AJC Super 11 wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers of Calhoun High School may have had the biggest impact of any single player during the high school state playoffs so far.
The Georgia commitment has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Yellow Jackets, who take on Atlanta’s Lovett School in the semifinals tonight in Calhoun. All of Rogers’ considerable skills were on display this past Friday night as they pulled out a harder-than-it-looked 49-35 win over Jefferson County.
Rogers finished the game with only six catches but he scored touchdowns on four of them and racked up 216 yards receiving. One of the biggest catches came on third-and-23 from their own 5 with Calhoun holding a slim seven-point lead. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Rogers caught a pass from quarterback Nash Nance (Vanderbilt commitment), shook off a would-be tackler, and rambled 95 yards for a touchdown. He also had highlight reel catch in the end zone, out-jumping a defender who had position on him and yanking the ball away from in front of him (see photo).
That followed the previous week’s performance in which Rogers scored four touchdowns four different ways. Against North Oconee, he scored once on a kickoff return (he finished with 170 return yards), once on a reception (he had 140 yards on 13 catches), ran for one out of the wildcat formation and returned a fumble for a TD on defense.
Clearly, Rogers has justified all five of his stars as a recruiting prospect. Georgia fans have to be excited about the possibilities of Rogers lining up opposite A.J. Green next season.
Lovett’s task of containing Rogers and Calhoun’s high-flying offense will be one of great challenges in what has been a tremendous playoff so far.
Another great matchup will be down at Griffin where the Class AAAA top-ranked Bears (13-0) face off against Sandy Creek (12-1). The Fighting Patriots are led by arguably the best back in Atlanta in Mississippi State commitment Rajion Neal while Griffin features one of the best defensive line prospects for the Class of 2011 in Xzavier Dixon. That game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) as its weekly Nissan High School Game of the Week at 7:30 p.m.
Another star-studded matchup tonight features Northside-Warner Robins at Newnan. The Cougars have been led by five-star safety prospect Alec Ogletree, a Georgia commitment, and his twin brother Zander Ogletree at linebacker. Alec Ogletree had the game-winning TD catch as a wideout and blocked a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation in a dramatic 9-7 win over Grayson last week. The Cougars’ defense had five shutouts in the regular season and haven’t allowed double-digit scoring in the playoffs.
Probably the most emotional playoff game of all will be played up in Gainesville tonight where Flowery Branch gets another crack at Class AAA’s top-ranked Red Elephants. Gainesville won 49-17 in the regular-season finale and quarterback Blake Sims (Alabama) and wide receiver Tai-ler Jones (Notre Dame) have proved an unstoppable offensive combination. But Flowery Branch quarterback Connor Shaw, a South Carolina commitment, has practically willed his team to victory through the playoffs, especially last week in an astonishing 35-33 win over No. 4-ranked Carver-Columbus. Carver coach Dell McGee said of Shaw’s performance, which included four rushing touchdowns and a passing TD, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”