Big winners Friday: North, McEachern, Marietta, Robby Pruitt

Gainesville’s state championship in 2012 removed an unwelcome title for the Red Elephants. They had won more GHSA region titles (27) without a state title than any other program.

Now that distinction now belongs to McEachern, with 15. With a 2-0 start and a top-five state rankings, the Indians are bent on fixing that. They beat No. 8 Lassiter 42-28 on Friday as Taj Griffin rushed for 154 yards and quarterback Ty Clemons rushed for 128. That’s the second straight game each has rushed for more than 100 yards.

McEachern, which started 0-2 last season, is the only Class AAAAAA team that has won its last 10 regular-season games.

Five more things we learned in AAAAAA on Friday:

- No. 1 is a treacherous place – Especially against out-of-state opponents. The preseason No. 1, Norcross, lost to Florida’s Booker T. Washington. On Friday, the next No. 1, Colquitt County, lost to Alabama’s Hoover 24-10. The Packers led 10-3 at halftime but couldn’t hold off Alabama’s reigning class 6A champions.

- Peachtree Ridge is back – The Lions were 4-6 in 2012, their first losing season since 2004. Third-year coach Mark Fleetwood has turned things around. The Ridge is 2-0 after beating Parkview, a 2012 quarterfinalist, 28-14 on Friday. Peachtree Ridge opened with a 23-17 victory over Walton. Against Parkview, it was 14-14 in the fourth quarter, but the Lions’ Travis Bowers and Nick Glass returned interceptions for touchdowns.

- Marietta is back – The Blue Devils finished 8-4 last season, their best finish since 2005 (10-2), but those who thought that was mostly the work of QB Anthony Jennings (LSU signee) must be wrong. Marietta beat Pope 63-13 on Friday. All-state LB Tyrell Tomlin, T.J. Bulock and Kadeem Wallington returned interceptions for touchdowns. Marietta beat Newnan 52-21 the previous week, avenging a loss from last season. It’s the first time Marietta has scored 50-plus points in back-to-back games since 1990, when Eric Zeier was the quarterback.

- North Gwinnett is a powerhouse: McEachern aside, North Gwinnett is perhaps the best AAAAAA program that has not won a state title. This is looking like a good year to fix that as the Bulldogs beat Grayson 35-0 on Friday. That follows a 34-14 victory over Camden County in the opener. Grayson and Camden began in the Top 10. That was Camden’s worst loss since 2005. That was Grayson’s worst loss ever.

- Valdosta can run the ball: The Wildcats’ head coach, Rance Gillespie, is known for devising offenses that set passing records. But what’s a man to do when his starter quarterback is lost for the season and he’s got two all-state caliber running backs? Malcolm Joseph made preseason all-state, rushed for 67 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and Nelson Herring rushed for 227 yards in a 28-24 victory over Thomas County Central on Friday. Herring  scored on runs of 80 and 91 yards. The latter was the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter.

Special note – Congrats to Coffee’s Robbie Pruitt. He won his 300th game as a head coach on Friday in a 38-13 victory over Ware County, the Class AAAAA runner-up in 2012.

44 comments Add your comment

Sportsnut

August 31st, 2013
7:43 am

How many games were played last night? It is football season and this is all we get ? Print edition also lacking.

DOSTA DAWG

August 31st, 2013
8:54 am

@ Todd Holcomb – Valdosta’s Malcolm Joseph only had 67yds rushing, but he also had a very big 99yd kickoff return for a TD.

CoffeeC100

August 31st, 2013
9:20 am

Todd – Robby Pruitt – You mentioned him in your headline but forgot to say that he picked up his 300th win in high school football in Coffee’s 38-13 win over 5A powerhouse Ware County. As a side note Coffee has now defeated two ranked 5A school on consecutive weeks. That seems to deserve some type of recognition. Did you have a good night or a bad night last night? Or both?

Todd Holcomb

August 31st, 2013
9:25 am

Coffee — Thanks, that tidbit on Coach Pruitt got truncated somehow. I’ll go back and add it. …

Dosta – Didn’t realize that about Joseph. Skimmed through the game summary too quick. Will update that as well. When doing preseason all-state, we originally had Herring at RB. Then switched to Joseph. Not sure why we switched, but the point is that Valdosta has two really good ones.

F.A. Right

August 31st, 2013
9:27 am

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday morning and the scoreboard has only seven state scores on it? Surely there were more games played than that in the state. There were more games played than that in Fulton County and the AJC can’t even get those scores in. Seems like HS football has fallen on hard times at the AJC. Of course, that’s what happens when you out-source editing and production to people who don’t really care about readers.

Todd Holcomb

August 31st, 2013
9:29 am

F.A. Right – You’re looking at the page with Saturday’s games on it. There’s a drop-down box that allows you to see all of Friday night’s scores.

http://www.ajc.com/high-school-football-scoreboard/

Factual Healing

August 31st, 2013
9:32 am

Get off Todd’s ass. He is the only reporter covering the entire state it seems like so got to your local county or community and get on their asses!!!!

Sportsnut

August 31st, 2013
9:37 am

Region 1 had a good night as they went 6-1.
Colquitt blew the sweep.

AVikingFan

August 31st, 2013
9:43 am

Lowndes had two TDs called back, one a 85 yd pass. Our passing game with a lot of come back patterns, down and out’s, etc., was good indeed, helping to open up our running game.

After the 85 yrd TD pass was called back, Luella sacked us in our end zone for a safety on the very next play. Wow! What a swing in a matter of two plays. Final was 42-2

CoffeeC100

August 31st, 2013
10:03 am

Factual Healing – OK. Todd – Please forgive me. Factual Healing – Todd… is that you? (Todd – I do hope you know I am joking. You were very timely in your response. In addition you are no doubt the most over-worked, stressed out, under-appreciated reporter working at the AJC… and I do not want to be banned for life on commenting.)

Sportsnut

August 31st, 2013
10:16 am

The Fire Marshall closed the gates with about 200 outside trying to get in. 12 Oaks was rocking. Standing room gone. Mundy’s Mill was game but Lovejoy came to play. 41-12, with a touchdown called back. Lovejoy played without it’s big 3 on D. DeMarquis Gates, Chris Ellis and Randy Anyanwu did not see action. MM had 7 first downs and 3 were by Lovejoy penalties. I have a little concern about our Db’s but when the guy’s get back this week, that will have an impact in the pass coverage.

Looking forward to Colquitt this Friday.

gm1957

August 31st, 2013
10:37 am

Coffee maybe the “sleeper” in 6A this year. Those guys won’t quit. Watched the CC and Hoover game on ESPN last night. CC will have a hard time defending teams with “good air games”, proven last night in Hoover, AL.
Whistewater, nor Ware, could not defend the receiver talent Coffee has this year. Everyone was worried about our O-Line and D-line size, but apparently it has no impact on the results.

F.A. Right

August 31st, 2013
10:49 am

Thanks, Todd. That’s a bit confusing for us cranky old-timers who are not all that computer savvy, but now that you figured it out for us, we should be good to go.

old school

August 31st, 2013
11:41 am

Todd, maybe not this year, but you have to throw Newnan in the mix of best programs not to ever win a title, in the big history of things. They have had very talented teams over the years, but the state title is still elusive.

WildHawg2012

August 31st, 2013
11:56 am

@Sports nut- We did mess up an overall night for region 1. I really wasn’t impressed with Hoover and I don’t think that team could beat plenty of Ga teams which makes me have to question us. I said Rush got out coached and he did but for some odd reason he tried to be a calm coach rather than being Rush. Hoover won and u have no excuses from me but to not be aggressive on such a big stage is what confuses the heck out of me. And if that was us being aggressive then we might have a different yr than expected. As much as we ran the ball we should have lined up in the old I-formation instead of the spread. Good job to your guys for getting off to a good start and I am not giving up on my boys it is a long season and my expectations are still the same but last night just didn’t seem right to me. Now that I got that out my next post will be about this weeks game and some trash talkin with u but for right now Lets Go Bulldogs!!!

PackGATA

August 31st, 2013
12:04 pm

The top 5 reasons (Not Excuses) we got beat last night by Hoover:
1. Hoover’s program a whole lot better than ours. Our starters can match up and play with them(1st half). But there substitutes were better than our substitutes.
2. Our offensive line didn’t look to small to me but just inexperienced. They were out played.
3. Conservative play calling. Were was the screen passes to #22?
4. Notice that Hoover had no passing game until middle of 3rd qt after our #2 and #3 defensive backs got hurt and had to leave game. Our #1 def back Tim Sanders has not played all year. He had to come in and play. On Hoover’s second passing touchdown, which was an awesome call by the way. He looked like he hadn’t played in awhile.(Not his fault)
5. Bottom line. Hadn’t said this before since he came to Moultrie, but Probst and his staff just got out coached in the 2nd half.
Over all I thanked we held our on for the most part. I think if we are not beat up to bad after playing this tough non region schedule we will only be better for it. I hope #19 Lewis and #7 Williams who left game in the back of a ambulance are ok. We can’t afford to be without them next week when we finally get back to Moultrie against Lovejoy for our first home game.

FarTrain

August 31st, 2013
1:07 pm

Well, guess I will have to say it now, since I lost a $20 bet to a first cousin in Alabama. Alabama high school football IS better than GA HS football. That was obvious last night in Hoover AL. He had been telling me that for 2-3 yrs. now and I kept saying “no way”. Similar to the SEC, AL rules the roost there too. Some have said that Region 1-6A is the SEC of GA high school football. Well, if so, they are going to have to “run with the big dogs” when they get the chance. CCHS looked really over-matched last night in the second half. Wonder how that “humble pie” tasted to Coach Propst?

LHSAlum33

August 31st, 2013
1:39 pm

FarTrain: I don’t think that Alabama HS football is better than GA HS football, I think that Hoover was better than Colquitt. As a whole, I don’t think, Norcross, Colquitt, Camden, Grayson, or any ONE team defines the state. Carrollton beat a team from Alabama last night 35-14.

Itiswhatitis

August 31st, 2013
3:26 pm

North Gwinnett looks better than I have ever seen them. Well balanced on offense and a stout defense with speed in the secondary. They have put to bed two Wing T and 3-5-3 defenses. Look forward to seeing how they fare against a pass first team.

Todd Holcomb

August 31st, 2013
3:30 pm

”Well, guess I will have to say it now, since I lost a $20 bet to a first cousin in Alabama. Alabama high school football IS better than GA HS football. That was obvious last night in Hoover AL.”

How does one game played in Hoover make that obvious? Hoover went 15-0 last season. Colquitt lost four times. I have a hard time believing that Colquitt would’ve lost four games in Alabama last season, or that Hoover would’ve gone 15-0 so easily – if at all – in Georgia. There are a lot more good teams in Georgia than in Alabama, IMO. Rush Propst, an Alabama native, has said as much himself.

bksmith14

August 31st, 2013
3:35 pm

Luella was better than they were last year. I was not overly impressed by lowndes on offense but our defense other than one blown coverage looked dominant. We have to get better. This region is going to be the toughest it has been in years

FarTrain

August 31st, 2013
3:45 pm

OK, since there is obvious biased disagreement on my statement, let me rephrase it. Due to the FACT that the #1 team in the highest classification in AL beat the #1 team in the highest class in GA, high school football in Alabama in the top echelon(big boys) is better than in GA. Don’t see how anyone could object to that. The “proof is in the pudding”. While I’m at it, might as well make some more folks mad. Looks like high school football in North GA this year is going to be weaker than usual. IMHO

Todd Holcomb

August 31st, 2013
4:30 pm

”Due to the FACT that the #1 team in the highest classification in AL beat the #1 team in the highest class in GA, high school football in Alabama in the top echelon(big boys) is better than in GA. Don’t see how anyone could object to that.”

I object.

First of all, we don’t know if Hoover or Colquitt are actually the #1 teams in their states. That is to be decided later. Hoover is the clear #1 in Alabama on public opinion, whereas there are a half-dozen teams that might be as good as Colquitt. But even if they are the best teams in their states, the fact that the #1 from one state beats the #1 from another state proves only that one state has the best single team. How do you define ”upper echelon”? Would that be, say, the top 10 teams in the highest classification in the two states?

Consider this fact –

The same poll that ranked Hoover #1 in Alabama also ranked Oxford #12 in Class 6A.

Oxford (#12 in Alabama’s Class 6A) played Carrollton (#2 in Georgia’s 4A).

Carrollton won 35-14. The game was over at halftime, 28-7.

Football in Alabama is outstanding. Not picking on that state. It’s as good per capita as Georgia. But Georgia has twice the population, twice the number of blue-chip prospects and twice the number very good teams, IMO.

Sportsnut

August 31st, 2013
4:32 pm

@ Wildhawg2012 == It is o.k. All I expected from Colquitt, they gave me. They played ball. They were outcoached in the second half. The kid’s themselves, I’m sure, did their best. I was not impressed with Hoover either. Maybe my standards are a little high but I have seen better. There was an article in the Moultrie paper where he talked of showing that he has changed. What he did was cost his team their emotional stability by not being himself.

Colquitt has a problem with it’s offensive line that is not easily fixed. Those with experience are not big enough and those big enough have no experience or are not physically able to get the job done. This will be a sore spot, as we have already taken notice and it will only get worse as the competition gets better.

5-Time

August 31st, 2013
4:44 pm

Colquitt Co. let me down!! :-(

5-Time

August 31st, 2013
4:50 pm

Well, Colquitt Co. won’t be undefeated anymore when they travel to TitleTown to face Lowndes. We wanted to give ya’ll your first loss of the season. Now, that Colquitt/Lovejoy matchup isn’t interesting anymore.

57Cat

August 31st, 2013
11:31 pm

I like the way guys (Sportsnut, PackGATA, bksmith14) say, ” we scored umptee-ump points with a touchdown (or two) called back.” If the plays were called back, they weren’t touchdowns. They plays were called back because the penalties were the reason they plays were not stopped, or the penalty contributed to their not being stopped. I know, I’ll catch all sorts of flack for that statement (the ref was wrong, there was no penalty, etc), but the fact remains 6 points were not put up on the board. You may want to say, “We woulda scored more but we made some don’t mistakes.” Don’t take offense, guys, I’m just bummed because Georgia lost a winnable game.

However, the Valdosta Wildcats won a great game over a very good TCC team that has, IMO, the best running back in the State in Choice.

Ahhh, I feel better now. On to next week.

bksmith14

September 1st, 2013
12:29 am

lowndes did have two tds called back bc of stupid penalties on our part and they were the right calls. 42-2 is still a blowout though.

Luella had 61 total yds of offense against our defense . Our defense forced 4 turnovers and scored a td.

I am not worried about our defense bc their in my opinion is not a better one in our region. colquitt may be on par with our d but thats it.

its the offense i am concerned about.

bksmith14

September 1st, 2013
12:31 am

there …not “their”

Sportsnut

September 1st, 2013
7:30 am

O.K. We could have scored more but we cost ourselves with penalties. How’s that. We still won.

57Cat

September 1st, 2013
7:48 am

Thanks guys for going easy on me and for understanding my post last night even with the mistakes. A couple of “they plays” should have been “the plays” and a “don’t penalty” should have been “dumb mistakes.”

Anyway, I feel less cranky this morning and I hope all have a blessed Sunday.

CoffeeC100

September 1st, 2013
10:48 am

WildHogg2012 – Propst gave an interview in ESPN magazine in which he apologized for all his past sins and transgressions. Especially when he was at Hoover. He said the most important thing to him was for folks in Hoover to know that he is just a ‘regular’ guy. And has got over himself. He really sounded like a sad, husk of a man. And this was the week before the Hoover game. It obviously explains his attitude. Read it. It is dated August 30th. Apparently he has led a tortured life

m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=9611293 (Sorry if that didn’t copy properly. You may have to type it in

LHSAlum33

September 1st, 2013
10:49 am

I’m riding to Moultrie Next Friday night for the game!! Let’s Go WILDCATS!!!

WildHawg2012

September 1st, 2013
11:26 am

@CoffeeC100= tks for that link, I guess that explains the calmness of Propst. Man I am not used to him being calm but its cool. We don’t have depth and that’s one problem and our offensive line is another problem. Injuries on defense really hurt

joe

September 1st, 2013
11:48 am

MLK and Stephenson took care of buisness for Georgia against out of town schools.

DOSTA DAWG

September 1st, 2013
12:23 pm

My poor poor VALDOSTA WILDCATS!!!! Listening to how good Lowndes, Colquitt, Camden and even Coffee are this year, I gues we should just forfeit the rest of our season.

Our offense is not as good as any of those teams (EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE THE 2 BEST RB’s IN THE REGION – 2 DIV.1 WR’S). However, because we lost our QB and our offensive line is new, there is no way we can compete with CAMDEN AND LOWNDES (BOTH TEAMS LOST THEIR BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS).

I thought our defense would be pretty good with 8 starters back, but hearing how good LOWNDES defense is after they have played LUELLA-THOMASVILLE HIGH makes me just wanna give up!!!!! I hear LOWNDES fans are saying that TRE JACKSON is better than JOHN PORTER and RANDEL GODFREY put together!!!

I ran into a THOMAS CENTRAL players parent thurs. nite at Outback and he was telling me how THOMAS CENTRAL was going to just run all over VALDOSTA. He told me how the VALDOSTA WILDCATS were living on the past (EVEN THOUGH VALDOSTA WON IT’S LAST STATE TITLE IN 98 AND THOMAS CENTRAL HASN’T WON ONE SINCE 96). He told me we had no ideal what we were up against when we see the “VEER OPTION” they run on offense. He said their coach was very confident they could shut us out after watching our SCRIMMAGE against WARE COUNTY. He said with Adam Choice at QB (HE GOING TO CLEMSON) they would score atleast 40pts.

That whole conversation and the stuff I have heard about LOWNDES, CAMDEN, COFFEE AND COLQUITT scared me to death. I immediately jumped on the phone and called Rance Gillespie and told him the ” SKY WAS FALLING” on the VALDOSTA WILDCATS and we should just cancel the season. Coach Gillespie was very polite and quiet on the phone as he let me finish. He then reminded me of something a “GREAT COACH” at VALDOSTA use to tell us before every game ‘NEVER- NEVER- NEVER-NEVER-NEVER GIVE UP!!!!”

So I say to the rest of REGION 1 6A, the VALDOSTA WILDCATS will show up for every game and though we may not be in any of your “BEST TEAM” conversations, we still are THE VALDOSTA WILDCATS!!!!!!

goober

September 1st, 2013
2:15 pm

Dosta Dawg: Take a chill pill, dude. You are way too sensitive and serious and paranoid. This blog is for fun and information sharing. Valdosta must prove it can play with the big boys again and get back to the title game before they are recognized as a legit power team. It’s been almost a full generation since they won it all. There’s a whole new group of fans around the state who’ve never seen Valdosta as a power team. Ya still gotta win, babe! And you have to do it with class and humility.

bksmith14

September 1st, 2013
3:50 pm

tcc did run it well against valdosta. it was 3 big plays that saved valdosta

57Cat

September 1st, 2013
4:03 pm

I’m sure you were at “The Concrete Palace,” BK, and not at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, so you know only what you read in the paper or heard others say. I was there for every minute of it and, yes, we had three big plays, but we also played some pretty good defense against a pretty good 5A school. Big plays on defense are just as important as big plays on offense. You need to get the whole story, mate.

DOSTA DAWG

September 2nd, 2013
10:02 am

@ goober – I’m not sensitive or anything else. I’m surely not worried about Valdosta being reconized as a powerhouse in Ga. on a AJC blog or any ranking system. There will never be a powerhouse team like Valdosta was years ago. You will see teams be good for 1,2 or maybe even 3yrs, but none will ever dominate like Valdosta did.

I was just having some fun with everyone that is proclaiming their team state championship contenders after 1 or 2 games.

@ bksmith14 – Watch the game on our website before you make comments about a game you were not in attendance. Better yet, wait until LOWNDES plays somebody before you comment on any other team in the state of Ga.

dagrapevine

September 3rd, 2013
7:29 am

big plays are a part of the game.valdosta had seveal drives in the game.one resulted in a missed feild goal,one a td and
one bogged down in penalties.those big plays where runs.one up the middle for 80 yds and the other around the left end for 91 yds.our cross town cousin must forget those big gregg reid runs lowndes lived off of for several years.
gillespie is a great coach.to lose his starting qb 2-1/2 weeks before the opening of the season and maybe the best qb potentially he’s ever had.thankfully cole will be back for his senior season.
tcc scored 17 pnts on 2 fumbled punts and an interception inside of valdosta’s 25 yd line.they did have one long sustain drive that resulted in a td.
tcc has a very good fb team and should be a contender in 5a.luella not so much.

BWILL1911

September 3rd, 2013
7:45 am

I get sick and tired of hearing Lowndes fans making reservations after playing two middle school teams and scoring 40 points on a team that has no talent whatsoever. I’m sure you all have a great defense and that is the foundation for your team. But if I recall correctly, even your own offense didn’t score on your defense! So now, all of the sudden, your offense is the best in the state. At least Valdosta played someone with playoff contention. Colquitt took a chance by playing Hoover to get a measure of where they are and Coffee played the runner-up from last year in AAAAA. But LUELLA and you’re content because your offense scored 40+ points and your defense pitched a shutout. Wow!!! At least wait until September 27 before you begin to have a thought about boasting….

BWILL1911

September 3rd, 2013
7:49 am

If Valdosta can some how perfect that “SPREAD TRIPLE OPTION” with Loudermilk, Joseph and Herring, it could be better than their passing offense. Maybe they can then implement the play action out of it and take advantage of a safety/cornerback peeking in the backfield. I must say that Valdosta defense did enough to not let that game get out of hand. A couple of misques but it was their first game……

Sportsnut

September 5th, 2013
7:15 am

“Mceachern aside, North Gwinnett is the best AAAAAA program not to win a state title”.

I beg to differ.