to fall into place just right for that scenario to come to fruition. The bottom line is that Brookwood will battle with South, Grayson and Parkview for a playoff spot out of 8-AAAAA.

Mister Johnson

May 11th, 2010
11:03 pm

South Gwinnett may just open the year 0-2 with their first two games vs. Lowndes and MLK…

Fred

May 12th, 2010
12:03 am

Parkview will continue to slide. Have lost two many Great Assistant coaches in past few years to be able to win big. Don’t have the support from the community for obvious reasons.

Holmes

May 12th, 2010
9:43 am

FRED, You are so right. You are able to look in the stands and see that. It is a Great program, but for those obvious reasons and others, this will continue to slide… but look forward to seeing a Gwinnett school (Besides Buford) getting a ring, like a Brookwood, Collins Hill, but these teams have to meet the SPEED teams MLK, Lowndes and the big one… STEPHENSON.. in regular season games…

KD

May 12th, 2010
2:24 pm

To Fred & Holmes, why is Parkview sliding for obvious reasons, I was just curious.

its over

May 12th, 2010
4:36 pm

brookwood is not going to do well. they have one good lineman. ben mcclane is a TERRIBlE qb and makes bad decisions on the field. they will not be very good. i say this as a brookwood football alumni. they will not do too well.

Not Over

May 12th, 2010
5:00 pm

Its over…. Too come out and say that they wont do well is crap. 7 or 8 years ago, they went to the championship with 1 scholarship player….only 1. The fact that you point out one player in high school shows you obviously have a bitter feeling toward Qb. Even if you do, dont call the kid out in a blog. Played better than you I am sure

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 12th, 2010
5:08 pm

KD

May 12th, 2010
2:24 pm
“To Fred & Holmes, why is Parkview sliding for obvious reasons, I was just curious.”

KD, not only are the reasons obvious, they are well publicized as a few articles have appeared in some national publications documenting the reasons why Parkview may continue to slide. The reason being that there has been a dramatic demographic shift in the Parkview district with rapid growth in the immigrant Asian population (Indian and South Asian population). The shift was so pronounced that there were reports that Parkview was unable to field a freshman football team for the first ever in the school’s history because of obvious lack of interest from the fast-growing Asian student population.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 12th, 2010
5:38 pm

its over

May 12th, 2010
4:36 pm
“brookwood is not going to do well. they have one good lineman. ben mcclane is a TERRIBlE qb and makes bad decisions on the field. they will not be very good. i say this as a brookwood football alumni. they will not do too well.”

Nah, they’ll perform better this year because they will have had an entire season to get acclimated to the spread offense. McLane had his struggles at times last year, but he also showed flashes of great play at times, but it wasn’t his fault alone because the entire team, especially the coaching staff, had to get use to calling offensive plays for a passing-oriented game after basically spending their entire lives managing and operating a run-only attack darned near. Crews and his staff have spent their entire lives thinking run, run, run and more run but they knew that if they wanted to stay competitive and relevant, and most importantly, employed, that they were going to have to be able to score lots more points alot more quicker. The only way to do that was to get more creative and the fastest way to get more creative was to switch to a pass-heavy spread offensive attack. McLane, the son of a longtime Brookwood assistant coach, struggled at times early-on to run that offense just like his coaches, but that shouldn’t be cause for alarm because if you spent your entire football-playing and coaching life knowing only calling run plays on nearly every offensive down you would have a little trouble, too, suddenly having to call passing plays 30-40 times a game. Every player and coach in the program came up thinking run first so for there to be a period of adjustment after such a dramatic paradigm shift in thinking and philosophy is understandable, but it just might be a philosophical shift that might pay off dividends in the long run.

its over

May 12th, 2010
11:26 pm

say what you want. ben plays a total different position than i did. he’s does not compose himself well and he is not a team player. every year brookwood always has about 11 juniors or seniors who think they should be playing and they bring down the whole team. its happens EVERY YEAR. they kill the team. i don’t want it to happen to them, but it will. i’ve seen it every year ive been apart of it. and i’ve been around the program long enough to realize how political it is. and how much daddy ball there is.. for the sake of my ex teammates, i’d rather not go into specifics.

Kids play the game

May 13th, 2010
10:07 am

Brookwood will do very well this year. Ben will do well as a three year starter. The change in Brookwood football is they no longer have the huge linemen that has kept them a running team. They are young and inexperienced on the line again this year. There is a tremendous amount of skilled talent on this team. Much more than mentioned in the above article. Seniors and coaching will win a lot of games and make a run in the playoffs.

SouthGARules

May 14th, 2010
2:07 pm

A question for the Brookwood fans: I know McLane is your starter, but I do know that Kent Rollins was at Brookwood before transferring to South. Would you be a better team with Rollins as QB?
Purely hypothetical.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 14th, 2010
8:48 pm

SouthGARules

May 14th, 2010
2:07 pm
“A question for the Brookwood fans: I know McLane is your starter, but I do know that Kent Rollins was at Brookwood before transferring to South. Would you be a better team with Rollins as QB?
Purely hypothetical.”

The reason why Rollins transferred from Brookwood to South Gwinnett was so that he would get the opportunity to play in a quarterback-friendly system because at the time, Brookwood still had a run-all-the-time philosophy. People have to understand that 2009 was the first year ever that almost everyone in the program had employed a pass-first-to-setup-the-run offensive system and philosophy. If Kent Rollins had stayed at Brookwood, 2009 would have been his first year running the spread, so the results might not have been too dissimilar to the awkwardness that McLane experienced at times. Remember, South Gwinnett has been operating their offensive system for a few years now so the coaches, the players and the program is a bit more familiar with what they’re doing. As opposed to Brookwood, a school which had employed a run-every-down philosophy for almost all of its entire existence until 2009.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 14th, 2010
9:17 pm

Kids play the game

May 13th, 2010
10:07 am
“Brookwood will do very well this year. Ben will do well as a three year starter. The change in Brookwood football is they no longer have the huge linemen that has kept them a running team. They are young and inexperienced on the line again this year. There is a tremendous amount of skilled talent on this team. Much more than mentioned in the above article. Seniors and coaching will win a lot of games and make a run in the playoffs.”

Kids play the game, you hit the nail right on the head with the statement about inexperienced linemen. Brookwood has had problems on the line at times the last few years, I don’t know if its because of the demographic shifts that have been effecting Parkview in a much more pronounced way, but the continued acute shortage of experienced linemen and the lack of continuity that it causes were a big reason for such a dramatic shift in offensive philosophy for Brookwood and a number of North Georgia schools with football programs that no longer have an endless supply of big run-blocking linemen available like they seemingly once had partly due to demographic shifts and a thinning of the talent pool because of so many new schools opening up. Brookwood’s deep-pocketed alumni also were getting impatient at an offense that couldn’t score against higher-quality postseason competition as the Broncos came to a point where they lost to North Gwinnett about four or five straight times with two of those losses being season-ending losses in the playoffs to North Gwinnett, another team that very effectively employs the spread offense. Brookwood’s alums and supporters basically either wanted the current staff to employ a more exciting, more creative offensive strategy or exit stage left and make way for another coaching staff that would. Hence, the dramatic shift from their traditional “run-first-to-setup-the-pass-almost-never” strategy to a pass-happy spread offense philosophy.

Even though they gave 42 points in that game, I was still shocked when I saw that Brookwood was able to march down the field and put a few points on the board late by passing maybe about 20 times in a row after getting down really big early against pistol-offense spread-powered McEachern in the Corky Kell Classic. A year earlier, in the same game against Walton’s West Coast attack, the Brookwood couldn’t make progress to close the gap in a 13-7 game as the Broncos only passed seven times in the entire game. Every offensive play was run, run, run, even on third down as the Brookwood didn’t have enough offense to even attempt to close the gap on a six or seven point deficit. On the few times that Brookwood threw a pass, you could tell that the receivers rarely caught passes as they were rarely caught, so I was impressed that they were able to quickly drive down the field when behind at the start of the ‘09 season, even in a loss.

Brookwood Mom

May 15th, 2010
8:27 pm

Brookwood Mom is REALLY going to miss HS football next year. Son is headed to Georgia Southern, but I do plan on attending Brookwood home games. GO BRONCOS!!! Brookwood Mom is still rooting for you:)

its over

May 16th, 2010
1:52 pm

we would have NEVER ran the spread as long as Crews is coaching. trust me. its always going to be run, run, pass. and late in the halves there will be some shotgun. regardless of kent staying, we would not have gone to a spread

Dekalb-gwinnett

May 21st, 2010
7:46 pm

berkmar has a new coach he is black an from towers high school in dekalb county. i guess berkmar staff say that the football team mite win more games with a black coach because the team is 97% black. and they will listen to a black coach more then an white coach.

Dekalb-gwinnett

May 21st, 2010
7:49 pm

also berkmar has lots of kids that transfered from out of state and from dekalb that will be playing on the team. so am looking forward to seeing a new powerhouse team rise from gwinnett county football door mat list.

omg

May 21st, 2010
7:55 pm

am still trippin about when berkmar lost to brookwood in 2008 13-7. berkmar really won that game but they took back the touch down. for wat i dnt no. let me tell you what happen. berkmar kicked it of and the ball came down and hit a brookwood player in his shoulder pad in the middle of the field and it bouse of the shoulder into a berkmar football player hand and he ran it for a touch down. they took the touch down away and gave berkmar the football. WHAT> OMG. also broowkwood threw the football the catcher caught the ball but ran 30 yards the wrong way and scored berkmar a touch down. but the took that away. and gave berkmar the football. OMG. such cheaters.

omg

May 21st, 2010
7:56 pm

sorry bout the mispelled typeing to fast. LOL

Football fan

August 4th, 2010
10:19 am

Brookwood clearly has the best marching band again – that wall of sounds got to help them.