Longtime rivals in need of victory

The days of Berkmar and Meadowcreek sharing a stadium have long passed. They don’t even share the same region anymore, thanks to Georgia High School Association reclassification.

But don’t think that takes any luster off the rivalry between the two neighboring schools, not since their struggling youth associations joined forces a few years back. Now kids who grew up playing on the same youth teams split into rival high schools.


Meadowcreek Mustangs (7-AAAAA)

Coach: Deario Grimmage

Record: 0-1

Last week: Lost to Northview 28-15

Berkmar Patriots (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Jonathan Sanks

Record: 0-1

Last week: Lost to Etowah 56-21

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Berkmar won 33-6 last year

Directions to Berkmar High School: From I-85, go east on Pleasant Hill Road; school is on the right.

Series history:

2009 — Berkmar 33, Meadowcreek 6

2008 — Berkmar 10, Meadowcreek 7

2007 — Berkmar 42, Meadowcreek 7

2006 — Berkmar 30, Meadowcreek 24

2005 — Berkmar 21, Meadowcreek 10

2004 — Berkmar 27, Meadowcreek 14

2001 — Meadowcreek 17, Berkmar 9

2000 — Berkmar 27, Meadowcreek 6

1999 — Berkmar 46, Meadowcreek 0

1998 — Berkmar 7, Meadowcreek 0

1997 — Berkmar 22, Meadowcreek 21

1996 — Berkmar 20, Meadowcreek 6

1995 — Meadowcreek 18, Berkmar 13

1994 — Berkmar 25, Meadowcreek 14

1993 — Meadowcreek 8, Berkmar 0

1992 — Meadowcreek 14, Berkmar 10

1991 — Berkmar 28, Meadowcreek 12

1990 — Meadowcreek 27, Berkmar 0

Though Berkmar has got the best of the rivalry lately — the Patriots have won 11 of the past 12 games against their rival, including the last six — it’s still an intense series.

“That’s what I’ve heard, it’s been a pretty good rivalry (in the past),” first-year Meadowcreek head coach Deario Grimmage said. “The kids have been talking about it during the week. This game gives them bragging rights because a lot of these kids played park ball together.”

Both Grimmage and Berkmar’s Jonathan Sanks are in their first season as Gwinnett head coaches (Sanks was previously head coach at Towers), and the two young coaches face similar journeys in rebuilding struggling programs at diverse schools.

Each coach lost his debut last week, with Meadowcreek falling just short against Northview and Berkmar losing big on the road to Etowah. Both teams were plagued by turnovers, including five by Berkmar (three in the red zone).

“They’re just like us,” Sanks said of Meadowcreek. “They’re hungry for a win just like we are.”

Berkmar made too many mistakes against a playoff-tested Etowah squad last week to win. But there also were some bright spots.

Wideout Xaviir Briggs, forced into duty at quarterback because of an injury, threw for 298 yards. Wideout Justyn Shackleford caught eight passes for 298 yards and a touchdown.

“We have to play better on defense,” Sanks said. “We gave up almost 500 yards rushing. That’s unacceptable. Hopefully our young defensive line can play well and we can tackle better and line up better this week.”

Meadowcreek got into a 28-0 hole against Northview before fighting back in the 13-point loss. Grimmage was encouraged by what he saw after the sluggish start.

Anthony Thomas and Keith Whitaker played well on the lines, and running back Richard Williams rushed for two TDs, including a 52-yarder.

“We had a few positives toward the end,” Grimmage said. “We just didn’t start off like I wanted us to. I felt like we could have done better.”