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Brookwood-Grayson building into marquee rivalry

Brookwood has a 30-year-old rivalry with Parkview and the series has had its fare share of close games, blowouts and titles on the line.

The Broncos don't have quite that long of a relationship with Grayson, but the series has certainly picked up momentum in recent years.

"We've won four of the last six region championships, they've won the other two," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "We've played a lot of big games with consequences on the line. That's what started the Parkview rivalry. The bigger the stage, the bigger the game and that creates some buzz."

There's certainly a lot of excitement around tonight's game with defending state champion Brookwood traveling to No. 2-ranked Grayson, where the Rams have not lost a regular season home game since 2006.

It has everything you want in a marquee game. Grayson (8-0, 6-0 region) is undefeated and state and nationally ranked. Brookwood (6-2, 5-1 region) has three Division I commitments. The game will be shown state-wide on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Oh yeah, and the Region 8-AAAAA championship is on the line.

To add to the pre-game hype, both schools' student bodies have produced Internet videos proclaiming they are better than the other.

"I think it's a great game," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "Year in and year out, we're the top two teams in the region. It seems to come down to this game for the region championship."

That's been the case the last six years. The winner of the Brookwood-Grayson game has gone on to win the Region 8 title since 2005. Brookwood won it three years in a row from 2005-07. Grayson claimed back-to-back titles the following years and Brookwood regained the crown last season.

"It's been a great game between the two of us," Conn said.

The games have been defensive battles with some of the county's top rushers being slowed down. Four of the last five meetings have been decided by 10 points or less. Brookwood won last year's contest 10-0 when it held Grayson to just 89 yards of total offense.

In 2009, Grayson was ranked No. 1 in the state and had the county's No. 2 rusher in Ean Pemberton. He was held in check for most of the game and Devin Gillespie's TD run with 5:20 left sealed the win.

It was another defensive struggle in 2008 with Grayson pulling off its first win over Brookwood with a 10-7 victory after Austin Clark kicked a 22-yard field goal in the third quarter.

Grayson has also been the victim of a tough loss in the series. The Rams led almost the entire game in 2006. But Brookwood's Demetre Ledlum, the county's No. 2 rusher, scored with 45 seconds left in regulation and again in overtime for a 13-7 victory. That was the last time Grayson lost a regular season game at home.

A defensive battle shouldn't be any different tonight. Grayson, which is ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today, is allowing less than eight points a game and has posted shutouts the last two weeks. Even more impressive is the unit is allowing 28 yards rushing a game.

"They are really good on defense," Crews said. "They sort of follow the same formula as a lot of championship teams. They play really well on defense and not a lot of flash on offense."

Grayson's defense will get its biggest challenge against the county's top running back tandem. Nick Tompkins, a Michigan State commitment, is the county's leading rusher. Jamaal Cole also has been impressive with 558 yards and eight TDs.

"They've got two running backs that can run the football and can hurt you," Conn said.

With Ramirez Galbreath, Conner Hennessey and Illinois commitment Zach Jackson, the Broncos' defense has been pretty stout this season. Brookwood was in a 10-6 defensive battle with Parkview last week before allowing two TDs in the final two minutes.

"It was a strange end to a strange game," Crews said. "It was pretty uneventful for about the first 46 minutes."

Grayson's offense took a hit this week when senior wingback Korey Jones had to have surgery on an injured knee. The Rams have relied on a stable of running backs from Gillespie to Terrius Watson and Wayne Gallman, even 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche has been effective running the ball.

"We both put a lot of stock in controlling the line, playing good defense and being sound in the kicking game," Conn said. "We've both subscribed to that old-school philosophy in football."

Grayson would clinch the region title with a win over the Broncos.

A Brookwood win would put three teams in a tie for first place.

"Our program has matured a lot to be able to play in this kind of venue," Conn said. "To be a game of the week and on TV and to show everyone what kind of program we have."

For more stories on these schools, visit www.gwinnettprepsports.com/brookwood and www.gwinnettprepsports.com/grayson.

Comments

brookdetermine 3 years, 2 months ago

Daily Post forgot to add Brookwood offensive players that took out the 'tool head' QB last year. Yup, the third D-1player is Jackson Buonamia. Back again!! He is 6 foot 3 and over 280 lbs. Ask TH how that felt last year. Runs just as fast than the DT guys... Air Force got themselves quite a player. And Brookwood will 'sharpen' their playoff teeth on the lambs tomorrow.. Ouch!! Should be a good game.

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