50 in 50: Burke County

Burke County coach Eric Parker has worries on defense where he lost six starters from last year's squad. (Jason Getz, AJC)

Burke County coach Eric Parker has worries on defense where he lost six starters from last year's squad. (Jason Getz, AJC)

If the question last year was how much damage Burke County quarterback Donquell Green could do by himself – and the answer was “considerable” – then the question going into the 2013 season has to be this: With a more experienced supporting cast around him, who’s going to slow the Bears down?

The expectations are high, with the Bears having won at least 11 games each of the past three years. They won the 2011 AAA state title when Green was a sophomore, and led eventual state champion Sandy Creek in the fourth quarter in the AAAA semifinals last year.

Green is one of the most explosive players in the state, having amassed than 3,070 yards combined passing and rushing and accounting for 49 total touchdowns as Burke County went 11-2.

“He’s a special player. For what we do he is just tailor-made,” said Burke County coach Eric Parker. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and he’s just made plays in the biggest ball games. He’s been the show. He also understands that there are some areas he could get better.”

Green’s numbers by themselves would be cause of optimism in Waynesboro. What Parker was looking for entering last year – productive performances from other players to draw attention away from Green – is less of a question this time around, with Antonio Harold (848 rushing yards) and leading receiver Jermaine Baxley returning.

And the running back position, which doesn’t have an individual whose stats jump off the page, proved sufficient last year.

“At the end of the day our running back position was pretty productive,” Parker said.

In one way, the Bears became a victim of their own success, as both offensive coordinator Jim Dye (nephew of long-time Auburn coach Pat Dye) and defensive coordinator Michael Youngblood left for other jobs. Dye left for Troy University, where he will coach the offensive line, and Youngblood was hired as the new head coach at South Cobb.

Parker wants to see the passing game improve, but the biggest concern is on defense, where the Bears lost six starters, including LB Chris Washington and defensive linemen Derrick Green and Jessie Bush.

“There is no doubt that is our major concern,” Parker said. “We’re not real big, we’re not real experienced. We’re not real deep. We’re going to do a good job of getting the kids coached up. There’s just some things you don’t get until you get until you get under the lights on Friday night.”

They’ll get a baptism by fire right off the bat, facing an explosive Thomson team that averaged 31 points last year in Class AAA. The first four games also feature matchups against AAAAA Coffee and perennial power Statesboro.

Burke County Bears

2012 record: 11-2, (5-0) in Region 3-AAAA Division B, lost in quarterfinals to Sandy Creek

Starters returning: 6 offense; 5 defense

Key players lost: LB Chris Washington, DL Derrick Green, DL Jessie Bush

Key players returning: QB Donquell Green, OT Juwan Gardner, WR Jermaine Baxley

Spring practice dates: May 6-17

Schedule:

Aug. 23 at Thomson

Sept. 6 at Hephzibah

Sept. 13 Coffee

Sept. 20 at Statesboro

Sept. 27 Cross Creek

Oct. 4 at Wayne County

Oct. 11 Richmond Academ

Oct. 18 at Glenn Hills

Nov. 1 Butler

Nov. 8 Region Play-in Game.

Outlook: As long as the Bears have Donquell Green, they have a chance. There are holes to fill, particularly in the linebacking corps, but this is a program that knows how to win, and 2013 should bring another deep playoff run.

17 comments Add your comment

WarEagle

March 28th, 2013
10:07 am

One correction: Burke played Sandy Creek in the AAAA quarter finals, not the semifinals, in 2012. Monroe Area played SC in the semis.

BT

March 28th, 2013
10:29 am

Eric Parker is a great fit for that town and program.

Football Freak

March 28th, 2013
11:52 am

What Gwinnett County High Schools are going to be featured during your 50 in 50?

Rev Al

March 28th, 2013
12:11 pm

Does D. Green have any major college offers? The young man can just flat out play. UGA, are you listening??

Tiny

March 28th, 2013
12:35 pm

@Rev Al: He can flat out play high school ball. Sorry, he is just too darn small to take SEC pounding every week. He might get playing time returning kicks or punts at a big time school, but otherwise I bet he ends up in a smaller program.

NYCDAWGFAN

March 28th, 2013
12:40 pm

Gator Green has commited to UNC. He is being pursued by Tech for sure. I’m not sure of any other offers. Wish the Dawgs would offer though. I also think that losing both coordinators will really hurt. I think we have the talent to do something and a player as dynamic as Donquell is ALWAYS a factor but, adjusting to two new schemes is going to be pretty tough.

Red and Black til Death

Talk Is Cheap

March 28th, 2013
3:23 pm

@Football Freak — asking who what and when takes the fun out of the weekly excitement. Just stay tuned and be surprised.

Dekalb Co Guy

March 28th, 2013
8:21 pm

@Football Freak

Well you had 2 featured already. So hopefully not too many more. I know Gwinnett is the epicenter of high school football in Georgia now, but there are 450 high schools. Still have to hit a couple of the Dekalb, Fulton and Cobb Co. schools.

RobertTheRecruiter

March 28th, 2013
8:28 pm

No one cares until playoffs. Have to beat the big names like Sandy creek or it doesn’t mean a cn a beans. They are good, but how good against great teams remain to be seen for next season. Can’t wait.

black1

March 29th, 2013
7:35 am

Social Circle had this guy at the school. You see what happens when you dont give people a chance!!!

badbrad

March 30th, 2013
8:08 am

I’m a Sandy Creek fan but Gator Green is one of the quickest players I’ve ever seen. If he gets into the open field, one tackler can’t handle him. He’s got an extra gear that not many players have. He is small though.

burkeboyjp

March 31st, 2013
4:19 pm

@tiny u will be the first to be proven wrong by him if u not remember all of florida back field was his height chris rainey percy harvin demps and they are all successful with national championship the diference between big athletes and small athletes speed kills that’s why florida wins they know how to recruit speed no matter the height u cant tackle what u cant catch and nobody can catch this kid

itsonlywrite

April 1st, 2013
8:44 am

Donquell is a problem for any defense… I was surprised in how well Sandy Creek played him last year… even though he still racked up lots of yardage.

#ELEPHANTNATION

NYCDAWGFAN

April 1st, 2013
10:11 am

@tiny(brain)…
Just watched the interview that Donquell did with Radi Nabulsi of ESPN.com’s Dawgnation where he spoke of offers from Tennessee, Clemson, and interest from UF. So pair those with the known offer from Tech and his commitment to UNC (the first school to offer him by the way) and it seems that some VERY SMALL PROGRAMS are interested in the “Gator”… You have the perfect screen name for your intellect. Football players make plays and that’s it. You can’t measure heart. This kid can play with anyone, conference doesn’t matter. If you have watched any of his games in person, you will see him take major shots from some kids WAY bigger than he and he still keeps coming. If doesn’t get you from the QB spot, he’ll pick you off as a DB, if he doesn’t pick you off, he’ll return the kick 90+ yards. No matter what, the Gator will bite you at some point. Remember that.

Red and Black til Death

FootballTopFan(c)

April 1st, 2013
9:40 pm

FootballTopFan would like to wish the Burke County Bears and Head Coach Eric Parker the best of luck and success in the upcoming season.

The Bears have the potential for another great season.

FootballTopFan loves high school football.

Coffee100

April 2nd, 2013
8:00 am

Coffee went into last years game against Burke after taking down Ware County and Whitewater, on the road, by a combined 63-17. Both teams went on to a combined 25-4 for the season with Whitewater barely losing in the 5A Semi’s and Ware went all the way to the 5A championship game.

Greene came to South Georgia and pretty much single handidly broke Coffee’s spirit for the remainder of the season. I look for the game to be just as important this year and this year the Trojans travel north to the game. Not a pleasant thought. We’ll see though.

After watching all the idividual talent in 1-6A last year… Greene stood above all.

89Bear

April 2nd, 2013
9:59 pm

Not bragging…..but Green is already on the next level. Just watch his highlights or attend one of his game this season….he has great field vision, and he cuts quick as a cat!!!!