THE BLITZ: Success in Gwinnett not as easy as it looks

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.

Meadowcreek lost again on Friday. It was the program's 44th straight loss, breaking its own county record of 43 games.

Friday's 31-12 loss to Habersham Central was the program's best shot at a win since it beat Duluth in 2008. Now it looks like Meadowcreek will post its fourth straight winless season.

Although he's never won a game as a head coach, the Mustangs' Deario Grimmage is one of the most respected coaches in the county by his peers.

Although many observers can't tell by the win-loss record, Grimmage has made strides with the program.

Grimmage has told me repeatedly he plans to stay at Meadowcreek until it's successful. I don't know how long it will take for that to happen.

But here are my thoughts and ideas on how to improve the program.

Build a feeder program

Meadowcreek doesn't have a youth team that feeds directly into the school. (They share a youth team with Berkmar.) The Mustangs need a youth program that can develop high school players, so they are not learning the system as freshmen or sophomores.

Football 101 class

Meadowcreek is the most culturally diverse school in the county. Many kids didn't get grow up watching or playing football. As a result, they don't know the sport. Create an elective class, just like weight training or PE, that teaches kids the game of football. From the plays and positions to the history of the sport.

Play a non-region schedule

Meadowcreek is at a disadvantage playing in the toughest area in the state for high school football. There are several teams within a reasonable driving distance that could still challenge the program to get better, but also get some much-needed wins to build a sense of pride. I think still playing teams like Shiloh and Berkmar is a must, but also adding teams like Cross Keys, Hebron and Winder-Barrow would help build the program.

Participate in passing league

Meadowcreek participated in several passing league tourneys last year for the first time. They need to continue to do this and be a regular participant in the Gwinnett Passing League. It's not necessarily about working on pass routes and throwing the ball, but the competition aspect.

Publicize the program

With Facebook and Twitter, it's so easy to publicize your program. The Mustangs need to promote when players have good games, earn awards or do something good in the school. Post it to your web site, make it known on Facebook/Twitter, send something to media outlets. This will build recognition for the pogrom in the community and help build confidence with the team.

Coaches in the building

Meadowcreek's coaching staff is made of predominately volunteer coaches. The team needs coaches on staff that are in the building to help keep players accountable.

Keep players at Meadowcreek

Many of Meadowcreek's top players over the years haven't played for the Mustangs. They've transferred to other schools. Almost every year, they lose some of their best players to surrounding schools.

Get involved in the community

The Mustangs have to do things in the community such as volunteer work, fundraising, special appearances to have a presence in the community. Once they are able to do that, more community businesses will want to help support them.

Consistency with the head coach

When head coach Deario Grimmage was hired in 2010, he was the fourth head coach in as many years. Grimmage has told me he's going to be at Meadowcreek for awhile to build the program. That kind of consistency will pay off in the long run.


Mill Creek not ready

I thought Mill Creek was ready to become one of the top teams in the region. The Hawks had their chance against defending region champion North Gwinnett on Friday. I was wrong. After taking a 14-10 lead, they gave up 20 points in the final two minutes of the second half and lost 47-28 .

Mill Creek will end up as the third or fourth seed from the region, which is not a bad thing, but I thought this team would be more of a factor for a No. 2 slot.

Either way, this will be a dangerous road team when the playoffs start next month.

North finds running game

When I saw North Gwinnett play Norcross a few weeks ago it was very noticeable that the Bulldogs didn't have a running game. Quarterback Michael Haynes was doing everything on offense.

It appears North finally found a running back. Cam Lewis produced a 100-yard game in Friday's win over Mill Creek.

Lewis posted 117 yards a week after rushing for 96 yards. The emergence of Lewis only takes the pressure of Haynes to do everything on offense and makes it that much harder for opposing defense to stop them.

Region 8 is deeper

Region 8 has produced the last two state champions. When Parkview defeated defending state champion Grayson, it showed the state how deep the region is week in and week out.

When you look at last week's games, I think it shows the depth of the region even more.

Winless Dacula hung with Parkview to lose 26-21. Shiloh stayed with 2010 state champion Brookwood and fell 30-24.

This isn't a region that has just four or five good teams. This is a region that has six or seven legitimate playoff caliber teams.

Central needs healthy QB

Central's Eman Westmoreland is one of the most prolific passers in Gwinnett County history. The Black Knights could sure use him healthy. After being injured against South Gwinnett two weeks ago, the Black Knights' offense has struggled without a healthy Westmoreland. Central has scored just eight points in the last two games after averaging nearly 38 points the first four games.

Don't forget about the Rams

It's kind of funny how all the hype surrounding Grayson has disappeared since the Rams lost to Parkview a month ago.

I think some of that has to do with the coaches and players locking down on media access and social media publicity.

Grayson has reeled off four straight wins since its loss. The Rams have won 114-0 in their last two games. No one is talking about Grayson right now, but I feel like they'll be back in the limelight in about a month.


There aren't a whole lot of big games this week, but here are a few worth checking out this week.

South Gwinnett at Grayson

South can determine its playoff destiny. The Comets are undefeated in the region, but face the meat of their schedule over the next four games. It begins with defending state champion Grayson. The Comets' high-powered offense will face Grayson's stingy defense.

Mill Creek at Duluth

Duluth was a thorn in North Gwinnett's and Peachtree Ridge's side. The Wildcats are looking for a signature win. A victory against Mill Creek would put them in the playoff hunt.


Don't talk to me about me

I did a story about Gwinnett County coaches reaching 100 wins. The group includes Grayson's Mickey Conn, Brookwood's Mark Crews, Buford's Jess Simpson and Norcross' Keith Maloof.

While all the coaches were proud of the accomplishment, you could tell none of them really liked talking about the achievement. Good coaches would rather talk about their players and not themselves.

"Most coaches will tell you they are focused on the next one," Simpson said. "I don't think most are adding them up."