Kenneth Harrison

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Pretenders or Contenders?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 4 of the NFL has just ended. We have a small sample size to observe which teams are contenders or pretenders. Let’s take a look around the NFC South to see which teams fall in these categories.

Atlanta Falcons: Pretenders. Atlanta (1 – 3) is currently in last place in the division. Statistically they rank poorly in several categories. The Falcons are 25th in rushing offense, 23rd in scoring and 23rd in total defense.

They had every opportunity to win the game against the Washington Football Team but the defense gave up a touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the game. If they won that Atlanta would have been 2 – 2 heading into a Week 5 matchup with the New York Jets (1 – 3).

The offensive line is still a problem because they can’t run the ball or protect Matt Ryan. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and Calvin Ridley have both gotten off to slow starts.

Ryan is 19th in passing yards, which is pretty low when you look at how often they pass. They are 24th in rushing attempts. The Falcons are destined to have a top 5 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers: Contender. I’m surprised to say that about this team. Carolina (3 – 1) traded to get quarterback Sam Darnold from the Jets. In his three seasons in New York he looked like a bust. He’s playing drastically better in Carolina is 6th in the league in passing yards with 1,189.

Christian McCaffrey is the best all-around running back in the NFL but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver DJ Moore is tied for 2nd in receptions (30) and 4th in receiving yards (398). The combination of him and Robby Anderson can create explosive plays.

The defense has looked elite so far, ranking 3rd in total defense. They give up an average of 251 yards per game. They did give up 36 points to Dallas in their Week 4 loss so it appears that a good offense will not have trouble against them.

New Orleans: Pretenders. New Orleans (2 – 2) is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because they look completely different each week. They started the season with a dominating 38 – 3 win against Green Bay (3 – 1). The following week they were beat down by the Panthers, 26 – 7.

Week 3 they beat New England convincingly, 28 – 13. Playing the winless New York Giants at home looked like a slam dunk victory, right? They lost in overtime, 27 – 21. The Saints are 11th in total defense so they are solid. Jameis Winston is ranked 29th in passing with only 613 yards.

New Orleans does rank 7th in rushing offense. Star receiver Michael Thomas has not played yet, but he is expected to return around Week 7.

Tampa Bay: Contenders. The reigning Super Bowl champs return every starter from last season. Barring a major injury, I think the worst case scenario is getting to the NFC Championship. The Bucs (3 – 1) are 30th in rushing. With Tom Brady I guess you don’t have to worry about running the football.

Brady is 2nd in passing yards (1,356) and tied for 3rd in passing touchdowns (10). They have the best receiving corps in the league with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. The only loss was against the Los Angeles Rams (3 – 1).

Where’s The Buzz

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re a few games into the college football season, so we have a small sample size to evaluate teams.

The team we are going to examine is Georgia Tech. Geoff Collins is in his third season as head coach and I’m wondering has the program gotten any better?

The Yellow Jackets started the season with a loss at home to Northern Illinois, 22 – 21. Losing to a school outside of the Power 5 is embarrassing enough, but the Huskies were winless in 2020 (0-6). This game should have been an easy win before ACC play begins.

The one positive from that game is Jordan Yates came in to relieve an injured Jeff Sims at quarterback. I believed he was a better player and he has played like it so far.

The next game was against an FCS team, Kennesaw State. They won 45 – 17, which is expected.

The Jackets then went to #6 Clemson. Last season the Tigers humiliated Tech, 73 – 7. In 2019 they won 52 – 17. Clemson did have the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence playing quarterback in those games. They also had fellow first-round pick, running back Travis Etienne.

They are replacing a lot of talent and experience, but we expect a program like them to reload. Their offense looked anemic in the season opener, but they did play an elite Georgia defense.

The Tigers won, 14 – 8. This score was much closer than anyone would have predicted. Did Tech close the talent gap between the programs or is Clemson overrated?

I think the truth is closer to Clemson struggling on offense, led by sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. He completed 18 of 25 pass attempts for 126 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Yates completed 20 of 34 passes for 203 yards, no touchdown and 1 interception.

Clemson had not been held under 20 points in an ACC game since losing 28-6 to Tech in 2014. Likewise, the Tigers’ 284 yards of total offense was their fewest since the same loss to Tech, when they gained 190 yards.

The Tech defense came out in a 3-3 (three defensive linemen, three linebackers) look for the first time this season after playing out of a 4-2-5 (four linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) as its base defense. They worked on the 3-3 throughout the preseason but Collins did not feel they were ready for the first two games.

“And then once the guys were really confident in playing it, we rolled it out there (Saturday) and they did a really nice job with it,” Collins said.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that Tech lined up in “absolutely nothing that we prepared for.”

This moral victory may give the team some confidence going forward. The question is will that translate to wins?

Looking at the rest of the schedule I think there are four games they have a chance to win; Duke, Virginia, Boston College and Miami.

Pitt, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia are guaranteed loses. The Yellow Jackets are in for another losing season and missing a bowl appearance.

Down South

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 1 of the NFL is in the books. We have some early takeaways from each team. Let’s take a look at the AFC South to see if any of the teams are contenders.

Arizona Cardinals 38, Tennessee Titans 13: Tennessee received a lot of hype in the offseason. They traded for Julio Jones. Paired with A.J. Brown, several analysts speculated they were the best wide receiver duo in the league.

Derrick Henry led the league in rushing in 2020 with over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left to take the head coach position in Atlanta. Todd Downing has taken over as OC and things did not go well in the opening game.

They fell behind early and could not establish the run like they wanted. Henry rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries.

Chester Rogers led the team in receiving with 62 yards. Chandler Jones single-handedly terrorized the offense with 5 sacks. Ryan Tannehill complete 21 of 35 passes for 212 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Titans had questions on defense going into the season and they still do. Kyler Murray threw for 289 yards, 4 touchdowns, completed 66% of his passes and he ran for another score. Chase Edmonds only had 12 carries but he out-gained Henry with 63 yards.

Seattle Seahawks 28, Indianapolis Colts 16: Philip Rivers retired, and the Colts acquired Carson Wentz. He did not play well his last couple of seasons in Philadelphia, so he is trying to regain his confidence.

The Colts have one of the best defenses, but they could not stop Seattle. Russell Wilson completed 78% of his passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Chris Carson had 16 carries for 91 yards. Tyler Lockett caught 4 passes for 100 yards and 2 TD’s.

Wentz threw for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. He attempted 38 passes, which is more attempts than Indy wants.

Starting left tackle Eric Fisher did not play and he was under constant pressure. Running back Jonathan Taylor had 17 carries for 56 yards.

Houston Texans 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 21: Jacksonville has Urban Meyer in his first year as a professional coach. They drafted Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and he’s the opening day starting quarterback. They are coming off of a 1 – 15 season, so they have several holes to fill on the roster.

Lawrence completed 55% of his passes for 332 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He had 51 pass attempts which is too many for a rookie QB to be successful.

“Losing is always hard, especially when you feel like you are prepared and had a great week,” Lawrence said. “I really think we were ready and obviously didn’t play well. It starts with me. I didn’t play well, for sure.”

Jacksonville had 10 penalties which is uncharacteristic for a team coached by Meyer.

Houston is not playing star quarterback Deshaun Watson because of open sexual assault allegations.

Veteran Tyrod Taylor is the starter and he passed for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had a monster day with 5 catches and 132 yards. Mark Ingram II ran for 85 yards and a TD.

Tennessee and Indy are still the best teams in the division. The Colts have a brutal schedule though and play the Rams next.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Titans because they play Seattle on the road. Houston travels to Cleveland Week 2. Jacksonville hosts Denver next and that’s a game they can win.

Corky Kell Rewind

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The high school football season started last week. The 30th Corky Kell Classic had the first high school game in the nation last Wednesday August 18. Let’s take a look at the results.

Cherokee 52, Mays 6: The 7A Warriors beat up on 4A the Mays Raiders.

West Forsyth 38, Carver-Atlanta 8: This is another matchup with a 7A team, West Forsyth against 3A Carver.

#4 Westlake 29, Archer 14: The Westlake Lions are famous for being Cam Newton’s alma mater. They are a 6A team that beat a 7A opponent.

R.J. Johnson was 12-of-22 passing for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 57 yards and two scores.

Jai’Den Thomas rushed for 129 yards and had two sacks and another tackle for a loss. Gannon Weathersby also had two of Westlake’s seven sacks.

#10 Dacula 32, Tucker 7: The Falcons dominated the game and held a 32-0 lead at halftime. Dacula held Tucker to minus-88 yards rushing, negative yardage on six of Tucker’s first 10 drives, and to one yard on two other drives.

Johns Creek 26, Gainesville 10: The one bright spot for Gainesville is they have the best team name, Red Elephants. Other than that, it was all downhill.

#1 Buford 35, #3 North Cobb 27: The Wolves avenged last year’s season opening loss to North Cobb. I picked them to lose this game since it’s a 6A versus 7A matchup but that did not matter.

They trailed 14-0 midway through the third quarter before they scored on five consecutive possessions. They had two one-play drives. C.J. Clinkscales had the longest play of the game, a 66-yard run.

McEachern 53, Kell 20: This was a matchup of two Cobb County teams played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kaleb Webb had six receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He also had an 86-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Mill Creek 43, #7 Parkview 10: Both teams are 7A schools in Gwinnett County, but this was their first meeting. Hayden Clark was 14-of-24 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

The Panthers streak of winning 7 consecutive season openers was snapped. Mill Creek held Parkview to minus-20 yards rushing. Kevin Mitchell and Nic Denick had two tackles for losses each worth minus-34 yards.

#9 Walton 34, #6 Lowndes 28: This was the most exciting game. Lowndes scored two touchdowns and recovered an onside kick in the final two minutes of regulation after trailing 28-14. They sent the game to overtime and Sutton Smith scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to win the game. He finished with 85 yards rushing.

Jacurri Butler rushed for 152 yards and a score. He was 10-of-19 passing for 164 yards and three touchdowns, all to Chase Belcher. He almost single handedly kept the Vikings in the game.

Hootie-Who!

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Kennesaw State Owls kick off the 2021 football season Thursday, September 2 against Reinhardt.

The Owls are ranked 20th nationally in the preseason poll. They look to have another successful season and possibly a playoff appearance.

The program started playing football in 2015 and they have had a winning record every season. Head coach Brian Bohannon has been there from the beginning and has a record of 52 – 16. The team plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, formerly called 1-AA.

The 2020 FCS season was played in the spring due to the pandemic. The Owls were 4 – 1 and had one game cancelled. They look to build on that and win the Big South Conference for the first time since 2018.

Senior running back Isaac Foster was named to the Big South’s Preseason Special Teams First-Team, and honorable mention offense. He was second on the team in rushing in 2020 with 229 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per carry on 30 attempts. He was All-Big South Offense Second-Team for the Spring 2021 season.

Junior quarterback Jonathan Murphy is the starter going into the season. He led the team in passing yards and attempts in the Spring season. He played in three games and made two starts. He threw for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed for 174 yards and 2 TD’s.

Week 1 is home against Reinhardt. The Eagles are an NAIA team and they are completely outmatched. This will be an easy win for KSU.

Week 2 is at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are an FBS team so they have more players on scholarship. They are also bigger, stronger and faster at every position. I think the Owls will put up a good fight but lose.

The next game is at Wofford in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Terriers were 1 -4 last season. Three of those loses were by six points or less so they are a competitive team. I give the edge to Kennesaw State to get the W.

After a bye week, October begins with a home game against Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks are always a contender in FCS. They were 10 – 3 last season, playing games in the Fall and Spring. I think JSU will win this game.

KSU travels to Virginia to face Hampton. This is the first conference game of the season. Kennesaw State should have a blowout win against the Pirates.

They return home to Fifth Third Bank Stadium to take on North Carolina A&T State. The Owls will win another Big South conference game by 20-plus points.

The following week they go on the road to North Carolina to play Campbell. They have my favorite mascot in college sports, the Fighting Camels. The Camels were 0 -4 in 2020 and they played during the Fall. They are not very good so KSU will win big.

Gardner-Webb travels to Kennesaw for the eighth game. This game was postponed during the Spring season. The Runnin’ Bulldogs were 2 – 2 last season. They are a solid team but I expect KSU to win a close game.

The Owls travel to Pennsylvania to face Robert Morris. They beat the Colonials 35 – 0 in the Spring and this will be a similar game.

KSU goes on the road again to face North Alabama. They are not good so this will be another easy win.

The season finale is against Monmouth. They won the last meeting 42 – 17 and won the conference title. This game will determine the Big South champion again and I think the Hawks will win.

Prowling Panthers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott is entering his fifth season.

He has led the Panthers to a winning season and bowl appearance in three of his four seasons.

Last season GSU was 6 – 4 and appeared in the Lending Tree Bowl against Western Kentucky. They won the game 39 – 21. Three of the four games they lost were decided by one score.

They have found their quarterback for the next few years, Cornelious Brown IV. Last season as a freshman he passed for 2,278 yards, 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and completed 59% of his attempts.

He also rushed for 317 yards and 7 TD’s. The offense averaged 33.3 points per game, which was 32nd out of the 128 FBS teams.

Junior running back Destin Coates led the team in rushing with 769 yards, 7 scores and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. He also had 12 catches for 65 yards.

Tucker Gregg, another junior RB rushed for 468 yards, 6 touchdowns and he averaged 5.2 ypc. The Panthers have a strong ground game.

Wide receiver Sam Pinckney led the team in receiving in 2020 with 47 catches, 815 yards and 7 TD’s. He will probably have better numbers this season since his quarterback has gained experience. They should also play more games as long as they don’t get cancelled.

The defense gave up 31.7 ppg, which was 79th in the nation. Junior linebacker Blake Carroll led the team with 73 tackles, 51 solo and 4.5 for loss. Junior LB Jordan Strachan led the team in sacks with 9.5.

The 2021 non-conference schedule is brutal. The Sun Belt is also a solid conference so they will have some problems.

The season kicks off September 4th at home against Army. The Black Knights are tough to stop because of the triple option.

The next week is at North Carolina. The Tar Heels have an advantage across the board.

Week 3 is on the road against the Charlotte 49ers. They were scheduled to play last season, but the game was cancelled. Charlotte was 2 – 4 in 2020 so they aren’t very good. This will be Georgia State’s first win of the season.

The next game is at Auburn. It looks like the athletic department needed a couple of big pay days to start the season. The Tigers will win by 50 points. If you’re keeping track the Panthers have 3 guaranteed losses in their first 4 games.

The month of October kicks off conference play with a home game against Appalachian State. GSU lost last year’s game 17 – 13. I think this season’s game is a toss-up. App State has been a good program for almost two decades, so I give them the edge.

The Panthers travel to Monroe, LA to face University of Louisiana at Monroe. They beat the Warhawks 52 -34 last season. I expect a similar result in 2021.

After a bye week Texas State comes to town. I believe GSU wins by double digits.

On October 30th they travel to Statesboro, GA for a rivalry game with Georgia Southern. The Panthers beat the Eagles 30 – 24 last year. I think this game will be close but Georgia Southern wins.

The last four games of the season are against UL-Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas State and Troy. The only guaranteed loss is against Coastal Carolina. The Panthers have a shot to win the other three games.

I think the Panthers will win 4-5 games in 2021.

Returning Sting?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia Tech kicks off the college football season September 4th at home against Northern Illinois.

Geoff Collins is entering his third season as the head coach in Atlanta. His record is 6 – 16 and he won three games in each of his first two seasons. The question is ‘can the Yellow Jackets finally turn the corner this season?’

Last season true freshman quarterback Jeff Sims started. As expected, he went through growing pains learning and gaining experience. He passed for 1,881 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 492 yards and 6 TD’s. I think he will be drastically better as a sophomore.

True freshman running back Jahmyr Gibbs was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. He missed several games in 2020 due to injury. He rushed for 460 yards, 4 touchdowns and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He was also second on the team in receptions with 24 catches, 303 yards and 3 scores. If he can stay healthy, he should run for a thousand yards.

Junior running back Jordan Mason can run effectively when he plays. In 2020, he rushed for 352 yards, 2 TD’s and averaged 4.3 YPC.

They did lose the leading receiver last season, Jalen Camp. He graduated and was drafted in the 6th round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Left tackle Devin Cochran is a grad-transfer from Vanderbilt. He’s 6’7, 320-pounds and should immediately improve the offensive line.

Tackle Kenneth Kirby is also a grad-transfer from Norfolk State. He was a three-year starter and two-time All-MEAC selection.

You may be noticing a theme so far with the grad-transfer players. Linebacker Ayinde Eley joined the team in January after transferring from Maryland. He was voted a team captain for the spring game and has been a leader since showing up on campus.

Georgia Tech needs to improve in every aspect because they have not done anything well in the Geoff Collins era. We have seen they can win three games but they will need to double that to become bowl eligible. One thing that was promising is that all of the wins last season were against ACC teams. T

hey are starting to level the playing field and they now need to win one more conference game and two non-conference games to get to six wins.

I believe Tech will win the season opener against Norther Illinois.

The following week, September 11th is also at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Kennesaw State. The Owls are an FCS team but they are tough. I think this will be a close game but I give the advantage to Tech.

Week 3 is the first away game against Clemson. We all know that GT will be slaughtered. Last season they were embarrassed 73 -7. I think this game will be closer but that would still be a forty-point loss.

The fourth game is against North Carolina at Mercedes-Benz stadium. The Tar Heels are a better team. Collins needs to start winning games like this if he plans to turn the program around. I give the advantage to UNC.

The next two games before the bye week are Pitt and at Duke. I think Tech can beat Duke.

After the bye, the next four games are at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Miami and Boston College. BC and UVA are the games they have a chance in.

The final two games are at Notre Dame and home versus Georgia. These will be blow out loses.

I think GT will improve and win 5 games but they will not become bowl eligible.

 

Wolf Pack

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Buford Wolves are a powerhouse program in the state of Georgia since the new millennium started. The Wolves have won 13 state championships with only one coming before the year 2000 (1978).

After a drought of not winning a state championship since 2014, they won the 5A state title in 2019, finishing 14-1.

In 2020, Buford moved up to 6A and beat Lee County in the state title game. The Wolves (13-1) only lost the season opener to North Cobb, a 7A team.

Buford became the first team in GHSA history to win a state football championship in six different classifications. Buford has won titles at Class A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA and AAAAAA.

2019 was the first season for head coach Bryant Appling and he clearly knows how to win. They have the most talented team in the state, at any level. Buford has the most players ranked in the Georgia top 120 Class of 2022 recruits.

Isaiah ‘007’ Bond (5’10, 175 lbs.) is the highest ranked on the team as the No. 23 recruit in the state. He is a four-star wide receiver/corner back. He’s also an All-American in football and track. Bond is currently committed to Florida.

Safety Jake Pope (6’1, 190) is also a four-star recruit for the class of 2022 and ranked right behind Bond, No. 24. Some of the schools recruiting him are Alabama, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Ohio State and Arizona State.

Corner back Rylan Gandy (6’0, 170) is a three-star recruit and he’s committed to Pitt. This is a very talented secondary opposing teams have to deal with.

Linebacker VJ Payne (6’2, 180) is committed to South Carolina. There are more three-star recruits on the roster.

Safety Malik Spencer (6’2, 193) has committed to Michigan State.

Running back Victor Venn (5’9, 175) is committed to Colorado.

CJ Clinkscales is listed as an athlete but he plays running back and corner. He’s committed to Boston College.

Quarterback Ashton Daniels (6’3, 200) is a Stanford commit.

The season kicks off August 20th at North Cobb. The 7A Warriors won the game last year 28-14. I think this will be a close game but I give the advantage to North Cobb since they are from a higher classification.

Week 2 is against former region foe, Clarke Central (Athens) on the road. The Gladiators were 8-3 last season but lost the Buford matchup 47-0. Expect a similar result in 2021.

After an early bye week, Buford plays their first home game against Myers Park (Charlotte, NC). They advanced to the 4A state semifinals in 2020 but I don’t believe they can compete with Buford.

Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, FL) comes to town Week 4. They are a 3A team and were 8-2 last season. This might be a close game because Florida has very talented players. The rest of the season is region games after this.

The remaining region 8-AAAAAA opponents are Central Gwinnett, Habersham Central, Shiloh, Lanier, Winder-Barrow and Dacula.

In 2020, they beat their region opponents by a combined score of 257-24. They are far superior to the other teams in the region and they will easily repeat as region champs.

I expect Buford to go into the playoffs with a 9-1 record and repeat as state champions.

 

Ramming Through

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Last season Grayson won the 7A Georgia state championship in dominating fashion.

The Rams finished 14 – 0 and only had one game decided by single digits.

That was their third championship, all of them have come since 2011. They are one of the newer powerhouse programs.

Grayson ended 2020 ranked second nationally. They will go into the 2021 season ranked 8th in the nation.

Head coach Adam Carter is entering his third season as head coach. He has a 25 – 2 record since taking over as the head ball coach in Loganville.

The Rams were at the center of some controversy last season. They had four-star quarterback Jake Garcia from California. He transferred to Valdosta over the summer for his senior year and played one game for the Wildcats. Then he transferred to Grayson. Garcia committed to Miami.

Last season senior running back Phil Mafah committed to Clemson. He suffered a season ending injury late in the season and his replacements filled in nicely.

In the state championship game against Collins Hill, sophomore Joseph Taylor (15 carries, 121 yards and junior Sean Downer (16, 92) played well.

Freshman Joseph Stone also played. The Rams will probably use the committee approach again this season.

They do not have as much talent as they had last season. The highest ranked recruit on the team is three-star safety Mumu Bin-Wahad. He’s ranked as the 90th best prospect in the state for the Class of 2022 and he’s expected to commit to West Virginia.

Senior guard Griffin Scroggs is 6’5, 295 pounds and he committed to Georgia Tech. Defensive backs Michael Daugherty and A.J. Lopez are currently uncommitted, but both should attend Power 5 schools.

The season kicks off August 20th against Creekside. Creekside is a 5A school, so this is a game against an opponent from a lower classification. The Indians were 7 – 3 in 2020 and won a region title but they cannot compete with an elite 7A team.

Week 2 is on the road at McEachern. They are normally one of the best programs in the state, but the Indians were 4 – 8 last season. This game may be close early, but Grayson will win by double digits.

After a bye week the first game in September is home against Archer. The teams played in 2020 and Grayson won, 26-7. The Tigers won a playoff game last year, so they have some talent. I think they can hang around for three quarters before the score gets out of hand.

The Rams travel to Kennesaw to face Harrison 9/17. This is Justin Fields alma mater. Harrison is a very good program. They were undefeated and won the 6A state championship in 2019. 2020 was the first season in 7A for the Hoyas and it was tough. They finished 4 – 8, including a 30-6 loss to Grayson in the playoffs. This will be an easy win.

The next week is the beginning of region play, at Mill Creek. The Hawks were the only team to challenge Grayson last year, losing 20-13 in double overtime. I think they will get the W in 2021.

October 1st is home against South Gwinnett, an easy win.

After another bye week the Rams travel to Parkview. The Panthers have returned to be a contender over the last couple of years. They lost some talented seniors though.

The final two games are home versus Brookwood and at Newton. Brookwood might be a tough win, but Newton doesn’t stand a chance.

Grayson should return to the state title game in 2021.

Eagles To Fly In 2021

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Collins Hill (Suwanee, GA) is not one of the top high school football programs in the state of Georgia.

They have always struggled with being a consistent contender. Typically, every 3-4 years they have a class that can make the playoffs and win a game or two.

The 2020 season was very successful, they finished 12–3. The Eagles made it to the 7A state championship game and lost to Grayson for the second time.

They beat some very good teams in route to the state final game like Alpharetta, Parkview and Lowndes. Grayson was stacked with talent so there was no shame in losing to them.

Going into the 2021 season Collins Hill is returning some great talent. They have the top-rated recruit in the class of 2022, five-star corner back Travis Hunter. He is rated as the third overall recruit nationally and he committed to Florida State.

Hunter is 6’1, 165 pounds with great speed. He also returns kicks and punts for the Eagles. I would suggest looking up some of his highlights when you get a chance because he seems like a young Deion Sanders.

Quarterback Sam Horn is a four-star player and he’s rated as the 6th best player in Georgia for the class of 2022. Horn has prototypical size for the position, standing 6’4 and 190 pounds. In 2020, he passed for over 3,900 yards, 41 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Horn has committed to Mizzou. I expect him to have another big year as a senior and cut down on his interceptions.

His top target is senior wide receiver Cam Pedro. Pedro recently committed to Marshall.

I have seen some publications rank Collins Hill in the national preseason top 25. The highest I have seen them ranked is No. 11. Even though that is high, Grayson is ranked higher.

It’s an understatement to say expectations are high and they are expected to compete for the 7A state championship. They are also in one of the toughest regions, 8-AAAAAAA.

The season kicks off August 22nd against Brookwood. The Broncos are a very good program and they are coming off an 8-3 season. They have the No. 13 prospect in the state, corner back Marquis Groves-Killbrew. This will be a tough game. I give the edge to the Eagles.

Week 2 is against Sprayberry. This should be an easy win for Collins Hill.

September begins with a game versus Greenville Christian (Greenville, MS). They were 11–1 last year and won the state championship. The Saints will be a solid opponent.

Week 4 is on the road against Rome. The Wolves are very good, but they are in a smaller classification, 6A. The teams played last year, and Collins Hill won 28–14. I expect a similar result in 2021.

The next game is against Alpharetta. These teams played twice in 2020 and Collins Hill won both times. I expect the Eagles to beat Alpharetta again.

East Coweta comes to town September 24th. The Indians were 10–2 in 2020 and won region 2-AAAAAAA. This will be a close win for the Eagles.

Region play begins October 1st against archrival Peachtree Ridge. The Lions will get blown out similar to last season’s 42–7 score.

After a bye week Collins Hill travels to North Gwinnett. The Bulldogs are a very good team and I think they will win.

The last two games are against Mountain View and Mill Creek which will be convincing victories.

Going into the playoffs I expect the Eagles to be 9-1.

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