Norcross’ head coach Keith Maloof and Lorenzo Carter (8) celebrate their 24-20 victory over Peachtree Ridge after high school football action in Norcross Friday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)
The timing of Cecil Flowe’s announcement that he will be retiring after the season following Parkview’s 21-13 win over Central Gwinnett on Friday may have caught some of the Panthers by surprise.
But at least one player said he had an inkling the announcement might be coming for about as long as the 21-year veteran coach had made the decision.
“I knew it was coming since last year,” said senior Justis Rosser, who led all rushers Friday with 182 yards and scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 7:11 to play. “But I’m happy to say I played for a legend, and I’m (proud) to say I was here for his last year.
“We really fought hard. I just want to win for Coach Flowe. … I love him. I love the game. And I want to do it for the team. We still have a point to prove.”
Hit makes SportsCenter Top 10
It became a forgotten play for those in attendance. After all, it happened on the opening kickoff and the game’s end was the biggest upset in the state with Collins Hill taking down top-ranked North Gwinnett. But the opening play provided a national highlight, making the No. 3 spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top Plays segment Friday night. North’s Ben Carswell hit Collins Hill’s Rhyan England so hard, England’s helmet popped off and flew through the air. MOBILE USERS: Click HERE to view video.
Sphire still being evaluated
Hayden Sphire left North Gwinnett’s loss to Collins Hill at halftime with an lower leg injury suffered on a play when he found Nate Brown for an 80-yard touchdown.
Sphire rode a bike on the sideline before receiving treatment leading into the half and never returned.
On Saturday, Sphire visited doctors for further evaluation of the injury leaving his status uncertain. Sphire left the game after completing 8 of his first 10 passes for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Junior John Urzua played well in his absence, throwing for 170 yards.
Blue Devils slow down Lions’ offense
Norcross’ defense allowed a touchdown for the first time in five games on Friday, but the Blue Devils have a different accomplishment to hang their hat on.
Norcross’ defense held Peachtree Ridge running back Jordan Ellis, the county’s leading rusher, to 61 yards. It was the Virginia commitment’s fewest yards rushing in a game this season.
Norcross also held the Lions’ potent offense to 20 points, the fewest they have scored this season.
Lynch leaves game after hit
Norcross receiver Clinton Lynch went over the middle to catch a pass and was hit in the helmet, resulting in a personal foul.
The senior walked off the field in the third qurter, but didn’t return in the Blue Devils 24-20 win over Peachtree Ridge.
Lynch, a Georgia State commitment, had five catches for 119 yards. He had a 45-yard catch along the sideline and his 22-yard catch set up a touchdown in the first half.
“I don’t know how he’s doing,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said after the game. “He was fine when he walked off the field, but I haven’t had a chance to check on him yet. He was having a great night.”
Norcross trio headed to GSU
Three members of Norcross football team are head to Georgia State.
Receivers Clinton Lynch and Maasiah Francis and offensive lineman Horatio Walker committed to the Atlanta school this week. That gives the defending Class AAAAAA state champions nine college commitments.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Lynch is third in the county in receiving yards this season with 495 yards on 26 catches with three touchdowns. Francis has two catches for 11 yards. The 6-foot-3, 335-pound Walker is a two-year starter for the Blue Devils.
The trio joins Emmanuel Aka (Georgia Southern), Jaquan Frazier (Georgia Southern), Chris Herndon (Miami), Kevin Mouhon (Tennessee), Jordan Noil (Maryland) and Ryan Northrup (Georgia Southern), who have also made college commitments.
Bronco receivers make most of chances
In Brookwood’s run-heavy offense, the pass-catching chances don’t happen often.
They did Friday night, though, with Berkmar stacking its defense against the run. Quarterback Joey McLane capitalized on it with 218 passing yards in a 14-0 victory that kept the Broncos on track for a postseason berth.
His receivers also stepped up, led by Mike Allen’s six catches for 89 yards. Matthew Price had three catches for 68 yards, including a 59-yard TD catch for the game’s first score.
Jesse Brown (three catches for 16 yards), Nick Aube (two catches, 20 yards) and Keenan Sweeney (28-yard catch) also got in on the receiving.
“They were really good,” McLane said of his receivers. “It seemed like everything I threw they were catching. I’d throw it low or I’d throw it high and think, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty bad throw,’ and they’d bail me out sometimes, which is nice.”
Brookwood defense improving
Brookwood’s defense has come a long way since the season’s first two weeks, when it gave up 31 points to McEachern and 44 to Mill Creek.
The unit played well again Friday night in a 14-0 shutout of Berkmar. It was the Broncos’ second shutout in region play, along with a 10-0 blanking of rival Parkview. They also have a 20-7 region win over Shiloh.
“Our defense did a great job and kept us in the game,” Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. “A big shutout. You don’t have to score a lot of points if you get a shutout. … At the beginning of the year they were experienced and young, but they’ve gotten better and better. They’re growing and we’re getting a little better in the secondary, and the last couple of weeks we’ve been really good against the run. Hopefully, we’ll keep improving.”
Generals’ infantry bogs down
After defeating Parkview last week with a rushing attack featuring Jeremy McDuffie and James Mials that produced 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the absence of leading rusher Charles Shavers, Shiloh was hoping for a repeat Friday against Dacula.
But Shavers also didn’t play in Friday’s game and the result wasn’t the same as Dacula held the Generals to just 71 yards on 25 carries for the game, which included a 52-yard run from McDuffie in the first half.
Shiloh had just 13 yards on nine attempts in the second half as Dacula continued to force the Generals to the airways. The result was over 250 passing yards for Shiloh for the night, but the Dacula defense came up with the big play when it mattered most and kept the Falcons alive in the playoff race.
— Sports Editor Will Hammock, staff writers Ben Beitzel, Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander and staff correspondent Steve Argo contributed to this report
Collins Hill vs. North Gwinnett Featured on SportsCenter Top 10
ESPN's SportsCenter featured Collins Hill's Rhyan England fielding the opening kick before getting hit hard by North Gwinnett's Ben Carswell during the Top 10 feature of the show.