Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Parkview's Justis Rosser runs the ball during last week's game against Archer.
BROOKWOOD AT PARKVIEW
BROOKWOOD BRONCOS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Mark Crews
Record: 2-1, 1-0
Last week: Did not play
PARKVIEW PANTHERS (8-AAAAAA)
Coach: Cecil Flowe
Record: 3-1, 2-0
Last week: Beat Archer 20-18
Last meeting: Brookwood won 23-19 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 — Brookwood 23, Parkview 19
2010 — Brookwood 10, Parkview 3
2009 — Brookwood 28, Parkview 14
2008 — Parkview 7, Brookwood 0
2007 — Brookwood 28, Parkview 3
2006 — Brookwood 28, Parkview 14
2005 — Brookwood 35, Parkview 14
2004 — Parkview 10, Brookwood 0
2003 — Brookwood 35, Parkview 21
*2002 — Parkview 28, Brookwood 7
2002 — Parkview 17, Brookwood 10
2001 — Parkview 24, Brookwood 7
2000 — Parkview 18, Brookwood 17
* — Class AAAAA state championship game
As one of Gwinnett County's most intense neighborhood rivalries, it is always something special when teams from Brookwood and Parkview get together on the athletic field.
That's especially true on the football field, where the Broncos and Panthers have each established themselves as some of the top programs in both Gwinnett and throughout Georgia.
Still, when Parkview welcomes Brookwood to the Big Orange Jungle Friday at 7:30 for the 31st renewal of the "Battle of Five Forks Trickum," the atmosphere figures to be perhaps more charged than it has been in a while.
The rivalry was at its peak during a 10-season stretch from 1996 to 2005, when the two teams dominated Region 8 in the state's highest classification. Parkview reached at least the state quarterfinals all 10 seasons -- with state championships in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Brookwood reached the quarters at least six times, including the 1996 state title.
But with the rise of other programs in the county, plus a few "down years" here and there for both teams, the rivalry hasn't had quite the impact in recent seasons as it did during that peak decade.
"Due to the history of the game, as far as we're concerned, it's been a big game the last 20 years," Brookwood coach Mark Crews said. "I think one (publication) recently listed it as one of the best high school rivalries in the country. Over the last couple of years, it hasn't had quite the stakes involved. Maybe that will change this year."
Indeed, Friday's matchup may have the most at stake in the series in at least six seasons.
After winning no more than seven games in each of those seasons, including not making the postseason two of the last three years, Parkview has signaled a return to prominence.
The Panthers have not only survived a brutal opening stretch of their schedule, but have thrived, with back-to-back wins over then No. 1 Grayson and an up-and-coming Archer program. They have pushed their record to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 8-AAAAAA, and earned a No. 10 ranking in the latest Associated Press state poll.
Brookwood (2-1, 1-0) has also gotten off to a good start, and whichever team wins Friday could establish somewhat of a foothold atop the region standings.
But while both Crews and Parkview coach Cecil Flowe agree the outcome Friday could have a major impact on the region standings, both caution about putting too much importance on the stakes given the presence of other strong teams in region like Grayson, South Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett and Archer.
Besides, as Flowe sees it, the Parkview-Brookwood rivalry should be the only build-up Friday's game needs.
"There's still a lot of football left (after Friday's game), but yes, it's an important game," Flowe said. "Brookwood is Brookwood. ... It's one game in the region. The tough part about our regions that the whole region. It doesn't get any easier, but you've got to play (every tough opponent) at some point. (Friday) is important, but (the winner) has still got some work to do."
Based on what has transpired so far this season, both teams will have plenty of work to do Friday, especially stopping the opposing running games.
After early struggles, Parkview has gotten its ground game going the past two weeks primarily behind recent South Florida commit Chris Carson (97 carries., 470 yds., 4 TDs), with help from a supporting cast that includes Justis Rosser (22-169).
Brookwood counters with one of the county's top 1-2 punches in Jamaal Cole (58-373, 6 TDs) and Josh Brown (36-324).
But both teams also have issues to deal with at quarterback.
With normal starter Rob Youngblood out injured, junior Mac Marshall was thrown into the fire last week, and while his numbers (1-5-1, 59 yds., TD) were modest, the experience he got in a big-game atmosphere could prove extremely valuable heading into Friday.
"We have to adapt and conquer," Flowe said. "When you lose a quarterback, you half to find a way to move the football forward and play the hand you're dealt. (Marshall) got his feet wet last week, and that should help him a lot."
Meanwhile, Brookwood has been dealing with a dilemma under center.
Both senior Zach Moon (19-40-2, 286 yds., 2 TDs) and junior Joey McLane (2-8-0, 45 yds.) have had their moments during the Broncos' first three games, though Crews is hoping for one to establish himself as the go-to leader of the offense.
"Our two quarterbacks have both played well, and they've both competed," Crews said. "One of them may step up and win the job. If not, both cane play in certain situations."
Defensively, Parkview appears to have an advantage on paper, with the Panthers boasting one of Gwinnett's top units after giving up an average of just 11.3 points per game behind hard-nosed tacklers like linebacker Hunter Thornton (47 tackles, 1 sack).
By contrast, Brookwood has struggled at times against some high-powered running games in Walton, Mill Creek and Archer.
But the Broncos have progressively gotten more and more stubborn in allowing opponents into the end zone, improving each week behind Chris Dancy (32 tackles) and Georgia commit Shaun McGee (24 tackles, 1 sack).