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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL NOTES: North survives juggernuat early season schedule

North Gwinnett can make a pretty good claim for playing the toughest high school football schedule to start the season.

The Bulldogs have faced three of the state’s last four state champions and North has won all three of the games.

The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs have victories over 2009 state champion Camden County (34-14), 2011 state champ Grayson (35-0) and defending state champion Norcross (36-17). “When we put this schedule together, we thought we could play great and be 0-3,” North Gwinnett head coach Bob Sphire said. “I’m tickled to death to be 3-0. I hope we can keep moving forward.”

North’s success against some of the state’s top competition has garnered some attention nationally. The Bulldogs are ranked in several national polls. The highest is in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 where they are No. 8. USA Today has them ranked No. 30.

Bulldogs’ Brown has breakthrough game

To say North Gwinnett receiver Nate Brown had a big game on Friday is an understatement.

The Bulldogs receiver had 10 catches for 172 yards with four touchdowns. Those numbers far suprass what Brown has done the previous two games combined. The 6-foot-2, 197-pound receiver had seven catches for 107 yards and three touchdown. Through three games this season, Brown has nearly matched his production from a year ago when he had 41 catches for 491 yards and nine TDs.

Brown is the No. 6 rated receiver in the state by ESPN. He has nearly a dozen Division I scholarship offers and has listed Vanderbilt and Missouri as his leaders.

One-two punch

Greater Atlanta Christian’s Rafe Chapple threw for 274 yards in Friday night’s 45-0 win over Chamblee, relying on two main targets for his big night.

Chris Williams and Darius Slayton combined for 11 of Chapple’s 15 completions and 233 of his yards, though Parker Polhill and Harrison Kerr each had a touchdown catch.

Williams had a team-high seven receptions for 91 yards and a 28-yard TD late in the first half that gave the Spartans a 24-0 halftime lead.

Slayton, who also logged plenty of time at cornerback, had four catches for 142 yards. He gained most of his yards on a couple of deep balls, catching 59- and 57-yard passes.

Punts are few for Spartans

Ross Wood’s 66-yard punt in the third quarter against Chamblee was a rarity this season, and not just because of its distance.

GAC has punted only two times in four games, a result of an offense that has been nearly unstoppable this season. The Spartans have scored 48, 41, 56 and 45 in their four victories.

They have a bye week this Friday before hosting Howard (Tenn.) on Sept. 27.

Gillis shines on defense once again

In last week’s game against East Coweta, Archer’s John Gillis III wore a chain-link of carabiners out to the coin toss, saying it was to show they were linked together.

And he showed how true it was, coming up with an interception in the waning moments of the game to seal the win for the Tigers.

This week against Brookwood was no different for Gillis, intercepting the final pass of the game to seal the Tigers’ win.

Brookwood quarterback John McLane threw over the middle to a receiver and Archer’s Dylan Singleton met him with a big hit. The ball popped up into the air right into the hands of Gillis, who ran downfield to run out the clock and seal Archer’s win.

But that’s not all Gillis was involved in. In both weeks he also had fumble recoveries in the first half to thwart East Coweta and Brookwood scoring opportunities.