One of the best parts about going to a high school football game is watching the excitement of the student body.
Thousands of high school kids come to the games dressed up and painted in their school colors. They are loud and each has their own traditions. I saw Grayson students decked out in hunting camouflage earlier this year, paying homage to the hit reality show ‘Duck Dynasty.’
Peachtree Ridge students went back to the '80s on Friday, sporting neon colors in the stands. These student cheering sections have become very popular in recent years. They typically have one person who leads their chants. My favorite is Norcross’ to start the fourth quarter. The groups even have their own Twitter handle to send out info about what they are doing each week. They sport cool group nicknames like North’s ‘North’s Nuts,’ South Gwinnett’s ‘Comet Crazies,’ Peachtree Ridge’s ‘Lions Den’.
I like how these groups give students a chance to be a part of the game. What I don’t like is when they are actually in the game.
That’s what happened on Friday night when Peachtree Ridge was at Collins Hill. On what was supposed to be the final play of the game, Peachtree Ridge’s Chance Thrasher was forced out of the pocket and ran towards the left sideline. However, the first person to meet him there wasn’t a Collins Hill defender, it was a Collins Hill fan. As the final seconds ticked away, the Collins Hill student body began to rush the field before the game was over.
Picture the Stanford-Cal game from 1982, but replace the band with the student body.
I get this was a big rivalry game. The two schools are separated by five miles. I get that the Eagles just knocked off the No. 4 team in the state. What I don’t get is why Collins Hill fans had to rush the field before the game was over. But I’m not totally blaming the Eagles. If Peachtree Ridge would have won, its fans likely would have rushed the field, too. They’ve done it in the past. I’ve covered three of the last four Collins Hill-Peachtree Ridge games and each time the winning team has rushed the field. Despite being told countless times by the PA announcer and school administrators not to rush the field.
Imagine this. As that first Collins Hill fan rushed the field, he nearly blind sided quarterback Chance Thrasher. What if he takes out Thrasher’s leg and hurts his knee or ankle? Then one of the county’s top QBs is out for 4-6 weeks. Or what if Thrasher collides with the student and accidentally hits him with his helmet? The student could have easily got a concussion. Because the Collins Hill student body interrupted the game, Peachtree Ridge was given one untimed play. What if the Lions throw a Hail Mary to win the game? A week’s worth of preparation, 48 minutes of a hard-fought game is ruined. And for what? To run around on the field and ‘look cool.’ Imagine looking into Collins Hill quarterback Tyler Herman’s eyes on Monday and telling him you’re sorry because you ran of the field and allowed Peachtree Ridge to have the game-winning play.
I get those are all hypotheticals, but in the game of football they have a pretty good chance of happening.
Like I said, this has happened before at Collins Hill-Peachtree Ridge games. Maybe administrators need to cancel Homecoming or Prom to set an example that this shouldn’t happen. It’s only a matter of time before someone goes trampled.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting too old. I just don’t see the need to run on the field. I like the student cheering sections. I just think they should stay there — in the student section.
IMPRESSIONS FROM FRIDAY
Everyone thinks Grayson is dead and done. I’m telling you, they are not. The defense has been pretty good all season. The problem in the early part of the season was the offense. The Rams seem to have things clicking right now.
Running back Cameryn Brent had 214 yards rushing on 40 carries in Friday’s win. This year’s Grayson’s team is starting to remind me of the teams they had from 2007-09. They had a great defense and a great running game. They would throw the ball about 10 times, including pre-game warmups, and they would protect the football. It’s a simple formula, but it works. That’s what this year’s team is starting to mold itself around.
Oh yeah, and those teams from 2007-08 went to the quarterfinals each year.
Berkmar in trouble
I was interested to see how Berkmar responded to not having starting quarterback JaQuan Morris in Friday’s game.
Morris broke his ankle two weeks ago and the Patriots had a bye last week. So Friday’s 20-7 loss to South was Berkmar’s first game without Morris. The Patriots managed just 181 yards of total offense and didn’t score until 3:43 left in the game when they were down 20-0.
After a promising 3-1 start, I don’t know if the Patriots will be able to overcome the loss of Morris.
Much-needed Wesleyan win
It was a rough first-half of the season for Wesleyan, which went 0-5 to start the year. The Wolves finally got their first victory with a 28-7 win over Lakeview. It was just what Wesleyan needed as it heads into Region 6-AA play this week.
Buford on pace for record
Buford’s 2007 state champion team scored 681 points, the second most in state history. This year’s team is on pace to break it. The Wolves have won their last three games 63-0. They have scored 273 points this year. The 2007 team scored 228 points after five games. Buford is averaging 54.6 points a game. If they stay on that pace, they will crush the state scoring record by Dublin of 682 points in 2006.
WHAT’S ON TAP
• Collins Hill at Norcross
Collins Hill knocked off one Region 7-AAAAAA power in Peachtree Ridge last week. Can they do it a second week with defending state champion Norcross? The winner of this game unofficially qualifies for the playoffs. •
Mill Creek at North Gwinnett
The Hawks have never defeated the Bulldogs, but they desperately need a win to stay in the playoff chase.