VOLLEYBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
SATURDAY, NOV. 3
AT MARIETTA HS
Milton vs. Walton
Pope vs. Allatoona
McIntosh vs. Starr's Mill
AT MCEACHERN HS
Westminster vs. Pace Academy
Elite Scholars vs. Coosa
Mt. Paran vs. Calvary Day
GEORGIA ELITE SHOWCASE TO AWARD FINAL INVITATIONS
By Craig Sager
Rosters are filling up quickly, but there is still time left. The Georgia Elite Classic is holding one final showcase at Walton High School this Sunday.
A total of 17 player invitations were handed out at the showcase hosted by Grady High School in April, and another 29 were awarded at Lassiter High School in July. Once the football season kicked off shortly after, it prompted the stream of invitations that continues to fill up the final roster slots of the event’s record-setting seven-game lineup slated for Dec. 27-28 at McEachern High School.
The lineup of games features a 7th and 8th Grade double-header, and concludes the following day with a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Game, as well as the first-ever Brain Bowl. Leading the enormous task of player evaluations has been 247Sports analyst Rusty Mansell, and he sees the showcase as an opportunity to ensure these coveted final roster spots are carefully considered.
“Roster spots are at a premium this year for sure,” said Mansell. “Deciding the last spots in these games is so important, especially because we have so many players that are submitting film and forms online to be considered. By holding this showcase, it is one more opportunity for me to get to evaluate players across the grades up close. So I think it’s a great opportunity, and why this showcase is going to be so important.”
The showcase is open to players in the Class of 2019 down to the Class of 2024—and offers multiple opportunities as a result. This is the first year that there is a 7th and 8th Grade game being played, but there is already a strong tradition of star power that surrounds the 8th Grade Game with names like OLB Owen Pappoe (Grayson, Auburn); WR Dominick Blaylock (Walton, UGA) and RB Steele Chambers (Blessed Trinity, Ohio State) as past participants.
Invites are also able to shine during the practice sessions that lead up to the games, and this was the case last December with Marietta’s Class of 2020 standout Arik Gilbert—who was working with the Sophomore American Team at the time. The 6-foot-5 athlete already had more than 30 offers when he accepted his invitation to play in the game, but there was still plenty to gain. Gilbert’s participation was ultimately his audition for a spot in the U.S. Army All-American game, and it took him just one practice session to receive the official invite.
Equally gratifying, Pepperrell High School saw a pair of its players reach the next level as a direct result of participating in last year’s Georgia Elite. Quarterback Trevor Thomas and wide receiver T.J. Watkins were invited to play in the Senior Game and did not have a single offer between them beforehand. Both had great weeks of practice, while competing with guys from larger classifications, and capped it with outstanding performances in the big game. Watkins led the Senior American Team with four catches, while Thomas ran in their game-winning 33-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Thomas earned a scholarship at Maryville in Tennessee and Watkins is contributing as a freshman this year for undefeated Barry (9-0) team.
The Brain Bowl adds another layer to the recruiting opportunities—and calls for eligible academic standouts from the sophomore, junior and senior classes to make up its two rosters. Eligibility requires proof of a 3.0 grade-point average, a combined two-part (math and reading) SAT score of at least 1000 and an ACT score of at least 22.
to sign up for the showcase and get more information on the Classic at
2018 Georgia Elite Classic Game Schedule
At McEachern High School
Thursday, Dec. 27
7th Grade Elite 4 p.m.
8th Grade Elite 6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 28
Senior Elite 10 a.m.
Brain Bowl 12:30 p.m.
Junior Elite 3 p.m.
Freshman Elite 5:30 p.m.
Sophomore Elite 8 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS HS COACH OF THE WEEK
By Seth Ellerbee
The Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Week program recognizes high school football coaches across the state of Georgia for their hard work and dedication to making a difference in student-athlete’s lives on and off the field. The eighth winner of the 2018 season is Baconton Charter head coach Randy Grace who has helped his team and community through a tough season which was interrupted by Hurricane Michael in early October. Grace is in his second season at Baconton after coaching at Wheeler County for one season (2015). His longest tenure was from 2011-2014 at St. Anne Pacelli.
In early October, Hurricane Michael tore a path across the Florida panhandle and into southwest Georgia—leaving behind a trail of destruction. Baconton Charter, which is about 13 miles directly south of Albany, took a near direct hit from the Category 2 Hurricane. The community woke up the following morning with no power, contaminated water and severe damage throughout it. Fallen trees made dirt roads especially impassible and left many players stranded. One of the team’s trainer’s house was destroyed by fallen trees and the community had to completely shut down to before the recovery could begin.
Once it was declared safe, the Blazers program began chipping in throughout the community.
“The players aided in storm damage clean up in the community by removing debris from yards and streets within Baconton,” said Buster Connally, the PA announcer at Baconton and former athletic director at St. Anne Pacelli. “Coach Grace delivered water to all of his players and their families during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.”
The Blazers were expecting to play in their new stadium that week, but the storm denied them the opportunity, so Baconton was forced to drive to Camilla to play their home games. The stadium in Camilla suffered storm damage also and the crew had to fix the scoreboard and the goal posts, which had been knocked down by the destructive winds. The scoreboard, although it was on the ground, worked and the goalposts were repaired for the game.
“Due to Hurricane Michael, the Blazers will have played 3 games in nine days,” said Connally. “His team was without power and couldn’t go to school due to damage from the hurricane. He and his staff were still able to get the team ready.”
Baconton’s 10-6 victory against Stewart County on Oct. 19 pulled the Blazers to 3-5 on the season before the loss against Chattahoochee County on Oct. 25, the third game in nine days.
“Coach Grace pulled out a win against Stewart County with just two days of preparation,” said Connally.
Those two days of preparation were scattered, as efforts went to the expedited game plan, and towards the community that supports them . Now, just a few weeks removed from the storm, the Blazers can begin to shift their focus back to football and their final regular-season game on Friday against Calhoun County.
Coach Grace’s ability to lead his team and community through the hardships and difficult times are reflective to the person and coach he is. His experience through the years of lifting programs up from tough times can also be seen when looking back at his tenure at Pacelli.
“He took over a team at Pacelli that hadn’t won a game and took them to the playoffs,” Connally said. He is currently doing the same thing at Baconton Community Charter School. He has taken programs that had a history of underachieving and turned those programs around.”
In his first year at Pacelli in 2011, Grace suffered a 1-9 season. In his second year, he improved the team to a 4-6 finish. By 2014, his last year there, he led the Vikings to a 7-3 finish and a playoff berth. Last year, he led Baconton to a 3-7 finish. Currently, Baconton sits at 3-6 and a victory on Friday would be a perfect way to end a tumultuous season.
“Last year he set the record for most wins at the school and has the same number of wins this year with one game to go. Simply put he teaches kids how to win,” Connally said.
Each week, one coach will be selected to be the Atlanta Falcons Coach of the Week based on his commitment to his team, community and player safety. The winning coach will receive a $1,000 equipment grant, a commemorative football and tickets to an Atlanta Falcons home game.
Rolling nominations will be accepted until Nov. 1.
CROSS COUNTRY STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Seth Ellerbee
The high school cross country season will come to an end this weekend at the GHSA Cross Country State Championships, presented by Atlanta Track Club, at the Carrollton cross country course at Carrollton High School.
Three programs, McIntosh in Class AAAAA, Marist in Class AAAA and Westminster in Class AAA are trying to defend on both the girl’s and boys’ sides.
For the boys:
In the state’s highest classification, Milton is looking to defend its title after winning the first-ever title last year. While it could be hard to replicate Milton’s dominance last season, senior Luke Bonneville and sophomore Hayden Marshall will try to do just that.
Cambridge also won its first-ever title last year in Class AAAAAA and will look to defend. Top-ranked Pope is a likely contender this year and it enters state undefeated. The Greyhounds are a favorite entering Friday morning.
In Class AAAAA, McIntosh will try to defend and earn its fourth title after winning in 1996, 2012 and last year. After wining the Class AAAA title last year, Marist looks to add to its storied history again this year and a victory would mark 13 cross country title. Westminster’s history for producing championship cross country teams defines the sport in Georgia. The Wildcats have won 25 after last year’s AAA title. Banks County returns after winning the AA title last year, its first-ever state championship. In Class A-Private, either Hebron Christian or Landmark Christian have won the championship. Landmark won in 2013, 2015-16. Hebron, which hopes to defend, won in 2014 and last year. Georgia Military has won four of the last six Class A-Public championships and will look to make it three-consecutive wins after last year’s title.
The Past Boys Champions:
Milton (Class AAAAAAA), Cambridge (Class AAAAAA), McIntosh (Class AAAAA), Marist (Class AAAA), Westminster (Class AAA), Banks County (Class AA), Hebron Christian (Class A-Private) and Georgia Military (Class A-Public).
For the girls:
Since its creation in 2012, Class AAAAAAA has produced a different champion each year. Brookwood won the inaugural AAAAAAA title with Peachtree Ridge (2013), Northview (2014), Mill Creek (2015) and South Forsyth (2016) each claiming a title before Marietta thrust itself onto the scene last year with its first-ever championship.
In Class AAAAAA, Harrison added its first-ever cross-country title and will look to defend this year against the likes of Cambridge, Pope, and Creekview. In region week, Pope beat Cambridge and Harrison beat Creekview and both competitions were decided by less than four points. Each program should bring quality competition to the state meet with each having a decent shot at the AAAAAA title.
Before last year, McIntosh’s most-recent title was a 2005 AAAA title, the state’s second-highest class at the time. The 2017 AAAAA championship marked the third for the Chiefs, its first coming in 1998. McIntosh returns, and they are a deep group which impressed in awful weather at the 3-AAAAA meet. Woodland and Starr’s Mill should challenge the defending champions.
Marist’s AAAA title last year marked its tenth-consecutive championship. Overall, Marist has won 19 titles. The last AAAA champion that wasn’t Marist? Chapel Hill in 2007. Westminster has won, or had a hand in, the past five championships across two classes. In 2013, Westminster shared the AA title with Wesleyan before its reclassification to AAA. Since then, Westminster has won four-straight in Class AAA and will be hunting another this year. Bleckley County has won the past two and will be hunting the three-peat this year. Landmark Christian has won the past four titles and six of the last seven in Class A-Private – in 2011 it won in Class A. In Class A-Public, Telfair County won its first-ever championship last year which ended Towns County’s streak of five-straight A-Public titles from 2012-2016.
The Past Girls Champions:
Marietta (Class AAAAAAA), Cambridge (Class AAAAAA), McIntosh (Class AAAAA), Marist (Class AAAA), Westminster (Class AAA), Bleckley County (Class AA), Landmark Christian (Class A-Private) and Telfair County (Class A-Public).
Live Results will be provided by Perfect Timing Group
You can view the course map by clicking
November 2-3, 2018
Carrollton Course, Carrollton High School, 202 Trojan Drive, Carrollton, GA
GHSA Cross Country Championship Schedule
Friday, Nov. 2
9:00 a.m. -
9:45 a.m. -
10:30 a.m. -
– 5A Girls
– 1A Private Boys
– 1A Private Girls
Saturday, Nov. 3
– 7A Boys
– 7A Girls
. – 2A Boys
– 2A Girls
– 3A Boys
– 3A Girls
– 4A Boys
– 4A Girls
– 1A Public Boys
– 1A Public Girls