What separates this Griffin team; Will Marist need more balance against Carrollton?

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Griffin coach Steve DeVoursney says the football facilities have been a little cleaner this season. The language used by the team has been more respectful, and players have been more active in the community, often visiting local elementary schools and always handing out high fives to young Bears fans.

These are the things DeVoursney points to when asked why he believes his team was able to persevere through a bevy of early mistakes in a comeback road win over defending champion Sandy Creek. They are also the reasons DeVoursney believes his team has the ability to win the state championship.

“We’ve had talent in the past and do again this year, but what makes this team stand out is that we have a lot of high-character kids,” said DeVoursney. “I think the character of this team is the reason why we’re where we’re at.”

The team’s character and resiliency were on display in last week’s win at playoff-favorite Sandy Creek. Griffin rallied back from a 26-17 deficit with just over seven minutes to play against the Patriots. Quarterback Jaquez Parks shook off two early interceptions and orchestrated a pair of clutch fourth-quarter scoring drives. The senior, who has offers from Harvard and Air Force, completed 8 of 9 passes for 125 yards in the fourth quarter. Tight end/linebacker Jordan Colbert dropped a wide-open touchdown pass early in the game, but redeemed himself three minutes later with a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown.

“We never thought it was over until we were in the victory formation,” said DeVoursney, who has the Bears in position to reach the state championship game for the time since 1980.

Griffin hosts Wayne County on Friday in a AAAA semifinal loaded with talent. The Yellow Jackets blew past Alexander to earn a spot in the final four for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Wayne County features a pair of dynamic offensive weapons in quarterback Malique Jackson, who owns an offer from Florida State, and wide receiver Krenwick Sanders, who is committed to Wisconsin. Six-foot-four, 330-pound defensive tackle Jeremy Patterson, another Wisconsin-commitment, bolsters the Jackets’ defense.

Parks, who should go over 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in Friday’s game, has his fair share of weapons as well in receiver Christian Owens, a Georgia commitment, and versatile back DeVontae Freeman. But Parks might not have all his weapons Friday. The Griffin Daily News reported that Bears’ leading rusher Malik Miller fractured his leg and second-leading receiver Keyston Fuller injured his shoulder against Sandy Creek. Griffin kicker Tristen Mathis also was hurt in the win, which may prevent the Bears from keeping the ball away from Sanders on kick returns.

Will Marist need more balance?

Marist did not attempt a pass in its 30-8 win over Worth County in the 1989 state championship game. The War Eagles did it again last week, beating Burke County, 42-20, without throwing the football.

Marist rushed for 431 yards, averaging 8.5 yards on 51 attempts to advance to the AAAA semifinals against powerful Carrollton.

“There were two reasons why we were able to that last week,” said Marist coach Alan Chadwick. “We stayed ahead of the chains so we didn’t have to throw, and, secondly, the secondary was playing very loose and cautious and not really giving us the pass. We go into every game with a full plate of options, both run and pass, and a lot of it is just determined by what the defense is doing.”

Repeating the performance against a stacked Carrollton defense seems unlikely. The War Eagles will need to be more balanced against a stalwart Trojan defense, anchored by blue-chip tackle Dontavius Russell. Opponents are averaging 127.7 yards on the ground against Carrollton.

“It’s going to be a big challenge to try to run the ball on them,” said Chadwick. “It’s going to be a difficult chore. They’re big up front, hard to block and don’t make a lot of mistakes. They play such good technique. You see their tackle, when he starts to get double-teamed, he’s going down and powering it off so you can’t get any knock offs and push. Their linebackers don’t take themselves out of position very much at all. Their secondary reads flow, reads run and reads pass very well.  Just very, very solid and technique-oriented. And they’re just so well-coached.”

These two teams met last season in the second round of the playoffs, with Marist winning, 43-27, in five overtimes.

New AAAA region allignments

CLASS AAAA
REGION 1 REGION 2
Albany Baldwin
Americus-Sumter Howard
Bainbridge  (all but FB) Mary Persons
Cairo Perry
Cook  (Isolated) Upson-Lee
Crisp County Veterans
Dougherty West Laurens
Monroe, Albany
Thomas Co. Cen (all but FB)
Westover
Worth County
REGION 3 REGION 4
Burke County Eagles Landing
Liberty County Eastside
New Hampstead Griffin
Thomson Hampton, Henry
Wayne County Henry County
Windsor Forest Jonesboro
Locust Grove
Mt. Zion, Jonesboro
Riverdale
Spalding
REGION 5 REGION 6
Carrollton Arabia Mountain
Fayette County Chamblee
Grady Columbia
Pike County Cross Keys
Sandy Creek Lithonia
Troup Marist
Whitewater Redan
Woodward Academy St. Pius X
Stone Mountain
REGION 7 REGION 8
Cartersville Buford
Gilmer Chestatee
Heritage, Catoosa Johnson, Gainesville
Lafayette Madison County
Northwest Whitfield Monroe Area
Pickens North Hall
Ridgeland North Oconee
Southeast Whitfield Stephens County
Walnut Grove
White County

Note: More good semifinal preview nuggets from the guys at GHSF Daily can be found here.

29 comments Add your comment

aundrea rock

December 5th, 2013
1:00 pm

Go griffin bears us Trojans or pulling for you guys

WarEagle

December 5th, 2013
1:09 pm

To show its versatility, look for Marist to employ a pass-only offense against Carrollton out of an empty backfield, 5-receiver spread alignment.

Bear_Backer

December 5th, 2013
1:17 pm

@aundrea rock – Your affable sentiments just prove why Trojan nation is TOP CLASS. Thanks and best of luck to the Mighty Trojans! ~~~~~~~GO BEARS!!!~~~~~~~~~

Go Trojans!

December 5th, 2013
1:18 pm

Last years score was 14-14 going into the OT. The final score looked like there was more offensive for both teams but that was mostly from the OT play.

I’m doubtful either team will drop into the spread but Carrollton did throw a great deal (for them anyway) last year. We’ll see if they need to do that again this year.

I believe (hope might be a better verb) that Carrollton is slightly better than last year and Marist’s D isn’t quite as strong. Not much change either way but enough to swing the meter toward Carrollton.

I’m a Carrollton fan so naturally are picking them to win. I say 24-17. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a low scoring slug fest and Marist won as well.

Good luck to both teams tomorrow. Marist is a great host and Carrollton usually travels well so should be a great night of high school football.

Trojan94

December 5th, 2013
1:35 pm

It’s hard to believe this is only the semi finals. This game will be played like a state championship game both teams are evenly matched….@ All My Trojan brothrens What do ya’ll think will be the key for a Trojan win?

WarEagle

December 5th, 2013
2:02 pm

Go Trojans! — Actually, the score was 13-13 at the end of regulation – Marist had two TDs, but missed an extra point at the end of the first half; Carrollton had 1 TD and 2 FGs, with a potential game winning FG blocked at the end of regulation. You are correct that the score makes it seem like there was a lot more offense than there was. Carrollton sure looks tough this year.

Here Comes the Boom

December 5th, 2013
2:05 pm

Carrollton threw the ball over 35 times last year against Marist, and played the spread most of the game between the 20 yard lines. It was a strange coaching decision to go away from everything the team practiced for 12 weeks. Let’s see if the coaches have more faith in the players this year to execute their normal offense.

Max Sizemore

December 5th, 2013
2:34 pm

AND, in 1989 against Worth, Marist scored on a fumble-rooski: triple right, offensive guard picks up the “fumble” and circles left end for the TD. Coach Dan Perez called that one from the press box. But I don’t believe that play is legal any more.

Go Trojans!

December 5th, 2013
2:42 pm

WarEagle – good call! I needed to go just a little deeper into the old memory bank!

Dline is the key in my mind. If they put Marist in negative or uncomfortable down & distance plays, then we can get them off the field. If not, the AJC headlines will be another “Does Marist even have a punter?” headline.

Boom – I think they actually practice that more than we think. I first remember seeing it when AJ Barge was playing. They didn’t need it last year much and haven’t this year at all (a case could be made we should have tried something else against The Creek….)

MHS class of 198x

December 5th, 2013
2:42 pm

Should be a great game! I have much respect for Carrollton. Hughes-Spalding stadium will be rocking! GO WAR EAGLES

socraticpavement

December 5th, 2013
4:29 pm

Win or lose the good thing about Friday is you get a Varsity chili dog when you visit Marist!

FYI lets finish this one in regulation please.

Thanks

trojan power

December 5th, 2013
6:43 pm

I commend you trojans for being so modest, Maybe its because were so close to the dome. But be honest. Marist has played anybody in the playoffs so far. We played#3 Monroe Area #5 Stockbridge. We are by far the best team theyve played all year. We win this easliy guys. Trojans 38-7. Stop being so nervous. Trojans rise up.#9 ranked Burke County is the only ranked team theyve played all year.

trojan power

December 5th, 2013
6:47 pm

Guys Marist probobly want score. They havent seen a defense close to ours. Last year we were young and had injuries. There athletes are no were close to Oxford, Sandy Creek, Calhoun, Stockbridge or Monroe Area. These are the teams weve faced this year. Trust me Raven Teague got this. We win big!!!!!

the instagatter

December 5th, 2013
7:43 pm

@TROJAN POWER / i like your spunk you believe in your team thank GOD somebody is blogging with FIREWORKS in there eyes that there team is more better than MARIST go trojan power man up all you passive bloggers it’s making my head heart to here such cheerleading blogs. this sounds like we are at high tea playing gin rummy. @GO TROJAN/ i don’t know who you are cheering for? are you scared to say trojans will win? MAN UP FOR YOUR TEAM BLOGGERS.

the instagatter

December 5th, 2013
7:48 pm

@ BOARD_REF/ WHERE ARE YOU WE NEED SOME FLAGS THROWN FOR VIOLATION #1BLOGGING WITHOUT REALLY BELIEVING YOUR TEAM CAN WIN. flag on/ GO TROJAN and TROJAN94. BOARD REF WHATS THE PENALTY?

Go Trojans!

December 5th, 2013
8:25 pm

I said “I’m a Carrollton fan so naturally are picking them to win. I say 24-17.”

Seems like that should let you know who I am cheering for. Plus the handle “Go Trojans” might be another clue, detective I’m going to go out on a limb and say “WarEagle” might be pulling for Marist.

I continuously lay into the Burke County fans who “believe they can win” by writing babble. Not going to happen here. I think we’ll win (as stated earlier) but have a great deal of respect for Marist.

running jackets

December 5th, 2013
10:14 pm

I see everybody is sleeping on Wayne County. We will see yall in the Dome next week!!!!!

Go Jackets!!!!!!!!!!

Dub Cee

December 5th, 2013
10:19 pm

Wayne county 38- Griffin- 21.

South Georgia football rules!!!!!

WarEagle

December 5th, 2013
10:50 pm

@Go Trojans! — you cracked the code! Respect flows both ways for these programs. I’ll leave the crazy blog talk for others.

Bear_Backer

December 5th, 2013
11:34 pm

@running jackets – The Griffin Bears SLEEP ON NO ONE – Believe that. When you come to “The House” you will not only see but FEEL the power the Mighty Griffin Bears will release upon the measly swarm of jackets you guys will trot up here. Bears Like honey, and since the Jackets HAVE NONE, they will just DESTROY the HIVE with a few mighty swats. Bzzzzz….Bzzzzz…sputter…flutter…FAIL!! GO BEARS!!!!! (in all seriousness though you guys travel safe and arrive early because parking is fairly scarce in that area.)

Board_Ref

December 5th, 2013
11:41 pm

harummppphh…….grrrrr……Who woke me up at this time of night??? Wheres my Flag?
(grumble, friggafragga, grrrr…)
FLAG ON DUB CEE for Drinking the watered down Jacket Juice…. Excessive pre-game celebration and spouting erroneous information to considerate bloggers. Half the distance to the goal, loss of down.

Bear Power

December 6th, 2013
3:12 am

~~~~~FIRED UP – GRIFFIN – FIRED UP!!!~~~~~

Trojan94

December 6th, 2013
3:25 am

Hey Trojan power like you I believe carrollton will win that’s something we and all of the rest of the Trojan nation believe. Now our margin of victory maybe different but the goal of a state championship is the same. Marist have a good team they will be just as charged as we are to win 28-14 is my perdiction…

The Truth

December 6th, 2013
6:20 am

So if Marist passes once tonight will that mean they had more balance? I would guess the answer is yes they will need more balance. Who holds on to the ball and doesn’t out it on the ground will determine the winner of this one. Not sure Marist can match up with the size of Carrollton.

Memories

December 6th, 2013
11:40 am

Marist playing a faster, bigger, well-coached Wing-T team. Hmm, never done that before, unless you include . . . Tucker. I expect the Marist coaches will have some idea how to game plan against the Carrollton offense.

rwdekalb

December 6th, 2013
12:19 pm

@Memories. Trust and believe Marist will have a game plan for Carrollton offense. Hope this game will be as good as last years.

Trojan power

December 6th, 2013
1:21 pm

Marist needs to be concerned about there scoring abilities. They might not score. They were loaded last year and we shut them down in regulation. We are loaded this year. We have played auburn commit Stanton Triut, Oxford running back Raceon Thomas who is in Espn top 50. Delvin weems and sweeney of Sandy Creek who are being highly recruited. And Miles- Davis alexander running back, who his being highly recruited. We are battle tested and have contained them. Marist doesnt have a chance. You can only beat us by passing. Trojans 45 Marist 7

Sportsnut

December 6th, 2013
2:32 pm

Lets go Bears.

the instagatter

December 7th, 2013
1:41 am

hats off to the KIDS that wear the BLACK and GOLD great job by beating marist in 4 overtime it should have been 3 if wing-teague would have stuck with the run. the kids had big hearts they made that one dementional offense work not play calling it was all on the KIDS GREAT JOB O-LINE GREATJOB D-LINE GREAT JOB RUNNING BACKS D-BACKS LINEBACKERS you all played with BIG hearts.