High-SchoolGeorgia: Football

Harvey-Clemons picks Georgia

February, 1, 2012

For the second straight year, Mark Richt and his staff were able to attract the state's top recruit to Athens.

Lowndes senior linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons, the No. 17 player and No. 1 OLB in the ESPNU 150, will join last year's prized pickup Isaiah Crowell at Georgia after committing to the Bulldogs Wednesday Morning.

"We're just going to put Georgia on the map," Harvey-Clemons told DawgNation's Kipp Adams. "This is where I want to be for the next four years."

The versatile Harvey-Clemons lined up at multiple positions at Lowndes this season and could see action on both sides of the ball at Georgia. He kept the Bulldogs in suspense by not immediately sending in his paperwork, leading to speculation he was considering other offers. But he eventually faxed in this LOI to cement his loyalty to the squad.

Click here for more on Georgia's huge pick up.

Local contingent to play in Thursday's UA All-America Game

January, 5, 2012
The fifth annual Under Armour All-America Game kicks off Thursday (7:30, on ESPN), and Georgia will be well represented with 10 players stepping onto Florida's Tropicana Field for the contest.

Creekside CB Joshua Holsey, Banneker S Chaz Elder and Harris County DE Jordan Jenkins will suit up for Team Highlight, while Marist K Austin Hardin, Pepperell DT Dakota Ball, Buford OT Vadal Alexander, Jenkins County DT Jonathan Taylor, Cedar Grove OT Brandon Greene, Buford LS Reid Ferguson and Thomson OG John Atkins will represent Team Blur.

Buford head coach Jess Simpson will serve as linebacker coach for Team Highlight.

Three locals named to ESPNHS Underclass All-American Team

December, 23, 2011
Just two weeks after guiding Walton to its first ever Class AAAAA title game, senior OL Brandon Kublanow was one of three Georgia players selected to the ESPNHS Underclass All-American Team.

Kublanow was a bulldozer in front of classmate Tyren Jones, who led the state in rushing with 2,375 yards. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Kublanow helped the squad go 14-1 and holds offers from a host of BCS programs.

Joining Kublanow on the team were Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche and Troup County's Reuben Foster, both of whom were named to the ESPNHS All-American Team yesterday.

Click here to see the rest of the Underclass All-American Team.
The ESPNHS All-America Football team dropped today, and Georgia had a pair of defensive studs selected to the squad.

Junior defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche of state champ Grayson and junior linebacker Reuben Foster of Troup County were both selected to the first team. Nkemdiche recorded 18 sacks on defense and also made an impact on offense in short yardage and goal line situations. His effort powered the Rams to the Class AAAAA title and the No. 4 spot in the final POWERADE FAB 50. Foster was a tackling machine this fall, recording 185 total stops to go with 14 sacks. The Alabama commit anchored a defense that yielded 13.8 points a contest in 2011.

Also making the list were Buford senior OL Vadal Alexander (first team, Cartersville senior punter Collin Barber (second) and Marist senior kicker Austin Hardin.

Click here to see the entire list of 2011 All-Americans.

Across the country, the high school football season is now complete, and Georgia's football champs join the list of state champions in every classification throughout the nation.

To see the full list of state champions as well as how this state stacks up, click here.

Final 2011 football rankings

December, 12, 2011
Led by September cover Robert Nkemdiche and a punishing defense, Grayson captured its first state crown with a shutout of Walton that punctuated a 15-0 campaign. The win gave the Rams the No. 1 spot in our final rankings. Coming in at No. 2 is Class AAAA champ Tucker, a squad that completed its first undefeated campaign. Class AA champ Calhoun bounced Buford from the unbeaten ranks and clinched the No. 4 spot. AAAAA powers Walton (runner-up) and Colquitt County round out the top five.

Here's how the top three teams fared last week:
Grayson — defeated Walton in Class AAAAA finals, 24-0 (final regular season ranking: No. 1)
Tucker — defeated Lovejoy in Class AAAA finals, 22-7 (final regular season ranking:No. 7)
Walton — lost to Grayson in Class AAAAA finals, 24-0 (final regular season ranking: 10)

Click here for the rest of the POWERADE Georgia Football Rankings.

David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.

Georgia football state final picks

December, 9, 2011
By now you know all there is to know about the 10 teams involved in tomorrow's state final contests. So today we will give you our predictions and ask for your picks in the comments section.

Class AAAAA — Grayson vs. Walton
Prediction: Which of these teams will grab their first state crown? I say Grayson. Tyren Jones will find it tough to find running lanes with Robert Nkemdiche and a stout defense lurking on the other side of the ball. On offense, Nkemdiche's emergence in the backfield combined with the pin-point passing of senior Nick Schuessler should help the Rams limit Jones' production.

Class AAAA — Lovejoy vs. Tucker
Prediction: Tucker. Something has to give in this one. Lovejoy has an impenetrable defense that is yielding less than four points a contest, while Tucker produces nearly 50 points a contest. I think Tucker's unit will still be able to move the ball with its stable of talented running backs. Look for Yusef Minor and Dallas Rivers to amass some tough yards on the ground to lead Tucker to a close win.

Class AAA — Burke County vs. Peach County
Prediction: Burke County's execution in the first half against Gainesville was nearly flawless, as the Bears scored on nine of their first 11 drives. If they get out to another fast start, Peach County won't be able to match up with that relentless attack. I'll roll with Burke County.

Class AA — Buford vs. Calhoun
Prediction: These teams must be thinking: We have to stop meeting like this. This meeting will mark the fourth straight season the squads have met in the finals. Buford's defense has outstanding this year and it will have the firepower to limit Calhoun's potent attack. Expect a four-peat for the Wolves.

Class A — Savannah Christian vs. Landmark Christian
Prediction: Savannah Christian's wing-T attack and speed is sure to give Landmark fits.

Georgia football playoff roundup

December, 5, 2011
Grayson took care of business against Colquitt County and Walton outlasted Lassiter, as both teams advance to their first state title contest. Grayson rallied for a 35-31 victory on the strength of a 87-yard final drive orchestrated by QB Nick Schuessler. The senior punctuated the drive with a short touchdown pass to Marcus Lindquist. Walton star back Tyren Jones continued his offensive onslaught with 187 yards and a long score that gave Walton a two-score cushion in a 30-24 defeat of Lassiter.

Class AAAA
Lovejoy sent Warner Robins packing behind a stellar defensive effort spearheaded by Jermaine Hough. The senior DB's two INTs led to a pair of Alejandro Bennett scoring passes in the 21-6 semifinal win. Travis Custis topped the 100-yard mark to lead the offense. Tucker kept its undefeated season and championship hopes intact after a 17-16 win over Northside Warner Robins. Justin Rivers scooped up a fumble and returned it 100 yards for the decisive score late in the fourth.

Class AAA
Burke County allowed nearly 400 total yards to DeShaun Watson, but aided by a ground attack that produced three 100-yard rushers, the Bears bested Gainesville 63-28 to move on to the finals for the second time in school history. The running of Montrese Kitchens (157 yards), Donquell Green and Corey Mayton proved to be the difference. Peach County’s defense stifled Cairo’s attack and Ryan Bowman had a pick-six in the Trojans' 16-7 victory. Peach County is in pursuit of its fourth championship in seven years.

Class AA
Buford uncharacteristically committed three turnovers and fell behind by a score but rallied for 21 unanswered points to drop Carver, 28-13. They will meet Calhoun in the title game after the Yellowjackets racked up more than 500 yards in a 51-14 rout of Appling County.

Class A
Chamblee’s three scores powered Savannah Christian to a 27-0 victory, while Landmark Christian's Cantrell Frazier’s late score with under a minute left to clinch a 14-7 win against ECLA and land a spot in the title game.

Georgia football semifinal primer

December, 2, 2011
Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's top contests going down on the gridiron. For a look at the complete brackets, click here.

Colquitt County (11-2) at Grayson (13-0)
A stingy defense is always going to be Grayson’s calling card but the offense has been pretty tough to stop thus far in the postseason. Junior Robert Nkemdiche has emerged as a touchdown machine in recent weeks and now has 15 scores this fall. Equally impressive on offense has been the tandem of QB Nick Schuessler and RB Devin Gillespie who have kept the chains moving regularly on offense. Colquitt County has had no trouble moving the ball but could find the going tough against Grayson’s stellar front seven. QB Cole Segraves piloted the Packers' comeback win over Camden last week, and he will look to get the ball out quickly to Bobby Hill and Ty Smith to neutralize Grayson’s pass rush.

Lassiter (10-3) at Walton (13-0)
Lassiter has been at its best against the top teams in the state with victories over Brookwood, McEachern and MLK, teams that were at one time ranked in the top five in the state this season. The Trojans weren’t able to defeat Walton in their regular season contest as the Raiders controlled the clock used a punishing ground game spearheaded by junior Tyren Jones, a former Lassiter player who has tallied 36 TDs in his first season as Walton, to keep the Trojans at bay. Not to be outdone by Jones, Lassiter QB Eddie Printz has lit up opponents to the tune of nearly 3,000 yards passing and 26 scores for Lassiter.

Class AAAA
Tucker (13-0) at Northside Warner Robins (13-0)
This battle of unbeaten Class AAAA heavyweights could go down as the game of the day. Tucker had a pair of rushers top the 100-yard mark and score three times in taking down Flowery Branch last week. The Tigers will test a Northside Warner Robins' unit that has been stout against the run and held all but one opponent to less than 20 points this fall.

Class AAA
Burke County (12-1) at Gainesville (12-1)
There may not be a hotter QB in the state right now than Gainesville sophomore DeShaun Watson. He was a one-man wrecking machine last week, accounting for all five of the team’s touchdowns in a 35-21 upset of former champ Sandy Creek. Last week the Bears survived a matchup with one of Georgia’s most dynamic rushers in Allatoona star Miles Jones, so don’t expect Burke County's defense to be awe struck with Watson across the field.

Class AA
Buford (13-0) at Carver (12-1)
The Wolves face a stiff test from a Carver team that has overcome the graduation of Isaiah Crowell to emerge as a legit title contender. Marquez Holloway has filled in nicely for the Tigers and is coming off a 248-yard effort against Fitzgerald. He has more than 1,500 yards and 20 scores in replacing Crowell. Buford has been arguably the state's most dominant team this year, outscoring foes 595-70. They enter this contest on a 26-game win streak but their last loss came courtesy of Carver. Dillon Lee and the rest of the seniors haven't forgotten that game and will be jacked up to avenge the defeat in hopes of defending the state crown.

Hillgrove's Kenyan Drake named Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
Hillgrove running back Kenyan Drake was named Gatorade Georgia Football Player of the Year this morning.

Drake, a senior and Alabama recruit, helped the Hawks go undefeated in the regular season before bowing out in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. He found the end zone four times in his final high school contest and finished the year with 25 total scores.

For a breakdown on Drake's award, click here.

No. 2 Camden County falls in state quarterfinals

November, 28, 2011
We hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving Day last week and got your fill of all of the weekend's great playoff football action. We zip around the state to highlight the top performances from the state quarterfinals. Here's a look at the updated state brackets.

An improbable 23-yard touchdown pass on 4th down spelled the end of the fall for No. 2 Camden County, as Colquitt County scored a huge 32-31 upset in the quarterfinals. Cole Segraves connected with Bobby Hill on the decisive drive then followed it up with a successful two-point conversion toss to Ty Smith. The win marked the third straight semifinal appearance for the Packers… West Forsyth’s Cinderella season came to a screeching halt against top-rated Grayson, 33-7. The Rams unleashed junior Robert Nkemdiche in the rushing game and the junior responded with four touchdowns to power the offense. The win sets up a rematch of last year’s semifinal outing between Grayson and Colquitt County... Lassiter continues to knock off the state’s elite while also ascending itself to elite status. Eddie Printz passed for more than 250 yards and fired a touchdown in Lassiter’s 24-14 defeat of No. 3 MLK… Walton took down Dacula behind a strong overall performance by Zack Blaylock. The senior hauled in a 95-yard pass for a score and picked off a pass with 16 seconds to play to cement a 21-13 victory.

Class AAAA
Warner Robins continued its turnaround from a 2-8 2010 campaign by stomping East Paulding, 20-10. The defense bent, allowing 327 yards to EP, but didn’t break by limiting the Raiders to its lowest output of the season… The beat goes on for Tucker, which clinched a berth in the semis for the 10th time in the program’s history. Jordan Landry topped the 100-yard mark and found the end zone on a pair of long runs to notch a 42-34 win against Flowery Branch... Travis Curtis collected 203 yards and two scores in Lovejoy’s 14-0 defeat of Ware County. Northside’s Miguel Williams tallied nearly 200 yards of offense in a 36-8 beat down of Tri-Cities.

Class AAA
Burke County bounced Allatoona from the playoffs behind a late Corey Mayton touchdown. Allatoona star RB Miles Jones had 114 yards and two scores in a losing effort... Buoyed by the strong play of sophomore QB Deshaun Watson, Gainesville ended Sandy Creek’s 41-game win streak. The talented signal-caller had 169 yards passing and 120 yards rushing to overcome 250 rushing yards and two TDs by Michael Hilton.

Class AA
Buford put up another dominant performance in a 49-13 pasting of Elbert County. Sam Clay moved the chains on offense and fired a touchdown pass in the win.

Class A
Jeremiah Kirkland took a screen pass and weaved through a gaggle of tacklers for a 28-yard score to power Landmark Christian to a 28-21 win against Aquinas.
David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.


Georgia football playoff primer

November, 23, 2011
Let's take a look at four marquee matchups for this week's football playoffs.

Colquitt County (10-2) at Camden County (12-0)
Player of the Year candidate J.J. Green and QB Brice Ramsey have the offense buzzing with nine 50-point outings this fall, so Camden will be a tough test for a stout Colquitt defense. The Packers are allowing just under 13 points a contest and have given up 17 points combined in their first two playoff wins. Camden has had the edge in this series winning four of the seven contests, including a victory in the 2009 semifinals.

Lassiter (9-3) at MLK (12-0)
Lassiter upset state champ Brookwood to open the season. Now they hope to take down the team that ousted the Broncos from the playoffs. Look out for the passing games in this one as Lassiter's Eddie Printz (25 TDs) and MLK's Jonquel Dawson (35 TDs) are two of the state's top signal-callers.

Warner Robins (10-2) at East Paulding (12-0)
The Demons have come a long way from last year's two-win campaign. Last week, Robins took down defending champ Chattahoochee and they look to keep it rolling against East Paulding and star RB Kamani Thomas. The Raiders have outscored their opponents, 455-95, this season.

Fitzgerald (11-1) at Carver-Columbus (11-1)
The winner of this contest will likely face defending champ Buford in the state semis. The Tigers haven't missed RB Isaiah Crowell too much as the offense has produced 35 points a contest this fall, while the defense has held nine opponents to single digits. Fitzgerald has reeled off 11 straight wins since a Week 1 loss to Tift County. The Hurricanes have put up 40-plus points in each of its their first two playoff games.

We want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and hope you have an enjoyable holiday season. Check back for highlights from this weekend's action on Monday.

David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.


Three state champs fall in football playoffs

November, 21, 2011
Let's take a quick trip around the state and get caught up on the football playoffs.

For the entire postseason schedule, click here.

Walton defeated South Cobb, 42-7, behind a scintillating five-TD effort from junior RB Tyren Jones. The dangerous Raiders move on to face Dacula (9-3). West Forsyth scored 26 unanswered points to shock No. 4 Hillgrove. The Wolverines capitalized on three third-quarter turnovers to put the game away. Blake Roberts and Jake Wieczorek each topped the 100-yard mark on the ground to pace the offense. The loss also ended the career of Alabama commit Kenyan Drake, who tallied three touchdowns in a losing effort. MLK ended Brookwood’s title reign in a 27-21 overtime victory. QB Jonquel Dawson connected with Carnell Boyd to knot the game at 21 and force overtime, and then found Blake Tibbs with the winning score to propel the Lions to the quarterfinals. They will face Lassiter, which held off McEachern for a 20-17 victory. Top seeded Grayson outlasted Lowndes, 25-17, and will play West Forsyth in the quarterfinals.

Class AAAA
Defending champ Chattahoochee had its repeat bid halted by Warner Robins in a 20-6 loss. Some of the favorites to grab the throne are Flowery Branch, Tucker and East Paulding. Tucker dismantled Griffin, 46-0 and East Paulding’s air attack produced four scores in a 27-21 defeat of Northgate. QB Mitchell Webb passed for nearly 200 yards and four TDs to pilot the attack. Flowery Branch broke open a tight game behind RB Kanler Coker’s two rushing scores to drop Thomas County Central, 31-21.

Class AAA
The beat goes on for Sandy Creek, which claimed its 41st consecutive victory after a dominant 42-14 beat down of Troup. QB Cole Garvin was on fire, completing 13 of his 15 passes with a pair of TDs, while RB Mile Hilton topped the 100-yard mark and added two scores… RB Miles Jones’ two second-half touchdowns helped Allatoona net a 14-7 win over Mary Persons… A late Aiden Reising field goal powered Gainesville to a 16-13 win against Monroe-Albany.

Class AA
Buford has outscored its first two playoff opponents 80-13 after blanking Jefferson County, 31-0. The Wolves piled up more than 300 yards on the ground and will seek their 26th consecutive win this week against Elbert County. Calhoun got 235 passing yards and three TDs from Tyler Lamb in a 43-30 win over Brooks County.

Class A
Clinch County’s title reign came to an end in a 27-0 loss to Lincoln County. ECLA routed Greenville, 54-0, and Aquinas upset Wilcox County, 32-14.


Drake, Green emerge as favorites for football player of the year

November, 18, 2011
The state playoffs are in full swing, but we'll step away from the action to take a quick look at the end-of-season awards race.

At the moment, the Gatorade State Player of the Year award appears to be a two-man battle between Hillgrove's Kenyan Drake and Camden County's J.J. Green.

Drake, a senior Alabama-bound running back, is averaging a ridiculous 10.4 yards per carry and has scored 17 TDs despite beginning the year with an injury. He hopes to lead Hillgrove into the quarterfinals with a win against West Forsyth tonight. Green, a junior running back and defensive back, has helped Camden go undefeated by scoring 15 TDs on offense and adding four more in the return game. Camden County plays Marietta in the second round of the playoffs tonight.

ESPNHS's Ben Rohrbach has the lowdown on this talented duo and the state's other contenders in his Eye on POY piece.

David Auguste is an associate editor for ESPNHS and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @ESPNHSAuguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.

Playoff primer: Second round

November, 17, 2011
Georgia FootballRyan Gibson/ESPNHSRobert Nkemdiche is often called a man-child and has the attention of several BCS programs.

There were certainly some surprises on the gridiron during the first round of the state playoffs, and the second round promises to provide even more drama. We take a look at five of the most intriguing matchups for this weekend’s action.

For the entire postseason schedule, click here.

Brookwood (8-3) at MLK (11-0)
MLK has been one of the toughest teams to beat in this fall, and the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the defending Class AAAAA champs. Jonquel Dawson, who is battling a leg injury, and WRs Blake Tibbs and Carnell Boyd have kept the offense clicking on all cylinders, while Kenderius Whitehead and the defense forced six turnovers in last week's win over Coffee. The Lions will have their hands full with Brookwood’s two-pronged rushing attack of Nick Tompkins and Jamaal Cole, each of whom wreaks havoc for opposing defenses. Brookwood has played well in recent weeks and took No. 1 Grayson down to the wire before falling by seven in Week 9.

Lowndes (8-0) at Grayson (11-0)
Lowndes has advanced to the second round of the playoffs on the strength of its bruising rushing attack, while Grayson has remained on top of the state’s rankings thanks to its massive front seven's ability to disrupt the run. Which team’s trend will prevail? Look for Lowndes senior RB Mike Moore and Grayson junior DL Robert Nkemdiche (pictured, above) to have a big say on the final outcome.

Griffin (9-2) at Tucker (11-0)
Tucker shredded Spraberry’s defense on the ground to the tune of 468 yards in a 44-14 win last week. RBs Dallas Rivers and Yusof Minor and QB Juwaan Williams each found the end zone twice in the victory. On defense, the Tigers recorded six sacks. Griffin scored twice in the final three minutes to record an improbable 47-43 win over Jonesboro in its first-round matchup. Tucker dominated the last meeting, a 38-0 drubbing in 2008.

Troup (9-2) at Sandy Creek (11-0)
Something will have to give in this matchup as Sandy Creek features an explosive offense that averages 37.5 points a contest, while Troup’s defense yields only 11.1 points. ESPNHS All-State junior LB Reuben Foster helped Troup limit six opponents to single digits but the D has struggled to maintain that pace over the last two weeks. Three-time defending champ Sandy Creek is in the midst of an amazing 40-game win streak and teams have had no answer for the Pats ‘ ground game led by Mississippi commit Mike Hilton or the air attack that features Auburn-bound WR JaQuay Williams.

Laney (9-2) at Carver Columbus (10-1)
These two squads haven’t met since the mid-‘60s, when Laney emerged victorious due to a forfeit. The Wildcats are coming off their first postseason win in five seasons after dispatching Morgan County, 41-13, last week. Laney will put its hopes and the ball in the hands of RB George Myers, who topped 100 yards last week. Carver is the more playoff-tested squad and has a suffocating defense that has held seven of its last eight opponents to single digits. Marquez Holloway has ignited a Tigers attack that hasn’t scored less than 26 points this season.