THE BLITZ: Predicting the season not that easy

Editor’s Note: Brandon Brigman, a sports writer for the Daily Post, writes a blog every Monday called “The Blitz.” It is available online at www.gwinnettprepsports.com.

Ah, the football season is finally here. It's game week and in Georgia that first high school football game of the season is like no other.

On Friday's first full night of the football season, there's going to be an upset of some sorts.

I don't know who it's going to be, but a team we thought had no chance of winning will win.

I've gone through each team's schedule and predicted how they'll finish. I'd like to think I'm totally right. But let's be honest, you can't predict injuries, bad calls, or a surprising touchdown.

Check out the predictions. I'm sure some will make the locker room wall. Let me know if I'm totally off or if I'm on point.

For what it's worth, I picked five of the eight playoff teams in Class AAAAA last year.

Region 8-AAAAAA

Some people will argue that the state's toughest region is in south Georgia. I'll put my money on Region 8, which has produced the state's last two state champions in the highest classification.

1. Grayson (10-0) - Team Page

It's hard to go against the defending state champions. They have 10 of 11 starters back on defense. If anyone knocks them off, it will be Miami Central but I'm not counting on it.

2. Brookwood (8-2) - Team Page

The Broncos will find a way to finally beat Dacula. Their only region loss will be to Grayson in another tight game. The Broncos have some offensive weapons reminiscent of the 2010 title team.

3. Dacula (7-3) - Team Page

Dacula graduated 30-plus seniors, but returns a nice group of skill position players on both sides of the ball. The Falcons will split their non-region games and will win their final four games to make the playoffs.

4. South Gwinnett (6-4) - Team Page

The Comets were hurt by injuries last year. Many of those key players are back and healthy, making the Comets a threat to reach the playoffs if they can survive the final four weeks of the season.

5. Parkview (5-5) - Team Page

This is probably the most talented team Parkview has had in recent years. The only problem is the first six games of the year are brutal with them being against playoff teams from last year. I think the Panthers can win two of them. If they can somehow win another, then I like their chances to make the playoffs.

6. Archer (6-4) - Team Page

I'm not sold on Archer being one of the county's top programs yet. Check back with me in October. They have talent, but this is a team that got beat by an injury-plagued South team in the final week of the regular season last year. We won't mention the playoff game against North.

7. Central Gwinnett (3-7) - Team Page

We know the Black Knights can score, but until they show they can play defense I'm not putting too much stock in them.

8. Shiloh (3-7) - Team Page

The beginning of the schedule sets up nicely for Shiloh. The Generals will be competitive and I think they can scare a region team other than Berkmar.

9. Berkmar (1-9) - Team Page

The Patriots' chances for a win will come in the first month. I don't think they will get blown out as often as they did last year, but the program is still building.


I've teetered on who would win this region all summer. I thought there was no way North could win it again. Then I fell in love with Peachtree Ridge winning it. A few weeks later it was Norcross. Then I talked myself into thinking North would win it again. Now it's come to this.

1. Norcross (10-0) - Team Page

The offensive line is huge, they have the state's No. 1 running back and a very good front seven on defense. What's not to like? The Blue Devils should have made a deep playoff run last year and I think that will keep them focused this season.

2. North Gwinnett (8-2) - Team Page

North has won the last three Region 7 titles. It's hard to imagine a school winning four in a row. The Bulldogs have a bye week before opening region play against Norcross. That will help, but there are too many questions marks on offense for me right now to predict them to repeat.

3. Peachtree Ridge (6-4) - Team Page

The Lions have a big O-Line and their front seven on defense back. Question marks at QB, RB and CB concern me. If the Lions find some playmakers there, they could be playing for the region title late in the season.

4. Collins Hill (7-3) - Team Page

The Eagles return an experienced QB and have some nice skill position players on offense. The defense will once again be strong.

5. Mill Creek (4-6) - Team Page

They have the talent for a playoff caliber team, but have already been hit by two big injuries at QB and RB in the last month. This team could find its way into a playoff spot, but right now I don't see it happening.

6. Duluth (5-5) - Team Page

I'm not going to mention Duluth and playoffs in the same sentence until the Wildcats have a winning season. They haven't had that in almost 20 years. The Wildcats will upset someone to break even for the first time since 2003.

7. Mountain View (3-7) - Team Page

The Bears are still growing, but they are still a few years away from being competitive in this region week in and week out.

8. Habersham Central (2-8)

The non-Gwinnett school will struggle playing in one of the state's toughest regions.

9. Meadowcreek (0-10) - Team Page

The Mustangs' best shot for a win is in the first two weeks. The program is still in the building process.

Region 8-AAAA

4. Lanier (6-4) - Team Page

Call me crazy, but this will be the surprise team in the county. In their third year of existence and first year in region play, I think the Longhorns make the playoffs. They are in a weak region with better players. I don't care if they are young, I think they find a way to win and get in the playoffs.

Region 7-AAA

1. Buford (10-0) - Team Page

The Wolves will play in a larger classification in a different region, but it will be the same results. The only difference will be the margin of victory. Wolves fans might have to get used to some closer wins.

Region 6-AA

3. GAC (5-5) - Team Page

GAC will make the playoffs in their five-team region. The Spartans' non-region schedule will hurt their overall record, but will have them battled tested for the postseason.

4. Wesleyan (3-7) - Team Page

Wesleyan has a brutal non-region schedule that will be tough to compete against larger classification teams. The Wolves will make the playoffs in the five-team region and could be a threat come playoff time.

Region 8-A

5. Hebron (5-5) - Team Page

The Lions enter their first year of region play. The team is very young, but has a small group of talented players that will keep them in the playoff hunt.

Corky Kell recap

Gwinnett went 2-2 in the Corky Kell Classic on Saturday at the Georgia Dome. The day started off great with Grayson rolling to a win over McEachern and then North Gwinnett kicking a last-second field goal to beat Colquitt County.

Things went downhill from there as Peachtree Ridge was embarrassed by Camden County and Brookwood couldn't slow down Walton's running game.

No. 1 Grayson 31, McEachern 12 (Game Story)

The biggest thing that stood out to me was Grayson's offense. I never would have expected them to put up more than 10 or 14 points. The quarterback and offensive line were the biggest concerns and both flourished in Saturday's win.

"Our offense has so much heart and all they keep hearing about is how good the defense is," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "To see our offense come out and answer the challenge. I'm happy for our offense that they had some success."

David McTier and Tyler Knight battled all summer for the starting quarterback job. McTier ended up taking all the snaps in Saturday's game. I asked Conn if there was still a quarterback battle or if McTier had won the job outright.

"We've had a couple of scrimmages and David earned the start," Conn said. "He didn't do anything for me to take it away from him. At the same time, Tyler can keep pushing him, Hunter Schuessler can keep pushing him. That's what we have to have to make us a good football team."

North Gwinnett 16, No. 2 Colquitt County 14 (Game Story)

North's defense was very impressive. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise since the Bulldogs have committed to putting their best players on that side of the ball.

One of those players is Donnie Miles, who rushed for 674 yards last year. Miles was moved primarily to defense, but he gave the Bulldogs some much-needed offensive relief on Saturday.

He took his first carry of the game late in the third quarter and went 77 yards for a touchdown

I asked head coach Bob Sphire if that meant we might see Miles a little more on offense this season. He was adamant in keeping Miles on defense and developing his young offense.

"My motive with the offense is we've got to build consistency," Sphire said.

Quarterback Michael Haynes showed flashes of brilliance. That drive in the final minutes to set up the game-winning field goal was impressive. At other times, you could tell Haynes and the offense have some work to do this year. If this unit can find a way to get a couple of scores on the board, it will be plenty to help the defense.

"Our defense stepped up and kept us in the ball game," Sphire said.

No. 4 Camden County 42, Peachtree Ridge 0 (Game Story)

I'm not going to sugar coat Peachtree Ridge's loss. Let's face it, they got spanked. There's no other way around it.

There were some bright spots at times, but that usually ended with a mistake. You can't commit 11 penalties against a team like Camden and expect to win. You can't turn the ball over against a team like Camden and expect to win. You can't give up so many big plays on defense against a team like Camden and expect to win.

"We're not at a point right now where we can put a game together, at least against a team like that," Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood said.

The good news for Peachtree Ridge is it can only get better. I think there was a little hype and high expectations with this team. Saturday's loss was a nice reality check. Luckily, the game doesn't matter in terms of making the postseason.

No. 2 Walton 35, No. 9 Brookwood 24 (Game Story)

The way to beat Walton is stop running back Tyren Jones. The Broncos couldn't do that all night, allowing the Alabama commitment to rush for 308 yards and all five TDs.

Let's face it, Jones is one of the state's top running backs. He led the state in rushing last year. He's an elite level running back that the Broncos won't see again during the regular season.

The defense obviously has some work, but the Broncos should be pleased with the offense. The unit typically doesn't put up that kind of production in the season opener. Running back Jamaal Cole rushed for 167 yards and Kyrin Priester had 90 yards receiving. That's the kind of production the Broncos will need every week from the two.


Here's my preseason all-county team. Let me know what you think. Is it on point or did I leave someone off?


QB Joseph Wilber, Norccross, Sr.

RB Alvin Kamara, Norcross, Sr.

RB Chris Carson, Parkview, Sr.

WR L.J. Gainey, South Gwinnett, Sr.

WR Joe Horn, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

WR Myles Campbell, Duluth, Sr.

OL Alex Stoehr, North Gwinnett, Sr.

OL Josh Cardiello, Buford, Sr.

OL Devondre Seymour, North Gwinnett, Sr.

OL Adam Ledford, Brookwood, Sr.

OL Hayden Gregory, Grayson, Sr.

K Zach Wachholz, Archer, Sr.


DL Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson, Sr.

DL Kelsey Griffin, Mill Creek, Sr.

DL Antonio Riles, Archer, Sr.

DL Shaun McGee, Brookwood, Sr.

LB Jordan Germany, Grayson, Sr.

LB Kyle Williams, Parkview, Sr.

LB Trey Johnson, Central Gwinnett, Sr.

DB Kasey Gaines, Grayson, Sr.

DB Deondre Singleton, Archer, Sr.

DB David Kamara, Grayson, Sr.

DB Donnie Miles, North Gwinnett, Sr.

P Connor Rouleau, Peachtree Ridge, Sr.

Football preview is out

The Daily Post's high school football preview came out in Sunday's paper. It can also be found on your team page at gwinnettprepsports.com. I never realized how popular the football preview was until this summer when I had a coach tell how coaches from across the state will drive to Gwinnett to get a copy. It's not that they love the fabulous stories, but they use it get info on Gwinnett teams for non-region games. Pretty cool that it has become that popular.

Hit us up on the social media

If you love high school football, and I'm guessing you do if you're reading The Blitz, then be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can 'like' the Daily Post's Sports Facebook page and get scoring updates on Twitter @gdpfootball. We also update our general sports Twitter account during the week @GDPsports.

Finally, did you know you can share your photos from the football season on the Daily Post's Spotted page? During football season, post your photos to our SPOTTED website (http://spotted.gwinnettdailypost.com). Crowd, action, band, tailgating, etc. If you shoot it, we want to see it. You can be a parent, student, fan or pro — we don't care. Questions? Email us at photos@gwinnettdailypost.com. If you want to become a regular contributor, shoot us an email as well.


yvonislove 3 years, 1 month ago

Marcus Cox of Dacula has a good chance of being All County, He has already started off good by having 3 TD' against Duluth in the scrimmage game. He has 11 offers to both FBS and FCS D1 schools. So you can add him to your list of predictions.


yvonislove 3 years, 1 month ago

Marcus Cox of Dacula has 11 offers from both BCS and FCS schools. You left him off the list of All-County predictions. Great scrimmage against Duluth. 3TD's


realtalk123 3 years, 1 month ago

Dacula 7-3? You must be an alumni, or dyslexic and meant 3-7.


Brandon Brigman 3 years, 1 month ago

@Yvonislove - Marcus is on my radar. He probably should have been listed as an athlete since he plays just about every position on offense. @realtalk123 - Dacula has some athletes. They are never big on the the line, but I think they have the athletes to hang with anyone in the county.


realtalk123 3 years, 1 month ago

I can't see it...they might be the 4th best team region depending on if they can beat Archer. But I guess we will find out soon enough.


Dawgapedia 3 years, 1 month ago

Not bad, Brandon. Just two mistakes in there that I can see. The All-County QB will be whoever wins between Norcross and North Gwinnett, which will be North. Sphire is holding Michael Haynes and co back, waiting for the right moment to unleash those Dawgs, which will be on September 14. Just wait and see! REGION CHAMPS x 4!!! Go DAWGS!!!

And don't forget the entire NG defensive line. They are beasts! Everyone will know their names by the end of the season: Dante Sawyer, Josh Manners, Preston Green, Brett Byerly.


realtalk123 3 years, 1 month ago

All county QB at NG? Did you watch that game at Corky Kell? This must be a joke.


CHDad 3 years, 1 month ago

"real talk", I was at all the Gwinnett games on Saturday and I can only see two reasons for your response. 1. You are terribly confused and you are mixing up NG with P Ridge, Grayson, or Bwood. 2. You know nothing about what makes a great quarterback.

Here's a clue: it's not always throwing for a bunch of yards or TDs, which seems to be the only thing Brandon sees. It's about doing the many great things QBs need to do to help their team win!

I saw Haynes complete many tough passes, under pressure, to receivers who were heavily covered. He also escaped numerous sacks and had several key runs. He picked up all the blitzes and kept his team out of trouble. A first game starter, he helped win the game with his arm, legs, and head. I would dare to say that there is only one other QB who would have completed more than a few passes against Colquitt, and that is Sheehan. Don't count him out of your all county picture!

Haynes is in the lead because of who he beat and how.


Brandon Brigman 3 years, 1 month ago

@Dawgapedia - Sawyer has made the move from RB to DL very nicely. He had a monster game on Saturday. Don't know Manners, yet, but Green is a good player and Byerly is a standout wrestler. All four should help the North defense this season. I'm interested to see how Haynes develops this season. At times he looked like Tamburo with his ability to make plays with his legs. I'm sure we haven't seen all of the offense with Haynes. That Sept. 14 game will be huge!


Dawgapedia 3 years, 1 month ago

You should also know that Michael Haynes is the son of former Brookwood all-state QB, Mickey Haynes, who led Brookwood to their first state championship game. That boy was born for this! He has been waiting behind Uzoma and Hosch for his big day, and now it has come. Go get 'em, Mike!


NGHS09 3 years, 1 month ago

"2. North Gwinnett (8-2) - Team Page

North has won the last three Region 7 titles. It's hard to imagine a school winning four in a row. The Bulldogs have a bye week before opening region play against Norcross. That will help, but there are too many questions marks on offense for me right now to predict them to repeat."

In many ways Brandon, this goes against your pedagogy of high school football in Gwinnett. If Saturday wasn't an indication of who this team is, then idk what else you need to see. Norcross will fold just like they have the last four years against NG. They shut down Kamara last year and they'll do it again this year. The receiving core is loaded, #2 Cam Lewis is a beast and if the offense needs some juice, Donnie Miles is only 50 ft or so away in the defensive huddle. The defense has more heart than in previous years, which means big trouble for region 7. NG vs Norcross on GPB September 14th! If Sphire opens up the play book (which he did not against Colquitt), then look for some serious fireworks on the offensive side of the ball. Once again NG will dominate region 7 because of Mo Dixon has constructed another outstanding defense.


Brandon Brigman 3 years, 1 month ago

@NGHS09 - Let's remember North beat a team on a last-second field goal. It's not like they went out there and put 35 points on them. The only offensive touchdown was when they put Miles in at RB. That's not a guaranteed TD every time he comes in the ball game. Look, North is very, very good on defense. I still have questions about the offense, though.


NGHS09 3 years, 1 month ago

Did they answer your questions this past saturday? They are only going to get better.


Brandon Brigman 3 years, 1 month ago

@NGHS09 - No, they still haven't answered my questions. We all know South Carolina football as a whole is weak. The goose egg was impressive, but beating them by a large margin was expected.


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