AAAAAA: How North Gwinnett, Norcross match up

Class AAAAAA Title Game (Saturday 8:30 p.m.)

Norcross (12-2) vs. North Gwinnett (13-1)

Overview: Norcross and North Gwinnett are Region 7-AAAAAA rivals that have played each season since 2003, including a Sept. 13 game won 36-17 by North Gwinnett. This game ensures that a Gwinnett County team will be champion in the highest classification for the fourth straight season.
Norcross season: Ranked in the top 10 nationally in preseason, Norcross was embarrassed 55-0 in its nationally televised opener to B.T. Washington of Miami. Three weeks later, Norcross was shelled by North Gwinnett to fall to 1-2. Norcross since has won 11 straight while holding six playoff opponents to fewer than 10 points.

North Gwinnett: North Gwinnett handily defeated three reigning region champions (Camden County, Grayson, Norcross) to open the season to seize the No. 1 ranking. North was upset 53-28 to Collins Hill at midseason but has won six straight, including four playoff games on the road.

Norcross strength: Norcross has a 1,400-yard rusher (Josh Boyd) and dual-threat quarterback (A.J. Bush) but hangs its hat on perhaps the most talented, athletic defense in the state.

North Gwinnett strength: North Gwinnett’s spread offense has generated more than 3,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing and averages 39.5 points per game.
Norcross’ top players: Norcross has 15 seniors likely to sign with Division 1 programs. They include DE Lorenzo Carter (rated the No. 1 defensive end nationally), LB Kevin Mouhon (Tennessee), DB Jordan Noil (Maryland), TE Chris Herndon (Miami), RB Josh Boyd (Appalachian State), DB Ridwan Issahaku, LB JaQuan Frazier and QB A.J. Bush.

North Gwinnett’s top players: Nate Brown (Missouri) and Caleb Scott are probably the best pair of wide receivers in the state, each with right at 1,000 yards receiving. DE Dante Sawyer is a four-star recruit. Mitch Hyatt is rated the top junior offensive lineman in Georgia. RB C.J. Leggett and QB Hayden Sphire also are D-1 recruits.
On Norcross: ‘’Their team speed on defense is so good at every position. You might see a weakness, but they cover it with their athleticism. On offense, their running back is very good, but you have to keep the quarterback hemmed up and force them to throw it. Not that he can’t make the plays, but that’s not their first love.’’ – Peachtree Ridge coach Mark Fleetwood, whose team lost 24-20 to Norcross on Oct. 25.

On North Gwinnett: ‘’What worries about North is the system they have, the way they play together as team. It starts offensively and the tempo they set. The defensive and special teams feed off that. They distribute the ball to so many people. If one thing isn’t working, they find something else and stay on track.’’ – Peachtree Ridge coach Mark Fleetwood, whose team lost 44-22 to North Gwinnett on Nov. 8.

AJC pick: North Gwinnett 21, Norcross 17

66 comments Add your comment

WolfDawg

December 12th, 2013
12:04 pm

Great game in the making!!

I work in Norcross (out property butts up to the Blue Devils property) & have a few friends that kids play & attend there..
Live in Flowery Branch & have many friends children that play & attend North…

Kinda like I go back & forth on this one.. But I’d like to see North get theirs, as they have been so close many times.. Bob Sphere is a great coach – as is his staff. To get this on his resume’ would be the icing on the proverbial cake…

North 28 – The Cross 27

Patrick

December 12th, 2013
1:01 pm

“champion in the highest classification for the fourth straight season”. Hmmmmm, something in the water in Gwinnett Co. or something ” fishy” going on there?

My2Cents

December 12th, 2013
1:02 pm

I think Norcross has learned from their mistakes in the first game with NG and their D has only gotten stronger as the season went on. I predict Norcross in a close low scoring game.

Camden74

December 12th, 2013
1:55 pm

Nothing in the water in Gwinnett, except a LOT MORE fish! :-)

the truth

December 12th, 2013
2:29 pm

Camden74 with the perfect comment. It is also a lot easier for those fish to change ponds in Gwinnett or the Atlanta area as a whole (following the guidelines setup by the GHSA for transfers). You may not like it but that is the bottom line. As has been mentioned before it is also harder on schools in Gwinnett when new schools, and many have been built recently, causing players to from their older schools.

Cool_Coach1

December 12th, 2013
2:39 pm

@Camden 74 == Hillgrove and Norcross are you guys’ only problem…..beat them and reclaim the throne…..sounds easy enough…doesn’t it?

My2Cents

December 12th, 2013
3:01 pm

@Camden74…..If it was all about the number of fish….Meadowcreek (2nd or 3rd largest school in the state) would be perennial winners, but they have only won 2 games in 10 years. Some communities just have the right demographics, coaching, local support etc. Kind of like Camden County.

GreenNGold

December 12th, 2013
3:33 pm

Interesting stats:
Buford (22) vs NGHS (5) 22-5-1 last time played 1999
Buford (5) vs Norcross (2) 5-2-0 last time played 1997
As you would expect Buford won both of the last games played.

Go Big Blue!

December 12th, 2013
3:47 pm

Buford wont come near Norcross. 25 year old stats mean nothing today. Play someone and then talk the talk.

Go Big Blue!

December 12th, 2013
4:05 pm

On the invite to play in the Corky Kell….“Buford was involved in the discussion,” Hunter said. “We talked with (Buford head coach) Jess (Simpson). It just didn’t work out.”

Why doesnt Buford jump on this opportunity to play some of the best teams in the state?

Sportsnut

December 12th, 2013
5:11 pm

Expect Norcross to repeat. This should be a great game and I am going to enjoy being there to watch it. I think Norcross’ experience will be on display. Having gone last year is a big advantage. It is not the same as the CK Classic. North will be game but take Norcross in a close game.

RobFromNorcross

December 12th, 2013
5:39 pm

ARRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

Cool_Coach1

December 12th, 2013
5:57 pm

I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart

Michael Corleone

NGHS 09

December 12th, 2013
6:40 pm

Why does everyone and the news articles keep saying that NG “dominated” Norcross?

Sure we blanked them in the second half, but we didn’t beat them anywhere near the way that B.T.W. did. I mean come on people LOL. Norcross won the first half and NG won the second half. NG won by 19 points….it was a runaway second half, but not domination.

GreenNGold

December 12th, 2013
7:54 pm

@Go Big Blue! – You must have gotten that Big Blue math. 1997 wasn’t 25 years ago. Just saying that Buford owns both teams in the 6a finals. Funny how stats don’t mean anything unless they say what “you” want them to say.

NGHS 09

December 12th, 2013
8:54 pm

@GreenNGold…It’s funny how Booford fans think they could beat teams like NG and Norcross, but won’t play them. 1997 and 1999 are irrelevant and meaningless. Come back on the AAAAAA blogs when Booford plays in AAAAAA.

oneplus1

December 12th, 2013
8:59 pm

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF THE GAME GOES TOTALLY WILD! SPECIAL NIGHT, SPECIAL THINGS, LETTUCESURPRISEYOU!

NGHS 09

December 12th, 2013
9:03 pm

“Norcross has a 1,400-yard rusher (Josh Boyd)”

Boyd is a good one for sure.

NG has a 1,600-yard rusher in Leggett.

251 car./ 1,628 yds/6.49 avg./116.3 gm avg./ 82 long/ 23 TDs

Not to shabby at all.

NGHS 09

December 12th, 2013
9:04 pm

@oneplus1….”LETTUCE”????

Camden74

December 12th, 2013
9:07 pm

Cool_Coach1…..Camden’s done it before and they can/will do it again! :-D

Camden74

December 12th, 2013
9:19 pm

My2Cents……MeadowCreek has to keep the fish on their side of the lake, on their side of the lake! Don’t know how much you know about Camden, but they’ve always had talent. But it took 43 years for them to get back to being State Champions…….Championship PROGRAMS are NOT east to build! :-D

The Unmasked Intruder

December 12th, 2013
9:20 pm

Camden74 is starting to sound like those clowns from Valdosta who think it’s still 1984.

Come on, 74, tell us ’bout that time y’all beat Hoover!

ROFLMAO.

Camden74

December 12th, 2013
9:22 pm

Again, North Gwinnett is the team to beat! :-)

Camden74

December 12th, 2013
9:25 pm

The Unmasked Intruder…..I would, if you’d tell me how a FISH like you developed the BALLS to post on this forum? :-)

the truth

December 12th, 2013
9:34 pm

I agree Sportsnut that having been in the championship game can make a difference especially back to back appearances. It is the big game, emotions are an entirely different thing in this game. One thing that may even things out is that both QB’s are starting in a championship for the first time. I would be very surprised if either team wins by a large margin.

Username

December 13th, 2013
4:04 am

NG by 14. They may stutter a bit the first few series but then its all Dawgs!

Sportsnut

December 13th, 2013
9:07 am

@ The truth == It is distracting the first time. The next time you are more accustomed to the atmosphere.

grayram

December 13th, 2013
10:49 am

Like WolfDawg i kepp going back and forth on htis one. I know North Gwinnett has an excellent kicker, so I will go with North by a field goal in overtime. (I was leaning toward Norcross till he who shall not be named picked them) :)

grayram

December 13th, 2013
10:50 am

Wow…i need to practice typing… Keep and this!!

Cool_Coach1

December 13th, 2013
11:28 am

@Grayram …be ye not deceived…twas but a ploy. Evidence has shown what allegiance the hearts of men have on this board. when the victory cup is raised ….a hearty toast will be made for a former champion! (Grayson)

Pat

December 13th, 2013
11:44 am

Good Luck to both teams in the Championship. GO GWINNETT County!

Suwanee 0wns

December 13th, 2013
12:03 pm

Oh good. I am feeling way better about this game now that Lord VoldeSport picked Norcross. Just don’t let him convince anyone that Coach Maloof should be fired if he does not win consecutive State Championships.

Cool_Coach1

December 13th, 2013
12:17 pm

@Suwanee 0wns == True supporters such RobFromNorcross and myself reject the ‘kiss of death”…LOL ! We are actively pursuing any poultice, salve, elixir and/or Holy Man to reverse said curse! However if returns the “sacred chalice” to 5300 Spalding Dr. (AKA Championship Lane) all transgressions shall be forgiven …forthwith! :)

Suwanee 0wns

December 13th, 2013
12:20 pm

The Suwanee police are planning to be there to help out. Apparently they intend to delay the Norcross team busses by handing out nuisance tickets for not using seat belts. If you are stopped by a Suwanee cop do not say, “You are proof the City of Suwanee will give out a tin badge and a gun to any moron.” I have learned that does not work out well.

Stu Ho

December 13th, 2013
1:21 pm

Would love to see NG get the title. They have been very good and consistent over the years. Hope they have the depth, experience, confidence and athletes to take it home this time.

ALL TUCKERRED UP

December 13th, 2013
2:49 pm

Go Norcross & Coach Maloof from your friends at Tucker !!!!!!!!!!!

Kool Lady

December 13th, 2013
3:03 pm

Regardless of who wins, Gwinnett County has another State Championship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
3:20 pm

I believe that have removed the VoldeSport hex… (I like that SuwaneeOwns, at least you had one intelligent thing to say this week (Smiling like Rufus)

It cost me a small fortune to reverse it… apparently they have some powerful witchcraft up there in Love and Joy… Anyway, I had to make a trip to New Orleans to do it, but I found a mambo voodoo priestess who specializes in such things. This was a close one, the things we do for our programs…

It will be worth it for the second ring. Now the AAAAAA trophy is back in play for Norcross to win, we just have to execute on the field.

I will be distributing gris-gris bags at the Dome to ward off any last second prognistications… :-)

PS: They tried to sell me a voodoo doll with stick pins that looks like Bob Sphire, but the way he jumps around already on the sidelines, I thought it might actually just calm him down, so I passed on that idea. :-)

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
3:25 pm

Dear Santa, I have only one request for Christmas this year, and I need you to ship it overnight today to the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta. They don’t have a chimney so have a FedEx guy deliver it please.

My only requested gift is a AAAAAA Championship Trophy with the year 2013 on it, along with the name Norcross Blue Devils, and it needs to be there before 11pm Saturday night. Thanks Santa!

Next year I hope to request a win for Georgia Southern in a big bowl game, but that is all for this year!

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
3:45 pm

One last thing, I made myself watch (and chart) the Norcross games against Booker T Washington and North Gwinnett earlier in the year this week. I only have a few observations:

1) we are a much more cohesive defense than in those games
2) we are a much more balanced and effective offense than in those games

We played poorly in both of those games, made many mental errors, and we let both games slip out of control. The Norcross team that I have watched progress this season will make sure that this does NOT happen again in the Dome on Saturday night. They will be ready to play a quality region opponent and leave it all on the field.

To the many Norcross returning starters from last year, make sure that you give the other guys on the team the benefit of your experience from last year’s game…

This is the 30th game in the past two seasons for Norcross – let’s make it the best one yet and send the Norcross class of 2014 off to their futures with a second state championship ring!

Hoping for a cleanly officiated, no-injury, high quality game on Saturday night at the Dome! May the better team win…

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
4:03 pm

And I know North Gwinnett is also a different and improved team from when we last played them, so it will take our best effort to defeat them…

Suwanee 0wns

December 13th, 2013
4:49 pm

I have to give GrayRam credit for “Lord VoldeSport” by referring to “he who must not be named”.

I am still shocked that Grayson did not make the playoffs. They’ll be back.

Suwanee 0wns

December 13th, 2013
5:18 pm

I do not really care whether the best team wins – just that North Gwinnett wins.

We assume young Mr. Bush will complete more passes in this game, but you might want to be careful about having him run the ball too much unless you have a strong backup QB. North LBs hit hard. Mr. Bush is an outstanding player with a promising career ahead of him, and I do not want to see him risk that unnecessarily. I can assure you that DeAnthony Thomas (of Oregon, and formerly Crenshaw) never wants to see another NG Linebacker up close.

I am sure the officials will do the best they can. They will miss some calls they do not see well, and they will get the others correct. The officials will not be the difference in this game.

To be clear, nobody at North is “happy just to be here”. They have been here before. They have been rated #1 before. They have prior playoff success. After 60 years of mostly dreadful football, North Gwinnett’s time has come, and Norcross is in the way.

Good luck to you guys!

Cool_Coach1

December 13th, 2013
5:52 pm

@ Suwanee 0wns ===Young Sphire (Joffrey from Game of Thrones fame) better beware…the law firm of Carter, McWilliams, Mouhon, and Kouassi are coming for a past due payment. If they can’t get it in cash…they don’t mind arms and legs….LOL

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
8:27 pm

24 HOUR WARNING!!!

And congrats to Buford on the win over Washington County.

skoalbucs

December 13th, 2013
8:59 pm

Camden74
Nothing in the water in Gwinnett, except a LOT MORE fish!

I disagree Camden74 – it is the GFL (youth system), the most organized and one of the largest in the country. Every HS has it’s own youth football feeder system. Every HS that is built also gets a Youth Organization, that is tied to that HS. Before these kids get to HS they have already been playing together for 8 years. Look at the success of Gwinnett’s baseball & basketball teams – the same thing happens there as in football. Just remember – “GWINNETT is GREAT”

Da Coach

December 13th, 2013
10:22 pm

I wonder which one of these teams is going to cry foul with both having ineligible players on both teams. Is Norcross going to yell about Leggett living in Johns Creek and not in NG’s district, or is North Gwinnett going to scream about the ever school hopping Bush, Northview, Chattahoochee, Milton and now Norcross, who lives in South Forsyth at St Marlo’s. Why doesn’t the GHSA just open it all up and let this be a mini SEC???? There should be a state wide look at every high school. Grady is just the tip of the iceberg, but you know it makes for great sports and that is all GHSA wants.

RobFromNorcross

December 13th, 2013
11:36 pm

@Da Coach == Would you like some cheese with your whine? You must not be much of a football fan if this is all you can come up with to say on Championship weekend…

NGHS 09

December 14th, 2013
12:27 am

@Da Coach…It’s obvious you are sour towards one of these two teams, but be mature and leave the individual players out of this. They are teenagers…how old are you?

fingerbang.com

December 14th, 2013
8:52 am

@Username Thank you for picking North! You just mortal locked my Blue Devils. Your 17pt spot for Lowndes was so spot on. How could you not be right here?!?!?

And we are ALL so sick and tired of hearin’ south Georgia people drive their wambulance around these comment sections. Look folks, your season is OVER. I don’t mean just the school you pull for because there is NOTHING else to do in south Georgia, I mean every school that you sent up here just to see them “pack” up and go back to the sticks. As much as we all love watching your teams progressively crawl up in a fetal balls against our power house teams, nothing beats watching your fans walk to the car knowing they’ll have to kick rocks for 4 hours on the way back home. It’s just the best.

With all that said, I’ve been to ever Norcross game this year. I know the team and the coaches very well. This group is something special. Watch closely tonight because you will see a team hit its true stride. Aside from that, no one wants to see that jerk of a cry baby north coach win a state title. Although, I do enjoy watching him act like a 2 year old up and down the sidelines every game. What a fool!