North Gwinnett quarterback Hayden Sphire (4) looks for an open receiver against the Mill Creek defense during a game at North Gwinnett earlier this season. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
Gwinnett County’s leading passer will miss this week’s game with a leg injury.
North Gwinnett quarterback Hayden Sphire was hurt on the first series of the second quarter in the Bulldogs’ 53-28 loss to Collins Hill.
“He’s doing well,” North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. “He’s working 24 hours a day rehabbing trying to get back on the field.”
Bob Sphire wouldn’t go into to details of the injury, but said it does not require surgery.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Hayden Sphire is in his first season as North’s starting quarterback. He went into Friday’s game leading the county in passing yards (1,649) and touchdowns (25).
The senior was injured when he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Nate Brown and was hit by a pair of Collins Hill defenders. He was 8 of 10 for 177 yards before being hurt.
“We hope to have him back as soon as possible, but it won’t be this week,” Bob Sphire said.
John Urzua will make his first varsity start when North Gwinnett (6-1, 4-1 region) travels to Mountain View (2-6, 2-4) on Friday. The junior is 21 of 38 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and an interception this season.
“I was really proud of John, but I wasn’t surprised,” Bob Sphire said. “He’s so composed and takes to coaching. He’s very intelligent and understands the offense.”
Region 7 log jam
North Gwinnett’s loss to Collins Hill created a log jam for first place in the Region 7-AAAAAA standings.
Collins Hill, Norcross and North Gwinnett are all tied with one region loss with two weeks left in the regular season.
“That’s the way this league is, it’s so tough,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “You can’t take anything for granted.”
If all three teams remain tied, a head-to-head tiebreaker won’t determine anything since Collins Hill beat North, North beat Norcross and Norcross beat Collins Hill. A coin flip after the regular season finale on Nov. 8 would determine the seeding for the state playoffs.
However, that my not be necessary. North Gwinnett still has Mountain View and Peachtree Ridge on its schedule. Peachtree Ridge sits as the No. 4 team in the standings right now.
Collins Hill plays Duluth this week and finishes with Mill Creek, which still has a slim chance of making the playoffs as the No. 5 team in the region.
Norcross has a bye this week and finishes with Meadowcreek in the season finale.
“Is anyone really surprised? Did anyone think one team would go unscathed this year?,” North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. “That’s what happens in this region. I’ve heard people say it and it sounds cliche, but this region is like the SEC.”
Norcross’ Lynch fine
Norcross receiver Clinton Lynch left in the third quarter of Friday’s win over Peachtree Ridge and didn’t return. Lynch, one of the county’s top receivers, took a hit when he tried to catch a pass over the middle of the field. But the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
“He’s fine,” Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. “We’re off this week and he’ll be able to play the next week.”
Norcross has a bye this week and will play Meadowcreek next week. Lynch went into Friday’s game third in the county in receiving yards with 495 and his 26 catches was seventh in the county.
Prior to leaving the game, the Georgia State commitment had five catches for 119 yards.
Broncos’ Price creates turnovers
Brookwood’s last three wins have been decided by 14 points or less. A big part of the Broncos’ success has been creating turnovers, specifically by Matt Price.
The safety has been responsible for five turnovers in the past two weeks.
Price had an interception and a fumble recovery in Friday’s 14-0 win over Berkmar. It was a nice compliment to the 59-yard touchdown catch the senior had on offense.
Price had a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery in the Broncos’ 23-14 win over Central Gwinnett two weeks ago.
Brown continues scoring streak
North Gwinnett receiver Nate Brown caught an 80-yard touchdown pass in the Bulldogs’ 53-28 loss to Collins Hill on Friday. It was the 16th touchdown catch for Brown, a Missouri commitment, this season. He has caught a touchdown in every game this year.
Rare region loss
Collins Hill joined an elite group of teams when it defeated North Gwinnett on Friday.
The Eagles became just the third different Region 7 team to beat North over the last eight seasons — joining Norcross and Peachtree Ridge. The Blue Devils have three wins over North and Peachtree Ridge one. It was Collins Hill’s first victory over North since 2005.
Lanier on cusp of playoffs
Lanier secured its first winning season with a 31-14 win over Stephens County on Friday. The Longhorns, who are in their fourth-year of existence, are now 6-2 on the season.
Lanier is on the cusp of reaching another big milestone for the young program. The Longhorns must win one of their remaining two games to qualify for the Class AAAA state playoffs. They travel to face 1-7 Lumpkin County this week and host 1-7 Walnut Grove the following week.