Archive for the ‘4ABlog’ Category

Georgia high school basketball: Defending AAAA champs welcome new coaches

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Both the AAAA boys and girls defending state basketball champions begin the season with new head coaches.

At Eagle’s Landing, Eric Wortham, Sr. takes over the program that his son, current Middle Tennessee State freshman Eric Wortham, Jr., helped lead to its first state championship last season. Wortham, Sr., follows coach Clay Crump, who took the coaching job at Harrison High School in the offseason.

Versatile big man Jordan Sessions is the only key contributor from last season’s team that graduated seven seniors. Wortham says expectations haven’t changed.

“Right now, the expectations are to win it again,” said Wortham. “To come in here after a team that graduated seven seniors with five D-I players, you’d think I’ve have to come in here and do a re-building type thing. But I’ve been impressed with these guys.”

Sessions has committed to Georgia State and will be the center piece for the Golden Eagles. Wortham also pointed to senior power forward …

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Friday rewind: Donquell Green’s 7 TDs, Nick Chubb’s 300 yards

7-pack: Burke County quarterback Donquell Green accounted for seven touchdowns, including the winning score in overtime of the Bears’ 49-43 win over Wayne County. Green ran for four touchdowns, threw for two and caught another as the Bears won the Region 3-AAAA championship.

No. 1 seeds: Here are the top seeds in the AAAA state playoffs: Griffin, Sandy Creek, Veterans, Dalton, Burke County, Marist, Westover and Monroe Area.

Unbeatens: Sandy Creek, Griffin and Monroe Area are the only three teams to finish the regular season undefeated.

Stepping down: LaGrange coach Donnie Branch has resigned after three seasons. Branch was the defensive coordinator on three LaGrange state championship teams, but went 13-20 as head coach. The Grangers fell to Carrollton, 42-6, in Branch’s last game.

First-timers: Veterans and Locust Grove will meet in the first round of the playoffs. This is the first trip to the playoffs for both teams. The Lanier Longhorns also will be making their playoff …

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Friday advance: How good is Marist?

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Marist will be returning to the playoffs for the 31st consecutive season. A win over Carver on Friday would give the War Eagles the No. 1 seed out of Region 6-AAAA and their 23rd region championship.

But how good is this Marist team? Right now, Marist is the team AAAA coaches mention just after naming their top state championship contenders. Marist is the team “you can never count out,” they say. But, from a reporter who hasn’t seen Marist this season, just how good are the War Eagles?

For the first time in coach Alan Chadwick’s 29-year career, Marist lost back-to-back games, falling to Thomas County Central and Lovett in Weeks 2 and 3. The War Eagles dropped from No. 4 all the way out of the AJC rankings. They rolled through region play with little difficulty, putting together six straight dominating wins against overmatched competition. Marist outscored region opponents 233-25 in the kind of games in which starters had to be taken out in the …

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From 0-3 to region champs: Turning point for Veterans

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Veterans High School lost its first three games by a combined score of 93-30. Having never experienced a winning season the program’s first three years, the Warhawks could have easily gone into a downward spiral after the 0-3 start.

Instead, Veterans won the Region 2-AAAA title.

The turning point came in Week 4, said coach David Bruce. Veterans had an 11-7 lead over then-No. 10 Westside and was setting up for a field goal with two seconds left in the first half. Westside blocked the kick, however, and returned it for a go-ahead touchdown.

“That was the kind of thing that previously would have sunk us,” said Bruce. “But this year, we talked at halftime about overcoming adversity. Sure enough, we take that third-quarter kickoff and take it all the way down the field and score. We didn’t look back from there. That was the turning point, to me, when our kids realized that we can play with good teams and beat good teams.”

The Warhawks went on to beat …

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Gilmer wins thriller; No. 1 Sandy Creek makes statement

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Gilmer clinched a spot in the Region 7-AAAA championship game with a 38-35 victory over previously unbeaten Cedartown.

With the score tied, 35-35, Nathan Bradley tipped a pass and Johnie Flakes intercepted it with 20 seconds to play, setting up Manny Lopez’s winning field. The Bobcats overcame another big performance from Cedartown running back Nick Chubb. A Georgia commitment, Chubb rushed for 281 yards and four touchdowns and had an interception and forced a fumble for the Bulldogs. Flakes scored four touchdowns for Gilmer.

Cedartown defensive back Caleb Ely sustained a head injury during Friday’s game against Gilmer and was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. Read more about Ely’s status here.

Statement: Any questions about defending champion and top-ranked Sandy Creek not living up to expectations were answered in a dominating 24-7 win over No. 2 Carrollton. The Patriots possessed the ball for more than 32 minutes and limited …

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Biggest Friday night of the regular season

By David Purdum / For the AJC

A giant Friday in AAAA is highlighted by No. 1 Sandy Creek’s visit to No. 2 Carrollton. The Patriots are the defending state champions and have beaten the Trojans three straight times by an average margin of 14.6 points. But Carrollton has been the more impressive team this season, outscoring opponents 344-54. The Trojans have not been scored upon in the first quarter all season.

“I don’t know if we’re the favorite,” said Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker, “but we’re the defending champs.”

Sandy Creek won last season’s meeting, 30-7, and has won three of the four meetings with Carrollton overall, including in the 2010 state championship game.

In other big region games:

Region 2: No. 6 Mary Persons hosts a Veterans team that has won five straight to set up a battle between the only two unbeaten teams in region play. The winner will get the top seed out of Region 2. Mary Persons has won all three meetings with Veterans, including 21-7 last …

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‘Don’t know if we’re the favorites, but we’re the defending champs’

Two weeks ago, No. 1 Sandy Creek trailed upstart Alexander with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  It was the first time they had trailed in the fourth quarter since last season’s quarterfinal playoff game against Burke County.

The Patriots didn’t panic then and didn’t panic against Alexander, rallying for two late touchdowns to remain unbeaten.

Now, the question is – Will the top-ranked Patriots panic this week, if they fall behind at No. 2 Carrollton in a huge game to decide the Region 5-AAAA championship?

“They’re a good team, and they’re going to make some plays,” Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker said about Carrollton.  “Our kids have to understand that. You don’t play in these type games, and they go exactly like you drew it up.”

Sandy Creek won last season’s meeting convincingly, 30-7. But there’s a feeling that the Patriots haven’t lived up to expectations this season. Some believe Sandy Creek isn’t even the favorite heading into Friday’s game, let alone in the …

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Ugly incidents disrupt 2 Friday night games

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Update: The GHSA has received video of the fight from the Monroe Area-Madison County game, but is still waiting on official reports from each school, before issuing suspensions. GHSA associate director Tommy Whittle said he is hoping to make an announcement Tuesday.

No. 4 Monroe Area’s 68-14 win over Madison County was marred by a bench-clearing brawl that led to multiple ejections. Seven Monroe Area players, including star quarterback Stanton Truitt, and three Madison County players were ejected. In addition to Truitt, four other Monroe Area starters were among those ejected, Purple Hurricanes’ coach Matt Fligg confirmed in a text message.

A Madison County player involved in the fight was taken to the hospital with neck pains, but was released and feeling fine, according to Madison coach Chris Smith.

Both coaches said the fight began when Truitt was tackled out of bounds and escalated from there. Smith said he was turning over video of the fight …

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Look-ahead spots loom before biggest Friday of season

By David Purdum / For the AJC

The biggest Friday of the season is next week. But, in order for Nov. 1 to reach its full potential, some top-ranked teams need to take care of business this Friday.

No. 2 Carrollton hosts No. 1 Sandy Creek next week in the game of the year in AAAA. But first Carrollton must contend with an upstart Alexander team had the lead against Sandy Creek with six minutes to play last week, before falling, 52-42. Sandy Creek plays LaGrange on Friday.

Here are some brief notes about other look-ahead spots:

  • Locust Grove hosts Stockbridge next week in a game that could decide the top seed out of Region 4-AAAA Division A. But first the Wildcats must get past vastly improved Eagle’s Landing. The Golden Eagles went 3-37 the past the four seasons, but head into Friday’s home game at 6-2 and 2-1 in region play.
  • No. 4 Monroe Area travels to Madison County on Friday, before taking on Chestatee on the road next week. Chestatee is unbeaten in Region 8-AAAA. The War …

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No weight room, no locker room, no helmets: No problem for Eagle’s Landing

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Eagle’s Landing’s seniors had gone 2-28 their previous three seasons. But that was the least of the Golden Eagles’ worries heading into this season.

Due to a massive construction project at the school, the Golden Eagles didn’t have helmets or equipment for spring practice. They haven’t had a weight room since May 31st and had been working out of a makeshift locker room until just two weeks ago.

Somehow, they stayed positive. Somehow, they’re 6-2 heading into a big Region 4-AAAA home game against Locust Grove on Friday.

During a Tuesday phone interview, Eagle’s Landing coach Joe Teknipp explained how the program got turned around, how they amped up conditioning despite not having a weight room and pointed out the inspirational figure behind the Golden Eagles’ resilient attitude.

Q: What put you in position for this turnaround?

Teknipp: This year’s seniors, in their freshman year (2010), we decided to go young. A lot of them played as freshmen. …

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Friday rewind: No. 1 receives scare, massive blowouts, massive turnaround

No. 1 receives scare: Alexander was six minutes away from pulling off the biggest upset of the season. The unranked Cougars, who were 2-8 last year, took a 42-38 lead on defending state champion and top-ranked Sandy Creek with six minutes to play. But the Patriots responded with two late scores and pulled out a 52-42 win, their 40th consecutive win in region play.

No. 2 rolls: Malik Sheppard and Trey Chivers each ran for two touchdowns, leading second-ranked Carrollton to a 52-7 win over Shaw. The 7-0 Trojans have outscored their opponents 344-54 this season. Carrollton hosts Sandy Creek on Nov. 1.

6-TD performance: Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more in the third-ranked Bears’ 55-14 win over Norty Clayton.

Blowouts: No. 4 Monroe Area hammered Walnut Grove 75-0. It’s the most points the Purple Hurricanes have scored since at least 1946, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. Quarterback Stanton …

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Friday lookahead: Alexander, Eagle’s Landing turnarounds; Logjam behind Marist

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Alexander hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1997. But, after a 4-2 start that includes region wins over LaGrange and Shaw, the Cougars are very much in the hunt this season. “I think our team has confidence,” said coach Matthew Combs. “They’re definitely walking around the hallways, around the community feeling like they have a shot. But we’re taking it one game at a time.”

That confidence will be tested severely the next two weeks. Alexander is at defending state champion and top-ranked Sandy Creek on Friday and then hosts No. 2 Carrollton next week. The Cougars have never beaten Sandy Creek or Carrollton.

“If we’re talking about going to the playoffs, playing the best two teams is the best way to prepare for it,” said Combs. “Everyone has complained about playing in the toughest region in the state, but it doesn’t matter. Everybody has to play a schedule. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Even if Alexander comes up short against those two …

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The Wild Card among the AAAA contenders

By David Purdum / For the AJC

No. 1 Sandy Creek, No. 2 Carrollton and No. 3 Griffin are the clear-cut favorites in AAAA. But what about No. 4 Monroe Area? The Purple Hurricanes are the wild card.

Monroe Area reached the semifinals last season, but was drubbed, 35-0, by Sandy Creek. The Purple Hurricanes are off to another 6-0 start this season and are putting up impressive offensive numbers, behind star quarterback Stanton Truitt, an Auburn commitment. But are they legit? Can they compete in the playoffs with teams as talented as Sandy Creek, Carrollton of Griffin?

Coach Matt Fligg believes so.

Q: What has to happen for your team to carry over the success it has had during the regular season to the playoffs, when the competition steps up a notch?

Fligg: Our goal from the first of the year has been to play in one more game. From Day 1, we knew our defense had to grow up and mature. We start five sophomores on defense. We felt like as the season progressed and our defensive kids …

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Friday rewind: 7 TDs in 15 plays and other notables

Amazing: No. 4 Monroe Area ran only 15 plays in the first half against Stephens County on Friday. The Purple Hurricanes scored touchdowns on seven of those plays en route to a 47-0 win. Quarterback Stanton Truitt and running back Kwan Brooks each ran for two touchdowns for Monroe Area, which is 7-0 for the second straight season.

Collision course: No. 1 Sandy Creek and No. 2 Carrollton continued their dominating starts and stayed on course for their Nov. 1 showdown. Eric Swinney scored three touchdowns, and the Sandy Creek defense posted its second straight shutout in a 49-0 win over Shaw on Thursday. The Patriots have won 38 consecutive region games.

Jarvis Terrell rushed for four touchdowns to lead Carrollton to a 49-12 win over Troup County on Thursday. The Trojans have outscored opponents 292-47.

Chubb Watch: Nick Chubb rushed for 355 yards and five touchdowns in undefeated Cedartown’s 42-34 win over Pickens. Chubb now has 1,853 yards and 29 touchdowns. Cedartown is 7-0 …

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No. 1 Sandy Creek, No. 2 Carrollton stay on collision course

Jarvis Terrell rushed for four touchdowns, leading No. 2 Carrollton past Troup County, 49-12, Thursday night.

Malik Shepparrd also ran for a touchdown, and Will Garrett threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Dante Wigley for the Trojans, who improve to 6-0 and 3-0 Region 5-AAAA.

Daryl Dunlap rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns for Troup. Dunlap’s rushing touchdowns were the first allowed by Carrollton this season. The Tigers, who lost to No. 1 Sandy Creek last week, fall to 2-4, 1-2 Region 5-AAAA.’

No. 1 Sandy Creek 49, Shaw 0

No. 1 Sandy Creek’s defense posted its second straight shutout, and Delvin Weems and Eric Swinney each had two rushing touchdown in the Patriots’ 49-0 win over Shaw on Thursday.

Swinney also caught a touchdown, and all three of his scores were over 55 yards. Clemson commitment Demarre Kitt had a touchdown reception, as the Patriots improved to 5-0-1, 3-0 in Region 5-AAAA.

Sandy Creek is at Carrollton on Nov. 1.

–David Purdum

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