PREP FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Region 7 flexes in first round of playoffs

Region 7-AAAAAA produced defending state champion Norcross last season. The region also boasts three team’s ranked in the top 10. The league’s claim as the best in the state was on display on Friday.

Region 7 went 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 31.5 points per game over Region 5.

“I know this, at the beginning of the season I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in Region 7,” Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood quipped. “Now that I’m in the playoffs, I’m glad we played that schedule. It prepares you if you can hang with the big dogs.”

No. 3 ranked Norcross won 28-0 over Etowah, No. 4 ranked North Gwinnett defeated Milton 34-10 and No. 6 ranked Collins Hill topped Walton 41-7. Unranked Peachtree Ridge defeated Region 5 champion Lassiter 58-20.

“Every year, a region has its year,” Fleetwood said. “I feel like we have a really good region.”

Sphire returns at QB

North Gwinnett quarterback Hayden Sphire missed the last two games of the regular season with a leg injury. The senior made his return in Friday’s 34-10 win over Milton.

Sphire was 8 of 19 passing for 99 yards, but 80 of those yards was on a screen pass to Nate Brown.

Ten wins again for North

North Gwinnett’s first-round 34-10 playoff victory over Milton on Friday gave the Bulldogs their eight-straight 10-win season.

That’s a county record for Gwinnett teams playing in the highest classification. All of those 10-win seasons have come under head coach Bob Sphire, who is 88-14 at the Suwanee school.

Parkview went seven years from 1999 to 2005 with 10 or more wins, which included three state championships.

Buford has the county record for consecutive 10-win seasons. The Wolves have won 10 or more games the last 15 years while playing in Class A, AA and AAA.

Picky Blue Devils

One of the weakness of Norcross’ defense early in the season was the secondary. The group has grown up a lot over the last two months and showed they are now a strength of the unit.

Norcross’ secondary intercepted four passes in the Blue Devils’ 28-0 win over Etowah. Ridwan Issahaku, who converted from quarterback to cornerback, had two interceptions. Safety Jordan Noil, a Maryland commitment, had an interception returned 25 yards for a touchdown and Brandon Gardner had the fourth interception.

Broncos’ Brown racks up yards

Peachtree Ridge’s Jordan Ellis got most of the headlines for his 263-yard, six touchdown performance on Friday.

But Brookwood running back Jesse Brown had an impressive night as well. The sophomore rushed for 239 yards and four touchdowns in the Broncos’ 35-16. win over Lambert. Brown had TD runs of 3, 56, 51 and 55 yards.

Brown has 1,388 yards rushing and 16 this season. He wasn’t even projected to carry the ball much this season, but when his older brother Josh was injured in the season opener that changed.