Top performances for the year: Parks’ game in final is season’s best

Each Tuesday during the regular season, GHSF Daily published a list of Top Performances from the previous weekend.

Here are our choices for the best 10 individual performances for the 2013 season.

But first, let’s discuss a few players and performances that didn’t make the final list. We can hear them now: “What more do I have to do?”

Two running backs from the Augusta area rushed for exactly 402 yards in a game this season. Fewer than 12 players have done that in history. Kahlige Fleglar of Glenn Hills scored all five of his team’s touchdowns on just 14 carries in a 34-0 victory over Cross Creek. Each of his TD runs covered more than 50 yards. Dontarius Brookins of Hancock Central scored seven touchdowns on 15 carries in a 66-14 victory over Twiggs County.

The era of the workhorse running back is still with us. Chapel Hill sophomore RB Jamarcus Morrissette had 56 carries for 385 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 38-28 victory over B.E.S.T. Academy. Alexander junior RB Mikell Lands-Davis had 49 carries for 312 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-19 victory over LaGrange. Lands-Davis had 30 attempts for 191 yards in the second half alone. Aquinas junior Ruben Garnett had 41 carries for 284 yards and scored four touchdowns in the 42-14 victory that ended Lincoln County’s 32-game winning streak against the eventual Class A private-school champions.

We didn’t forget the passers. Hillgrove QB Elijah Ironside threw for 395 yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-28 victory over Campbell. He became only the eighth player in GHSA history with as many as seven TD passes in a game. North Paulding QB Chase Noonan threw for 464 yards and six touchdowns in a 62-46 victory over Allatoona. Cherokee junior QB Spencer Ashley threw for 455 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-41 loss to Lassiter.

Specialists don’t get the credit they deserve. PK/P A.J. Wells won a couple of games with late field goals for eventual Class A public-school champion Marion County. His best game might’ve come in a 27-25 regular-season victory over Dooly County when he made field goals of 47 and 31 yards, kicked five touchbacks, was 3-of-3 on extra points, punted five times for a 43.0 average and put three punts inside the 20-yard line. Another fine kicking game was that of Brookwood’s Brandon Morrow in a 30-27 victory over Grayson that put Brookwood in the playoffs. Morrow kicked five field goals, one in overtime. They covered 42, 46, 47, 20 and 31 yards.

Defensive players aren’t nominated nearly enough, either. Two defensive linemen from Colquitt County nearly made our year-end Top 10. DE Quintin Hampton had six sacks and 15 tackles overall in a 37-7 victory over Lowndes. DT Jamiyus Pittman had seven solo tackles, nine assists, four tackles for losses and two sacks in a 21-6 victory over Grayson. Another good performance was the first-round playoff effort of Hughes DE D’Andre Walker, who had 14 tackles, four for losses, two sacks and a forced fumble in a 34-20 victory over Valdosta.

Teams are scoring more points than ever, but seven touchdowns will always be a lot. Drew RB Marquis Terry and McIntosh RB Victory Nguyen each accomplished that feat this season – in the same game. Terry rushed for 219 yards and caught six passes for 100 yards. Nguyen rushed for 222 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns, caught two passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns and had 119 yards in kickoff returns. McIntosh won 77-56.

And then there are those two-way starters who never leave the field. Two of the best were Campbell’s Mike Rogers and Vidalia’s Tra Hardy. Rogers rushed for 359 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-35 victory over Kennesaw Mountain. He made seven solo tackles and three assists and forced a fumble. Hardy’s best game came against Atkinson County in a 41-0 victory. Hardy rushed for 245 yards on six carries, four that went for touchdowns (26, 72, 80, 63 yards). He also returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown.

A Top Performances list would not be complete without a mention of Nick Chubb. The Cedartown senior had eight 200-yard rushing games. His best effort probably was the 358-yard, five-touchdown game against Pickens, a 42-34 Cedartown victory.

And finally, there is the one performance that we’ll call the best of the rest, the one that was most difficult to leave out of the Top 10 just for how much this player meant to his team and community. In the first round of the Class AAA playoffs, Ringgold QB Slade Dale rushed for 164 yards and passed for 220 yards and had a hand in seven touchdowns – four rushing, three passing – in a 55-54 victory over North Hall. It was Ringgold’s first playoff victory in its history in a magical season that took the Tigers to the Class AAA semifinals.

Without further adieu, the Top 10 for 2013:

1. Griffin QB Jaquez Parks was 16-of-21 passing for 338 yard and four touchdowns and rushed for 216 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in a 56-35 victory over Carrollton in the Class AAAA championship game. Parks’ total of 554 yards from scrimmage is a record for the state finals. Griffin won its first state title in 35 years.

2. Lovejoy WR Preston Williams caught seven passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns, intercepted a pass, made a touchdown-saving tackle and returned a kickoff 37 yards to set up the winning touchdown, which he scored on a 47-yard reception on the game’s final play, in a 27-23 first-round playoff victory over Marietta.

3. Heard County RB Duranta Dunson rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries in a 61-57 loss to Jefferson in the second round of the playoffs. The rushing total set a GHSA playoff record and fell only 13 yards short of the state record set by Don Calloway of Miller County in 1999. Dunson also had 14 tackles at free safety in the game.

4. Gainesville QB Deshaun Watson passed for 430 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 113 yards in a 51-12 victory over South Paulding. The fact that it was the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs gave it the edge over his Sept. 27 game against Heritage of Conyers, against which he was 27-of-30 passing for 315 yards and six touchdowns. That was pretty much one half of work.

5. North Oconee RB Kawon Bryant rushed for 371 yards and scored eight touchdowns on 34 carries in a 62-27 victory over Jackson County. Bryant’s eight touchdowns are tied for second-most in a single game in GHSA history behind Kenneth Moore’s 10 for Calhoun in 1948.

6. Wayne County WR Krenwick Sanders had six receptions – all for touchdowns – and 279 yards in a 49-34 victory over Monroe in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs. The six touchdown receptions in a game are a Georgia playoff record. They covered 60, 71, 20, 47 and 52 yards in the first half, 29 yards in the second.

7. Peachtree Ridge RB Jordan Ellis rushed for 263 yards and six touchdowns – 250 yards and five touchdowns in the first half – in a 59-20 victory over Lassiter in the first round of the AAAAAA playoffs. Ellis did it in 23 carries.

8. North Gwinnett WR Nate Brown had 10 receptions for 172 and four touchdowns in a 36-17 victory over eventual champion Norcross in a Sept. 13 regular-season game. Norcross would not give up four touchdowns in a game to any team, much less a player, in winning its next 12 games.

9. Norcross DE Lorenzo Carter had two sacks and six tackles for losses in a 28-0 victory over Collins Hill on Oct. 11 that turned around what became a state-championship season for the defending Class AAAAAA champions. Collins Hill averaged 42.6 points per game against non-Norcross opponents and scored at least 21 points against every other team.

10. Burke County QB Donquell Green scored five touchdowns, one on a pass reception, and passed for two, accounting for all seven of his team’s touchdowns in a 49-43 overtime victory over Wayne County in the Region 3-AAAA championship game. Green was 7-of-11 passing for 226 yards and rushed for 178 yards on 26 carries.

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10 comments Add your comment

Sarge1

December 17th, 2013
10:19 am

I bet it killed the writer of this column, as well as the editors to mention Griffin. Parks is not only a great player, he is a person of impeccable character. Wait until you see his backup next year.

tommy

December 17th, 2013
11:23 am

@Sarge…any idea where he will go to college? I’ve heard some of the offers. Very impressive

Sportsnut

December 17th, 2013
1:31 pm

Mr. Williams will be back. Hopefully doing more of the same.
There were some great performances on the field this year.
Congrats to all of these young men.

WolfpackFan

December 17th, 2013
2:31 pm

Great list and all well deserving performances. Showing my bias however, North Paulding Cornerback, Brandon Townsend, had one of the best playoff game I have seen. He had 4 interceptions and ran 2 of them back for touchdowns in a win over Stephenson in the 2nd round of the playoffs.

nphspack

December 17th, 2013
3:28 pm

Yes, it’s hard to omit Brandon Townsend from that list, bias or no bias. He has three interceptions and two touchdowns on pick sixes in the first quarter of the 2nd round of the playoffs and finished with 4 interceptions overall. Tough to do much better than that on defense! And in a big game against a top team in Stephenson.

Paulding Fans

December 17th, 2013
8:02 pm

Very well said regarding Brandon Wolfpack fans……

Bearman

December 17th, 2013
10:10 pm

Clemson, Georgia, Air Force, Yale,Harvard just to name a few!

dawgs01

December 18th, 2013
12:34 pm

Enter your comments here

dawgs01

December 18th, 2013
12:35 pm

how did Willis the griffin receiver who had 300 something yards receiving and a 92 yard kick off return for a touchdown with i think 4 total touchdowns in the state championship not make this list.

John Brown

December 22nd, 2013
12:48 am

@the person who wrote this. Did you really put Lorezo Carter “2 sack” performance as a top 10. Shame on you. All the great feats and becsuse he is the number 1 recruit you give him a spot in the top 10. Guess thats the world we live in. Glorify mediocrity