By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
This edition of the Class A Blog will be a football-basketball mix, featuring notes from the top junior and senior all-star football games, along with some of the top basketball performers – teams and individuals – thus far this season. Also, note that the AJC All-State and All Metro Area Teams are out and can be seen here online and in the hard copy version of Sunday’s Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Class A players match up
Several big-time senior football players from Class A schools have competed or will be competing with and against players from larger classifications in various high school all-star games.
The Cobb County All-Star Senior Bowl, played Dec. 21 at McEachern High School, featured players from North Cobb Christian School (Zach Pruitt and John Towne), Mount Paran Christian School (Dallas Kepler and Jacob Ramsey), the Walker School (Michael Berk, Jacob Johnson and Josh Reini) and Whitefield Academy (Jaylen Hudson, Alex Manning and Everett Pollard).
The DL Scott Senior All-Star Bowls, played Dec. 21 at the Georgia Dome, featured the North vs. the Central All-Stars, and the East vs. the West. Christian Heritage WR Nick Bartley and LB Austin Lowe, Darlington DL Travis Hayworth and K Sloan Peters all competed for the North Senior All Stars, while Our Lady of Mercy DB/WR Christian Coleman lined up with the Central team. The Central Stars prevailed, 47-20. The East All-Star team, which dropped a close 24-21 decision to the West, featured Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy OL Beau Beasley.
In the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic, Dec. 30 in Columbus, Dooly County DB Kereon Merrell will line up for the South squad, while Pace Academy DB Denzel Franklin (committed to Stanford) will suit up for the North.
In the newest addition to the all-star game landscape, the Elite Junior Classic, scheduled for Saturday at McEachern High School, LB Robert Muschamp will represent Darlington on the North team while a pair of offensive linemen, Levi Cribb of Charlton County and Howard Williams of Telfair County, will line up for the South.
The Rising Seniors All-Star Game, Dec. 31 at Grady High School in Atlanta, will feature ELCA DE Nick Dawson, Clinch County DB Octavis Johnson, Jenkins County OL Saquan Reese and Prince Avenue Christian DB/RB Zantravious Shields on the East team. The West squad will feature Landmark Christian School TE Sam Dobbs and Schley County RB Tre Minter.
Mahone bringing basketball back to Talbotton
Senior Tatiyana Mahone has folks in Talbotton, located about 30 minutes northeast of Columbus, excited about basketball again season. The Hawks, who won three consecutive state titles from 1984-86, haven’t made the playoffs since 2008 but are 9-3 this season, thanks in large part to Mahone. She is averaging 27 points and six rebounds per game so far.
Look who’s undefeated
The traditionally strong programs – like North Cobb Christian (8-2), Landmark Christian (9-2), St. Francis (5-2), W.D. Mohammed (9-1) and Whitefield Academy (7-2) – are all off to their usual fast starts. But four teams that did not make it out of the first round of the playoffs last season, are making a lot of noise early. From Region 1, Calhoun County is 9-0. Also, Dooly County is 6-0, while Holy Innocents is 9-0 as well. Another team from Region 1, Stewart County, is 10-1. Calhoun County will host Stewart County on Jan. 21, in Edison.
Players to watch
Athens Academy junior point guard Eric Williams scored 39 points in a 75-74 win over Oglethorpe County last week to go over the 1,000-point mark for his career. This season, Williams averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Spartans.
St. Francis forward Josh Coleman has established himself as one of the top juniors in the state. He is averaging a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) to go with three blocks per game for the Knights, who are playing a highly competitive early season schedule in preparation for another run at a state title, after finishing as the runner-up last season.