September 17, 2012
For years, Parkview's football team was in the spot Grayson currently occupies — a top ranking and a favorite to win handily every week.
A few so-so years have changed how opponents view the Panthers, who entered this season like they have in recent years as underdogs to the region's top teams. But as we saw this past Friday, you better not overlook Parkview.
Grayson and its No. 1 national ranking took a major hit from the Panthers, whose 22-7 upset sent shockwaves not just in Georgia, but also around the nation. It may not have been the biggest win in school history — remember, this is a program with four state championships — but it was certainly the biggest in a long time.
Those who have predicted Parkview's continuing decline better hold off on that.
As long as Cecil Flowe and his core group of assistants are in Lilburn, the Panthers will be well-coached. They've still got talent. They'll be strong on defense, balanced on offense. And they've still got the belief that they will win, despite what the region's new powers may think.
While there may not be a Jeff Francoeur-like star on this year's team, Chris Carson is as good as any running back in Gwinnett County. He's surrounded by a bunch of other quality players who stepped up big in the Grayson upset like quarterback Rob Youngblood, who played hurt. Justis Rosser made some huge defensive plays, but he was one of many stars on defense last Friday.
Parkview's win also gave us a reminder about Region 8-AAAAAA — there are no easy weeks in this region. Lose focus against nearly every opponent in this region and you're staring at a defeat. It doesn't matter if you're sporting a No. 1 national ranking when it takes this much work just to win your own region.
With that in mind, plenty stands between Parkview and a playoff berth. The Panthers still have games with Archer, Brookwood, South Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett, Dacula, Shiloh and Berkmar. But they do have a huge win over everyone's predicted region champion in their back pocket, which is nice.
How do you think Parkview will fare the rest of the way? Is this a surprising region championship team?