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.
We're at the halfway point of the season for nearly every team in the county. Here's where each team stands and how they'll finish the rest of the year.
It's also time to give out some midseason superlatives. Here's my offensive and defensive players of the year and coach of the year. Who is your pick at the midway point?
Offensive player of the year
• Chris Carson, Parkview
The running back is one of the county's top rushers despite opposing defenses knowing he's going to get the ball 25 times a game. Carson has Parkview ranked in the top 10 in the state and on the verge of winning its first region title since 2004.
• Myles Autry, Norcross
The guy is a big-play threat at running back, receiver and kick returner.
• Eman Westmoreland, Central Gwinnett
When you're breaking county passing records, that's going to get you some attention. If Westmoreland can lead Central to the playoffs, that will raise his POY stock.
Defensive player of the year
• Reggie Carter, South Gwinnett
Carter has made South a legit defense this year. He's among the county leaders in tackles and sacks. If he can get the Comets to the postseason, that will help his POY chances.
• Trey Johnson, Central Gwinnett
Johnson is one of the county's top playmakers at stopping the run and in pass coverage. He's a tackle machine that will boost his stats.
• Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson
The reigning Daily Post Defensive Player of the Year hasn't posted great numbers so far this year. But he's still wrecking havoc on offenses that doesn't appear on stat sheets.
Coach of the year
• Cecil Flowe, Parkview
The longtime coach has returned the Panthers to prominence. After missing the playoffs two of the last three years, Parkview is poised to win a region championship. A win over defending state champion Grayson is also nice on the resume.
• John Small, South Gwinnett
The Comets have won more games this year than last season. If Small can return South to the playoffs after a 3-7 record, that's coach of the year candidate worthy.
• Billy Wells, Lanier
Lanier should finish with a winning record and possibly make the playoffs, which would be nice for a three-year-old program.
• Parkview (4-1, 3-0)
The Panthers have not only survived a brutal schedule to open the season, but flourished. The Panthers have knocked off four playoff teams from a year ago. Their only loss is to No. 3 ranked Norcross. Their schedule gets somewhat easier in the tough Region 8 and a league championship appears to be on the horizon.
• South Gwinnett (4-1, 3-0)
Like Parkview, the Comets' only loss is to Norcross. South is healthy and has looked impressive against weaker teams in the county. The schedule gets tougher the final four weeks, but the Comets appear to have playoff potential.
• Grayson (4-1, 2-1)
The defending state champions were shocked by a loss to Parkview. They've responded with two blowout wins. A region title isn't out of reach, but the Rams will need to some help. They'll make the playoffs again, but it will likely be as a No. 2 seed.
• Archer (3-2, 1-2)
The Tigers lost a pair games by a combined three points. Archer appears to have a playoff caliber team again, but the Tigers will need to win four of their next five games.
• Brookwood (2-2, 1-1)
The Broncos are coming off a close loss to rival Parkview. The defense has struggled in recent weeks, but should get better in the next few games. The final two weeks will decide if the Broncos are able to host a playoff game.
• Central Gwinnett (3-1, 1-1)
After a 3-0 start, the Black Knights got their first loss of the season. Central has a tough four-game stretch which will decide its playoff fate.
• Shiloh (3-2, 1-2)
Shiloh started 3-0, but has had two blowout losses in the past two weeks. It won't get any easier with three tough games in consecutive weeks. The Generals have made games tougher for opponents, but a playoff berth won't happen this year.
• Berkmar (1-3, 0-2)
The Patriots are still building for the future. Berkmar is playing harder than a year ago, but it's not enough to make the playoffs this year.
• Dacula (0-5, 0-3)
The Falcons have struggled with a tough schedule to start the year and its led to a winless start. It may be a few more weeks before the Falcons can get a win.
• Norcross (5-0, 3-0)
Norcross is off to another 5-0 start and is the hottest team in the county right now. The second half of the season isn't as tough, which should help the Blue Devils get ready for the playoffs.
• Collins Hill (3-1, 2-0)
The Eagles are off to a nice start, but have not been tested by any potential playoff teams this year. The schedule gets tougher over the next month, but they appear to be a playoff worthy team.
• Mill Creek (3-2, 2-1)
Mill Creek could easily be 5-0, but a pair of tough losses have hurt the Hawks. A win over Peachtree Ridge put the Hawks in position to make the playoffs. Hosting a playoff first-round playoff game is still a possibility for the team.
• Peachtree Ridge (2-3, 2-1)
The Lions went the first two games without scoring, but have gotten the offense on track in recent weeks. The Lions' playoff destiny will be decided this week against Collins Hill.
• Duluth (2-3, 1-2)
The Wildcats have wins over lesser teams in the county. Duluth needs to beat someone it's not supposed to beat to make the playoffs. They'll get their chance the next two games.
• Mountain View (2-3, 1-2)
The young Bears have struggled offensively. A playoff berth won't happen this year, but Mountain View can still post .500 record.
• North Gwinnett (3-1, 1-1)
The Bulldogs experienced a rare region loss. Another region title isn't out of reach, but they will need some help. North can still host a playoff game if it wins out.
• Habersham Central (0-5, 0-3)
The only non-Gwinnett team in the region, the Raiders have had a tough welcoming to Region 7. Habersham has scored just 29 points all season.
• Meadowcreek (0-4, 0-2)
Meadowcreek is still a program that's a work in progress. The Mustangs haven't won a game this year, but could have a chance against Habersham.
• Lanier (3-2, 1-1)
The Longhorns are in the thick of the region playoff race. Their playoff destiny will be decided in the next two games.
• Buford (3-1, 1-0)
Buford experienced a rare home loss to Class AAAAA Gainesville, but has respond nicely with a pair of blowout wins. The Wolves should win another region title, but will be tested by White County in two weeks.
• Region 6-AA
• GAC (4-1, 0-0)
The Spartans have still not played a region game, but have fared nicely in a tough non-region schedule. GAC will make the playoffs and should being playing for the region title in the final weeks.
• Wesleyan (3-2, 0-0)
The Wolves have had some close wins and losses. They'll make the playoffs, but a home playoff game will be decided in the final weeks of the season.
• Hebron (1-3, 0-1)
The Lions have struggled offensively in recent weeks. A playoff berth doesn't seem likely at this point, but Hebron will have a chance to prove itself against some region powers in the next few weeks.
IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY
Mill Creek still not over the hump
I got the impression walking around the Mill Creek field house after Friday's 49-41 loss to Norcross that the Hawks are no longer satisfied with moral victories.
Mill Creek let a lead slip against Region 8 power Brookwood this year and nearly came back on No. 3 ranked Norcross. In the past, the Hawks would have been pleased with the effort and moved on. But walking around the field house, you could tell they weren't happy with the 'moral victory'.
If the Hawks can get over the hump and beat a team they are not supposed to, it will do wonders for the program.
Norcross still has work
If the playoffs started in October, Norcross would have a handful of state championships. The Blue Devils are 5-0 again, but it's the second half of the season that always dooms them. There's no doubt Norcross is talented. But there's a few concerns I have with this team. The number of penalties they have each game is alarming. They are their own worst enemy. The scary thing is they still haven't played four quarters of football. They nearly allowed a 35-point second-half lead vanish.
When Norcross avoids penalties and puts together a complete game, they will make a deep playoff run.
Brookwood has to find a run defense
Brookwood's season will end sooner than it wants if it doesn't find a way to stop the run. The Broncos' D has been torched on the ground the first four games. Granted, they have faced some pretty good running backs, but giving up nearly 300 yards rushing every week has to stop soon or the Broncos' season will sooner than later.
WHAT'S ON TAP?
Collins Hill at Peachtree Ridge
I feel like the loser of this game misses the playoffs. The loser would have to beat Norcross or North, which hasn't happened recently, to make the playoffs.
Dacula at Brookwood
Kind of hard to imagine this as a big game with Dacula winless. But the Falcons have beat Brookwood the last three years. If Dacula wins this game, it could turn their season around. Brookwood can't afford a loss if it wants to host a playoff game.