NORCROSS - Norcross wanted to get the season off to a strong start with a Region 7-AAAAA matchup with rival Duluth. A strong start is exactly what it got, even before either offense could take the field.
Kendall Parks took the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the Blue Devils never looked back on their way to a 48-7 win.
Norcross' offense and defense continued to make big play after big play throughout the first half and neither head coach Keith Maloof nor Darius Hanks, who had two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a 48-yard TD reception, seemed at all surprised.
"We know they can take it the distance," said Maloof. "Any time you can create those opportunities on defense it makes a big difference."
After the kickoff return, Leonard Foster had the first of five interceptions made by the Norcross defense. The Blue Devils could not capitalize and turned it back over on a pick by Duluth. The Wildcats were forced to punt and the Norcross special teams came through again by blocking the punt.
Two plays later Bryce Dykes hooked up on the first of his three TD passes of the night from 11 yards out to Devonta Bolton, who made an incredible leaping grab in the corner of the end zone.
Hanks got the next two scores for the Blue Devils when he returned an interception down the right sideline 86 yards for the score.
On Norcross' next possession, Dykes hooked up with Hanks for a 48-yard strike. Chris Tanner kicked the extra point and the lead was 28-0 with 9:44 still left to play in the first half.
"We were pumped up for this game," said Hanks. "We feel like this is our year to shine and go all the way."
James Simien got in on the big-play action with 5:17 to play in the half with a 13-yard interception return for a score.
Dykes finished off his very productive night with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler with 1:56 left in half. The PAT by Tanner gave Norcross its halftime lead of 41-7.
Dykes finished the night 7-for-11 for 126 yards three TDs and one pick.
Demetrius Hill added a score on a 28-yard run with 8:21 to play in the third quarter to give Norcross its final margin of victory.
Despite the fact that it is very early in the season and Norcross and Duluth look at this game as a rivalry, Maloof understands the most important part of the outcome.
"Even though this is a big rivalry between us, the big thing is to be 1-0 in the region," he said.