PREP FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Central finds a way to win

Photo: Craig Cappy — Central Gwinnett's Jourdin Shiloh (5) runs the ball during Friday's game against Parkview.

Photo: Craig Cappy — Central Gwinnett's Jourdin Shiloh (5) runs the ball during Friday's game against Parkview.


Collins Hill quarterback Brett Sheehan (12) runs for a touchdown against North Gwinnett defenders Colton Stackhouse (26) and Bobby Young (12) during high school football action at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee on Friday.

Central Gwinnett committed a facemask penalty on the opening kickoff of Friday night's victory over seventh-ranked Parkview, and followed it up by totaling five penalties for 35 yards on the Panthers' first drive.

The flags kept mounting on the second Parkview possession, including a third-and-10 from the Central 14-yard line that saw the Black Knights jump offsides on back-to-back plays and give the visitors a first down. Those mistakes led to the Panthers' first touchdown and a 16-3 edge in offensive plays late in the first quarter.

It wasn't exactly the way Central wanted to start and it wasn't the last adversity head coach Todd Wofford's team would face in a 30-27, triple-overtime victory.

A Parkview interception for a TD tied the game, then another pick at the Panther 1-yard line completed turned the momentum and put Central in a 24-17 hole with 4:58 left. Instead of panicking, the Black Knights responded with a game-tying touchdown with 1:02 left.

They kept finding ways to win in the extra periods, with Israel Washington's field-goal block in the second overtime staving off defeat and Samir Ramic's game-winning, 35-yard field goal sealing it in the third OT.

"We talked to the seniors about putting something on their resume," Wofford said. "We hadn't beat one of the elite teams yet. I told the seniors to put that our their resume, so they can look back and say, 'I beat this team.'"

Reach says Sheehan will be 'all right'

Collins Hill quarterback Brett Sheehan injured his ankle at the end of the third quarter in Friday's 38-24 loss to North Gwinnett.

Sheehan, who is the county's leading passer, sat out most of the fourth quarterback. The senior is expected to be okay for next week's game against Duluth.

"I think he'll be all right," Collins Hill coach Kevin Reach said after the game.

Sheehan's ankle was twisted as he tried to recover a fumble in the third quarter. He left the game to have it tapped and when he returned threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"He said he couldn't plant on his back foot and it kind of took off," Reach said.

Sheehan was 16 of 26 for 205 yards passing. But was only 3 of 9 for eight yards and one interception in the second half.

"He's a great player and had a great first half," North head coach Bob Sphire said. "Take a guy like that out on any team and you're different."

Road warriors

Taking care of business at home is something most teams expect to do, but in order to be a championship team, winning on the road is also a must.

Norcross proved that fact on Friday night with its 36-3 win at Peachtree Ridge to wrap up the Region 7-AAAAAA title.

That win was another in a line of big games Norcross has had to face on the road this year as the Blue Devils have posted road wins against North Gwinnett, Mill Creek and Collins Hill, all of which are in playoff contention.

"Our biggest games this year have all been on the road," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "I'm real proud of the job we've done. We knew the schedule was like this coming into the season and we knew we had to be ready to play in hostile enviroments."

With the win on Friday, Maloof knows his team will be at home in the first two rounds of the state playoffs, but the prospect of hitting the road could come up again in the quarterfinals.

Norcross also had another big road win to start the year against a non-region opponent by beating South Gwinnett, one of the teams fighting for a playoff berth in Region 8-AAAAAA.

Limited action

A week after returning from a knee injury for brief action against Berkmar, Archer's Ernest Alexander didn't see many more touches against South Gwinnett.

The Tigers' senior running back, who hurt his right knee against Parkview earlier this season, got just five carries in the loss to South for 17 yards and all five carries came in the first half.

Not far to go

Of South's six touchdown drives Friday against Archer, only two needed to use the entire field.

After the defense forced three turnovers on downs, two interceptions and one fumble, South put together scoring drives of 34, 24, 6 and 2 yards. Everyone a touchdown.

"You have to create turnovers and our guys did a great job of that," South head coach John Small said. "We were able to capitalize on it. That's what you've got to do."

Bears' McRae scores first TD of season

Most athletes have some challenges or difficulties to overcome in order to get on the field and make a difference. Mountain View senior Ty McRae has to overcome deafness.

That made his first touchdown of the year a little more special.

After a five-yard penalty moved Mountain View back to the Meadowcreek 10, McRae ran a corner route. Bears quarterback Chris Bartlett threw a rainbow pass in the corner, and McRae pulled it in for a score that increased Mountain View's lead to 21-0 en route to a 48-7 win over Meadowcreek on Friday.

Coach Doug Giacone said it was McRae's first of the season, possibly the first of his career.

"I know Ty made that comment earlier in the season," Giacone said. "That's what he wanted for his senior year. He wanted to be able to score a touchdown. I'm glad we were able to get that for him this night and have everybody cheering for him."

McRae finished the game with the one catch for 10 yards and also ran five times for 20 yards in the fourth quarter.

Berkmar celebrates Deaf Awareness Night

Friday's game between Berkmar and Brookwood had special meaning for the Patriots. It was Deaf Awareness Night.

Berkmar serves Gwinnett County deaf students, and the issue is taken to heart by principal Dr. Michael Zinn.

"We adopted my son five years ago from China and he is deaf," Zinn said.

Zinn said with those circumstances in his own life, being the principal at Berkmar is that much more special.

"We have two deaf football players and multiple others who are involved in other ways around the school," he said. "I would like to see more. I'd love to have more qualified teachers as well. The problem is, universities don't have the programs."

One thing Zinn said he was proud of is how the U.S. as a society takes care of its disabled.

"In China, my son was abandoned," Zinn said. "Most of the disabled are. In the U.S., we have special education laws and services to help people no matter what they're disability is. It makes you proud to be from here."

Missed opportunities

Special teams played a key role in Lanier's 27-18 loss to Stephens County in Region 8-AAAA Friday night in Toccoa. Lanier had a blocked extra point after the first touchdown, a pair of two-point conversions fail following the last two touchdowns, a muffed punt that set up the Indians' final touchdown and a missed 30-yard field goal to open the fourth quater.

Those eight points wouldn't have tied or won the game, but it sure could have changed the way the contest played out.

Lanier quarterback Taylor Grant had a great night for Lanier despite the nine-point loss. Grant hit on 24 of 35 passes for 362 yards with three touchdown passes and one interception.

Grant used six different receivers: Marty Sanders (seven receptions for 129 yards, 1 TD), Onyx Berrios (six receptions for 135 yards, 2 TDs), Austin Westfall (four receptions for 40 yards), Tario Fuller (three receptions for 18 yards), Domonick Jones (two receptions for 33 yards) and Jahbril Jones (two receptions for seven yards).

Grant was 7 of 9 for 89 yards and one TD in the first half. But the senior heated up in the second half and connected on 17 of 26 for 273 yards and two TDs.

-- Sports Editor Will Hammock, staff writers Brandon Brigman and Ben Beitzel, senior correspondent Scott Smith and staff correspondents Michael Buckelew, Chris Stephen and Steve Argos contributed to this story.


NGHS09 2 years, 10 months ago

Both regions will surprise the rest of the state in the playoffs. This year has lived up to the "meat grinder" nickname of Gwinnett's power regions.

Sheehan is a great Qb and I saw plenty of Taylor Heinicke flashbacks, or however you spell it. However, that OL needs to protect him better in the second half of games because NG hit him VERY hard the entire 3rd quarter. Collins Hill will creep up on somebody they are not supposed to in the playoffs. Gwinnett football is just at a different speed and caliber, and the only way to see it or believe it is to play these teams. The rest of AAAAAA will find out in a few weeks :).


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