Mill Creek punter Jake Richards (9) makes good of a fake punt to get a first down in the the first half of Friday’s game before getting run out of bounds by Dacula’s Kevin Ficklin (21). (Photo: Craig Cappy)
SUWANEE — Peachtree Ridge honored former player and current Pittsburgh Steeler Cameron Heyward during a pregame ceremony Friday.
Heyward, who was named Class AAAAA Defensive Player of the Year in the Lions’ 2006 state title season, said it was an honor just to be recognized by his former school.
“It’s very humbling,” he said. “There were a lot of good influences when I was here. I learned to work hard and that nothing is given to you.”
From his days at Ohio State and now in Pittsburgh, Heyward still believes listening is the best tool to be successful.
“You learn from listening,” he said. “Everything I’ve done, it’s because I decided to listen to what I was being taught.”
Now in Pittsburgh with former high school teammate (and former Georgia punter) Drew Butler, Heyward said the pair sometimes have to take a step back and realize they’re not dreaming.
“The NFL was always the ultimate goal, but to be on the same team with Drew is an amazing feeling,” he said. “We try to watch out for each other and give feedback on things we notice.
“And, we’ll have the occasional Twitter battle when it comes to Ohio State and Georgia. He just has to remember that we both played the same team one year (Arkansas in 2011). If I remember correctly, they lost to them and we beat them.”
North Gwinnett defensive coordinator Robert Andrews returned to Grayson on Friday, where he coached the previous eight seasons.
His Bulldogs’ defense wasn’t very kind to the Rams.
North had a pair of safeties, an interception for a touchdown and fumble returned for a score. That was in addition to a pair fourth-down stops and three fumbles.
Rams off to rare 0-2 start
Grayson is off to its worse start to the season since 2006. The Rams are 0-2 after losing to Colquitt County and North Gwinnett the first two weeks of the season. Both teams are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Class AAAAAA.
Grayson began the year 0-3 in 2006 and rebounded to finish 6-6 and make the state playoffs. Since then they’ve won 10 or more games each season. That streak could be jeopardy after losing 35-0 to North Gwinnett on Friday. It was the worst margin of defeat in the program’s 14-year history and featured a fourth-quarter mercy rule running clock.
Multiple birds of a feather flock together
Perhaps the most impressive part of Mill Creek’s big offensive night in its 41-28 win over Dacula was the number of weapons they used to roll up 472 yards of total offense and 25 first downs, the latter number tying a school single-game record.
Quarterback Daniel David completed 14 of his 17 pass attempts to six different receivers, including three touchdown tosses, tying him for second on the school’s single-game list.
But it is in the running game in which the Hawks’ diversity was perhaps most impressive.
While DeVozea Felton led the way with 100 yards on 16 carries, four other runners — David, Johnathan Hawkins, Carter Governale and Andrew Sciara — combined for 183 yards, with each averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry each.
“Sciara jumped in there, too,” Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis said. “I didn’t know we’d use him that much, but that shows you, we feel like we have depth right there. We want to keep them all out there. I can’t say enough about Carter Governale. This was his first game action (since a season-ending knee injury last year). He looked fine, and he’s only going to get better. Hawkins had a touchdown. DeVoz had one receiving. All those guys played extremely well.”
Even punter Jake Richards got into the act, taking a fake punt for 7 yards to pick up a first down in the first quarter.
Dacula also had it share of offensive success from multiple sources in Friday night’s loss to Mill Creek.
But the Falcons’ biggest success came in a manner Tommy Jones says he didn’t expect to utilize quite so much in his first game as head coach.
While Chris Warner threw the ball well, completing 9 of 21 passes for 152 yards and a TD, Dacula gained perhaps most of its yards out of the Wildcat formation, with Jacque Evangelister doing most of the damage with 173 yards on 15 carries, including eight different runs of 11 or more yards.
And when the Mill Creek defense started to key on Evangelister, he got others like C.J. Mayes and Bijon Sirleaf involved, and Jones didn’t rule out using the formation more in the future based on Friday’s success.
“That was a game dictation deal,” Jones said. “We saw we were having some success with it. (Evangelister) is explosive. He ran the ball very hard. I’m very proud of the way Jacque ran the ball.”
Patching things up
With a new starting quarterback for Collins Hill in Tyler Herman, head coach Kevin Reach was confident that his new signal caller would be getting plenty of protection from its line.
Anchored by Duke commit Christian Harris at left tackle, that confidence was well placed, but a recent injury to Harris (slight tibia break) prompted Reach to shake things up amongst his line.
Shahed Noorollahi, who normally starts at right tackle, was moved to the vacated spot at left tackle. In his place, Reach has depended on a rotation from Ian Torke and Braxton Hale.
The reshuffled line did well in its opener as Herman threw for 236 yards, getting sacked only twice. “Our pass blocking wasn’t bad, especially in picking up stunts,” Reach said after his team shut out Central Gwinnett 22-0. “I thought our run blocking could’ve been better but we will work on that.”
All is not lost with Harris who is expected to be back in four weeks.
Big shoes to fill
With the graduation of record-setting quarterback Eman Westmoreland, Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford knew that he was going to have to search hard to find a suitable replacement.
If the results from Friday’s 22-0 loss at home to Collins Hill are indicative of what 2013 may hold, Wofford may have to look a little harder.
While the defense played well, save for for a couple of big plays, the offense struggled, gaining just 152 total yards.
Of those yards, 108 came through the air from the efforts of two quarterback in Eric Forrest and Nate Hartford, far from the numbers Wofford was accustomed to behind Westmoreland.
“With the offense we run, the quarterback has to be the leader and the one to get things going,” Wofford said. “Tonight, they both laid an egg. We’ve got to get that worked out. I’ll figure out what each guy can do best because I’m not going to go back and forth with putting two guys in like that.”
Forrest finished his night with 87 yards and one interception on 11 of 26 attempts, while Hartford finished 2 of 9 for 21 yards and one pick.
— Staff Writers Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander, senior correspondent Scott Smith and correspondent Chris Stephens contributed to this report.