Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson quarterback David McTier (14) calls out the play besides offensive linemen Taylor Ride (53) and Gage Schraub (54) during high school football action of the Corky Kell Classic between Grayson and McEachern at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on August 25, 2012.
Miami Central (Fla.) Rockets
• Coach: Telly Lockette
• Record: 1-0
• Last week: Beat Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 15-7
• Team page
• Coach: Mickey Conn
• Record: 1-0
• Last week: Beat McEachern 31-12
• When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
• TV: ESPNU/ESPN3
• Stadium information
Robert Nkemdiche makes it clear. He wants to win a national championship. The Grayson defensive end/running back guided the Rams to a state championship last year.
The nation's No. 1 college recruit would like to repeat as state champs, but wants to add national champion to his resume.
"We're going for the state championship of course and we're also going for a national championship as well," Nkemdiche said earlier this month.
Grayson, the No. 1 ranked team in the country by ESPN.com, can help its chances for a national title tonight. The Rams host Miami Central, the No. 1 team in the nation according to USA Today.
"There's a buzz around town," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "We're playing the No. 1 team in the country by USA Today. Of course, we're No. 1 with ESPN. There's a lot at stake with a national championship and staying in the national rankings."
It's been 20 years since a Georgia school won a high school national championship. Valdosta was ranked No. 1 in the country by the National Sports News Service in 1992. LaGrange won it the previous year when it was No. 1 by USA Today.
Miami Central has played for the last two state championships in Florida's Class 6A, winning the 2010 title. The Rockets were 13-1 last year.
The last time Miami Central, which is located seven miles north of downtown Miami, traveled to Georgia it played Camden County in 2010 and lost 45-42.
Grayson has won its last 23 regular season games at home dating back to 2006 and has won its last five home openers.
Tonight's game will be littered with future college players. Nkemdiche is the nation's top recruit and is headed to Clemson along with teammates Wayne Gallman and David Kamara. Defensive ends Jack Banda (Arizona) and Zachary Barnes (Tennessee) are future BCS players, while defensive backs Kasey Gaines and Ryan Carter have Division I scholarship offers.
Miami Central brings its own group of talented players. The Rockets feature running back Joseph Yearby, who rushed for 2,160 yards and 24 TDs last season as a sophomore, and is a Florida State commitment.
Running back Dalvin Cook (Clemson commit), cornerback Da'Wan Hunte (N.C. State), linebacker Marquez Hodge (Syracuse) and safety Ahmad Thomas (Oklahoma) have already made college commitments. Trevor Darling, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle, has committed to Miami. Linebacker Chris Herise is a college prospect as well.
"I think they have 13 guys with Division I offers," Conn said. "They are fast and big and good athletes. But those offers don't play football. This is high school football. I think it's a great chance for the guys that have a chip on their shoulder and aren't D-I kids."
Miami Central opened the season last Friday with a 15-7 win over Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer. Yearby scored on a 15-yard touchdown out of a Wildcat formation and kicker Emilio Nadelman went 3-for-3 on field goals. The Rockets' defense had two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Grayson forced two second-half turnovers in its 31-12 over McEachern last week. Offensive linemen Hayden Gregory and Gage Schraub guided the Rams' offense, which racked up 303 yards rushing.
Carter had a 72-yard interception return to go along with five tackles. Gallman posted five tackles and rushed for 64 yards and a TD on offense.
"Defensively, I like how we made adjustments in the second half," Conn said. "What I didn't like was the three turnovers and giving up two big plays on defense. That's uncharacteristic of us."