File Photo Parkview quarterback Rob Youngblood looks to throw the ball during the Panthers' game against Norcross last week.
GRAYSON AT PARKVIEW
GRAYSON RAMS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mickey Conn
Last week: Did not play
PARKVIEW PANTHERS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
Last week: Lost to Norcross 20-0
Last meeting: Grayson won 36-0 last year
Directions to Parkview High School: From I-85, go east on Indian Trail Road until it becomes Killian Hill Road. Turn right on Arcado Road and then left on Cole Drive. School is on the left.
2011 — Grayson 36, Parkview 0
2010 — Grayson 28, Parkview 13
2009 — Grayson 33, Parkview 27
2008 — Grayson 24, Parkview 22
2007 — Grayson 19, Parkview 0
2006 — Grayson 28, Parkview 6
2005 — Parkview 14, Grayson 10
2004 — Parkview 41, Grayson 7
It can be strongly argued that Grayson is currently Gwinnett County's marquee high school football program.
The Rams have posted five straight seasons of 10 wins or more, culminating in last season's Class AAAAA state championship, and are 2-0 out the gate this season with a consensus top-five spot in the national rankings -- including holding the top spot in the ESPN and Rivals.com polls.
While those credentials can be quite intimidating for an opponent, it's likely they won't be Friday at 7:30 when the No. 1 state-ranked Rams visit the Big Orange Jungle to take on Parkview in the Region 8-AAAAAA opener for both teams.
Sure, the Panthers (1-1) have not been as dominant in recent years as they were from from 1995 to 2005, when they won 10 games or more 10 times in an 11-season span, including four state titles and numerous national accolades for the team and individual players.
But the bulk of the coaching staff, including head coach Cecil Flowe, is still intact from those glory years.
"Parkview's got great tradition, and we're still trying to establish (that kind of) tradition," Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. "It's an honor to be mentioned in the same conversation as Parkview and Cecil. ... I'm sure they'll have some things we haven't seen and will have to adjust to."
If there is any staff that understands what makes a team on a roll like Grayson is on right now tick, and how to prepare a team to play such an opponent, it's Flowe's at Parkview.
"Definitely, they've got a great team," Flowe said of Grayson. "They're No. 1 for a reason. I remember the days when we had a team like that, (in which) you just get on a momentum run and start winning. For us (to play a team like that), we've just got to line up and play. This game (being the region opener) doesn't make you or break you, but you've got to go out and compete."
That won't be an easy task, especially against Grayson's star-studded defense, which is led by consensus No. 1 national prospect Robert Nkemdiche and fellow Clemson commits Wayne Gallman and David Kamara, plus major Division I prospects like Tennessee commit Zach Barnes, Jordan Germany and Ryan Carter.
The task may seem even more daunting for a Parkview offense that has scored just three total points in its first two games and featuring a quarterback, senior Rob Youngblood, in just his third game as the starter.
Despite the formidable circumstances, Flowe says his team's focus will be quite simple.
"With a brand new quarterback, it takes time," Flowe said. "He's doing the job because we don't have anybody else who can do it as well. But he's a competitor.
"When it comes down to it, the kids just have to make plays. The game is about blocking and tackling and taking care of the football. ... We've got to go out and keep fighting because Mickey's team is going to fight."
While the numbers haven't favored the Panthers' offense, Conn is still wary about a unit that still has weapons like running back Chris Carson (41 car., 253 ids.) and receiver Keanu Mole (2 rec., 25 yds.).
And with a defense that can keep a team competitive, led by defensive end Hunter Thornton (19 tackles) and linebackers John Patterson (19 tackles) and Kyle Williams (14 tackles), Conn is convinced his Rams will have their hands full.
"When I look at Parkview, I see a really good defense that is experienced and well coached," Conn said. "I see an offense that is ready to do some great things. They're a scary team to open region play with, and if they do find the end zone, we've got to find a way to answer."