Prep Football Capsules: An inside look at tonight's gamesFrom Staff Reports
Listed below brief looks at the various prep football games in Coweta County tonight.
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Drake Stadium
Radio: Magic 98.1 FM with Patrick Glory and Ray McKnight; NuLink Channel 7 (audio only)
The Skinny: The Cougars had an “Avengers”-like opening night last Friday at Marietta, storming out for a 38-29 victory that was as satisfying a start as a high school football team can have on the road against a tough non-region opponent sporting a future SEC quarterback. After back-to-back efforts against Griffin and Marietta, can a Newnan team with less question marks than two weeks ago continue the pace in tonight’s official re-opening of the Drake against a LaGrange program that it has defeated in each of the last five seasons.
Last Week: Newnan defeated Marietta 38-29 on the road: LaGrange defeated Valley, Ala., 30-24 in a preseason scrimmage
Series History: LaGrange leads 49-32-4. Newnan has won last five meetings and six of last seven dating back to 1999.
Last Meeting: Newnan defeated LaGrange 27-6 on Aug. 25, 2011.
Key Players: Newnan — S/ATH Tray Matthews, Sr. (10 tackles, 107 total yards, 2 rush TDs, 2pt conv., punt block), QB Bailey Bryant, So. (17 of 20, 187 yards, 2 TDs), WR Traon Moss, Sr. (7 rec., 87 yards, 2 TDs), LB Tonaris Portress, Jr. (7 tackles, fumble recovery, INT), RB Quinton Dix, Sr. (10 car., 72 yds, TD), LB Maurice White, Sr. (4 tackles, sack, QB hurry), OL Jamal Carlisle (6-1, 287, Sr.), OL David Raschen (6-4, 290, Sr.), P/K Tyler Mulvenna, Sr. (33-yard FG)
LaGrange — S WR Dee Smith, Sr. (6-1, 180), CB Demoton Boyd, Sr. (5-10, 180), DE Chris Manning, Sr. (6-3, 210), DE Joe Sanders, Sr. (6-5, 270), TE Clete Miller, Sr. (6-1, 210); CB Qwa Baldwin (6-0, 160, Sr.); DT D.J. Hudson (6-1, 280, Sr.); LB Tay Glover, Jr. (6-1, 230); S/RB Mon Denson, So. (5-10, 190), LB Benny Gray, Jr. (5-10, 190); T C.J. Robinson, Sr. (6-1, 240), G Ryan Pauley, Sr. (6-1, 240)
When Newnan Has the Ball: As impressive as the final results were, the Cougars would probably liked a better balance in their output between the run and the pass last week. Expect Dix and sophomore J.K. Britt, who was held to 13 yards on 11 carries to try and open up more opportunities for Bryant. Newnan’s offensive line hasn’t played to its full potential yet either and will be tested by a trio of Manning, Sanders and Hudson on LaGrange’s defensive front. Denson had a fumble recovery in last year’s meeting as just a freshman. Will we see more of Tray Matthews in Newnan’s Wildcat? More than likely after the senior converted two scores and added a 2-point conversion without being stopped against Marietta. Traon Moss’s seven catches and 87 yards put him on pass to eclipse last year’s totals (14-173-0) by Week 3, though to no surprise of Cougar coaches, who expected the senior to pick up the slack from losing the bulk of last year’s receiving corps to graduation.
When LaGrange Has the Ball: The Grangers’ scrimmage last week, in which the varsity rolled out to a 30-0 lead, showed how far its offense had come in a full year. Unlike last season’s meeting, which was the first since a shift to the spread formation, LaGrange should be much more comfortable moving the ball this time after scoring just six points last year. Expect running backs Benny Gray and Denson to alternate carries after each scored a pair of touchdowns during last week’s scrimmage victory. The offense is being led by junior Zach Giddens, who saw action in nearly every game last year after starting 2011 as a backup.
Notes: Mulvenna connected on his first career field-goal attempt, a 33-yarder, that closed a third-quarter drive that allowed Newnan to pull within a 22-17 deficit. “We’re down eight and come out and put together a great drive and Tyler hit a big field goal there after we had a touchdown called back,” said Newnan head coach Mike McDonald. “You’d have hated to have gone 80 yards and not come away with anything.” The senior punter and kicker went down late in last week’s game, but was fine. Marietta, meanwhile, missed three field goals to account for the nine-point difference between the two schools. Junior Mark Harris has changed to uniform No. 82 from No. 76 after being moved to tight end this week. Harris has also been an early contributor to the Cougars’ new defensive front, recovering a fumble in the Griffin scrimmage. Newnan’s defense sacked LSU-bound quarterback Anthony Jennings three times last week in addition to forcing a fumble and picking off a pass. Matthews and Moss accounted for 14 of Bailey’s 17 pass receptions.
Henry County Warhawks (0-0) at East Coweta Indians (0-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Garland Shoemake Stadium
Radio: 92.5 FM The Bear with Scott Pinner and Carl McKnight (also streaming online)
The Skinny: A year after boasting 32 seniors, East Coweta opens its season with a much younger, inexperienced lineup. But it’s also one with plenty of potential to continue the program’s streak of 14 consecutive state playoff appearances. The Warhawks, however, are the type of tough opponent the Indians will be facing all year long. Henry takes the field for the first time under new head coach Joe Dupree with players that are also accustomed to playing in the postseason. The Class AAA program hasn’t posted a losing record since 2006 and has plenty of speed to cause problems.
Series History: Tied 2-2
Last Meeting: East Coweta defeated Henry, 46-0 in 2001.
Key Players: East Coweta — QB Bryce Gemmel, Jr. (6-0, 180), RB/CB Dee Godfrey, Sr. (5-8, 170), OL Zack Harness, Sr. (6-3, 280), K Spencer Smith, Sr. (6-0, 180), OL/DL Anfernee Burks, Sr. (6-0, 290), WR/S Markel Boston (6-1, 180, Jr.), TE/DE Cliff Strong, Sr., DL Tristan Mann, So., LB/FB Jay McKnight, Jr., RB Dexter Boyd, So., RB Malik Robinson, Jr.;
Henry County — QB T.J. Freeman, Jr., RB Sedrick Palmer (291 yards in 2011), DE Terrance Waugh, Sr. (6-2, 230), CB Malik Starks, Sr. (5-10, 180); LB Rennie Devine, Sr. (6-2, 240); ATH Fred Singleton, Jr. (6-1, 180), WR Dieonte Bryant, Sr. (6-0, 170), WR Derieko Meridy, Sr. (6-2, 190); LB Sedrick Palmer, Jr. (5-9, 210)
When East Coweta Has the Ball: With only four returners that saw considerable playing time on offense last year (Dee Godfrey, Zack Harness and Markel Boston), a unit primarily made of last year’s backups won’t have much time to settle in. Expect Henry’s 3-5 defense to put pressure on first-year starter Bryce Gemmel early off the ends with Henry’s Terrance Waugh, a Division I prospect who has an offer from Missouri, leading the way with Palmer at linebacker. The Indians could offset early rushes with short drop-off passes and screens that should also give Gemmel some early confidence in his debut. The 6-0, 180-pound quarterback should be as elusive as his predecessor, 1,000-yard rusher Garrett Schrepfer and equally quicker.
When Henry County Has the Ball: The Warhawks also start the season with a new quarterback in T.J. Freeman, whose only experience on the varsity offense last year amounted to a six-yard run. Unlike East Coweta’s Gemmel, who occasionally ran the Indians offense in short-yardage situations, it’ll be Freeman’s first live snaps. While Palmer is the team’s top returning rusher, Freeman will have three standout targets in the spread offense that should ease his transition. An East Coweta defense that returns just one starter in cornerback Dee Godfrey will be tested immediately. Sophomore Tristan Mann came away with a couple of sacks in the Indians’ preseason scrimmage at Whitewater.
Notes: Lineman D’Von Issac, who had expected to return to Henry County’s lineup this year, transfered to Alpharetta. The Warhawks also lost a pair of SEC signees to graduation, quarterback Chris Moody (South Carolina) and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinsson (Alabama).
Northgate Vikings (0-0) at Heritage-Conyers Patriots (0-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m, Evans Memorial Stadium, Conyers
Directions to Heritage High School: From I-85 North travel 21.7 miles to exit 1-285 Atlanta Bypass. Merge on to 1-285 toward Macon/Tampa. Take Ga-155 Exit 48 (Flat Shoals Road) toward Candler Road. Keep right at fork to Flat Shoals Road (Ga 155 South). Turn right on Snap Finger Road. Travel about 0.7 miles to Browns Mill Road (Ga 212). Turn left om to Ga 138. School with be on the left at Grande Rd Southwest. Travel time is approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes.
Webcast: Game will be streamed live through Rockdale Career Academy. The website link is www.ghsa.tv/rockdalecareeracademy
Series record: First meeting between the two schools.
Players to watch: Northgate— DB/WR Brandon Facyson (SR, 6-3, 180), DT De’Andre Johnson (SR 6-3, 320), DL Sean Spencer (SR, 6-2, 270), QB Josh Harrison (SR 6-3, 180), RB Michael Willis (SR ), LB/RB Conner Usher (5-10, 180), OL Chase Smith (SR 6-0, 220), OL Dustiin Foley (SR 6-0 210).
Heritage— ILB Chase Alford (SR, 6-2, 220), ILB Dustin Moore (SR, 6-1, 220), OLB Dominique Packer (SR 5-11, 210), RB Myron Fears (SR, 5-7, 180).
When Northgate has the ball: Fans who love the Wing-T and squads that love to see high school football teams run the football should be in their element tonight as both Northgate and Heritage operate out of the same basic offensive formation. Despite the graduation of running backs and Newnan Times Herald Co-Offensive Players of the Year Alex Lakes and Payton Usher, the cupboard is exactly bare for the Vikings. East Coweta transfer Michael Willis scored a touchdown in last week’s scrimmage against Veterans’ and has done a good job of picking up on the Vikings offense. Senior quarterback Josh Harrison, who is making is official debut as the Vikings starter has shown the ability to pass the football. A week ago he connected with Brandon Facyson on a 70-yard touchdown pass.
When Heritage has the Ball: A veteran quarterback in Ryan Sutton could help Heritage move the football against the Northgate defense, but the Patriots biggest challenge will be trying to find away to contain the Vikings three Division I prospects as Brandon Facyson (Virginia Tech), De’Andre Johnson (Georgia) and Sean Spencer (Vanderbilt) have all committed to big-time programs. Senior running back Myron Fears and senior wide receiver Steven Everson bring experience back to the offensive side of the football for Heritage.
Flint River Wildcats (1-0) at The Heritage School Hawks (0-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
The Skinny: The Hawks enter tonight’s season opener both trying to build on last year’s impressive 8-win season — best in school history – while simultaneously trying to not to rest its laurels on that success in what expects to be a tougher road to the state playoffs. Flint River, with a victory and an added dose of confidence in its first game under new head coach Jason Carrera, a former offensive coordinator at powerhouse Eagle’s Landing Christian, enters a much different team than last year’s 2-8 lineup.
Last Week: Flint River defeated Gatewood 27-23 on the road.
Series History: Flint River leads 3-1.
Last Meeting: Heritage School defeated Flint River 21-13 last Sept. 30.
Key Players: Flint River — G Skylar Young, Sr. (5-11, 270), G Stewart Greg, Sr. (6-0, 220). ATH Caleb Harker, Sr. (5-10, 170), QB Seth Short, Jr. (6-2, 190), G Chase Tyson, Jr. (6-0, 200), RB Will Couch (5-7, 170, Jr.), Kyle Dufresne, Jr. (5-10, 180);
Heritage School — ATH/S Candler Rich, Sr. (5-11, 190), TE Tyler Henson, Jr. (6-2, 200), QB Brad Macke, So., OL/LB Tyler Nix, Sr. (5-8, 180), OL/DL Richard Ebersbach, Sr. (5-9, 190), OL/DL Tyler Bean, Sr. (6-1, 220), LB/FB Dalton Trammell, Sr. (5-8, 190), FB/LB A.J. Gainwell, Fr.; WR Spencer Perry, Fr.; OL/DL/P Ben Dudley, Sr. (5-9, 170), RB/CB David Bready, Jr. (5-11, 170).
When Flint River Has the Ball: The Wildcats have gone from a ‘ground and pound’ attack to a no-huddle spread offense that will take nearly every snap out of the shotgun. It was extremely successful during last week’s win over Class AAA Gatewood in which Flint River ran a whopping 85 plays. “As a coach, you like to get somewhere around 50 to 55,” said Hawks head coach Kevin Prisant, who scouted the game. “The thing that impressed me the most was how fresh they looked in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t even close.” At quarterback, junior Seth Short was described by the Heritage coach as making good decisions in the opener. The object tonight for the Hawks will be not only to put as much pressure as possible on Short, but to limit the number of open looks down the field. Forcing incompletions should also take Flint River out of its no-huddle by stopping the clock.
When Heritage School Has the Ball: With starting senior quarterback Joe Bonner relegated to the sidelines for now, expect Heritage to find plays early that will give sophomore Brad Macke some early confidence on the Hawks opening drives. Also expect just about anything out of senior Candler Rich, who is likely to run, catch and even throw the ball on occasions following last year’s stellar All-State season where he accounted for more than 2,400 total yards. Freshmen Gainwell and Perry could also play key roles as blockers for Rich both up the middle and off the edge. Tight end Tyler Henson is also capable of pulling in a clutch reception here and there to move the chains.
Notes: Along with quarterback Joe Bonner, linebacker Parker Jones remain out of the Heritage lineup tonight after suffering a head injury in the team’s preseason scrimmage.
John Milledge Academy Trojans (1-0) at Trinity Christian Lions (0-0)
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. at East Coweta Middle School
The Skinny: Trinity Christian’s focus has been on game one, since day one of the preseason as the Lions put last year’s struggles from a 2-8 season behind them. With several new faces and a majority of returners, Trinity is ready to prove it belongs in the GISA. The Lions will get a stiff test, however, in former region rival John Milledge, who is already off to a solid start after last year’s 7-4 playoff season. The Trojans drop down to Class AA this season.
Last week: The Trojans defeated Brentwood School 48-7 at home.
Series History: John Milledge leads 1-0 following last year’s 35-13 victory over the Lions in Region 2-AAA play.
Key Players: John Milledge — QB Brantley Attaway; RB Cooper Morgan, Sr. (5-11, 190), WR Michael Lewis, Sr. (6-4, 180), TE Tyler Arthur, Sr. (5-11, 190); T Ryan Bresse, Sr. (6-0, 220), DT Heath McDonald, Sr. (6-0, 250); LB Andrew Hayes, Jr. (5-11, 220); S Tommy Pittman Jr. (5-7, 170), CB Joe Castillo, So. (5-9, 150);
Trinity Christian — QB/TE Connor Adams, Sr.; QB/WR Daniel Shoates, Jr.; FB/LB Drew Gibson, Sr.; WR/RB/S Jay Warner, Sr.; OL/DL Mark Collier, Sr., WR/S Dee Snelling, Jr.; OL/DL Conner Owen, Jr.; DL/WR/P/K Cody Houser, Sr., LB Edwin Rivera, Sr.
When John Milledge Has the Ball: The Trojans showcased their depth last week while jumping out for four touchdowns in the first half and scoring on big plays. Five players scored as John Milledge averaged 8.7 yards on its 32 plays. Quarterback Brantley Attaway went 7-for-9 for 103 yards and threw for two scores while running back Cooper Morgan had 119 yards rushing on 10 carries, one of which for a touchdown.
When Trinity Christian Has the Ball: Second-year head coach Chris Hanson has been leery of divulging anything about what his offense will look like this season. But the number of skill athletes the Lions have at their disposal hints toward a much more diversified attack than last year’s. Both Adams and Shoates are capable of running the offense and the addition of Warner, a transfer from East Coweta, and Gibson — who sat out last year while recovering from an extended illness — give Trinity a backfield that should move the chains consistently. The return of third-year contributor Dee Snelling adds big-play ability as well. The key will be how well the offensive line gels early.