December 11, 2011
As soon as Mickey Conn was handed the Class AAAAA state championship trophy on Saturday, the Grayson head coach never let it go.
Conn walked around the Georgia Dome field with the trophy in hand, posing for pictures and talking with family and friends.
Conn kept the trophy close like it was a newborn baby. It represented the growth and final arrival of the Grayson football program. The Rams have been considered one of the state's top programs for the last few years. But after beating Walton for the Class AAAAA state championship, it signifies your arrival as the best. Grayson is no longer considered 'one' of the best teams, they 'are' the best.
The program won its 100th career game since opening in 2000 with its victory over Walton. They not only won, but they won in convincing Grayson fashion. They used a grind-it-out running game on offense and a smother defense. It wasn't exciting football in the second half, but who cares when you're winning a state championship? There's no bonus points for flash.
Now here's the scary part. Grayson will be the heavy favorite to win it all again next year. They have the state's best player in defensive end/running back Robert Nkemdiche. The defense, which pitched a shutout in the title game, was almost all juniors. Only a small handful of seniors played significantly. Grayson is still loaded at running back and big, strong offensive linemen grow on trees.
Coach Conn clutched that championship trophy like no other. But I have a feeling it's not the last he wins.
Buford season ends uncharacteristically
It was a odd feeling at the Georgia Dome on Friday. For the last three years I've watched Buford players celebrate on the Dome field after winning state championships.
A team that many felt was the heavy favorite to win an unprecedented fifth state championship, lost to Calhoun in overtime.
There are three reasons why they lost. One, is turnovers. You can't fumble the ball four times against any team and expect to win. Two, is the loss of fullback/linebacker Nathan Staub. I think Staub is Buford's best player this year and when they lost him in the first quarter with a concussion, that hurt the team. Three, is Calhoun is just really good. They've faced Buford the last three years in the finals, so they knew what to expect. They've also got a lot of good players. They may not be the most recognized by recruiting services, but they are really well-coached players that know how to win.
I have mixed thoughts about the loss.
For one, I feel bad for this senior class. I got to meet and interview several of them throughout the season. Despite all the success and everyone telling them how good they are, they still kept a humble attitude. I also wanted to see a Gwinnett team set a state record for consecutive titles.
But on the other hand, it's hard to feel too bad for a group that has had so much success. These seniors were 57-3 with three state championships. That's more success than most players ever dream of having in high school. That last game will always linger, but it shouldn't define their career at Buford. They'll still go down as one of the best teams to ever come through the school.
With a senior class that has seven Division I commitments and several others that will play college football, people are going to say this team choked because of all the talent on the team. Is that really fair to say when these are high school kids? They had people tell them for more than four months how good they were and that they were going to win state no matter what.
It doesn't seem right, but that's what comes with the successful monster Buford has built since 2000. State championships define good and bad seasons at Buford. Whether that's too high of a bar is up for debate, but this team was still special to watch.
With this loss and Buford moving up to Class AAA next season, some people are going to think the program is headed downhill. Despite a talented senior class graduating, the Wolves still have young talented players waiting in the wings. This loss will only fuel them to start another string of state championships next seasons.
Corky Kell Classic announced
In case you missed it, the teams for next season's Corky Kell Classic were announced on Saturday.
The 21st annual event, which will be played Aug. 25 at the Georgia Dome, has another strong Gwinnett flavor. It's also a who's who of the state's top programs. Of the 10 teams, eight have been in the state championship game since 2007.
Here's the list of games. 9 a.m. — Kell vs. Chattahoochee 11:45 a.m. — Grayson vs. McEachern 2:45 p.m. — North Gwinnett vs. Colquitt County 5:30 p.m. — Peachtree Ridge vs. Camden County 8:30 p.m. — Brookwood vs. Walton
Gwinnett all-star game
If you're not ready for the high school football season to end, then you can check out some more football this weekend.
The Rivalries of Gwinnett all-star game will be on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Mountain View High School. Brookwood's Mark Crews and Mill Creek's Shannon Jarvis will be the head coaches.
The game will feature the county's top senior players. Juniors are not allowed to play in all-star games per GHSA rules.
Daily Post all-county team
The Daily Post will release its all-county team on Dec. 25. The all-county team will likely have some different names from the coaches all-county team that was released last week.
Who are some players we should consider for the all-county team?