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THE BLITZ: County's talent continues to grow

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Editor's Note: Brandon Brigman, a sports writer for the Daily Post, writes a blog every Monday called "The Blitz." It is available online at www.gwinnettdailypost.com.

Every year around National Signing Day in February, I'm amazed by the number of football players from Gwinnett who sign college scholarships.

The list continues to grow and last year it reached a record-setting 85 signees.

That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider in 2000 there were just 11. Seriously.

I think the list could top 100 this year with the way Gwinnett players are making commitments. There are already 21 players who have made college commitments. Usually by this time of the year it's about 10 or 15.

There are still dozens of players off the top of my head that haven't made college choices. Buford tight end Kurt Freitag is expected to do so by the end of the month, Duluth quarterback Anfernee Stewart is still uncommitted and North Gwinnett defensive lineman Jordan Washington is supposed to make a decision soon. Those are just three of the more high profile seniors.

Buford's Nathan Staub, Central Gwinnett's George Morris and Malachi Jones, Peachtree Ridge's DiAndre Atwater, Grayson's Fred Zerblis and Korey Jones, the list goes on and on of talented seniors.

There's a lot of talent in Gwinnett County and on any given Friday night you could be watching a half dozen future college players.

Here's a list of Gwinnett area senior football players who have made commitments to college programs.

Position Name High school College

OL Vadal Alexander Buford LSU

OL Jackson Bounamia Brookwood Air Force

DB Ray Buchanan Peachtree Ridge Arkansas

WR Jason Croom Norcross Tennessee

WR Nick England Collins Hill Florida International

DE Andrew Everette Collins Hill Southern Miss

LS Reid Ferguson Buford LSU

OL Garrett Gorringe Grayson Georgia State

DB Paris Head Buford Vanderbilt

DB Zach Jackson Brookwood Illinois

RB Joe Jones North Gwinnett UMass

DE Francis Kallon Central Gwinnett Georgia Tech

LB Dillon Lee Buford Alabama

DB C.J. Moore Buford Virginia

DL Sebastian Rice Grayson Georgia State

LB Carl Rider North Gwinnett Furman

OL Chase Roberts GAC Georgia Tech

WR Chad Scott North Gwinnett Furman

DB Aaron Taylor Central Gwinnett Toledo

RB Nick Tompkins Brookwood Michigan State

LB Stephen Weatherly Shiloh Vanderbilt

I'm off the Norcross bandwagon

I was on the Norcross bandwagon since I saw the Blue Devils in a Game 2 win over Parkview. Even after last week's devastating loss to North Gwinnett, I thought they still had a very strong team.

After Friday's 41-14 defeat by Peachtree Ridge, I'm not so sure about Norcross.

An offense that was so explosive for the first five games has been stagnant the last six quarters. The defense has continued to get worse the last three ball games.

A month ago, I thought Norcross had a shot to reach the Georgia Dome. Now I'm not sure if they'll make the playoffs.

I'm on the Peachtree Ridge bandwagon

While I've been hyping Norcross the last few weeks, I failed to take a good look at Peachtree Ridge. Since opening the year with a loss to Walton, which is undefeated and ranked in the top 10, the Lions have reeled off six straight wins.

I still haven't seen Peachtree Ridge play this year, so I'm can't brag about them too much. But I will say coming back to beat a pretty good Collins Hill team and then handling what I thought was a very good Norcross squad the last two weeks, has put me on the Lions' bandwagon.

Is Archer for real?

Ever since Archer nearly beat Brookwood a month ago, I've had the Tigers on my radar. The third-year program is still in the mix for a playoff spot, but we'll find out if they are for real the next two weeks.

The Tigers get Dacula and Parkview, who are also battling for playoff spots, the next two games.

Archer scored a school-record 48 points in Friday's win. Ernest Alexander and Sean Fowler are probably the best running back tandem in the county you have not heard about.

We will find out if Archer is for real pretty soon.

Buford will finally get tested

Buford, the four-time defending Class AA state champion, has easily won its first eight games.

I think the Wolves will finally be tested on Friday against Greater Atlanta Christian. This is technically a rivalry, but the Wolves have won the last 11 meetings so I don't know if you can really call it that.

I still think Buford wins Friday's game, but they'll actually have to play their starters in the fourth quarter.

GAC is 7-0 for the first time since 2005. The Spartans have developed a pretty good offense around quarterback Delano Spencer. I think they can score on Buford's first-team defense, but not enough to win.

It should be a nice challenge for Buford as it heads into the postseason trying to win another title.

The county's greatest rivalry

There might be older rivalry games in the county, but the greatest in my mind is still Brookwood vs. Parkview. The two programs put Gwinnett County football on the map in the 1990s.

The two teams have met to decide region titles and state championships in what is known as the Battle of Five Forks.

Brookwood has won six of the last eight meetings, but several of those games have been decided by one score.

Friday's contest won't determine a region champ, but the loser could be out of the playoffs. That will make this rivalry game even more exciting.

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Comments

ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"I'm off the Norcross bandwagon....I was on the Norcross bandwagon since I saw the Blue Devils in a Game 2 win over Parkview. Even after last week's devastating loss to North Gwinnett, I thought they still had a very strong team."

Norcross does still have a very strong team with lots of talent on the roster, at least on paper, anyways, and only on paper as the team is in a very, very fragile state psychologically after having some glaring weaknesses exposed in all phases of the game against the likes of North Gwinnett and P'tree Ridge.

Even during the 5-0 start, the Devils turned over the ball entirely too much, increasingly missed way too many tackles and had some very concerning issues on special teams that reared their ugly head in full in high-pressure games against NG and PR.

The loss to North Gwinnett was a real blow to the Devils' confidence as they blew a 22-0 halftime lead to their biggest region rivals, a hangover that persisted and worsened into the next week against Peachtree Ridge.

"After Friday's 41-14 defeat by Peachtree Ridge, I'm not so sure about Norcross."

Despite being in a really bad psychological place after devastating back-to-back losses against co-league leaders NG and PR, the Devils have the opportunity to regain some must-needed lost confidence this Friday at winless Meadowcreek, a team that, of course, again is on yet another losing streak of historical proportions.

"An offense that was so explosive for the first five games has been stagnant the last six quarters. The defense has continued to get worse the last three ball games."

Offensive stagnation tends to happen sometimes in big games against supremely-talented state title-contending squads with very fast, physical and athletic defenses like North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge. No matter how explosive or seemingly talented a team is on the offensive side, points and easy scoring opportunities can often be at a premium in really big games that are usually decided on the defensive side of the ball and with special teams rather than with offensive plays at all levels of the game. Just look across town out in Cobb at the big game with Hillgrove at McEachern that featured two teams with VERY high-powered, high-scoring offenses that played in a game that McEachern won 64-48 last year. This year Hillgrove beat McEachern in a 12-10 slugfest that was decided on a safety that Hillgrove scored when the ball sailed over the punter's head and went out of the back of the end zone.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"A month ago, I thought Norcross had a shot to reach the Georgia Dome. Now I'm not sure if they'll make the playoffs."

Georgia Dome, probably not at this point, but the Devils still have a great chance of making the playoffs as they have already beaten Duluth and Mill Creek and only need to win two of their next three games against last place Meadowcreek, playoff-contending region rival Collins Hill, and a promising, but still very young third-year Mountain View program.

Despite having an obvious "crisis-of-confidence" right now, the Devils still have the talent to win the two out of three games needed to make the playoffs, but we will see if they have enough of the confidence needed to do so.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"I'm on the Peachtree Ridge bandwagon"

Because they didn't make the playoffs last year and had a new head coach and a new system to adapt to and with all of the hype, attention and higher-profile of other league programs like North, Norcross and Mill Creek, the Lions had been flying way under the radar in Region 7-AAAAA this year until Norcross collapsed was exposed as a pretender in the last couple-of-weeks bringing the Lions to the forefront of public consciousness as a title contender in one of America's toughest prep football conferences in Region 7-AAAAA.

Despite not making the playoffs last year, the Lions have won a state title, finished as state runner-up, made the AAAAA playoffs in four out of their eight previous seasons of a brief existence and were 5-0 last year and seemingly headed towards their fifth-straight playoff appearance before being completely decimated by injuries, suffering their own massive late-season collapse and missing the playoffs by one game.

Because the Lions aren't coming off of what has become one of their typical deep playoff runs, people forget that they still have a very, VERY talented roster, a roster of extremely talented pure athletes that has helped out tremendously with new head coach Mark Fleetwood's installation of a West Coast-style "Multiple-I" balanced offense that features more passing plays to get those very talented athletes out into space against opposing defenses.

The Lions have two very tough, but winnable games at home against Duluth and on the road against a very talented, but youthful squad at Mill Creek that the Lions must win to force a season-ending winner-take-all showdown for the 7-AAAAA Region Championship at North Gwinnett.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"Is Archer for real?"

Yes, at least at this point of the season, Archer is for real as the Tigers are a game over .500 in both the overall and region standings and have been catching opponents by surprise with their extreme physicality.

The Tigers' extreme physicality will come very much in handy as they will need every last bit of that physical play in their remaining three games on the road against a veteran-dominated Dacula squad and a smashmouth Parkview squad and at home in the season finale against an underachieving, but volatile, South squad that could explode offensively at anytime.

The Tigers have played exceedingly well for a third-year program with two shutouts and scoring 42, 35 and 48 points in their last three games against 8-AAAAA bottom dwellers Berkmar and Shiloh and an offensively-explosive, but defensively-leaky Central squad.

The Tigers do seem to have problems against high-powered offensive teams that employ alot of spread formations as they've given up 28, 34 and 41 points respectively to pass-heavy Duluth, nationally-ranked Grayson and the explosive spread offense of Central.

If Andy Dyer can guide Archer into the playoffs in just their third year of existence and second full year of varsity play then he will likely be the leading candidate for Coach of the Year in 8-AAAAA and will be leading a team into the postseason that no one will want to play in the first round of the playoffs.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"Every year around National Signing Day in February, I'm amazed by the number of football players from Gwinnett who sign college scholarships.....The list continues to grow and last year it reached a record-setting 85 signees.....That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider in 2000 there were just 11. Seriously......I think the list could top 100 this year with the way Gwinnett players are making commitments. There are already 21 players who have made college commitments. Usually by this time of the year it's about 10 or 15."

When looked at in the context of how far Gwinnett has come in a relatively short amount of time, the amount of signees is surprising.

But when considering that Gwinnett has grown into one of the most-populated, most ultra-diverse mega-suburbs with some of the wealthiest high schools in the entire nation in a part of the country where high school and college football are the most popular pastimes, the number of college signees are not all that surprising when viewed in the context.

As the population of Gwinnett continues what was thought to be a very improbable push towards one million people and as the Atlanta Region continues to rise in stature as one of the continent's top media markets, expect the number of college signees to continue to rise as the Gwinnett prep football scene becomes less-and-less of a well-kept secret.

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mledf4 3 years, 1 month ago

Are you getting paid to write this moronic blog?

You are not sure Norcross will make the playoffs? What a stupid comment. The Blue Devils have some critical injuries that have hit us. We had North Gwinnett beat and a horrific fumble call that was returned for a TD cost us the game. Admittedly we came out flat against P'tree Ridge, but with 7 critical starters on the sidelines or playing at 70% we got beat up pretty good. But to say this team won't make the playoffs confirms my sterotype for journalists...they just are not very bright.

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