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THE BLITZ: Top 10 players not named Nkemdiche

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.

Grayson was off on Friday, which means the nation's No. 1 college recruit Robert Nkemdiche was able to take the night off and no quarterbacks were harmed.

I love Nkemdiche. He's the best high school football player to come through the county and maybe even the state. (I know some old-timers will argue with that statement.) He's very cordial and respectful during interviews, which is also a plus.

The Grayson defensive end/running back has gotten a lot of publicity over the years. This year's he's overshadowed some pretty skillful players. Take away Nkemdiche and you still have a pretty talented group of players in the county.

So here are my top 10 players in the county not named Nkemdiche. Sorry offensive linemen, you get no love on this list. To make this list, these are the guys I think are worth the $7 admission to a game.

Who are your favorite players to watch?

Alvin Kamara, Norcross, RB

Kamara has been putting together highlight reel plays since his sophomore year. He's a versatile running back, picking up yards on sweeps and between tackles. He's also a threat catching the ball.

Trey Johnson, Central Gwinnett, LB

If Johnson had a dollar for every tackle he's made the last two years, he'd be a rich man. The Auburn commit flies from sideline to sideline and his double-digit tackles each week are legit.

Kelsey Griffin, Mill Creek, DL

If Nkemdiche wasn't around, we would be talking about Griffin every week. The big guy has anchored Mill Creek's defensive line the last three years just like Nkemdiche has for Grayson. The only difference in the two is Griffin is a little quieter with the media. There's nothing wrong with that. He's just not as hyped because of it.

Chris Carson, Parkview, RB

The most underrated running back in the state. Everyone knows he's going to get the ball 25 times a game and he still rushes for well over 100 yards each game.

Jamaal Cole, Brookwood, RB

It seems like Cole has been running the ball at Brookwood for five years. The three-year starter is finally a senior, so defenses will have to put up with him another season.

Donnie Miles, North Gwinnett, CB/RB

Arguably the top corner in the county, Miles also has the ability to carry the ball on offense. His big-play ability makes him a threat every time he's in the game.

Marcus Cox, Dacula, RB/WR/QB

Cox has been around for three years and has played just about every position but offensive line. He's a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

Ernest Alexander, Archer, RB/LB

A state champion wrestler, Alexander is also a beast to bring down at running back. He's also a force at linebacker on defense for the Tigers.

Wayne Gallman, Grayson, RB/LB

Gallman might be the county's top running back if he didn't also start on defense. The Clemson commit has a knack for making big plays on both sides of the ball.

Myles Campbell, Duluth, WR/KR

Campbell is one of those guys that you have to find a way to get the ball in his hands. Once you do, you just have to sit back and watch. The speedy guy has a way to make defenders miss as a receiver and kick returner.

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Impressions from Friday

Buford loss not bad (Game Story)

Buford experienced a rare loss on Friday, falling to Class AAAAA's Gainesville 19-15. It was the Wolves' first home loss since 2006.

This year's team is starting to remind me of the 2009 team. That group followed a talented senior-laden team that year and lost to Lovett early that season to snap the program's long region winning streak. They were a young team that bounced back to win the next 12 games, including the state title. This year's team is following another talented class and I can see that same scenario playing out this season. The Wolves have a lot of inexperienced players that will only get better over the next eight regular season games. It was a rare loss for Buford and I would be surprised if there's another one this regular season.

Mill Creek is a playoff caliber team (Game Story)

I wasn't sold on Mill Creek making the playoffs this season. Despite them losing to Brookwood on Friday, I think they have a playoff caliber team. This is the best looking team I have ever seen in Hoschton. I think they can be better than the 2010 team. Whether or not they can make the quarterfinals like that year's team is too soon to tell.

Not sold on Central (Game Story)

I was just about to jump on the Central bandwagon until the Black Knights gave up 42 points to Clarke Central last week. It looked like Central had found a defense after its Week 1 win over Collins Hill. Despite winning 45-42 over Clarke, the Black Knights appear to have the same problems as last year. They allowed more than 400 yards of offense, including a 244-yard rusher. Three of Clarke's scores came on big plays of 25 yards of more. Central can't continue to do that if it wants to make the playoffs this year.

Autry family likes Parkview (Game Story)

The Autry family has a knack for having big games against Parkview.

Norcross' Myles Autry scored two touchdowns, including a 75-yard punt return TD in Thursday's 20-0 win over the Panthers. Autry also caught a five-yard TD on offense. The running back/receiver finished with 71 yards rushing.

It was a nice performance a year after older brother Anthony, a freshman at Georgia Tech, turned in a nice game a year ago against the Panthers. Anthony Autry had two touchdown catches, an interception and fumble recovery in last season 35-14 win over Parkview.

•••

What's on tap

Region play starts this week in Region 7-AAAAAA and 8-AAAAAA.

We kind of have an idea of who the top teams are in both regions, but that will change over the next month.

Each region has some pretty big games with the biggest being Norcross at North Gwinnett. Norcross blew a 22-0 second-half lead last year to lose to the Bulldogs. The winner of this game will be the front-runner for the region title.

Mountain View travels to Mill Creek in a rematch of last year's surprising win by the Bears over the Hawks.

Collins Hill goes to Habersham Central and will welcome the Raiders to Region 7 play.

The big game over is Region 8 is Archer at Brookwood. Tigers head coach Andy Dyer is a Brookwood alum and nearly led the Tigers to a win over the Broncos last season. Both teams reached the playoffs last year and are playoff contenders this season.

•••

From my notebook

0-2 starts not that bad

Peachtree Ridge and Dacula reached the playoffs last year, but both teams are 0-2 this season. Lions and Falcons fans shouldn't panic just yet. Peachtree Ridge was 0-2 in 2008 and reached the state championship game. Dacula started 0-2 and made it to the state quarterfinals last season. The Lions had a bye last week and the Falcons showed some fight in the fourth quarter of Friday's game. It's a been a rough few weeks for both programs, but there's still a lot of football to be played.

Cole fine sharing the ball

For the past two years, Brookwood's Jamaal Cole had to share the backfield with Nick Tompkins, now a freshman at Michigan State.

It looked like Cole would have the backfield to himself this year, but doesn't appear to be the case. Josh Brown rushed for 225 yards in Friday's win and will likely share carries with Cole the rest of the year.

"He's a great compliment to Jamaal," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said of Brown. "You got two guys back there that are great running the ball."

After Friday's game, Cole said he would be fine with sharing carries with Brown just like he did with Tompkins.

"I like it a lot," Cole said. "I'm not the kind of person that gets jealous about that kind of stuff."

No Bronco QB controversy

Brookwood backup quarterback Joey McLane played one series in the second half of Friday's win over Mill Creek. The junior came into the game to get some experience and not because starter Zach Moon was injured or playing bad.

"That was sort of pre-determined. I talked to both of them during the summer. They both have been in really good competition all summer," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "I just sort of felt Joey deserved to play a little bit in a game situation. I talked to them both about it. It's not a demotion or anything (for Zach). It was a pre-planned thing. We have two quarterbacks in our whole program just about. So I want the other one to play a little bit just in case something happens. We've got a guy with a little game experience under his belt. I think he went in and did a good job."

McLane, whose older brother Ben led the Broncos to the state title in 2010, was 1 of 3 passing for seven yards and he led guided the Broncos to a scoring drive. Moon was 4 of 7 for 37 yards.

Impressed with Mill Creek QB

When Mill Creek lost its starting quarterback a month ago, I thought the Hawks were done before the season started. With a sophomore quarterback, I thought there was no way the Hawks could be a factor this season. Then Daniel David was a solid 5 of 10 for 84 yards with two TDs in the season opening win over Dacula.

"I was pleased with his poise," Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis said.

I saw David in person on Friday and was impressed. He didn't look like a guy making his second start against Brookwood. David has pretty good size at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and a nice arm. He was 13 of 24 passing for 227 yards. He had a nice 51-yard touchdown pass. His numbers probably would have been better if receivers didn't drop four passes. By my count, he only had one ugly pass during the Hawks' final drive.

David is a good quarterback and it might be a blessing in disguise that he was given the starting job by default.

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