One of the nation’s most sought-after junior recruits added two substantial records last Friday.
Though Central Gwinnett lost to Parkview, Daejon Reynolds broke the all-time Gwinnett County record for receiving yards in a season and catches in a season. He now has 83 catches for 1,381 yards and 13 touchdowns, breaking the catch record by one that was held by two other Central players, Malachi Jones and Khmari Thompson.
His yardage total gives Central the Gwinnett record again in that category. The Black Knights’ Kip Ruark had 1,270 yards in 1980 and his record stood for decades. Central had the record again when Justin Brownlee posted 1,337 receiving yards in 2012.
"Ten years ago, I wanted to bring something different to the county offensive scheme-wise," Central head coach Todd Wofford said. "At that time, only a couple of teams were throwing it around, I think us and North Gwinnett. We wanted to try to have a more modern style of offense like you saw on Saturdays and these days you see on Sundays.
"We've had a couple of kids who have excelled in this offense and that’s how they’ve got these records. They’ve worked on these schemes and mastered it. They put in the work and that’s how they make plays on Friday."
Brownlee’s county record held until 2017, when Mountain View’s Malachi Carter toppled the mark with 1,348 yards. Carter is currently a wide receiver at Georgia Tech.
Carter's mark was taken down last Friday by Reynolds.
“(The season) was unexpected,” Wofford said. “I knew (Reynolds) was going to have a pretty good year, but I never expected him to have a year this big. He had a solid year last year but was injured and only played in six games. But you could see the potential then. He’s a kid who works his tail off. He’s not a rah-rah kid like you might expect being a guy with 30 (college) offers and being a receiver, kind of a diva position. He goes to work and he’s one of those guys that’s focused on trying not to just play, but to dominate who he goes against each Friday.
“The fun part about it is he’s been double-teamed more than any kid I’ve had in my career.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Reynolds is ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 22 junior in Georgia by 247Sports.com. His offer list is nearing 30 and includes top schools like LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Florida.
Reynolds’ contributions this season aren’t limited to offense, though. He is being pursued by colleges as a safety, too, and his Georgia offer is at defensive back. He has been one of Gwinnett’s top defensive players this year with 54 tackles and four interceptions.
“He’s outperformed what I thought he’d do on defense as well,” Wofford said.
Despite that, most of the colleges like Reynolds at the receiver position, his coach said.
Buford in rebound mode
Buford finds itself in a rare position thanks to its upset loss in the regular-season finale at Clarke Central.
The defeat means only one guaranteed home game in the state playoffs — Friday’s game at Tom Riden Stadium against Decatur, the No. 3 seed from 6-AAAAA. Rather than a second-round home game, which Buford usually gets as a No. 1 seed, the Wolves likely will travel to Waycross in the second round to play 2-AAAAA champion Ware County.
The upset loss also throws Buford (9-1), AAAAA’s No. 1 team prior to last Friday, into the same quadrant as No. 2 Carrollton (10-0). Those two would match up in the quarterfinals at Carrollton, which is coached by Berkmar grad and former Gwinnett assistant coach Sean Calhoun.
The last time Buford wasn’t a No. 1 seed in the playoffs was in 2012 because it had to forfeit two region wins. The seeding didn’t hurt that year, though, as the Wolves won the state championship.
With the loss to Clarke Central, the Wolves saw a 47-game winning streak in region competition end — their last loss to a region foe was the forfeit loss Oct. 5, 2012 loss to West Hall (a game it won 61-0). Buford’s last loss on the field in a region game was Sept. 11, 2009 — a 28-21 loss to Lovett.
A loss in Game 10 was an even rarer occurrence for Buford, which last lost a regular-season finale in 2000 (18-14 to Commerce).
Loaded side in AAAAAAA
Whatever team emerges from the right side of the Class AAAAAAA playoff bracket will have survived a gauntlet.
The top four teams in that classification in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association rankings are on that side of the bracket — No. 1 Lowndes, No. 2 McEachern, No. 3 Grayson and No. 4 North Gwinnett. Grayson and Lowndes are in the same quadrant, meaning they could meet in the quarterfinals. North and McEachern are together in the lower quadrant, which could mean a quarterfinal matchup.
The locations of those games are determined by coin flip if the seeds are equal.
Tough road for Dacula
No. 1 Dacula (10-0) is one of the state title favorites in AAAAAA, but its road won’t be easy.
The Region 8-AAAAAA champion opens with Dalton, which features one of the state’s top running backs in Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs averages well over 200 rushing yards.
Dacula also is in the same quadrant with powerhouse and two-time defending state champion Lee County (9-1), ranked third in AAAAAA. Those two could meet in the quarterfinals with a coin flip deciding the host.
Lanier, the No. 2 seed in 8-AAAAAA, got a slightly better draw in AAAAAA. The No. 1 seeds in its quadrant are Richmond Hill (6-3) and Johns Creek (9-1).
GAC on stacked side in AAA
Greater Atlanta Christian won the 7-AAA title, but that didn’t put them on the more favorable side of the AAA bracket.
The fourth-ranked Spartans are on the left side of the bracket with the three teams ranked ahead of them — No. 1 Peach County, No. 2 Cedar Grove and No. 3 Pierce County.
GAC is in the quadrant with Pierce, so those two could meet in the quarterfinals. In the top half of that bracket, Peach and Cedar Grove could be headed for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the Elite Eight.