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Old meets new in Grayson vs. Archer matchup

It’s hard for Mickey Conn to imagine what it would be like to throw a program into Class AAAAA football.

The Grayson head coach started the Rams’ program 11 years ago and it was a gradual climb from non-region play to Class AAA to AAAAA.

ARCHER AT GRAYSON

Archer Tigers (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Andy Dyer

Record: 1-1

Last week: Beat Mountain View 17-14

Grayson Rams (8-AAAAA)

Coach: Mickey Conn

Record: 1-1

Last week: Had a bye

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: First meeting

Directions to Grayson High School: From I-85, go east on Sugarloaf Parkway to Ga. Highway 20 and turn right. Proceed through Grayson and turn right on Hope Hollow Road. School is immediately on the left.

“It would have been tough,” Conn said. “AAAAA football is a whole different world. It’s tough.”

The Rams have grown up to become one of the top teams in the state, winning the last two Region 8-AAAAA championships. Grayson opens its region title defense tonight against Archer, a second-year program that played a non-region schedule last year.

“Our kids have two games under their belt, they are growing up,” Archer coach Andy Dyer said. “We have a great challenge ahead of us with the defending region champs.”

Grayson has amassed a 35-5 record over the last three years, which doesn’t include its 1-1 mark this season. The Rams opened the season with a loss to Kell, one of the top teams in Class AAAA, and beat Spain Park (Ala.) two weeks ago.

Nick Schuessler has settled in nicely as the starting quarterback, throwing for 225 yards and a TD. Running back Korey Jones has provided some big plays and Terrius Watson is the team’s leading rusher. Caman Marshall has provided big play ability at quarterback and special teams.

“He brings that extra excitement to our offense and special teams,” Conn said. “He can be a spark week in and week out.”

Linebacker Michael Peek has led the defense with two tackles and one interception. Robert Nkemdiche and Namdi Ofodile have been strong along the defensive line.

“We’ve got a lot to prove. I don’t think our kids take any game lightly,” Conn said. “It’s the start of the region schedule, we’re not going to take it lightly.”

Archer (1-1) opened the season with a loss to Duluth, but picked up its first win of the season over rival Mountain View last week. Mychal Hines rushed for 113 yards in the victory.

“It was a big win for our kids and our program,” Dyer said. “It was good for them to see the fruits of their labor.”

Quarterback Jarvis Holley has done a great job leading the offense and taking care of the football. Deandre Singleton and Derrick Parker have led the defense.

“They’ve got some good looking athletes,” Conn said. “Their quarterback makes things go. They throw, run, get in different formations, they will run everything.

“To go into AAAAA they’ve got some good looking athletes.”

When Archer opened last year it drew students from Central Gwinnett, Dacula and Grayson. Much of the student body was pulled from Grayson and the two schools are separated by less than seven miles. It’s a similar situation that happened 11 years ago when Grayson opened and pulled many of its students from South Gwinnett. The Rams and Comets have developed a nice rivalry over the years and Archer vs. Grayson could be the next.

“Both communities have been together for 10 years for the most part,” Conn said. “It’s going to be a big game for both communities. I think it’s going to be the beginning of a new rivalry in Gwinnett.”