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.
This time last year, guys like Norcross' Alvin Kamara, Grayson's Wayne Gallman and North Gwinnett's Donnie Miles were not known across the county.
The trio had standout junior years and became household names.
Each year a new crop of players grab the headlines. Some of them are guys waiting in the wings, some are move-ins, others are just coming back from injuries. Here's my list of the top newcomers to watch in the county this season. To be a classified as a newcomer they had to have not played last year in Gwinnett or had little playing time. Check it out and let me know who I missed.
• WR Kyrin Priester, Brookwood, Sr.
Priester moved to Georgia this spring from Florida. He missed the first five games of last season with a broken leg, but came back to amass 565 yards and five TDs. He de-committed from UGA this summer, but is rated one of the country's top receivers.
• LB Reginald Carter, South Gwinnett, Sr.
Carter was on this list last year after transferring from Stephenson. He only played 10 plays last season before injuring his knee and was out for the year. He has committed to Georgia.
• OL Orlando Brown, Peachtree Ridge, Jr.
The son of former NFL player and the late Orlando Brown, Sr., Brown moved from Maryland earlier this year. The 6-foot-8, 360-pound Brown is an imposing force on the line and has already gathered several college scholarship offers.
• RB Aares McCall, Grayson, Jr.
One of the team's fastest players, McCall will share carries in a crowded backfield. He has big-play potential every time he touches the ball.
• RB Myles Autry, Norcross, Jr.
The youngest of the three talented Autry boys, he might also be the most talented. Will split time at running back with Alvin Kamara, but will also see action at receiver and quarterback.
• LB Korie Rogers, Buford, Jr.
Saw limited action on a senior-laden defense last year. Rogers will be the Wolves' leader on defense. Already has a scholarship offer from Georgia.
• DE Lorenzo Carter, Norcross, Jr.
A transfer from Whitefield Academy's Class A state champion basketball team, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Carter is a college prospect in football and basketball.
• RB Johnathan Hawkins, Central Gwinnett, Soph.
Saw limited action behind Syracuse signee George Morris last year. Hawkins, who has a scholarship offer from Auburn, has the potential to be the next great running back from Gwinnett.
• TE Mikey Bart, Buford, Sr.
Played sparingly behind Alabama signee Kurt Freitag last year. Bart will be counted on at TE and at linebacker.
• OL Dewey Van Allen, Duluth, Jr.
At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Van Allen has attracted college recruiters with his size and ability on the line.
• WR Myron Burton, Peachtree Ridge, Jr.
A versatile player that can play WR, RB and QB, Burton gives the Lions a scoring threat every time he touches the ball.
• K Alex Louthan, Grayson, Sr.
This is Louthan's third school in as many years. He was a member of a state runner-up team in Kansas his sophomore year and helped a school in Florida to a sub-state runner-up finish. He made 53 PATs and had 15 touchbacks on kickoffs. He's kicked a 42-yard field goal in a game and 63 yards in practice.
First impressions from opening Friday.
The season kicked off in full force on Friday. Here's a few things that stood out to me from Friday's game.
How has Peachtree Ridge not scored this year? (Game Story)
Peachtree Ridge has a bye week on Friday, which is good. They need to figure out something with the offense. The Lions have gone two games and no points. They have to change something on offense if they want to have a chance to make the playoffs. The defense only allowed three points, but they did give up more than 300 yards rushing. If Parkview didn't turn the ball over four times, the score could have been worse.
Is Mill Creek's offense for real? (Game Story)
When Mill Creek lost its starting quarterback and one of its running backs, I thought the offense would struggle. I never imagined a sophomore quarterback making his first start could guide an offense to 442 total yards. But that's what the Hawks' Daniel David did in Mill Creek's 35-0 win over Dacula. David had the help of Jacorey Lewis, who rushed for 209 yards and three TDs. I'm interested to see how they do this week against Brookwood, which allowed a 300-yard rusher in its season opener.
Has Central really found a defense? (Game Story)
The Black Knights' biggest Achillies heel last year was the defense. The unit looked impressive in Friday's 27-21 win over Collins Hill. They held a team to 21 points for the first time in eight games. They did allow nearly 300 yards of offense, but it was big stops in the fourth quarter that was the difference in this year's defense.
Grayson is legit of national recognition (Game Story)
It's kind of hard to imagine a team in our own backyard being touted as the top team in the country. Out of thousands of high school football teams, Grayson is rated No. 1 by ESPN and is in the top 10 by several other polls. The Rams showed they are worthy of the national recognition with a 35-3 thumping of Miami Central. This was a team that was ranked No. 1 by USA Today, has 13 Division I prospects and has played in the last two state championship games. So this was a legit team that Grayson played and they made them look like a JV squad on Friday. There's still a lot of football to be played, but at this point I can't see any team beating Grayson this year. Even Camden.
Berkmar is tougher than they look (Game Story)
The Patriots have been a cake walk for teams the past couple of years. That might be different this year. Berkmar led Duluth going into the fourth quarter of Friday's game. It's one of the few times the Patriots have been in a game going into the fourth quarter. They ended up losing 22-15, but it's a baby step for the program.
From my noteboook
Norcross won't rely on just Kamara
Norcross has one of the state's top running backs in Alvin Kamara. I asked head coach Keith Maloof how that will help quarterback Joseph Wilber. He was adamant that Norcross' couldn't rely on just Kamara to be successful this year.
"To win in this region and win a region title, people are going to be able to stop a one dimensional team," Maloof said. "We've got to continue to be able to throw the ball and run the ball."
Kamara is the county's top returning rusher, while Wilber is the county's second leading passer back from last year.
The league we play in, it's tough," Maloof said. "If you're going to be one dimensional, you better dominant. I mean totally dominant in that one area."
Grayson's Conn likes national attention
I asked Grayson head coach Mickey Conn if his team should be worthy of its national recognition after beating Miami Central 35-3 on Friday.
"The fact they are ranked No. 1 in USA Today and had all those Division I players and we beat them 35-3. That should say a lot about our kids and our program," Conn said. "We love the national attention, but at the same time we have to get ready for our region because it's extremely tough. We have to get ourselves prepared for that. There's no better way to do that than playing in the Corky Kell in the Dome and playing the No. 1 ranked team in the country."
Grayson is off this Friday before it begins it Region 8 title defense with Parkview on Sept. 14.
New features on GwinnettPrepSports.com
Be sure to check out two of our new features on GwinnettPrepSports.com. The first is our "Fans Choice Player of the Week." Every Monday we'll nominate four guys who had standout performances the previous Friday. Vote in our poll, tweet and vote more. The voting will close at Noon on Thursday and the winner will be featured in our Friday Kickoff section. The winner last week was North Gwinnett's Michael D'Angola who booted the game-winning field goal in the Bulldogs' last-second, Corky Kell Classic win over Colquitt County.
Another new thing we're doing is called "Inside the Helmet." Each week we'll post a video on a Gwinnett County football player where you'll be able to learn just a little bit more about them. This week we featured Norcross' Joseph Ledford. Who should we feature next?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to become a regular contributor, shoot us an email as well.