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THE BLITZ: Sign of the apocalypse or just great football?

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.gwinnettdailypost.com.

It case you haven't heard, Grayson and North Gwinnett lost on Friday.

Yes, you read that right.

This is the same Grayson team that is or was ranked No. 1 in the nation. The same Grayson team that's the defending state champions. The same Grayson team that has 10 starters back on defense. The same Grayson team that features the No. 1 college prospect in the country in Robert Nkmediche. The same Grayson team that was supposed to walk its way to the Georgia Dome and another state title.

Parkview must have not gotten the memo.

On the same night North Gwinnett lost to Norcross. This is a North program that has won the last three Region 7 championships. It had a 22-game region winning streak. It had beaten the Blue Devils four years in a row.

On the same night two of Gwinnett's top teams lost a rare regular season game. It shouldn't be a sign of concern for either program or the state of Gwinnett football. Grayson and North will bounce back and will still be playing in November when the playoffs start.

If anything, I think the losses by Grayson and North shows us how deep the competition is in the county. You can't have an off week or you'll get beat.

•••

Impressions from Friday

Proud of Panthers

You can't talk about the history of Gwinnett County football without mentioning Parkview and Brookwood. The two programs helped build the county into the football juggernaut it is today in the late 90s and early 00's.

Both have been the measuring stick for other programs. But let's be honest, this hasn't been the same Parkview program of the early 2000's in recent years.

Season after season I've seen teams get their signature win over Parkview. It was nice for the Panthers to finally get a big win of their own over Grayson. Parkview has pushed itself from playoff hopeful to region title contender. That hasn't been the case since the mid-2000's.

How did Grayson lose?

A lot of people want to know how Grayson lost. It's pretty simple when you turn the ball over four times and have more than 100 yards in penalties. But how does that happen?

Grayson was coming off a bye. How do you have four turnovers and that many penalties when you've had two weeks to prepare? It's not like this is the first game of the season. This was the third game in four weeks for the Rams.

What also doesn't make sense is Parkview scored three points in two games and then put up 22 on Grayson's defense. This is the same defense that allowed 13 points a game last year. It's not like Parkview came out running a new offense or something. I just don't get it.

Is Norcross for real?

Norcross always seems to have the best athletes year in and year out, but struggles in the postseason. The Blue Devils have another talented team this year, but can they make a playoff push? They finally beat North Gwinnett, who opened the season with a win over south Georgia power Colquitt County. Norcross also had a 20-0 win over Parkview, which just beat defending state champion Grayson.

Considering their quality of wins, I think you have to have Norcross as a state title contender right now.

New General in charge

I talked for first-year Shiloh coach Troy Hobbs last week and he asked me when I was going to cover a Shiloh game. I joked with him and told him as soon as Shiloh posts a winning record. He said OK and that he would add it to his to-do list. Shiloh hasn't had a winning season since 2003, but the way Hobbs is moving the program I might be covering a game sooner than expected.

Shiloh is 3-0 for the first time since 1991. Have the Generals played some really good teams? No, but that's not the point. This is a program that's on its third head coach in as many years and is coming off a drama-filled spring that included the former head coach resigning for recruiting violations.

Shiloh is winning with a strong defense. They've allowed just 20 points all season. They gave up 19 or more in every game last year. This is a program that finally has some confidence, but we'll see how they measure over the next month with three of their next four games against playoff teams from a year ago.

North needs some help on offense

North Gwinnett has as good of a defense as any in the state. But the Bulldogs have to find some more playmakers on offense. Quarterback Michael Haynes is all they have right now, at least that's what I saw on Friday. When Donnie Miles is in at running back, he gives the Bulldogs another explosive player. But Miles is used primarily on defense and the offense isn't the same with him not in there. The Bulldogs have to find another Miles-caliber player to take the load off Haynes if they want to have success this year.

•••

What's on tap

We'll find out if Parkview's win over Grayson was a fluke this week. The Panthers get another playoff team from last season in Archer.

I feel bad for Dacula. The Falcons are 0-3 and now get to face an angry Grayson team coming off a loss. I don't think it will be pretty.

After an 0-2 start, Peachtree Ridge can show it has turned things around against Mill Creek. The Hawks have region title aspirations. This is the best game in the region this week.

•••

Win on Twitter

Want to win a free Blitz t-shirt and a coupon for a Chick-fil-A biscuit? Give the Blitz a shout-out on Twitter to be entered. Be sure to mention @GDPsports in the tweet. We'll draw a winner on Wednesday.

Comments

ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 3 months ago

"Sign of the apocalypse or just great football?" ...No apocalypse, just plain ol' great football or as we call it in Gwinnett, a regular Friday night.

"How did Grayson lose?" ...Grayson lost because they likely started believing their own press clippings and all of the hype about them with the gaudy #1 state and national rankings, which as the Rams were reminded of the hard way on Friday, don't mean a darn thing in Georgia high school football, especially in Gwinnett County and particularly at the AAAAAA level where anyone, no matter how highly touted or ranked can be beaten at any given time by a hungrier opponent. No one is going to lay down and rollover for you because of some sky-high ranking all a bunch of national hype. If anything, they are going to come after you even harder as a defending state champion with a #1 state ranking and a #1 national ranking is very much the hunted in Georgia AAAAAA high school football.

"Is Norcross for real?" ...Norcross is for real, at least talent-wise, as the Blue Devils are once again loaded with unbelievable amounts of talent and seem to be even moreso this year. The only thing about the Devils is that they seem to get a lot of penalties, particularly on offense where there seem to be a lot of procedural penalties that seem to take the team backwards at key times during offensive drives, which is something that absolutely must be cleaned up for the Devils to have a legitimate shot at region and state title contention especially with very tough games against very strong region opponents like Mill Creek, Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge and even Mountain View still remaining on the schedule. If the Blue Devils do not clean up the sometimes sloppy and undiscipined play and start avoiding those silly drive-killing procedural penalties at the line of scrimmage on offense, the Devils will not remain in the hunt for region and state titles for long.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 3 months ago

"New General in charge"

...Troy Hobbs has coaching pedigree and is the real deal over at Shiloh, especially after the instability that the program has had at the head coaching position over the last several years and the three straight wins to start off the season is reason for early (yet very guarded) optimism about the long term direction of the program.

But despite some relatively very early success against three admittedly lesser opponents, the reality remains that Coach Hobbs has a very tough job on his hands in rebuilding a long-struggling Shiloh program in the brutal Region 8-AAAAAA (one of the toughest high school football conferences in the entire nation) that will require a great deal of patience and committment from all parties involved (parents, boosters, adminstration, community, Coach Hobbs himself, etc).

A successful rebuild of the Shiloh program can be done, it's just that it is an undertaking that is going to take a heckuva lot of patience and understanding in a region with such stellar programs like South, Dacula, Parkview and, especially, the two most recent state champions of the highest classification, Grayson and Brookwood on the prowl.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 3 months ago

"North needs some help on offense"

...With Meadowcreek next up on the schedule on Friday and then a bye week before playing Duluth on October 5th, it appears as if North is about to have a tremendous opportunity in the schedule to build some confidence for players needing to step up and grow into filling those roles on the offense as there could be no better opportunity for a program of North's caliber to get well quick than to put on an offensive clinic against Meadowcreek, have a bye week and then come out and be forced to play a more balanced game against a competitive yet overmatched Duluth program on Oct 5th before playing an extremely-talented but sometimes very-inconsistent Mill Creek program in a key region matchup on Oct 12th.

As for what seems to some to be a lack of playmaking ability on the offense, it could be a case of younger players not necessarily growing into their roles as of yet early on, or it could be that the attrition of losing assistants off of the coaching staff combined with opening of Lanier a couple of years ago and the splitting of the talent pool in the North Gwinnett district with much of the football talent that would be playing for NG now playing for Lanier is starting to take its toll on the NG program, especially as Coach Sphire has not necessarily been able to fill many of the open spots on the coaching staff on a permanent basis due to a lack of available open teaching spots in the Gwinnett County school system at the moment.

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Cypher 2 years, 3 months ago

Brandon B., no need to feel bad for Dacula. We just came off a state quarterfinals appearance, we still have some really talented players and coaches and the season is not over. If we worried about good/great teams coming off of a loss, we would never play a game in Gwinnett County. Very talented teams lose in Gwinnett County to each other every week. smile:) Losing will never be ok at Dacula and we can't, won't, don't make excuses.

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Brandon Brigman 2 years, 3 months ago

The season isn't over, but right now I'm not sure who is left on Dacula's schedule that they can beat. A few more losses and they'll be out of the playoff hunt and playing for pride the rest of the year.

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200275278 2 years, 3 months ago

I agree with ACC12_SEC13Booster. North's offense collapsed and sent the team sprawling. As for the article above, I COMPLETELY DISAGREE! I'm sorry, but Norcross isn't a contender. NGHS is still a threat, as well as Parkview, Brookwood, and maybe-just maybe Peachtree. I like Norcross, don't get me wrong, but they arn't that good. Not toooooooooooooooooo good that is. Sure, they might pull of a win or 2, or they can go undefeated I don't KNOW!! only they can tell, not us. Beating NGHS got everyone's attention, but now they have to prove they refuse to lose. As for NGHS, 3 words. I don't care if you lose every game this season, but please do the world a favor and SLAM THE RAMS!

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Brandon Brigman 2 years, 3 months ago

How can you not think Norcross is a contender? They just beat one of the state's top programs over the last six years. Norcross' offense has the ability to score on any play. The defense is what impressed me against North.

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Brandon Brigman 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW, North doesn't play Grayson in the regular season. They would have to meet in the playoffs.

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200275278 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, after i posted it, i realized that NGHS doesn't play Grayson. And yes Norcross does have a good defense. I think that maybe they can be in the contending spot...... TO BE CONTINUED FRIDAY!!

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RobFromNorcross 2 years, 3 months ago

Norcross is going all the way this year, we still have our best games ahead of us. All those penalties against NG need to be cleaned up of course (at least the 50% of them that were real) and we need to carry the ball a couple of yards past the first down marker to make sure that the ref can't move the ball back behind the line each time. We have room for improvement, but I'll put our 22 up against any in the state.

And 15-16 of our 22 starters are JUNIORS!

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MojoRising 2 years, 2 months ago

@ Rob, Grayson has more than that last year on defense returning and they have been giving up points.

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Dawgapedia 2 years, 3 months ago

North's offense actually put up more than 300 yards and 3 TDs against Norcross, moving the ball up and down the field all night. Norcross is one of the best defenses in the state. They are loaded with talent, and are playing better than ever. North's offense could not be asked to do much more. But they could have done better in the red zone in the 2nd half if Donnie Miles had not gotten a concussion when Norcross drilled him out of bounds in the 3rd quarter.

North's defense played very well against the run. The pass defense was not as good as it should have been. But the Norcross receivers were very athletic and were making circus catches. Wilber did a good job of escaping pressure and making quick throws. Norcross had a good offensive game plan.

To break it down, North lost because they did not do well in the red zone, scoring only 3 out of 7 times. Special teams broke down with a missed field goal, two kickoff returns to the 15 yard line, two short punts, and a fumbled punt return. North gave Norcross the ball on their own 30 yard line 3 times leading to 3 Norcross TDs. Norcross also got a pick 6 which you can't blame on the defense.

Norcross played better all-around and deserved the win. But North was right there with them and showed they can beat anyone if they don't make mistakes. Both teams will have their hands full with Mill Creek, Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge, and Duluth left on their schedules. I predict a three-way tie for first place at the end of the season between Norcross, North, and Mill Creek (or Collins Hill) that will have to be determined by tie breaker rules.

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NGHS09 2 years, 3 months ago

  • NG needs to run # 2 Cam Lewis @ RB instead of WR. HE's 6' 220 lbs for cryin out loud. Haynes will get killed if the run game doesn't pick up. The OL is SOLID and makes holes, and the receiving core is very deep and talented. The offense is JUST FINE as Dawgapedia stated.

  • I want to see how the NG defense responds to the loss. My bet is that they go wild on the rest of the teams on the schedule. Look for some shutouts and poundings of the opponent until the playoffs. Honestly I think this is just what the doctor ordered. This loss woke up a lot of players and I see this as a renewed since of urgency and determination throughout the program.

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Dawgapedia 2 years, 3 months ago

We have a few minor injuries from last week that will keep some of our personnel on the sidelines against Meadowcreek, resting up. Miles and J Lewis may not play much if at all, so we will probably see Cam at F this week with Andrusky. Andrusky has great speed and ability, he just needs to learn to keep his balance and feet a little better. The RB's are excellent blockers and do extremely well on our screen passes. They will get better at running between the tackles over the next few weeks.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 3 months ago

North didn't lose because their players were sleep as NG beat two very good teams in its first two weeks of the season with a win over South Georgia 1-AAAAAA title contender Colquitt County in a payback game and an extremely-dominant performance in the shutout of South Carolina title contender A.C. Flora.

North lost to Norcross because they played a Blue Devils' program that is just simply ridiculously talented this year (as evidenced by the Blue Devils' ability to overcome the numerous silly penalties they've repeatedly committed through the first three games of the season).

You are very correct though as there is nothing that gets the attention of the NG program like a loss to the hated arch-rival Blue Devils and NG will most certainly display that renewed focus this week on the road against woeful Meadowcreek where I am also most certain that there will be howls of NG running up the score if the Dawgs put up more than 70 against a Mustangs program that has lost 40 games in a row and 83 of their last 84 games.

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FBHistorian 2 years, 3 months ago

North's starters only played one quarter last year and it was 35-0. The second team got in for a quarter. The second half was all JV and 9th grade and the score was 70-0. This had nothing to do with North running up the score. North returned three or four punts for TDs and had a couple of defensive TDs. Ironically, the offense hardly saw the field. I think Scotty Hosch had only 100 yards passing or so.

Last year was no fun at all, and we hope not to see a repeat. It does no good whatsoever to beat up on those guys. It is a great opportunity to get young players some experience, but it won't help the starters.

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Dawgapedia 2 years, 3 months ago

Norcross is definitely talented, no doubt. But if you go back and watch the game you will see that North controlled the game on offense. If you look at the statistics you would think North had won big.

The key difference in the game was that North missed opportunities and Norcross capitalized on theirs. Norcross did not win because they were so much more talented. They just did better with their opportunities on this particular day.

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Puddin 2 years, 3 months ago

I always tell folks that Gwinnett County is the SEC of Georgia Highschool Football. The other counties and regions can not compare to the talent Gwinnett has. It takes an entire county to make up one team i.e. Colquit, Lowndes, Camden etc... If Gwinnett created one team, they would have to play a college schedule. The Grayson/Parkview and North/Norcross games prove that anyone can be beat at anytime. God I love Gwinnett County Football!!! GO NORTH!

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NGHS09 2 years, 3 months ago

@ Dawgapedia...I noticed Bobby Young was basically in man coverage all night and keying on Kamara and Autry. I think that's why #3 played safety most of the night and why passes were caught down the middle of the field. #3 was continuously out of position in coverage, but that's completely FINE @ this point in the season. The experience he got from the loss will elevate his playing ability A LOT. These newer guys on both sides of the ball should be very comfortable with playing big time varsity football after the last three games. I have a gut feeling about this team. They remind me A LOT of the 2007 team Mikey Tamburo and company led to the state title game (which also lost to Norcross by 10 pts!) We shall see.

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Dawgapedia 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the Norcross strategy was to throw quickly, underneath the North corners. They required no reads from the QB, just a quick throw to an area and let your receiver make the play. This was a good strategy as North's secondary was playing soft to avoid the big play and neutralized our great pass rush. Once we tightened up coverage, they beat us deep with two athletic plays. It seemed to me that we did not play the ball well in the secondary a few times as though were happy to make the tackle after the catch. Anyway, Mo will get it straightened out. Those guys did much better this summer, they had just not seen a good group of receivers in awhile and were rusty.

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