Grayson “Finishes Mission”, Win State Title

The Grayson Rams and the Walton Raiders both entered the contest without a loss on their record sitting at 14-0. Grayson has been the dominant force many thought it would be but were still searching for the schools first ever state championship.

Walton on the other hand is looking not only for its first state championship, but Cobb County’s first ever-Marietta, located in Cobb County won the state title in 1967 but is a city school.

Grayson driving for their first TD vs Walton

Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson and Tyren Jones of Walton headline rosters that a chalk full of talent which is guided by veteran coaches in Mickey Conn of Grayson and Rocky Hildago of Walton.

Walton turnover leads to Grayson drive and TD run by Nkemdiche…Walton punts and Grayson hits a 42-yard pass (Schuessler to Corey Schaeffer) to set up FG 10-0 after 1st (Field)

Grayson them comes back strikes a Nick Schuessler 55-yard bomb to Callen Hightower right down the middle for a TD 17-0 Grayson off of play-action.

“That’s when the momentum really turned for us, we saw them creeping up and Coach Conn made a good call and we just threw it over them” Schuessler said.

Ryan Carter’s 68-yard punt return to the Walton eleven would set up the Rams next score. Following Carter’s excellent return, Schuessler  (3-3 108yds 2TD in the first half) found Hightower again in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and a healthy 24-0 halftime lead.

Tyren Jones had 8 carries and 1-yard in the 1st half for Walton.

The second half  was the teams trading punts and Grayson’s defense continuing to do what it has done all season  to make play after play while the offense chewed the clock via the ground game. Walton-who came in averaging 37.3 points per game,  would only visit the red zone once and it came late in the fourth quarter when Tyren Jones made a jersey change an broke a 50+yard run yet the possession ended with a fumble on fourth and short. Grayson recovered and preserved their fifth shutout of the season.  Nkemdiche broke off a final run and it was victory formation time for the Rams of Grayson.

Grayson Rams raise the trophy in 2011

Grayson as a program won their 100th games which was also head coaches 100th victory, all with Grayson as he has been the only coach in the schools history. Conn can smile even more when he looks at his roster to see that nine of the eleven starters will be returning next season including the highly touted Nkemdiche to anchor the DLine.

Grayson ended the season ranked No. 4 in the Rivals High Top 100 with a lot of “Uncle Mo” going into 2012 which means they will stay in the national spot light. Fitting for a squad that plays in Georgia, the number one state for high school football according to Rivals High and we agree.

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Calhoun Accepts Buford’s Gift…Wins in OT; Tucker Finishes Perfect…Both Secure National Rankings

The Calhoun Yellow Jackets had been here before, final game of the season and playing for a state championship, against the Buford Wolves. After a scoreless fourth quarter, Buford scored first on a 33 yard field goal. Calhoun came right back with a field goal of their own and it was ties 3-3. Buford was blitzing from the outside so Calhoun made then pay on a Taylor Lamb screen pass to Darius Washington that went 63 yards for the touchdown and a 10-3 Calhoun lead. Buford would answer right back as CJ Moore , who had taken back kickoffs for touchdowns this season, sprinted around the right edge 68 yards for a touchdown and a 10-10 score that would go that way into halftime.

Buford HC Jess Simpson assures his men they are not a failure.

After the break Calhoun woke up after the teams traded punts and Lamb went 15 yards for a touchdown and added the two-point conversation giving the Yellow Jackets an 18-10 lead and the momentum. In the fourth quarter Calhoun would add two field goals and lead 24-10 with a little under 3 minutes to play. That’s when the fun started. After getting a break to bring back an interception, Sam Clay went to the right corner for Paris Head for a touchdown that would keep the Wolves chances alive trailing 24-17. The onside kick was recovered by Calhoun, however Buford had all 3 timeouts. The Wolves would force Calhoun to punt. The snap was low, the punt was blocked and Dillon Lee scooped it up and raced for a touchdown after all of a sudden it was 24-24 overtime was on the horizon.

In overtime Buford’s Andre Johnson would fumble-Buford’s fourth turnover of the game- on the first play and Calhoun pounced on it. The Yellow Jackets wasted no time lining up for a field goal on first down and Austin Griffith would nail it giving Calhoun their first  state Championship since the year 19 and 53, ending Buford’s four year run  and leaving the Wolves in massive tears afterwards.

Buford's DB Ryan Dillard accepts the loss as a "pro"

Calhoun finished ranked No. 57 in the Rivals High Top 100 and Buford, who was as high as No. 9 finished at No.60. Calhoun is better than 57 and Buford is better than 60 in our eyes here at Total Sports Coverage, but feel they are where they are after you consider ALL things.

Tucker vs Lovejoy in Class 4A

Lovejoy’s defense has been a force all season allowing only 3.6 ppg entering the contest as has Tickers rushing offense. The Wildcats defense would face a stern machine in an offense in the Tucker Tigers who came in averaging 35.3 ppg. In other word you know something would have to give.

Tucker’s Jordan Landry  scored on a touchdown run and it was 6-0 after a failed 2pt-conversion, something Tucker has used at will this season and early in ballgames like this attempt.  Lovejoy just could not get anything going. In the second frame  Tucker would record a safety after Lovejoy would start inside their own 5-yard line after fielding a punt there. That would result in a Tiger safety making it 8-0. Yusef Minor would stretch the Tiger lead to 15-0 on a touchdown run and a halftime lead of 15-0.

In the third Tucker would go right back to work pushing thier lead to 22-0 on a touchdown run from Dallas Rivers. RIvers did not play nor had a carry in the first half but had two back-to-back carries on this drive with e last resulting in the touchdown.

Lovejoy would not die however as they put together a drive in the fourth quarter ending with a  Alejandro Bennefield to Arshard Jackson touchdown pass in the right corner for the final margin of 22-7. The 22 points would be the most that Lovejoy would allow in 2011. Tri-Cities scored 20 on them earlier this season and Tri-Cities went out in the quarterfinals with a loss to Northside-Warner Robins who would fall to Tucker the next week.

Tucker wins Georgia's 4A

Tucker’s Head Coach Franklin Stephens won his second state title since being the sideline boss at Tucker with the other coming in 2008 against county rival and private school Marist.

Tucker O vs Lovejoy D

Tucker finished the season undefeated at 15-0 and as the 26th ranked team in the Rivals High Top 100. Lovejoy did not make the Top 100 but has nothing to hold their head downs about. We at Total Sports coverage feel Tucker is a Top 15 team/program in the nation, but what do we know?

State Title Games Set in Georgia; Nationally Ranked Teams In The Fold

 Then there were 10, 2 in each classification set to square off for the State Title.

Grayson entered their semifinal tilt with Colquitt seeking revenge and got it started early going 12 plays and 77 yards capping it with a Jordan Germany touchdown run and a 7-0 lead. Robert Nkemdiche carried the load with 45 yards rushing on that drive while Germany had 28 yards rushing on the drive. Colquitt would come right back on their first drive to tie it on touchdown run by Shermaine Washington capping a 11-play 80 yard drive evening the count at 7.

Devin Gillespie, who was unused on the Rams first possession, got in to the act in a big way taking the first play from scrimmage after the Colquitt score 78 yards to the house for a 14-7 Grayson Ram lead.

Then the Grayson defense rose to the occasion stopping Colquitt on a fourth down which setup a Nick Schuessler to Austin Meadows 44 yards touchdown pass to give Grayson a “comfy” 21-7 lead with 11:08 left in the second quarter. Colquitt would fumble the ensuing kickoff on a forceful hit by Jordan Germany, but would be unable to turn it into points after passing on a field goal attempt and failing on the fourth down attempt.

Colquitt would then put together another long scoring drive against a Grayson defense, one that has not yielded many of those all season. The Packers of Moultrie went 11 plays and 79 yards as Willie Woodyard finished it off with a 15-yard touchdown run pulling the “Pack Attack” to within 7 at 21-14. That score would hold into halftime.

Grayson, if you remember, scored on their opening possession of the game and that formula worked on their opening possession of the second half after forcing Colquitt to punt. Robert Nkemdiche found the end zone from 1 yard out with a little less than 8 minutes to play in the third quarter for a 28-14 Grayson Ram lead.

As was the case to open the game, Colquitt would answer on it’s next possession. Colquitt quarterback, Cole Seagraves would hit Ty Flournoy-Smith (27 yards) and Bobby Hill on big passing plays, Hill for 33 yards down to the Grayson one yard line, with Shermain Washington finishing it off with a one-yard touchdown run and a new scoreboard with bulbs showing 28-21 favoring Grayson.

Grayson, who had passes twice earlier on field goal attempts in the game, would miss mid left on their only attempt on the ensuing possession. Colquitt would cash it in on Willie Woodyard’s second touchdown run of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter knotting score at 28 tight. Back to back 30 yard passes from Seagraves to Ty Flournoy-Smith and Tre Cooper set up the score from Woodyard. The tension and drama would heighten from there.

Grayson again facing a fourth down, this time on their own 39, would go for it and fail. Colquitt was held in check by the Grayson defense and had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Oscar Luna to give the “Pack Attack” their first lead of the game at 31-28 and the folks from Moultrie, GA were rocking their side of Grayson Community Stadium with 7:17 left in the final frame.

It was now time for Grayson to come from behind if they wanted to win, a position they aren’t too familiar being in this season. Facing a key fourth and three they went to the air and got a pass interference call and new life. Then facing a third down and eight Grayson went to the air again and Colquitt was hit with pass interference again, again a late flag and again upsetting the Moultrie following. Grayson would stay composed as Schuessler would find his longtime teammate and friend Marcus Lindquist from 6-yards out giving the Rams a 35-31 lead with 28 .7 seconds left in the contest. Colquitt had no magic left from Kingsland, Ga when they topped Camden County on a last minute drive and two-point conversion to advance to the semifinals.

“We knew what we had to do… we had to be ready to make the play and execute it”, Grayson QB Nick Schuessler said afterwards. He continued. “Were always gonna have haters out there… as long as were winning doesn’t matter if we run, pass whatever”, in response to some of the “flaws” that many see in the Grayson Ram offense.

And how about that last TD pass, which was his second of the night?

“At first I didn’t like the call, I’ll be honest with you. Me and Marcus have such good chemistry, I’ve been playing with him for so long, that’s one of my best friends, he was covered at first and then he broke off his route and he made a heck of a catch and my line gave me the best protection”, Schuessler stated.

Grayson came in ranked high in several national polls and Colquitt was right there with them in the polls deservedly so despite the losses to Warner Robins (class 4A semifinalist) and Region 1-5A foe Valdosta,a 5A Playoff team)

The wins give Grayson (14-0) their first appearance in the state championship game in the programs history. For Colquitt their season is complete with an 11-3 record and Head Coach Rush Propst standing in the middle of the field around the fifteen yard line watching in frustration as Grayson students and fans rushed (no pun intended) Britt-Moody Field in celebration.

Grayson will face nationally ranked Walton who hung on to defeat a game Lassiter squad 30-24. Walton’s standout running back and former Lassiter Trojan Tyren Jones rushed for two touchdowns (13 and 65 yards) while teammateParker McLeod scored on the ground and tossed a 79-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Washington. Lassiter Eddie Printz tossed the ball around the yard 57 times finishing just shy of 400 yards with 396 with 34 completions and two touchdowns. Isiah Willis added a touchdown on the ground for a Lassiter team that found itself nationally ranked for the first time this season going in the game.

In the 4A: The Tucker Tigers (14-0) defeated Northside-Warner Robins (13-1) 17-16 on the road to clinch their berth in the 4A state title game. Tucker and Northside-Warner Robins entered the game ranked in the national polls with a 22 spot separation in one. Tuckers’ Jordan Landry would fall just shy of 100 yards rushing with 96, including a 31-yard touchdown run. However he was upstaged by the Tucker defense. Northside-Warner-Robins was was sitting on the door step ready to cash the ticket to the Dome when their hopes were done in. They fumbled into the end zone and Tucker’s Justin Rivers picked it up and went 105 yards for the Tiger touchdown. Tuckers defense would hold in the final 5 minutes of the contest to advance. Tucker will face 14-0 Lovejoy who got by Warner Robins 21-6 and held the Demons without a touchdown.

The Lovejoy defense has been sick all season entering the game with 8 shotouts in the previous 13 games. Tonight was no different. Warner Robins did not help themselves either with mistakes. The Demons had a first punt blocked, missed a 32-yard field goal, committed a costly holding penalty in a first and goal situation, lost a fumble, missed passes that could have been big play touchdowns during the course of the contest. After a scoreless first quarter the Wildcats would but up a 7 spot in each of the final quarters. Alejandro Benefield would connect with AJ Jackson twice for touchdowns, both off of Warner Robins interceptions and Travis Custis added a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth to seal the deal on sending Lovejoy to their first state title game appearance.

In 3A… Burke County blasted Gainesville 63-28 and Peach got by Cairo 16-7.

In 2A… a rematch of Buford and Carver-Columbus was in order. for the teams third meeting in two seasons. Dontravious Wilson provided the first points for the Wolves on at touchdown run. Torrance McGee hit  Darius Williams on a 68-yard pass setting up McHee touchdown run to even the score at 7 all. Carver-Columbus would recover a Buford fumble and turn it into points on a Noah Hickey touchdown run and a 13-7 Carver lead at the half.  The last time Buford trailed in a football game was against Carver-Columbus in September of 2010 when they lost 14-0 at the same stadium in .

After halftime, Buford would never look back scoring 21 unanswered points on  Sam Clay, Nathan Staub and Rick LeGrant second half touchdowns.

Buford has been ranked high in the national polls since late August. The Wolves will face a familiar foe in Calhoun. Calhoun defeated Appling County going away 51-14 to advance. The two programs will be meeting for the fourth consecutive year in the 2A state title game with Buford winning the previous 3. Buford is seeking a state record fifth consecutive state title.

In 1A… Savannah Christian ended Prince Ave Christian’s quiet run for a title defeating them 27-0. Prince Avenue was the only team to be held scoreless of all semifinal teams in all classifications. Landmark Christian defeated Eagles Landing Christian 14-7 to advance to play Savannah Christian.

The State Championships will be held next weekend December 9th (2A and 4A games in that order) and 10th (1A, 3A and 5A games in that order) at the Georgia Dome.

Georgia All-Classification Top 10.. And Then 15 More

High School Football In Georgia

Then there were 20…yes 4 in each classification that will do battle to earn a right for a berth to play for a state championship, the ultimate goal of every team when preseason practice tees off in early August. Do all remaining 20 make the Total Sports Coverage All Classification Top 10? No.

Winning, strength of schedule, out of state foes, in state foes of quality, region balance, overall team performance, coaching, community/booster involvement, emotion, program (history AND current growth), logistics, can you win against the other “big boys” and season end result all factor into how well a high school football team performs during the course of a season. In other words you would have no major issue sending your child to one of these schools. All of those encompass these “rankings”. After all were talking about 14 to 18 year-olds who will mold society in the very near future. Not ony that you won and/or are winning but HOW you won. You could have won an emotional game against a well respected team/program by making a bold call at a key situation,having a top-tier player making a play. That call was successful, does it mean your better than that team, logic says yes but logic also factors other key elements.

With that said we release the Georgia All-Classification Top 10 as of Friday 12/2/11…

1. Buford Wolves (13-0) 2 win over teams still alive in playoffs

2. Grayson Rams (13-0) 1 out of state win, win over 4A 2nd rd team in Kell (GA), defeated previous state champ (Brookwood) and win over a Reg 1 team (Lowndes). Have not allowed more than 21 points in a game (Edgewater, FL in Week 2)

3. Colquitt Packers (11-2) 2 wins over out of state teams (Madison, Fl and Carver Montgomery, AL), All playoff 2 of 3 playoff wins have came on the road vs Reg7 and Reg3 champions, Played in Region 1-5A in GA

4.Tucker Tigers (13-0) All region schedule so they could not schedule out of state/heavy state programs, tied Stephenson in scrimmage, Region (6-4A) is not as strong as appears but team is better than the region.

5. Walton Raiders (13-0) subpar Region (5-5A), wins over current semifinalist Lassiter and Reg 7 (Peachtree Ridge) and Reg8 (Dacula-in playoffs), dynamic running back leading the way. Easiest draw in 5A playoffs.

6. Lassiter Trojans(10-3) All Playoff wins have been on the road. Ended ML Kings 12 game winning streak

7. Camden County Wildcats (12-1) Weak Reg3 schedule, 2 out of state wins (Glenville OH and Treasure Coast FL)

8. ML King Lions(12-1) Wins over Reg 7 (Collins Hill), 2 wins over Reg 8 (Brookwood [defending state champs], South Gwinnett, Reg 1 (Valdosta, Coffee Co.) and Reg2 (Stephenson). Won second straight Reg2 Title. 6-1 against playoff teams in 2011.

9. Sandy Creek Trojans (12-1) 41-game winning streak snapped,

10. Northside-Warner Robins (13-0) In the 4A State Semifinals, 5A Finalist in 2009 lost to Camden County.

Other Solid Teams of Note (OSTN)…The other 15 that Total Sports Coverage would lineup against anybody, IN NO ORDER.

Calhoun (2A State runner-up 3 years running, all losses to Buford/program), Stephenson (talent/program), North Gwinnett (program/coaching), Ware County (program), Lovejoy (growth of program and overall body of work), Dublin (overall body of work), Elbert County (overall body of work/coaching), Wilcox (program, overall body of work), Flowery Branch (program/logistics, overall body of work, all region schedule with “clause”), East Paulding (overall body of work), Lincoln County (logistics/program, overall body of work), Clarke Central (program, recent growth/rebirth of program, logistics are major downfall), McEachern (program) Hillgrove (growth of program) and Warner Robins (program, recent growth of program) .

There you have it the All-Classification Top 10 and then 15 that would make up a Top 25 in Georgia but there is no such. Every team in the “top 25” could hold their weight even in a loss against any other team in the country regardless (even if they get blowed out).

Notice there are no private schools, and yes there is a sound reason to that. All the private schools fall in 1A and have not done the work of the 1A schools listed (Lincoln County and Wilcox plus those not listed in Charlton and Clinch Counties) and YES logistics play into that because it is a reality. Prince Avenue Christian, Landmark Christian, Eagles Landing, Savannah Christian and Wesleyan are doing work but would they in 2A and above, NO. Marist was considered and respected but overall not a “Top 25” team in Georgia with there overall body of work. So why Tucker and Flowery Branch (same class as Marist)…weak Region showing in playoffs hurts overall body of work for Marist. Tucker could pull weight in 5A and be a quarterfinalist as would Northside-Warner Robins.

An exact science it is NOT,however all facets count to logic.