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2018 CORKY KELL SPRING PREVIEW NO. 6: MILL CREEK VS. WALTON; WEEK 10 LACROSSE RANKINGS  

Seth Ellerbee spoke to Shannon Jarvis of Mill Creek and Daniel Brunner of Walton for the sixth installment of our weekly 2018 Corky Kell spring previews. Both are coming off outstanding '17 seasons; Walton returns the dynamic duo of QB Austin Kirksey and WR Dominick Blaylock, and Mill Creek is counting on some inexperienced talent to step up at quarterback and elsewhere. Also, we release our Week 10 lacrosse rankings for all four classifications.
   
Follow along tonight, Thursday and Friday nights this week as Score Atlanta tracks spring sports playoff scores across the state on ScoreAtl.com and AJC.com. We will bring you every result in baseball and soccer in every classification. Visit  ScoreAtl.com and the AJC's High School Sports page for more coverage.

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TUESDAY SCORES

Boys Soccer

McIntosh 4, Dutchtown 0

Girls Soccer

Alexander 1, Sequoyah 0
Alpharetta 4, Dacula 1
Brookwood 2, Archer 1
Buford 3, Cass 0
Camden County 3, Newnan 2
Carrollton 3, Loganville 0
Chamblee 6, North Springs 0
Creekview 11, South Paulding 1
Decatur 9, Southwest DeKalb 0
Dunwoody 2, Apalachee 1
East Coweta 4, Colquitt County 0
Effingham Co. 1, Houston Co. 0
Flowery Branch 8, Kell 2
Forsyth Central 4, Collins Hill 2
Grayson 3, Norcross 2
Greenbrier 11, Jonesboro 0
Grovetown 10, Tucker 0
Harris County 4, Ware County 2
Harrison 10, Douglas County 0
Heritage-Con. 10, Mundy's Mill 0
Hillgrove 2, Etowah 1
Johns Creek 10, Gainesville 0
Lakeside-Evans 13, Forest Park 0
Lassiter 2, Kennesaw Mountain 1
Lee County 7, Brunswick 2
McIntosh 8, Jones County 0
Milton 1, North Gwinnett 0
Northgate 0 (4), Allatoona 0 (3)
Parkview 11, South Gwinnett 1
Peachtree Ridge 3, So. Forsyth 0
Pope 6, Lanier 1
Riverwood 10, Arabia Mountain 0
Rockdale County 1 (4), Lakeside-DeKalb 1 (3)
Starr's Mill 3, Locust Grove 0
Statesboro 4, Thomas County Central 0
Tift County 4, Westlake 2
Veterans 7, Wayne County 0
Walton 8, North Paulding 0

Boys Lacrosse

Cambridge 12, Grayson 4
East Paulding 13, McEachern 2
Etowah 12, Hillgrove 7
Fellowship Christian 10, Whitefield Academy 7
Holy Innocents' 13, Walker 5
Kell 7, Pace Academy 4
North Paulding 10, St. Pius X 9
Sprayberry 16, North Cobb 10
Trinity Christian 18, First Presbyterian 7

Girls Lacrosse

Blessed Trinity 15, Johns Creek 8
Centennial 14, Pope 8
Creekview 16, South Forsyth 3
Eagle's Ldg 15, Locust Grove 3
East Paulding 13, Campbell 3
Lassiter 18, Roswell 5
Marist 13, Southwest DeKalb 6
Mill Creek 16, Northview 7
North Paulding 15, Allatoona 10
Peachtree Ridge 17, Lanier 3
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
CORKY KELL CLASSIC
By Seth Ellerbee

Sat., Aug. 18 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
11:45 a.m. Walton vs. Mill Creek

WALTON SPRING PREVIEW

After one of the most successful runs in school history, the Walton Raiders are returning experienced players, including their star quarterback, with hopes of putting together another equally successful season in 2018.

In Daniel Brunner's first season at the helm of the Raiders, Walton closed out the Corky Kell Classic at Georgia State Stadium when B.J. Gibson blocked a last-second field-goal attempt to protect a 31-28 lead and take the victory over eventual Class AAAAAAA champion North Gwinnett.

    WR Dominick Blaylock. Jason Getz/AJC
Nine wins later, Walton was 10-0 and eyeing a deep playoff run. It was a vast improvement over 2016's 4-6 record. Following a first-round playoff victory over North Cobb, Walton hosted powerhouse Colquitt County. After losing a tough game 28-21, the Raiders began preparing for next season.

Much of that offseason preparation was organized by star quarterback Austin Kirksey.

"He's a football junkie, man," Brunner said of his experienced quarterback. "Some of the things that he does that kind of go unnoticed is that he gets all the receivers together and they go throw on the weekends and after school in the offseason. He gets them organized and he realizes how important his position is, and getting all those other guys to his level is huge this offseason."

Kirksey's experience will make it easier for the Raiders offense to train younger guys to fill the core of the team. For Walton, its perimeter is solid, but the lines of scrimmage have several holes that need to be filled. Brunner feels that with an experienced leader like Kirksey, it will be much easier.

"He does a great job with that," he said. "He does a great job mentoring the young quarterbacks and just his vast experience in what he brings to us and the intangible pieces, leadership, or things like giving him player of the week and he turns it down for an offensive lineman. That builds a lot of trust in those relationships with those offensive linemen. That's critical for us having success this year for sure."

Kirksey's main target is UGA commit Dominick Blaylock, who's rated as a 5-star recruit and the second-best receiver in the 2019 class by 247Sports. The 6-foot, 175-pound Athens-bound senior had 53 receptions for 911 yards last year. He's considered an athlete who can do a lot with the ball, and he even plays both ways.

Kendall Alford, who caught 35 passes for 600 yards last year, is another option through the air. Running back D.J. Soyoye rushed for 1,193 yards and is expected to pick up where he left off last season. Last year, the offense set school records of 5,400 total yards and 39-plus points per game. Senior David Sobek and junior Walker Hurst will be looked upon to fill the holes on the offensive line.

On defense, key players also return. Seniors CB Mikey Farr, LB Malik Adams, CB B.J. Gibson, DB Weston Gurr and DB Drew Michalek will be leaders on this side of the ball.

"Mikey Farr has had a tremendous offseason, and not just at the corner spot," Brunner said. "But we are expecting big things out of him in the return game and helping a little bit on offense. Those corner spots are really good for us."

Two players with Ivy League potential anchor the defensive back position, and according to Brunner, they can hit hard.

"Another couple of guys that are three-year starters, Drew Michalek and Weston Gurr, we call them the Pixie Bros., they pack a punch, buddy. They're Ivy League type kids, that's where their interest is right now and where they're getting looked at."

Adding to the hard-hitting defense is Adams, a linebacker who can also hit.

"Malik is another three-year starter at the linebacker position and he is about as electric as they come at the position. He's a big play kind of guy and he will thump your butt, buddy. So he is going to do some big things for us this year. Connor West is another at the linebacker spot. He's a kid who got some playing time last year but he's one that we expect to step up in that starting role and really do some big things for us."

A late addition to the team will surely have an impact, according to Brunner.

"We have a defensive end, Trey Middleton, who moved in at the middle of the year, in January. He's had a tremendous offseason with us and we are expecting big things out of him as well."

For Walton, this spring is all about solidifying the core and building depth around the experienced players. On both sides of the ball, the main moving parts are returning. However, the new parts will take some breaking in, and according to Brunner, that's what spring is for.

"If you look at our defense, and the same thing with our offense, we are really good around the perimeter and we just have to use the time this spring to get our line of scrimmage taken care of."

WALTON'S 2018 SCHEDULE
8/18 Mill Creek (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
8/24 at Collins Hill
8/31 at Pope
9/14 North Gwinnett
9/21 Newnan
10/05 Lassiter
10/12 Etowah
10/19 Roswell
10/26 at Cherokee
11/02 at Woodstock

MILL CREEK SPRING PREVIEW

Mill Creek will be searching for experience and depth to fill several holes as it enters the 2018 season after losing crucial contributors to graduation.

Last year, Mill Creek opened its season with a 23-19 victory over McEachern in the Corky Kell Classic at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta. It worked its way to a 7-3 regular season and a first-round playoff matchup against West Forsyth. The 29-14 first-round victory set up a rematch with Archer in the second round. The Hawks fell to Archer 16-13 in the regular season and couldn't figure out the equation the second time around, falling 16-10 in the playoffs.

This year, Mill Creek will need young talent to step up. For head coach Shannon Jarvis, that's just business as usual.

"We are going to have a lot of youth and inexperience on our team," said Jarvis. "But, really, we have that every year going into the first game. Usually, we are going to graduate some pretty good players, but we are also fortunate to replace them with some pretty good players. It's just how quickly they'll adjust to it."

The Hawks return six starters on offense and will use the spring to figure out their quarterback situation. One has experience. One is an up-and-comer. Yet both are talented. According to Jarvis, there are several more players vying for the spot, but from his perspective, it's down to two.

"A bunch of names in the battle," Jarvis said of Mill Creek's current quarterback situation. "Caden Cullen played a little bit last year. He will be a rising senior and we are looking forward to him. Caden has a lot of experience. He is a very strong kid and is in the 1,000-pound club and plays on our baseball team, which is in the state playoffs. He's just a very athletic young man."

Cullen had just two completions in six attempts last year for 62 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 15 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts. His competition is a rising sophomore looking to make a name for himself.

"We also have a sophomore, M.J. Patterson, that we are very excited about," he said. "We will let them battle it out over the spring and summer, and by that time, we will be able to name that starter. But, currently, those two are the front-runners fighting for that position."

Returning receiving and rushing leader Parker Wroble will certainly have an impact offensively for the Hawks. He rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 25 touches and caught 18 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 163-pound junior rotated through the lineup last year before settling down. This season, look for him to be in the backfield a bit more.

"Parker started for us last year as a sophomore," Jarvis said. "He started but was rotating a bit early, but as the season went on, he was a kid that we had to get more and more involved. We are counting on Parker this year. Last year, he was used a lot as a slot receiver, and we will use him this year more in the backfield. He's a very tough kid. He's not overly big, but he's strong and tough and has speed and quickness and we are counting on him this year to have a big year for us."

On defense, Mill Creek returns four starters with Austin Ruiz-Velasco the anchor. The 5-11, 225-pound all-region DE/OLB has been a brute. Last year, he made 52 solo tackles and 29 assists with seven tackles for a loss, six sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.

"Austin is an all-region player from last year," Jarvis said. "He's a kid who has such a motor and such tenacity. Yesterday we were going through a walk-through and I had to get on him a bit for going too fast then. He's a kid you're always having to slow down a bit instead of saying 'giddy up.' He is going to be a huge part of not just our defense but our whole team, just the energy he brings. He's a high-academic kid with tremendous grades and character. I tell them all that he's our best football player, pound-for-pound."

With a player like Ruiz-Velasco, it's easy to take advantage of everything he can offer. His talent level on the defensive side pushes the offensive linemen in practice. He's also a measuring stick for the younger players trying to break through into the starting lineup.

"Especially in spring and preseason practices, one thing we always do, because we have enough depth, we will go 1-versus-1, head on," Jarvis said. "Austin will go against our first-team offensive line, as will the whole front. So there's not a lot of practice where you're going against a scout team. And that's in preseason and spring. That's invaluable for us even when we are evaluating a young offensive lineman coming up this spring. I know what Austin is going to bring to the table and we know what caliber of player he is. He is the standard that you'll place, not only evaluating the offensive line going against him, but the other defensive linemen trying to break into that starting lineup. They know the level they'll have to play at when it comes to Austin."

Defensive end Myles Jackson is another producer on the defensive side of the ball. Last year he had 29 solo tackles and 29 assists with six tackles for a loss, three sacks and eight quarterback hurries. Defensive back Jacob Allen had 42 solo tackles and 16 assists with 11 tackles for a loss, five sacks, five quarterback hurries and an interception.

Jarvis has coached in every Corky Kell Classic since 2014. He has had great wins and tough losses, but for him, the experience is invaluable. Being a part of the Classic was his goal because playing high-caliber competition early helps greatly come early December.

"One of my first goals was being able to be a part of the Corky Kell Classic," Jarvis said. "I believe in playing the best teams you can early in the year because, I'm not going to use the word 'hype,' but it does bring a lot more sense of urgency to your preparation. We have been fortunate to be in the Corky Kell the last [five] years and it didn't take long for me to get [the players'] attention because of the responsibility. We really strive to be midseason form for that game because of the quality of the opponent that you're playing.

"Walton has a tremendous team, and if you aren't prepared to play, you can get embarrassed in that Corky Kell too. To me it just adds more responsibility to our preparation. I love it. If we weren't in the Corky Kell, I'd be looking for the next-best team, in the state or out, to play and prepare for the season."

MILL CREEK'S 2018 SCHEDULE
8/18 Walton (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
8/24 Dacula
8/31 at Norcross
9/07 Archer
9/21 at Duluth
9/28 Peachtree Ridge
10/05 at North Gwinnett
10/12 Discovery
10/19 at Mountain View
11/02 Collins Hill
LACROSSE RANKINGS
By Craig Sager

Lambert boys move to 16-0, Milton girls stay perfect against Georgia teams

Class 6A-7A's top-ranked Lambert boys (16-0) cruised past South Forsyth (16-4) and Lovett (17-6) and can complete a perfect regular season with a win over 11-5 West Forsyth tonight. No. 2 North Gwinnett added a 17-2 win over Mountain View and a 16-6 win at Peachtree Ridge and will close its season on Friday at Milton. Lassiter scored a 13-8 win over Centennial and replaced the Knights at No. 3, and Grayson fell to No. 9 after falling 12-4 to Cambridge on Tuesday. In Class A-5A, Blessed Trinity dropped to No. 5 after an 11-5 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian, which now occupies No. 4.

BOYS

Class 6A-7A
1. Lambert (16-0)
2. North Gwinnett (15-0)
3. Lassiter (11-4)
4. Centennial (14-2)
5. Johns Creek (13-4)
6. Roswell (11-3)
7. Walton (13-4)
8. Cambridge (12-6)
9. Grayson (13-4)
10. Etowah (12-5)

Class A-5A
1. Westminster (13-5)
2. Kell (11-2)
3. Lovett (11-5)
4. Greater Atlanta Christian (13-3)
5. Blessed Trinity (14-3)
6. Starr's Mill (15-2)
7. Woodward Academy (13-2)
8. Pace Academy (12-4)
9. Marist (10-5)
10. Wesleyan (10-5)

Class 6A-7A girls No. 1 Milton demolished No. 3 West Forsyth 23-7 and No. 4 Cambridge 15-4 this week to remain perfect against in-state opponents. West Forsyth remains ahead of Cambridge because of its 10-5 win over the Bears last month. No. 2 Lassiter solidified its status after a 17-7 win over rival Walton, and Johns Creek scored an 11-7 win over Northview to jump to No. 5.

In Class A-5A, No. 4 Starr's Mill closes its season this Thursday against No. 5 McIntosh. No. 7 Pinecrest Academy had a busy week and picked up five more wins, and Westminster suffered an 11-10 OT loss to No. 3 Kell and sits at No. 6.

GIRLS

Class 6A-7A
1. Milton (12-5)
2. Lassiter (13-2)
3. West Forsyth (14-3)
4. Cambridge (14-4)
5. Johns Creek (10-3)
6. Walton (7-7)
7. Mill Creek (11-5)
8. Centennial (14-1)
9. Northview (11-5)
10. Alpharetta (10-6)

Class A-5A
1. Blessed Trinity (15-2)
2. Wesleyan (13-3)
3. Kell (10-6)
4. Starr's Mill (14-2)
5. McIntosh (10-6)
6. Westminster (7-9-1)
7. Pinecrest Academy (13-3)
8. Marist (8-5)
9. Fellowship Christian (11-6)
10. Greater Atlanta Christian (9-4)






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