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THE BLITZ: That's why they play the games

Click here to play The Blitz trivia contest sponsored by Sports Medicine South and Chick-fil-A on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Pike Street

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.

Each week the Daily Post's sports writers make their picks for high school football games.

Some predictions are better than others. I'll confess that going with Gwinnett teams in a few non-region games has hurt my win-loss record.

If you looked at last weeks picks our writers had the same predictions for just about every game. All of us expected Brookwood, Duluth and South Gwinnett to win their games.

All three teams had surprising losses.

Brookwood got beat for the third year in a row by Dacula. The same Falcons team that was allowing 35 points the first two games. Duluth lost a heartbreaker in triple overtime to Alpharetta, while South Gwinnett was beaten by Shiloh for the first time in 10 years.

That's what I love about sports, especially high school sports. No matter what everyone says, thinks or expects, it's decided on the field.

I never imagined that a Dacula team that showed no signs of a defense would be able to stop Brookwood's running game. But it did. That was the first time I've seen Dacula play this year and I can't imagine how they started 0-2.

I thought Duluth could battle for a playoff spot in Region 7 this year. After Friday's loss to Alpharetta, I'm not so sure. Yes, Alpharetta was a playoff team last year, but was out of a weak region. The fact that Duluth was able to battle back from a fourth-quarter deficit to get back in the game is a good a sign, but the Wildcats should never have been in that position. Luckily, it was just a non-region game, but it's not the way to get ready for a Region 7 schedule that features Norcross and Collins Hill the next two weeks.

Shiloh hasn't been favored to win many games over the last few years. That might change after the Generals' win over South Gwinnett. It was the first time Shiloh beat their Snellville rival since 2000. Maybe the Comets were looking past Shiloh, but I don't think any other team will this year. I didn't realize this until someone e-mailed me last week, but every team on the remainder of Shiloh's schedule has two weeks to prepare for the Generals. Seriously. The Generals play Parkview this Friday and the Panthers were off last week. They've got Dacula in two weeks and the Falcons are off this Friday. It goes on like that the rest of the season. How did Shiloh, one of the worst teams in the region over the last few years, get stuck with such a bad schedule?

Hawks need Russ

Mill Creek is 3-0 for the first time in school history, but they may have lost their best player for a few games. Quarterback John Russ suffered a concussion in Mill Creek's dominant win over Cherokee.

The Hawks have third-year program Mountain View this week, which may allow Russ an extra week to recover. Russ is a threat throwing and running the ball and hopefully he's healthy enough to return in two weeks against Norcross.

Buford's defense living up to hype

Buford has a defense filled with college prospects and the unit is living up to its talent.

Through three games, Buford's first-team defense has not allowed a touchdown. The only points scored were in the fourth quarter against the Wolves' second-team defense.

Norcross is on fire

The hottest team in Gwinnett right now is Norcross. If the playoffs started this week, Norcross would be on its way to the Georgia Dome for the state finals. I don't think anyone can stop them right now.

They really impressed me in their win over Parkview two weeks ago didn't let up with a 49-14 win over Roswell on Friday.

Region 7-AAAAA play begins this Friday and it will be interesting to see if Norcross can keep its momentum over the next month. That stretch of games, which includes Duluth, Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge, will decide if the Blue Devils are for real.

Wesleyan may regain record

Wesleyan's Tony Plagman held the county's single season passing record until Collins Hill's Taylor Heinicke broke it last year.

That record may be returning to Spalding Drive at the end of the season. Quarterback Will Anderson has thrown for 570 yards in the first two games. If the sophomore can keep up that kind of production he may break Heinicke's record of 4,218 yards.

Where are the trivia buffs?

No one got last week's trivia question correct. I'm throwing out an easy question this week. Hope someone can get it this week. A correct answer can win you a prize pack from Sports Medicine South and Chick-fil-A.

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Comments

NGHS09 3 years, 3 months ago

1) NG can stop them right now. Sent the little Blue Devils running last year with their tails between their legs from a 38-0 blasting. Their coaching squanders all that talent every single year. If NG had that talent, NG would be the Buford of AAAAA football. Not an exaggeration. You know NG's coaches are bar none. They were rolling high last season too and NG killed them and then Collins Hill killed them. Their coaching will find another way this year to end their season early...just a matter of time.

2) Hypothetically Speaking....

570 / 2 = 285 yds per game....285 x 14 games = 3,990 yds for the season roughly. Close, but unlikely he passes it unless they get that far. Now next year or his senior year i would almost count on it.

Scott Hosch has thrown for 785 yds in three games (261.66 per game)....3,663 yds roughly after 14 games. That is more of a reality if NG were to make it that far.

3) Last thing... What are your thoughts on county and state statistical records being shared and compared by/with any player no matter the classification? If that kid from Wesleyan does pass Heinicke's record in the future, how can he have accomplished more than Taylor, against lesser opponents? Don't tell me that Wesleyan plays anyone remotely harder (last season when Heinicke set the record) than NG, Mill Creek, MLK, South Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge, Lowndes, or Brookwood this season. I've never understood how or why they are kept this way. Why do you think the MLB keeps a completely seperate list of stats from the Minor Leagues? Both are called "Professional Baseball", but the MLB is obviously better. For Example: It is not logical to say that a running back in Class A (Kyle Kiremplis sp?) was better than a running back in Class AAAAA (Kenny Miles) when looking at all-time stats because he had more total yards in his career, or a season, or scored more TD's during both. Also not logical is placing A qb from Wesleyan ahead of AAAAA qb from Collins Hill on the County's all time single season passing yard leaders board (If he breaks the county record). See my point? Lets be honest, AAAAA, AAAA and some AAA are like the NFL and A, AA, and most AAA are like College Football. You could argue that the same results would happen even if the kids from smaller schools played at bigger schools simply because of their talent, but it's common sense to know they wouldn't. It should be divided by the classification in which the statistic was achieved in. IDK maybe i see things in a weird way, but i feel that this misleading compilation of All Time statistics for High School Football (and other sports) should stop comparing apples and oranges. IMO. Thanks.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

I agree with you about the statistical records being compared across classifications as there is a big difference between the competition in Classes A and AAAAA.

But you've got to keep-in-mind that these are records being compiled, kept and presented by a local newspaper from a local point-of-view comparing county numbers.

Most, if not all, local newspapers everywhere compile and present individual statistics without regards to classification and level of competition so the way that these stats are being presented countywide across classfication is not at all unusual, especially given that in Gwinnett there are only like maybe a couple of teams in Class A and maybe one team in Class AAA in the entire county while the rest of the teams in the county are in Class AAAAA.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"If NG had that talent, NG would be the Buford of AAAAA football. Not an exaggeration."

The cupboard hasn't exactly been empty at North Gwinnett in recent years, you know?

Even though the NG program lost some considerable with the opening of Lanier, NG is still one of the most talented programs in the state and is still one of the most attractive programs in the entire Southeast for attracting in-state and out-of-state transfers, mainly because of NG Head Coach Bob Sphire's second-to-none promotion of the NG program and North Georgia high school football since he arrived at NG back in 2006.

"You know NG's coaches are bar none."

There are alot of excellent coaching staffs in the state and Bob Sphire's NG coaching staff is definitely one of them as Sphire has won 10 or more games and advanced out of the first round of the playoffs in each of his first five seasons at NG.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"NG can stop them right now. Sent the little Blue Devils running last year with their tails between their legs from a 38-0 blasting. Their coaching squanders all that talent every single year...They were rolling high last season too and NG killed them and then Collins Hill killed them. Their coaching will find another way this year to end their season early...just a matter of time."

Can't really dispute anything that you are saying, especially since NG has beaten Norcross three times in a row rather decisively after being dominated by the Blue Devils in regular season finale showdowns for the Region 7-AAAAA Title in Bob Sphire's otherwise very stellar first two very stellar seasons as Head Coach.

Though, despite being blanked by North and Collins Hill last year, Norcross coaching staff ain't exactly that shabby either as the Blue Devils also have one of the best coaching staffs in the State of Georgia and Keith Maloof has won two Region 7-AAAAA Titles and has won at least one playoff game in four of his five playoff appearances in his time as Head Coach at Norcross.

If the Blue Devils are able to win their next game at home on Friday against an improving Duluth program and survive an early season region showdown the next week after on the road against a Mill Creek program that is looking to move up in the Region 7-AAAAA pecking order, the Blue Devils will be rewarded with yet another, ever bigger Region 7-AAAAA midseason showdown that will go along way in deciding the region championship.

Hopefully this time the Devils will actually show up and enable the game to live up to all of the tremendous hype.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"I thought Duluth could battle for a playoff spot in Region 7 this year. After Friday's loss to Alpharetta, I'm not so sure."

Duluth can still battle for a playoff spot, it's just that programs that are in the Wildcats' situation can be inconsistent sometimes.

Despite coming into the season looking to be much-improved from last year and much of their recent tortured existence and having great talented veteran leadership at the quarterback position, the Wildcats are still very much a youth-laden program that is learning how to win.

Teams like Duluth may come out one week and look like world beaters and may come out and get off to a really slow start with a seemingly inexplicable loss the next week.

Youth-laden programs are just very inconsistent from week-to-week, that's just the way it is, but at least the Wildcats fought their way back into the game and gave themselves a chance to win after seemingly being out of it early on.

Despite the heartbreaking loss this week, Duluth is still a very exciting team with what looks to be a prolific quarterback in a quick-strike offense for whom no opposing team's lead is safe no matter how large.

Duluth will still be a dangerous team in region play this season who will have a significant say in the outcome of how 7-AAAAA shakes out in the end.

Perennial 7-AAAAA playoff contenders like Norcross, NG, PR, CH and MC would do well to take notice, for to disregard the Wildcats this year is do so at their own peril.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"Maybe the Comets were looking past Shiloh, but I don't think any other team will this year."

The Shiloh Generals may not have had much success in many years, but with South Gwinnett losing SO MUCH talent from last year's 9-3 team that finished in second-place in 8-AAAAA and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, I don't think that the Shiloh win over a rebuilding Comets program was really that much of an upset in the grand scheme of things.

Make no doubt that it was a really big win for the Shiloh Generals program which has had virtually no success against perennial 8-AAAAA playoff contenders in many years.

Even beating a weakened and rebuilding South program gives the Generals much-needed boost of confidence heading into region play.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"How did Shiloh, one of the worst teams in the region over the last few years, get stuck with such a bad schedule?"

Shlioh has a "bad" schedule because they are a long-struggling program stuck in playing AAAAA football in one of the toughest regions/conferences for high school football in the entire nation in the always super-rugged 8-AAAAA with the likes of Brookwood, Grayson, South Gwinnett, Parkview and Dacula week-in and week-out.

The only ways that a program like Shiloh could conceivably get an "easier" schedule would be to realigned and removed from the region and the classification or to play up to the level of their 8-AAAAA competition.

Looks like they've chosen to attempt to play up to their competition this year.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"Norcross is on fire...The hottest team in Gwinnett right now is Norcross. If the playoffs started this week, Norcross would be on its way to the Georgia Dome for the state finals. I don't think anyone can stop them right now."

I would agree that Norcross is playing very well right now, but I don't know if a 3-0 start with wins against a Dacula program adjusting to a new system under a new head coach, a middling Parkview program and a struggling Roswell program out of Region 6-AAAAA that particularly seems to have noticeable difficulty with Region 7-AAAAA programs is justification to punch the Blue Devils' ticket to the Georgia Dome after only the third game of the season before region play in the brutal 7-AAAAA has yet to even begin.

I definitely would not declare that no one could stop Norcross when they still have yet to face the likes of Mill Creek, North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge and Collins Hill this season.

Even the Blue Devils' next game against Duluth has the potential to be a "trap game" for them if they get caught overlooking the improving Wildcats in lieu of seemingly more important region games against MC, NG, PR & CH.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"Hawks need Russ"

Man, is that an understatement! Mill Creek lost some great veteran leadership off of last year's State Quarterfinal team so the Hawks absolutely MUST HAVE John Russ if they are to have a shot at beating Norcross for the first time ever in school history in almost two weeks and winning the region.

Going through the 7-AAAAA gauntlet in region play becomes that much harder without John Russ in any of those critical games against Norcross, CH, NG, PR and now even Duluth which is not the pushover and nearly automatic victory that they have been in years past.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"Brookwood got beat for the third year in a row by Dacula. The same Falcons team that was allowing 35 points the first two games...I never imagined that a Dacula team that showed no signs of a defense would be able to stop Brookwood's running game. But it did. That was the first time I've seen Dacula play this year and I can't imagine how they started 0-2."

I can see how Dacula started 0-2 as I could see how the Falcons might need time to adjust to new Head Coach Jared Zito's new offensive and defensive philosophies.

The switch from Kevin Maloof's triple-option veer-style to a more West Coast spread-style offensive system is especially understandable seeing how nearly the entire current roster came up in Maloof's system.

We shouldn't really be worried about Dacula though because once this heavily senior-laden team picks up Zito's system and fully adjusts to his coaching and management style, the Falcons have an opportunity to maybe do a little bit of damage in Region 8-AAAAA as they demonstrated against defending state and region champion Brookwood this past Friday.

Jared Zito is a very talented head coach who did a whole lot with much less talent and alot less overall personnel in guiding perennial 7-AAAAA doormat North Forsyth to the playoffs two seasons ago and in getting the NF Raiders back to the playoffs after a second-place finish in an easier 6-AAAAA last year.

With as many seniors at Dacula as he nearly had players on the entire roster at North Forsyth, Zito can open things up alot more with all of the athletic talent that he has at Dacula with the West Coast-style spread offensive system compared to what little he had every year at Coal Mountain up in North Forsyth.

It's just that with all of the vastly increased athletic talent and personnel comes a vastly increased level of competition in an annual schedule against all Gwinnett teams from 7-AAAAA and in region play against 8-AAAAA teams.

But then again if Zito could make North Forsyth playoff qualifiers in the super-rugged Region 7-AAAAA with a much smaller roster and fewer resources then he might he able to accomplish even more with a program loaded with athletic talent and greater resources in the equally as rugged 8-AAAAA.

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NGHS09 3 years, 3 months ago

ACC12_SEC13Booster....Please do not type of here that you think Maloof and company are some of the best in GA. lol Get real. Maloof has not been past the Qrt Finals EVER with the BOAT LOADS talent they have over there. That's not good coaching to lose in the 1st round every year, 2nd round once or twice. Again that's not good coaching and definately not anywhere remotely near great coaching.I guess it's just hard for people who never played for Sphire and company. Coach Mo Dixon made me a 10 times better football player. Anyone who played defense for him will tell you the same. Sphire has just mind bottled Suwanee with his winning ways.

No No No. North Gwinnett does not shine on a map like a becon for out-of-state transfers. Sure we have had some recently, but none of there moves to Ga were to play football for NG. That's just proposterous. Another thing i can't fathom why anyone thinks that Coach Sphire is the Great Promoter Guy. None of you know him or have ever talked to him obviously. He is well mannered and treats all of his players like a son. This man is a film junkie along with Mo Dixon. Sphire's great coaches and coaching are what makes NG what it is year in and year out. No doubt we have talent, but it's not 6'5" recievers running 4.4s or 6'7" 380 OL or athletes with freakish Sparq Training scores. Just average football players who have been coached up to be good if not great football players.

Might sound crazy, but it's just because you've never seen or experienced what I'm talking about.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"ACC12_SEC13Booster....Please do not type of here that you think Maloof and company are some of the best in GA. lol Get real. Maloof has not been past the Qrt Finals EVER with the BOAT LOADS talent they have over there. That's not good coaching to lose in the 1st round every year, 2nd round once or twice. Again that's not good coaching and definately not anywhere remotely near great coaching."

A program doesn't have to win state titles to have great coaching, a program just has to have stability under the guidance of a great teacher and mentor, a definition to which both Keith Maloof and Bob Sphire fit perfectly.

Heck, just making the playoffs, not to mention competiting for and winning region titles is quite a feat in and of itself in a region as tough and as difficult as 7-AAAAA.

In his five playoffs appearances, Keith Maloof has only lost in the first round once, in his first playoff appearance in 2005, the other four times he has advanced to at least the second round, even advancing to the Quarterfinals in 2006.

Also the Norcross program is known around the nation particularly for coaching up and producing great college-bound receivers, defensive backs and running backs.

As I mentioned before, Maloof and staff may not be as consistent as Bob Sphire has been in winning in no fewer than 10 games in each of his first five seasons at NG, but like Sphire in '08 & '09, Maloof has still managed to win back-to-back region titles (in '06 & '07, both of which came at the expense of Sphire in his first two seasons at NG).

Maloof has also managed to make the playoffs in five of the last six seasons, winning at least one playoff game in four of those appearances.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"I guess it's just hard for people who never played for Sphire and company. Coach Mo Dixon made me a 10 times better football player. Anyone who played defense for him will tell you the same. Sphire has just mind bottled Suwanee with his winning ways."

It's not that hard for people to figure as the numbers speak for themselves with Bob Sphire winning no fewer than 10 games, qualifying for the playoffs and winning at least one playoff game in each of his five seasons at North Gwinnett, advancing to the Quarterfinals in three of those seasons and advancing to the State Final in 2007.

There is absolutely no doubt to the greatness of Bob Sphire as he came to Georgia after a very successful run in Kentucky where he won a state title.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"Another thing i can't fathom why anyone thinks that Coach Sphire is the Great Promoter Guy."

Nobody ever said that it's a bad thing that people think of Coach Sphire as a great promoter for the North Gwinnett football program and Georgia high school football in general because, if anything it's been a spectacular thing for ALL of Georgia high school football.

It's just that people think of Coach Sphire as a great promoter because of his willingness to showcase the NG program in front of national audiences and even get other local teams involved like he has done in having NG and other local teams like Grayson and even Central Gwinnett play against nationally-ranked and renowned teams in what used to be or what is still named the Progressive National Football Challenge early in the season.

The game that NG lost to #1 Byrnes of South Carolina that featured #1 high school running back Marcus Lattimore (now at SC) helped to get the Bulldogs alot of national attention back in 2008, but the game where NG beat a nationally-ranked and highly regarded Crenshaw team from California last season really helped to put NG football on the map while dramatically increasing the national perception and enhancing the reputation of Georgia high school football all over the country.

That game that featured NG, a Georgia team beating a California team has made people think that Georgia has a more competitive and better high school football scene than does California on at least a per-capita basis.

The NG win over Crenshaw on NATIONAL television not only dramatically increased the attractiveness of the NG program, but made DIVISION-I (FBS) SCOUTS, the national college football media and everyone else involved with both college and high school football think that Georgia is the most competitive state for high school football behind just Florida and Texas.

Because of the NG win over Crenshaw, Division-I scouts across the nation are much more likely to head to Georgia before California when doing out-of-state recruiting, I mean, the implications of that one game were just so huge for high school football in the state of Georgia.

People around the nation knew that Georgia had lots of talent, but that game shined a spotlight on the depth and the amount of talent that is in Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia.

Bob Sphire and the NG Bulldogs have represented the state of Georgia exceedingly well in those nationally-televised and nationally-watched contests against highly-regarded nationally-ranked out-of-state opponents and it has paid dividends for the ENTIRE state as even more good high school football players from the state of Georgia are even more likely than before to earn a full-ride football scholarship to pay for their college educations.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"No No No. North Gwinnett does not shine on a map like a becon for out-of-state transfers. Sure we have had some recently, but none of there moves to Ga were to play football for NG. That's just proposterous."

With the stellar winning record in a county known for winning state titles in football and producing Division-I (FBS) athletes, the national TV appearances, the matchups against tough highly regarded nationally-ranked competition and the scholarships to SEC schools, I would have to say that North Gwinnett definitely shines like a beacon on a map for out-of-state transfers.

Just like Norcross is known for producing Division-I quality receivers, defensive backs and running backs, North Gwinnett is known AROUND THE NATION particularly for producing great quarterbacks and interior linemen in addition to producing quality players at each position all over the field.

Now I'm NOT saying that NG goes out and recruits or entices players to come the football program as that would be unethical and there is NO proof of that, but a program that wins at as high of a clip in one of the most competitive communities in one most competitive states in the country for high school football, will automatically draw the attention of out-of-district and out-of-state transfers.

In most cases these days, quality players and their parents will do their own homework to investigate which are the best programs in an area they are relocating to and will pick the school district that they think is best for them to move into as they are always likely looking to give their child the best available opportunity at earning a scholarship for postsecondary education, which with today's increasingly outrageous costs for tutition, books, room and board, I can't blame them one bit for trying to find a way for them and their child to not be saddled with huge amounts of debt in just attempting to pay for the cost of a college education.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 3 months ago

"None of you know him or have ever talked to him obviously. He is well mannered and treats all of his players like a son. This man is a film junkie along with Mo Dixon. Sphire's great coaches and coaching are what makes NG what it is year in and year out."

Nobody is questioning Coach Sphire's reputation as a leader of men or as a coach as he has a great and well-deserved reputation for leading the NG program with exceptional integrity.

"No doubt we have talent, but it's not 6'5" recievers running 4.4s or 6'7" 380 OL or athletes with freakish Sparq Training scores. Just average football players who have been coached up to be good if not great football players."

Great coaching makes great players who make great teams, though I do remember a couple of years back in '09 when NG had those two 300-plus pound offensive linemen, one 320-pounds and the other 330-pounds, that earned scholarships to SEC schools.

"Might sound crazy, but it's just because you've never seen or experienced what I'm talking about"

What you say doesn't sound crazy one bit as a good coach has to be able to do more than just coach the great players on his team. A good coach also has to coach up the second, third and even fourth-stringers as a team is only as strong as its weakest link.

Coach Sphire's year-in and year-out performance in his time at NG has proved that he coaches up the ENTIRE roster, NOT just the superstars and/or the standout talent.

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NGHS09 3 years, 3 months ago

"A program doesn't have to win state titles to have great coaching, a program just has to have stability under the guidance of a great teacher and mentor, a definition to which both Keith Maloof and Bob Sphire fit perfectly."......

I'm talking about hoe Sphire beats Norcross every year now (with a lot less talent) because he has figured out how to out coach Maloof. Plain an simple.

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