Photo: Karl L. Moore Mill Creek's Brendan York (2) looks to cut upfield behind Central's Kendall Martin (22) during the GFL 10 year-old championship Saturday at Collins Hll.
Also, see Sunday's print edition of the Daily Post for a photo page from the championship games.
As many of Gwinnett County's high school football teams began preparations this past weekend for the state playoffs, the feeder league that funnels talent into those programs was wrapping up its season with Championship Saturday.
The Gwinnett Football League's postseason culminated in Saturday's title games at Collins Hill High School and nine age-group championships were won, ranging from 6-year-olds up to eighth-graders. Both Brookwood and Peachtree Ridge won a pair of age-group titles each.
The following is a game-by-game recap of the championship games:
Buford National North 19, Lawrenceville American North 7
Buford National North defeated Lawrenceville American North 19-7 in the 6-year-old championship game. The Wolves (11-1) handed Lawrenceville (11-1) its first loss of the season.
Buford's John Frazier opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when he raced off tackle on the right side of the line for a 43-yard touchdown run. In the Gwinnett Football League, ages 6-10 play on a 80-yard field, so midfield is the 40. Frazier also scored the conversion and the Wolves led 7-0.
After a Buford fumble was recovered by the Black Knights, Lawrenceville's Tyler Robinson scored from two yards on a wing back trap over the left side. Joseph Stone Jr. converted the extra point and with 7:25 left the score was tied at 7.
Buford regained the lead with 3:22 remaining before halftime when Damian Brown scored from 33 yards on an end around. The conversion was no good and the Wolves led 13-7.
Lawrenceville has a chance to tie or go ahead just before halftime but the Buford defense stopped the Black Knights on fourth-and-goal as the horn sounded.
Buford again converted a Black Knights turnover into points as it recovered a fumble and Frazier scored the game's final touchdown. The key to the drive was a third-and-10 conversion where Buford's Julian Martin picked up the first down to keep the drive alive.
Peachtree Ridge National South 20, Dacula National East 13
In a battle of undefeated teams, Peachtree Ridge's Caleb Downs scored three touchdows to lead the Lions to a 20-13 win over Dacula in the 7-year-old championship.
Downs opened the scoring with 7:56 left in the opening quarter when he ran 23 yards for the score. Downs, who usually lines up at running back, took the snap in the Wildcat formation and converted the point after for a 7-0 lead.
The teams traded possessions until 3:44 remained until the half when Downs scored from 18 yards. Jameel Peters converted the extra point and the Peachtree Ridge lead was 14-0.
Dacula opened the third quarter by getting right back in the game when Mykel Threat raced 52 yards around left end for a touchdown. Mason Kidd converted the extra point and the Lions' lead was cut to 14-7.
In the game's turning point, Peachtree Ridge attempted a swing pass that was intercepted by Dacula's Luke Layson on the Lions' 25. With only a clear field ahead of him, he looked to be going in for the score but was caught and the ball was stripped and recovered by Downs on the 4-yard line. On the very next play, Downs took the Wildcat snap around the end for a 76-yard touchdown run. The conversion was no good and the lead was 20-7.
Dacula gave itself a chance for a miracle finish when Threat scored with 4:26 left in the game to make the score 20-13.
The Falcons got the ball with less than a minute left and after a Kidd scramble gained 30 yards to the Lions' 25, Peachtree Ridge's Nico Dowdell intercepted a Dacula pass to seal the win.
Brookwood American North 32, Dacula National North 12
Alexander Diggs scored three touchdowns to help Brookwood American North (11-1) to a 32-12 win over previously undefeated Dacula National North (11-1) in the 8-year-old championship. It was the third straight age-group title for this Bronco team.
In the first quarter, Dacula recovered a Broncos fumble and converted it to points when Markus Clark connected with Peyton Rinker on a 40-yard completion with 4:51 remaining. The conversion failed and the Falcons held a 6-0 lead.
Brookwood came right back and tied the game on a Diggs 15-yard touchdown run on a inside trap. The Broncos also failed to convert the extra point and the game was tied at 6.
Brookwood gained the lead with 1:53 to go before halftime. After Diggs gained 25 yards on a sweep, Bronco quarterback Brant Baughcum took the sneak in from the one on fourth-and-goal. Baughcum connected with Makai Williams for the conversion to make the score 13-6.
Williams again came up big as he intercepted a Dacula pass on the next possession. A 43-yard run by Diggs moved the ball to Falcons 12 where the Broncos raced down the field and spiked the ball with seven seconds left until halftime. Baughcum connected with Williams for the touchdown to make the score 19-6 at the half.Brookwood took the kick in the second half and drove into Falcons territory but Dacula's VanDale Nute intercepted a Baughcum pass to end the drive.
Dacula cut the lead to 19-12 when Roberto Bryant scored on a 41-yard run where he started on the right side of the field and ended up crossing the goal line on the left side of the field.
Diggs put the suspense of the game away on the first play from scrimmage of the next drive as he ran 50 yards for the score. Baughcum converted the extra point to make it 26-12. Diggs capped his day with another touchdown to close out the scoring.
Grayson American East 24, Grayson American South 13
It was a battle of classmates for the 9-year-old championship. With two Grayson teams in the finals, the second-seeded American South squad got to wear the green jerseys while the American East squad had to wear an alternate white jersey. In the end, Grayson white defeated Grayson green 24-13.
East opened the scoring when Tre Freeman scored on a running play where he stiff-armed two potential tacklers and broke a third attempt to score. The extra point kick was blocked and the score was 6-0.
South came right back as it marched down the field on the ensuing possession. Jaden Smith scored on a 15-yard run up the middle. The extra point was no good and the game was tied at 6.
East regained the lead with 2:06 remaining before halftime. Freeman raced 53 yards through a huge hole for the score lifting white to a 12-6 lead.
Freeman saved his best run for his last touchdown. On fourth down from midfield, Ian Schieffelin lined up in the shotgun, Scheffelin took the snap and as his leg swung forward in the punting motion he handed the ball behind his back to Freeman. South was not fooled, but Freeman spun backward, broke four tackles and raced 40 yards for the score.
Leading 18-6, East padded its lead when Scheffelin took a pitch and raced to the right only to throw back to the left for a 23-yard touchdown to Julian Mackey. The scoring play was made possible when Renoldo Spivey converted a third-and-15.
South narrowed the lead to 24-13 when Jake Whitten ran 40 yards for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage after the East touchdown. Henry Hunter converted the extra point.
South had two more chances to narrow the lead but one drive ended in a fumble recovery by Fernando Sanchez and Giye Jenkins intercepted a pass to seal the win.
Mill Creek National East 20, Lawrenceville American East 7
Mill Creek National East defeated Lawrenceville American East 20-7 in a game that featured seven turnovers.
Mill Creek (12-0) fumbled on its opening possession and it was recovered by Lawrenceville (10-2). One play after Mill Creek dropped a sure interception in the end zone, the Black Knights faced fourth-and-three on the 25. Kendall Martin took a handoff and ran the distance down the right sideline for the touchdown. Justin Wilkins converted the extra point to give Lawrenceville a 7-0 lead.
At the beginning of the second quarter the Black Knights faced a fourth-and-two at midfield. The Hawks' Brendan York picked off the pass attempt to end the drive. Mill Creek drove inside the Lawrenceville 10 only to fumble and lose the ball as Noah Bailey recovered for the Black Knights.
Lawrenceville was able to move out to its 25 but gave it back to the Hawks on a fumble that was recovered by Mill Creek's Ronald Clarke. The Hawks were able to convert this turnover into points as York scored on a 1-yard run with 2:20 left in the half. Ryan Birch converted the extra point to tie the game at 7.
Lawrenceville opened the second half with a 40-yard pass completion from Brandon Boston to Martin, which moved the ball to the Hawks' 11. On third-and-goal from the 10, Birch intercepted a Boston pass to end the drive in the end zone.
Mill Creek gained the lead with 5:35 left in the third quarter when York ran 57 yards for the score. Colby Brookshire converted the extra point and the Hawks led 14-7. After another Lawrenceville drive ended with a Birch fumble recovery for the Hawks, Mill Creek closed out the game when Birch scored on a 3-yard run.
Eighth grade, division II Finals
Brookwood American North 12, Peachtree Ridge American North 6
Brookwood quarterback Tanner Winskie completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Sanders with 4:59 left to give the Broncos a 12-6 win over the Lions in the eighth-grade Division II title game.
After a 58-yard punt return by Sanders, the Broncos got on the board first late in the first quarter on a QB keeper from Winskie from seven yards out. The extra point try failed, making the score 6-0.
Peachtree Ridge drove down the field on the next drive and almost tied the game up. But quarterback Zane Ashley mistakenly thought he had scored when crossing the 10-yard line and tossed the ball toward the referee. Brookwood recovered the ball in the end zone and held on to a 6-0 lead.
The Lions tied it up late in the third on a 20-yard run around the right end by Stephon Bailey. Brandon Foster stopped Bailey on the extra point try to keep the score at 6-6.
Brookwood's Nick Manget intercepted a pass from Ashley at his own 45 and returned it to the Lions' 33 in the second quarter. Shortly thereafter, Peachtree Ridge's Tray Pratt intercepted a pass from Winskie on fourth down.
The Broncos' Max Booth sacked Ashley on third down with 1:08 left to force a fourth and 19 on the Lions.
Dacula National South 8, North Gwinnett National North 0
Mekhail Bethea scored on a three-yard run with 25 seconds remaining in the game to give Dacula's 11-year-olds their fifth straight championship with an 8-0 win over North Gwinnett.
The score was set up by a big pass completion from Jalen Perry to Cameron Grove with 2:44 remaining, getting the Falcons to the 17-yard line.
North Gwinnett came up with a big completion from Colin Wainwright to Josh Rose for 25 yards to set up a potential pass to tie the game. Wainwright lined up and seemed to spike the ball with 4 seconds left. But the referee ruled the play a fumble and allowed the clock to run out.
Dacula recovered a fumble at its own 12 by North's Kameron Brown with 1:25 to go in the first, stopping a potential scoring drive. The Falcons' defense stopped the Bulldogs again at the end of the second quarter when Perry picked off a pass at the 4-yard line.
Justin Bullock recovered a fumble for the Falcons in the third quarter a minute after the Bulldogs had covered up a fumble at their own 18-yard line.
South Gwinnett American North 36, Mountain View American South 6
South Gwinnett got on the board early with a 27-yard touchdown run by Kendall Williamson 1:08 into the game and went on to defeat Mountain View 36-6.
D. Hill gave the Comets another TD with 4:55 left in the first with a run off right tackle into the end zone. Brandon Gregory put the extra point through to make the score 14-0.
Jalen Stephens ran in South's third touchdown of the game from 22 yards out with 9:15 to go in the second quarter. Mountain View covered up a fumble by Hill midway through the quarter, but the Bears were unable to turn it into points.
Angelo DiSpigna completed a TD pass to Evan Fleming for a touchdown with 3:43 remaining in the half, and Gregory added another kick to make the score 28-0 going into halftime.
South's Jeffery Whigham recovered a fumble with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter at the Comets' 40. At the 1:01 mark in the third, Myles Barnum ran the ball 30 yards for a score, and Gregory hit his third kick of the day to make the score 36-0.
Mountain View's Tre McMillan returned a kickoff to South's 32-yard line early in the fourth quarter and was barely stopped by Barnum. A few plays later, McMillan ran in from the 3 to give the Bears a TD.
Eighth grade, Division I Finals
Peachtree Ridge National South 21, Grayson American South 6
An unusual play with two turnovers hurt Grayson's comeback chances in the fourth quarter, and a 42-yard TD run by Ryan Kyle with 2:59 left put the finishing touches on Peachtree Rigde's 21-6 victory.
The Rams were inside the Lions' 10-yard line down 14-0 late in the third when Mark Lancaster recovered a fumble by Jordan Cornelius. Lancaster returned the ball to near midfield but was stripped by a chasing Grayson defender. The Rams' Isaiah Pryor recovered the ball and returned it to the Lions' 38, but a penalty on the play backed Grayson up more.
DeAndre Byrd backed Grayson later on the drive with a sack with 7:07 remaining in the game. But a minute later, Chase Brice avoided the pass rush and found Evan Sturgill open for a 35-yard touchdown.
Kyle put the first points up for Peachtree Ridge with 1:42 to go in the first with a 2-yard TD run.
Khalil Newton stopped Grayson's next drive with an interception late in the first. With 6:26 to go before halftime, Breon Dixon ran through a pair of Rams defenders and into the end zone from 12 yards out. Conner Heyward ran in the extra point try to put the score at 14-0.Grayson's Matthew Greenway picked off a pass with 5:48 to go in the third, and he also caught a pass to earn a first down on a fake punt that would set up Grayson's scoring drive in the third.
Lancaster and Dixon sacked Brice twice in the second quarter. Grayson's Sam Warren recorded a sack of his own late in the first half, and he combined with Larry Brooks for another in the third quarter.