Archive for the ‘6ABlog’ Category

Wing T era over? Sphire thinks maybe; Herron says no

Teams with Wing T offenses have won Georgia’s highest classification seven of the past 10 years.

North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said this week that you might not see another one.

Prince Avenue Christian coach Jeff Herron disagreed. Herron won three state titles at Camden County using a Wing T offense. (Grayson and Lowndes won the other four with Wing T offenses since 2003.)

I spoke with both coaches this week on the subject. I’ll just let the quotes speak for themselves -

From Sphire –

“A simplistic offense like the Graysons or Camdens or Lowndes is predicated on being a defensive-dominated football team with an offense that compliments that with physicality and controlling the clock. Think about those teams that have had success. It’s really been defensive-first. That’s why they won.’’

”It’s evolved to where moving forward it’s going to be hard to win a state championship with that approach unless you are just absolutely more talented. If it’s fairly close in talent, …

Continue reading Wing T era over? Sphire thinks maybe; Herron says no »

Gwinnett County assured of 10th state title in 18 seasons

Gwinnett County will win its 10th state championship in the highest classification in 18 seasons next Saturday at the Georgia Dome. What’s unusual this time is that the result is known in advance.

Gwinnett rivals Norcross and North Gwinnett won their semifinal games on Friday and will play for the Class AAAAA championship. Norcross is the defending champion. North Gwinnett has never won a state title in football.

North Gwinnett beat Norcross 36-17 on Sept. 13 in a Region 7 game. Their rematch will mark the eighth time that county rivals have played for a state title, first since Tucker beat Marist 15-3 in the 2008 Class AAAA final.

It has happened twice for Gwinnett teams, both in 2002, when Parkview beat Brookwood 28-7 in AAAAA and Buford beat Greater Atlanta Christian 34-10 in AA.

What else we learned in the semifinals:

- North Gwinnett can run the football. The Bulldogs were the most pass-oriented team in the AAAAAA semifinals, getting 64 percent of their yardage through …

Continue reading Gwinnett County assured of 10th state title in 18 seasons »

North Gwinnett, McEachern beat history as No. 3 seeds

It’s rare for a No. 3 seed to make the championship game in the highest classification, but it’s a guarantee this season as North Gwinnett and McEachern – teams that were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 at one point before winding up third in their regions – play Friday at McEachern in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.

Which of these running backs will shine brightest in the AAAAAA semifinals? Each has over 1,000 yards rushing this season.

  • Taj Griffin, McEachern
  • Josh Boyd, Norcross
  • C.J. Leggett, North Gwinnett
  • Sihiem King, Colquitt County

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Since 1996, when the GHSA first allowed four teams from each region to qualify, only four No. 3 seeds have won their semifinal games in the highest class. They are Colquitt County in 2010, Lowndes in 1999 and Parkview and Tift County in 1997. Lowndes and Parkview went on to win state titles. Only one No. 4 seed, 2006 co-champion Peachtree Ridge, has reached a championship game in the highest class.

It’s …

Continue reading North Gwinnett, McEachern beat history as No. 3 seeds »

Powder Springs-Suwanee rivalry brings excitement: We want more

The cities of Powder Springs and Suwanee faced off in two of the state’s best football games in the quarterfinals. They split 1-1, each scoring the winning points in the final two minutes.

They’ll go at it again in a rubber game and semifinal next week as North Gwinnett (Suwanee) plays McEachern (Powder Springs) at a home field to be determined by a coin flip.

That game, or even the coin flip, will be hard-pressed to match the suspense of the quarterfinals.

North Gwinnett beat McEachern’s closest Cobb County neighbor, Hillgrove, 35-31 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Sphire to Daniel Imatorbhebhe with 1:13 left. Entering the game, Imatorbhebhe had been a solid fourth receiver but with only one of North Gwinnett’s 40 touchdown passes.

McEachern beat Collins Hill 35-32 on an 85-yard punt return by Taj Griffin with 1:00 left. Collins Hill had come from 28-10 down to lead.

Both winning teams then intercepted passes near the goal line in the final 10 seconds to clinch their …

Continue reading Powder Springs-Suwanee rivalry brings excitement: We want more »

Powder Springs rivals McEachern, Hillgrove try to break traditon

The town of Powder Springs is the only thing standing in the way of

tradition in Class AAAAAA.

Since 1996, the highest classification has been won by teams from Gwinnett

County or South Georgia’s Region 1 with one exception (2006 Roswell).

The only teams left that don’t meet that criterion this season are McEachern

and Hillgrove, crosstown rivals 3.2 miles apart in Powder Springs of western

Cobb County.

Hillgrove opened in 2007, taking much of McEachern’s student body with it.

McEachern then suffered its first losing season (4-6) in 23 seasons. The

forecast didn’t seem good, but the two schools are doing better than the one

did just before the split. In the past five seasons, McEachern is 48-10.

Hillgrove is 45-13.

But neither has won a quarterfinal game in that time, and both are underdogs

this week against Gwinnett County opponents. McEachern, playing without

injured star quarterback Ty Clemons so far in the playoffs, travels to Collins Hill. Hillgrove,

fresh off a 34-21 …

Continue reading Powder Springs rivals McEachern, Hillgrove try to break traditon »

Only one No. 1 seed makes AAAAAA quarterfinals

The state playoffs are only two rounds old, but seven No. 1 seeds are gone in Class AAAAAA.

The lone survivor is Norcross, a 32-9 winner over Brookwood. Norcross, the defending state champion, is the top seed from Region 7, which also sent Collins Hill and North Gwinnett to the quarterfinals.

Region champions eliminated on Friday were Camden County (Region 1), Lovejoy (2), Hughes (3), North Cobb (4), Alpharetta (6) and Archer (8).

Other things learned in the highest class:

- In the game of the night, No. 1-ranked (but No. 3-seeded) North Gwinnett ended the season of the classification’s only unbeaten team, Archer, 34-32 on a 27-yard field by Michael D’Angola with 7 seconds left. D’Angola’s 29-yarder was partially blocked on North Gwinnett’s previous drive.

- Hillgrove stunned second-ranked Camden County for the second time in four seasons, winning 34-21. Hillgrove beat Camden 28-26 in the 2010 second round when Camden was ranked No. 1. Though 360 miles away, Hillgrove is the …

Continue reading Only one No. 1 seed makes AAAAAA quarterfinals »

Top 10 will have several casualties this week

Every Top 10 team in Class AAAAAA survived the first round, but at least three will be eliminated Friday as the playoff bracket has conspired to produce some second-round blockbusters.

Those would be -

No. 8 Hillgrove at No. 2 Camden County

No. 3 Colquitt County at No. 10 North Cobb

No. 1 North Gwinnett at No. 4 Archer.

The home team is perhaps the underdog in two of them. Archer (11-0) is the only unbeaten team in the class but seeks the respect that only a victory over a team such as North Gwinnett can give it. North Gwinnett has two victories over Top 10 teams. Archer has none.

Which Top 10 teams do you expect to lose this week?

  • No. 1 North Gwinnett
  • No. 2 Camden County
  • No. 3 Colquitt County
  • No. 4 Archer
  • No. 5 Norcross
  • No. 6 Lovejoy
  • No. 7 Collins Hill
  • No. 8 Hillgrove
  • No. 9 Hughes
  • No. 10 North Cobb

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North Cobb is the Region 4 champion, but Colquitt County is protecting a streak of four semifinal runs that …

Continue reading Top 10 will have several casualties this week »

McEachern girls basketball team reminiscent of 33-0 juggernaut

Two years ago, McEachern’s girls basketball team was 33-0, and six of its players were committed to Division 1 schools at the time. It was one of the state’s best and perhaps most under-appreciated girls teams in history.

It has taken a year to rebuild (McEachern lost in the first round last season), but it appears the Lady Indians are preparing a sequel for 2013-14.

Here is a look at some of the Class AAAAAA girls contenders –

McEachern – Guard Te’a Cooper, the remaining key figure from the 2012 championship team, is surrounded by similar talent again. Cooper has committed to North Carolina. Guard Declaria Daniels, who came off the bench on the 33-0 team, is now a senior and D-1 prospect. Taylor Gordon, who was honorable mention all-state that year as a sophomore at North Cobb, transferred to McEachern last year but had to sit out. She is committed to Wake Forest. Aunesha Williams, the Cherokee County player of the year last season, has transferred from Cherokee. The 6-footer …

Continue reading McEachern girls basketball team reminiscent of 33-0 juggernaut »

Region 7, Lovejoy WR Williams put on a show

Region 7-AAAAAA was all it was cracked up to be. Maybe more.

The region with three Top 10 teams swept Region 6 in the first round on Friday, and the games were not close. It was fifth-ranked Norcross over Etowah 28-0, seventh-ranked Collins Hill over Walton 41-7, top-ranked North Gwinnett over Milton 34-10 and unranked Peachtree Ridge over Region 7 champion Lassiter 59-20.

One wonders how well that Region 7’s fifth-place team, Mill Creek, would have done. The Hawks didn’t make the playoffs but were 6-4 and decisively defeated Dacula and Brookwood — teams that made the round of 16.

Other things we learned in the AAAAAA first round –

There were no major surprises Friday, but there was plenty of excitement in Lovejoy, where the 2012 runner-up and Region 2 champions trailed 23-21 after Marietta made a field goal with 53 seconds left. Quintarius Neely hit Preston Williams with a 47-yard touchdown pass in the finals seconds to secure the 27-23 victory. Williams caught seven passes …

Continue reading Region 7, Lovejoy WR Williams put on a show »

Which regions will sweep? Many are counting on Region 7

Lassiter was 10-0 and ranked No. 1 last season when beaten in the first round by Brookwood. A year later, Lassiter is a region champion again, but this time it would be a surprise to many if Lassiter didn’t lose in the first round.

Which regions will go 4-0 in the first round?

  • Region 1
  • Region 2
  • Region 3
  • Region 4
  • Region 5
  • Region 6
  • Region 7
  • Region 8

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Peachtree Ridge is the opponent. Both teams are 7-3, but Lassiter’s Region 5 doesn’t get nearly the respect of Peachtree Ridge’s Region 7, which has three of its teams (No. 1 North Gwinnett, No. 5 Norcross and No. 7 Collins Hill) in the Top 10.

If the computer Maxwell Ratings are correct, Region 7 will sweep the four games against Region 5 on Friday – Peachtree Ridge over Lassiter by six, North Gwinnett over Milton by 18, Collins Hill over Walton by 19 and Norcross over Etowah by 24.

Here is a look at the other region-to-region matchups in the first round:

Region 1 is …

Continue reading Which regions will sweep? Many are counting on Region 7 »

Basketball time? Six boys teams to watch in AAAAAA

My fellow PrepZone bloggers are providing previews of the top girls basketball teams in their classifications. I must’ve misread the memo because I’ve got nothing but boys this week. Ladies first? That’s only in life. We’ll have to get to them next week.

OK, let’s talk boys basketball. (Girls next week.)

Btw, Norcross plays Miller Grove in an exhibition game on Thursday at Norcross. Should be fun.

Here are six Class AAAAAA teams that ought to be good. Who did we miss?

- Wheeler – It’s been five years since the Wildcats won their fourth state title. They made the semifinals last season, and most peg them as the team to beat this year. They’re nationally ranked in a couple of polls, and they’ve got two five-star prospects (per who are juniors. Center Daniel Giddens (6-10) is the No. 18 prospect nationally, and forward Jaylen Brown (6-6) is the No. 12 prospect. And the team’s best player might be senior Elijah Staley if he decides to stick around and not graduate …

Continue reading Basketball time? Six boys teams to watch in AAAAAA »

Poll Talk: Who’s No. 1 in AAAAAA? My guess (North Gwinnett) is as good as yours

One poster on our Friday Night Chat called the task of ranking Class AAAAAA a Gordian Knot.

Good call.

So who’s No. 1? North Gwinnett. Albeit the No. 3 seed from Region 7.

Here’s the logic -

Looking at the full season, North Gwinnett beat Norcross and Camden County – two other contenders for the No. 1 ranking – fairly handily. Also handled a pretty good Peachtree Ridge team that took Collins Hill and Norcross to the brink.

No other team had a better body of work over the regular season as North Gwinnett, IMO. Doesn’t matter if somebody else is playing better at the moment, or whether the injured quarterback is ready for the playoffs, or whether a coin toss didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way.

So why not Lovejoy, last week’s No. 2?

Lovejoy’s No. 2 ranking hinged largely on having lost close on the road to the previous No. 1, Colquitt County. Once Colquitt loses, then all the benefit of the doubt that Lovejoy accrued from being otherwise unbeaten and being the 2012 runner-up is …

Continue reading Poll Talk: Who’s No. 1 in AAAAAA? My guess (North Gwinnett) is as good as yours »

AAAAAA draw: Norcross wins coin toss for No. 1 seed; No. 3 North Gwinnett faces long road ahead

It took some luck, but Norcross is the No. 1 seed out of Region 7-AAAAAA for the state playoffs.

The Blue Devils won a rare three-team coin toss Friday night after all the regular-season games were done.

Norcross, North Gwinnett and Collins Hill each finished 7-1 in region play, each going 1-1 against the other two. After their games Friday, all victories, the teams’ three head coaches met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant off I-85 in Suwanee. Each team flipped a coin, and Norcross was the only one to flip tails. Odd-man-out wins.

The No. 2 seed was decided by head-to-head play. Collins Hill defeated North Gwinnett, so Collins Hill will be seeded second, North Gwinnett third.

That means North Gwinnett, a candidate to be ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AAAAAA next week after current No. 1 Colquitt County lost on Friday, is unlikely to get a home game in the state playoffs. The Bulldogs will travel to Milton in the first round next week. The winner is seeded to play at unbeaten …

Continue reading AAAAAA draw: Norcross wins coin toss for No. 1 seed; No. 3 North Gwinnett faces long road ahead »

It could be penthouse or outhouse for Etowah in Region 5

Perhaps no team in Georgia has more at stake on Friday than Etowah.

The Eagles (7-2, 4-2) will win Region 5-AAAAAA if they defeat Lassiter (6-3, 5-1), but they will drop to fifth place – and out of the state playoffs – if the four games this week in Region 5 are won by the teams that are higher in the standings.

That would be Lassiter over Etowah, Walton over Roswell, Milton over Woodstock and Cherokee over Wheeler.

The good news is that Etowah would win any tiebreakers in the event of a two-, three- or four-way tie for first place.

Other things to watch this week in AAAAAA …

- Colquitt County and Camden County are playing for the title in Region 1. Colquitt is ranked No. 1 and favored to win its first region title since 1999. Camden is seeking its 13th straight region title and second since moving to Region 1.

- Region 7 has four Top 10 teams but might not know its region champion until a Saturday coin toss among No. 3 North Gwinnett, No. 5 Norcross and No. 10 …

Continue reading It could be penthouse or outhouse for Etowah in Region 5 »

Marietta scores an upset; Camden, Colquitt set up showdown

Marietta scored the upset of the night in Class AAAAAA on Friday with a victory over eighth-ranked North Cobb. The Blue Devils’ Ian Shannon kicked a 49-yard field with 2 seconds left to win it 24-21.

Though both teams are now 7-2, the outcome oddly didn’t have great significance on the Region 4 standings.

North Cobb (6-1 in region play) can still clinch the title – which would be the school’s fifth in history and first since 2007 – with a victory next week over Campbell (4-5). Meanwhile, Marietta (5-2 in the region) still must beat Harrison (5-3, 4-3) just to make the playoffs as a No. 4 seed.

In other AAAAAA developments …

- No. 1 Colquitt County (31-15 winner over Brunswick) and No. 7 Camden County (28-7 winner over Lowndes) nicely set up their Friday showdown for the Region 1 title.

- Hughes (37-0 winner over Tri-Cities) of Region 3 and Alpharetta (42-20 winner over Centennial) of Region 6 clinched region titles.

- Lassiter moved within one victory of the Region 5 by …

Continue reading Marietta scores an upset; Camden, Colquitt set up showdown »