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 there are always a handful of guys who come out of nowhere to become stars in the county. GAC running back Kyle Scales comes to mind this year. I had never heard of the guy until this season. Now it seems like every week he's rushing for 100 yards and three TDs.
But Scales isn't the only one this season. Here's my list of guys that were nowhere on my radar and have become legitimate all-county candidates.
Most of these guys were not full-time starters a year ago, some are coming back from injury and have shined, and others have blossomed after in their first year of varsity action.
• RB Kyle Scales, GAC
One of the county's top rushers, the Spartans can't go a game without Scales having a big game. He leads the county in rushing TDs.
• WR Justin Brownlee, Central Gwinnett
Central stockpiles its receivers, so it was hard for Brownlee to break the lineup last year. The senior has flourished this year and leads the county in catches and receiving yards.
• QB Jordan Ramey, South Gwinnett
Started the final game of the season last year. The senior has looked like a three-year starter. He's put up all-county numbers, throwing for more than 1,000 yards and 10 TDs at the halfway mark.
• LB Duane Lee, Archer
The junior is the Tigers' leading tackler and ranks in the top 10 in the county. Lee is also third in the county in sacks.
• RB DeVozea Felton, Mill Creek
Felton has seen time for the injured Jacorey Lewis and has flourished. He has more than 500 yards rushing and receiving this season.
• RB Josh Brown, Brookwood
Brown played defensive back last year, but has flourished as a running back this year. He shares the ball with Jamaal Cole, but he makes the most out of his carries with big runs.
• QB Daniel David, Mill Creek
There's not many sophomores that can start in Class AAAAAA and be successful. David has thrown for more than 1,000 yards this year and could be the next big-time QB in the county.
• RB/DB Justis Rosser, Parkview
Rosser hasn't put up great numbers, but he's been a big spark on both sides of the ball for the Panthers.
• RB Josh Boyd, South
Boyd played sparingly a year ago. Despite sharing carries with Travon Davis, he's emerged as one of the county't top rushers.
• DB JaQuan Simpkins, Norcross
Simpkins started last year as a sophomore, but didn't make nearly the impact he has this season. He has a pair of interceptions, a fumble returned for a TD, and has become one of the county's top corners.
Who are some other surprise players this season?
IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY
Eagles have athletes, too
Collins Hill's receiver crops looks like a basketball team. Every kid looks like he's 6-2, 200 pounds and they all can run. Throw in quarterback Brett Sheehan, a Florida International commitment, and the Eagles have just as good offensive athletes as anyone else.
Central shut out again
I don't understand how Central Gwinnett, which has the county's top scoring offense, was shutout for the second year by Grayson. The Black Knights didn't have quarterback Eman Westmoreland, but how do you go from 38 points a game to zero?
South is about to be tested
South Gwinnett won big for the fifth straight game. The Comets have the week off and then we'll find out if they are playoff team. South will play defending state champion Grayson, Archer, Brookwood and Parkview. South could go from anywhere from region champion to missing the playoffs.
Buford is back
Buford has responded nicely from its loss to Gainesville earlier this year. The Wolves have won their last three games by a combined 167-0. Buford hasn't played the stiffest competition in those games, but to have that kind of success is impressive.
FROM MY NOTEBOOK
Eagles still bitter about loss
Collins Hill could easily be 5-0 right now. Instead they dropped their season opener to Central Gwinnett 27-21. The Eagles have reeled off four straight wins since the loss and part of that has been become of that season opening defeat.
"Our kids are still bitter about that first game of the season," Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach said. "That Central game is one we talk about."
The Eagles have been pretty dominant during their first region games, winning by a combined 133-17.
"We haven't worried who we are playing, we're just focusing on our assignments and it's working for us," Reach said.
Strength in numbers
I joked with South Gwinnett head coach John Small a few weeks ago that Reggie Carter wore the least flashiest number for a linebacker — No. 49.
"He's making it flashy, though. His goal is to make it flashy," Small said with a laugh. "If he doesn't play well I'm going to give him 71."
It turns out Carter has a reason for wearing No. 49. It was the number given to him when he entered high school at Stephenson. Carter got No. 7 when he transferred to South last year and tore his knee on the 10th play of the season. Carter is a very superstitious guy and wanted to go back to No. 49 this year, no matter how ugly it looks for a linebacker.
WHAT'S ON TAP?
Norcross at Collins Hill
First place in Region 7-AAAAAA on the line with this game. A win for Norcross would just about lock up the region crown.
North Gwinnett at Mill Creek
A lot is on the line in this game. Winner can put itself in position to host a playoff game.
Meadowcreek at Habersham Central
Meadowcreek doesn't make the games to watch list usually, but this could be the Mustangs' best shot at a win. Habersham has struggled in Region 7-AAAAAA this season.
Buford at White County
White County is coached by former Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Ballard. The Warriors were 3-7 last year, but appear to be back to playoff form. They'll get their test against mighty Buford, which has been on a roll the last three games.