Grayson Rams


By: Kenneth Harrison news services

We’re down to the final eight teams in Georgia high school football. Let’s take a look at the Elite Eight in AAAAAAA.

# 10 Mill Creek vs # 6 Marietta: Mill Creek blew out their first two playoff opponents (Newton & Roswell). The Hawks (10-2) are very good but they have been outclassed by superior talent this season. They were crushed 45 – 3 by # 4 North Gwinnett last month.

Marietta (10-2) is the most talented team in the state. They beat the defending state champs, # 9 Milton in the second round. The Blue Devils are led by five-star tight end Arik Gilbert, an LSU commit. Gilbert has 1,343 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

His quarterback Harrison Bailey is committed to Tennessee and a four-star player. He’s thrown for 3,378 yards and 36 touchdowns.

The Blue Devils have another LSU commit on defense, defensive end BJ Ojulari. Marietta was my preseason pick to win the state championship and my opinion has not changed.

# 3 Grayson vs # 1 Lowndes: Lowndes (12-0) has dominated all season and they are nationally ranked. The Vikings have won every game by double digits. The closest margin of victory was 11 points against Colquitt County. They are the only remaining team not in Metro Atlanta.

The interesting thing about Lowndes is that as good as they are, they don’t have a player ranked in the top 100 in Georgia in the class of 2020.

They are led by sophomore quarterback Jacurri Brown. He’s the team’s leading rusher with 1,150 yards and 16 TD’s. He also passed for 1,066 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Grayson (10-1) steamrolled their first two playoff opponents. The Rams lone loss was a blowout loss at home to Colquitt County (31-7). Since that is a common opponent for both teams it does not look good for Grayson.

Senior quarterback CJ Dixon is a four-star recruit and he should keep Grayson in the game. I expect Lowndes to continue doing what they have done all season and win this game by double digits.

# 8 Archer vs # 7 Parkview: This is a matchup of two Gwinnett county schools. Parkview (11-1) is a traditional powerhouse that fell on hard times, but they are back. The Panthers have won four state championships. They won three consecutive championships and were undefeated from 2000-2002.

Their only loss was at home against Lowndes, 38 – 7. They did beat Colquitt County in the second round, 40- 21.

Colquitt had reached the quarters or better each season since 2009.

Junior running back Cody Brown is a four-star recruit and the offense goes through him.

Archer (9-3) had a tough schedule with all three losses coming to ranked teams. Their biggest loss was by three points.

I expect this to be a close game, but Parkview should win.

            # 2 McEachern vs # 4 North Gwinnett: McEachern (12-0) is the other undefeated team in 7A. The Indians also have several talented players like their crosstown rival, Marietta.

The best player on the team is senior four-star wide receiver Javon Baker. He’s committed to Alabama. McEachern has only had two games won by single digits so they have been dominant.

North Gwinnett (11-1) lost the season opener to Colquitt County. They have not lost since then. The Bulldogs won the state title in 2017 and they hope to get back there this year.

I’m picking North Gwinnett for a slight upset win.


Packing Another State Title?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The high school football regular season is almost over. The best team in the state of Georgia’s highest classification (7A) is Colquitt County. The Packers are 8-0 and coming off a 38-9 win over Camden County.

It does not look like they will slow down any time soon. I’m going to look at the ranked teams from Gwinnett County and see if any of them have a chance to win the championship.

Over the past 21 years, twelve of the state champions of Georgia’s highest classification have been from Gwinnett County.

The highest ranked team is #3 Grayson (6-2). The Rams were the top ranked team in the preseason and ranked nationally. Despite all of that promise, the team had a mutiny and tried to get head coach Christian Hunnicutt fired.

A large number of players walked out of practice the week before the season opener. An anonymous parent said practice issues date back to last season, Hunnicutt’s first as Rams head coach, citing multiple ambulance trips for heat related issues and full body cramps, multiple players with broken bones in their hands from excessive hitting in practice and players who are injured being called “soft” and being “isolated.”

The 2 losses were against Begen Catholic (New Jersey) and Colquitt County. Texas A&M recruit Kenyon Jackson (6-foot-6, 200 pounds) is the best player on offense. They also have three high-level seniors on the offensive line — Tennessee commit Wanya Morris, Auburn commit Jakai Clark and Michigan commit Trente Jones.

Outside linebacker, Owen Pappoe is the No. 2 recruit in the state. Defensive end Kevin Harris is the No.9 recruit in the state and an Alabama commit. Corner back Kenyatta Watson II is committed to Texas and a three-star recruit. They also have defensive tackle Tru Thompson who is a Florida State commit. On paper they are hands down the most talented team in Georgia.

#4 Parkview (8-0) has played great this season. They just trounced their archrival Brookwood 31-2. The Panthers were a powerhouse in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. They won four state championships from 1997-2002 including a three-peat in 2000-2002.

Their best player is Malik Washington; he’s the No. 81 player in Georgia. He plays wide receiver and free safety. Parkview lacks the talent of some of the other top teams so I think they will struggle in the playoffs.

No. 7 North Gwinnett (7-2) are the defending state champs and the last team to beat Colquitt County.

The Bulldogs lost two close games to Wekiva (FL) and Walton. Walton is the 2nd ranked team in the state and just lost their first game of the season so they are very good.

North Gwinnett has the talent and experience to win again this season. Running back and Iowa commit is Tyler Goodson is the biggest threat on offense. They beat Duluth 41-0 Friday and clinched their second straight Region 6-AAAAAAA championship.

The last ranked team from the county is No. 9 Archer (6-2). They lost the season opener 21-19 against Milton then reeled off five consecutive wins. Then they were clobbered 41-14 by Grayson.

The Tigers have a lot of talent on defense so it was surprising they could not compete with Grayson. They have a corner and safety committed to Clemson, Andrew Booth and Jalyn Phillips. Defensive end Colby Wooden is an Auburn commit.

Colquitt County will be tough to take down this year but I think they will have a rematch with Grayson in the state championship.

Bringing Home The Hardware


By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The 2016 Georgia state championships are in the books and eight champions have been crowned. This is the last year it will be held at the Georgia Dome before moving next door to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium and there were some memorable games.

The first game was the single A private school championship played Friday morning between Eagles Landing Christian Academy and Fellowship Christian School. The game went to double overtime with the ELCA Chargers winning 34-27.

The Class A public game was very one sided. Macon County beat McIntosh Academy 35-0. Macon County only led 7-0 until the final seconds of the 3rd quarter before scoring on four consecutive possessions. This is their second state championship and first in 20 years.

The AA game was also not close. Benedictine defeated Fitzgerald 49-26. Benedictine scored on its first five possessions to take a 35-6 first half lead. This is their second state title and first since 2014. They are the first Savannah school to win two state championships and this is their first undefeated full season since starting football in 1908.

The AAA game featured two metro Atlanta teams, Cedar Grove from Dekalb County and Greater Atlanta Christian from Gwinnett County. The Saints took a 23-3 lead with 1:09 left in the first half after Tre Shaw returned an interception 34-yards for a touchdown. Cedar Grove beat GAC 30-19 to win their first state title.

Cartersville and Thomson played for the AAAA championship. The Purple Hurricanes destroyed Thomson 58-7. This was the second-most points scored in GHSA finals history. Cartersville has won 30 consecutive games since they have had two consecutive 15-0-championship seasons.

The 5A game saw perennial power Buford match up with Rome. Both teams have the same Wolves mascot. Rome iced the game by scoring on an 18-yard naked bootleg on fourth-and-inches with 1:12 remaining in the 4th quarter. They won 16-7 giving Rome their first title since opening in 1992. Before East and West Rome merged to form Rome High they combined for seven state titles from 1965 to 1985.

Valdosta beat Tucker 17-7 in the 6A championship. The Wildcats scored on their first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. This is Valdosta’s first title since 1998 but they did extend their state record to 24 state championships. Alan Rodemaker became the first Valdosta head coach to win a state title in his first season.

The final game was the heavy weight 7A match up between Grayson and Roswell. This is the first year of 7A and it looks like Gwinnett County will continue to dominate the state’s largest classification. The Grayson Rams are ranked in the top 5 nationally.

The Hornets from Roswell were undefeated, ranked No. 2 in the state and appeared in their second consecutive state championship. The Hornets dominated the game and led for most of it. Grayson took their first lead of the game with 1:04 remaining. The Hornets scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Malik Willis to Kentrell Barber on the final play of regulation to tie the game 20-20. The Rams won in overtime 23-20. This is Grayson’s second state title and first since 2011 when they were led by Robert Nkemdiche. Head coach Jeff Herron became the first coach to win state titles at three Georgia schools (Oconee County & Camden County were the others).