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Turning the Page: A New Chapter Begins

The last time many of you heard from me, I was making a call to the bullpen at halftime of the 7A State Championship Game. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to have my voice go out, missing the opportunity to work the second half of Milton’s historic state championship victory over Colquitt County.
 
Thanks to the many of you who’ve reached out to check on me. I’m fine. Still battling that same chest cold that resulted in my voice quitting on me but otherwise fine. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such a great team at GPB and that Jon Nelson was able to step in and get the job done. 
 
The turning the page and new chapter has begun for all the senior players who this week signed their National Letters of Intent to play college football. Below you will find my All-Football Fridays in Georgia Signing Day Team. I’ll explain later, but first a few thoughts on the 2018 season.
 
I don’t think I’m exaggerating that this was our greatest season yet on GPB. I thought our decision to choose games two weeks in advance resulted in our most dramatic schedule yet. From a Football Fridays In Georgia record 117 points scored in our opening game and Rome’s 66-51 victory over Carrollton. To our first-ever visit to Cherokee County and Creekview’s win over Sequoyah on the way to the Grizzlies winning their first 12 games before losing to eventual state champion Lee County in the state quarterfinals. 
 
Marietta's Harrison Bailey
 
To Harrison Bailey and Arik Gilbert’s unbelievable performance in Marietta’s victory over North Paulding as Bailey, the junior quarterback sensation who has since committed to Tennessee, passed for 370 yards in the first half, and Gilbert, the No. 1 ranked junior athlete in the nation, caught five touchdown passes.
 
To Flowery Branch’s near upset of eventual two-time state champion Blessed Trinity when the Falcons came-up short going for two points and the win in overtime. To one week later, Roswell going for two points and the win and getting it with less than two minutes to play in their upset win at Walton.
 
To Archer’s second-round playoff shootout win at Parkview, ending the Panthers undefeated season with their first loss of the year. To Dutchtown’s arrival on the big stage and giving two-time state champ Rome all they could handle in the quarterfinals. 
 
To probably the best schedule of eight state championship games in total that we’ve ever televised, including what has to be the greatest final ever with Bainbridge capping their epic playoff run from a 5-5 regular season finish to a 47-41 three overtime 5A State Championship Game win over Warner Robins, which had beaten the Bearcats 38-0 just two months earlier.
Rome's Jamious Griffin
Now my season awards. Just one man’s opinion (from the teams we televised on GPB).
 
Offensive Player of the Year – Rome RB Jamious Griffin
Defensive Player of the Year – Milton LB Jordan Davis
Special Teams Player of the Year – Colquitt County Kicker Ryan Fitzgerald
Coach of the Year – Bainbridge Head Coach Jeff Littleton
Play of the Year (Tie) – Cedar Grove Jadon Haselwood’s final high school reception was a state championship winning touchdown catch with less than five seconds to play in the Saints victory over Peach County in the 3A Final. In Class A, Bainbridge nose tackle Roman Harrison hurdling the line to block Warner Robins potential state championship winning field goal, giving his team the chance to win the state title in overtime, which they did.
 
So, here’s a look at the Football Fridays in Georgia Signing Day Team. There are a few caveats. 
 
No. 1, these are only players from teams that were televised on GPB this season. This isn’t intended to be an All-State Team.
 
No. 2, these are players who signed letters of intent this week. For example, Jadon Haselwood, the top wide receiver in the nation, is not on the list because he hasn’t signed yet. 
 
So now that I got all the legalese out of the way, here they are:
Blessed Trinity's Steele Chambers
Offense
First Team
QB – Jordan Yates – Milton – Georgia Tech
RB – Steele Chambers – Blessed Trinity – Ohio State
RB – Jamious Griffin – Rome – North Carolina State
WR – Dominick Blaylock – Walton – Georgia
WR – Ramel Keyton – Marietta – Tennessee
WR – Xavier Roberts-Donaldson – Rome – Kennesaw State
TE – Jackson Lowe – Cartersville – Tennessee
OL – Wanya Morris – Grayson – Tennessee
OL – Trente Jones – Grayson – Michigan
OL – Nick Pendley – Creekview – Mississippi State
OL – Will Rykard – Colquitt County – UAB
OL – Jakai Clark – Grayson – Miami
OL – Griffin Carder – Lee County – Georgia Southern
Second Team
QB – Austin Kirksey – Walton – Nevada
QB – Dylan Fromm – Warner Robins – Mercer
QB – Zach Calzada – Lanier – Texas A&M
RB – Aaron Beasley – Heard County – Tennessee
RB – Travis Tisdale – Lowndes – Kentucky
RB – Cade Radam – Creekview – Kennesaw State
WR – Malik Washington – Parkview – Northwestern
WR – Logan Berryhill – Camden County – South Florida
WR – Kenyon Jackson – Grayson – Texas A&M
TE – Tyler Fromm – Warner Robins – Auburn
Defense
First Team
DE – Kevin Harris – Grayson – Alabama
DE – Colby Wooden – Archer – Auburn
DT – Roman Harrison – Bainbridge – Tennessee
DT – Rashard Cheney – Cedar Grove – Minnesota
LB – Owen Pappoe – Grayson – Auburn
LB – Tyron Hopper – Roswell – Florida
LB – Trezman Marshall – Clinch County – Georgia
LB – J.D. Bertrand – Blessed Trinity – Notre Dame
CB – Andrew Booth – Archer – Clemson
CB – Jalen Perry – Dacula – Michigan
SAF – Joe Charleston – Milton – Clemson
SAF – Jalyn Phillips – Archer – Clemson
Second Team
DL – Tru Thompson – Grayson – Florida State
DL – Isaiah Chaney – Cartersville – Wake Forest
DL – Deangelo Carter – Lee County – Minnesota
DL – Jacoby Sharpe – Lanier – Temple
LB – Kevon Glenn – Dutchtown – Florida State
LB – Allen Walker – Milton – Louisiana Tech
LB – Rashard Revels – Colquitt County – UAB
LB – Marcus Anderson – Colquitt County – Georgia State
LB – Jordan Veneziale – North Paulding – Kennesaw State
DB – Kenyatta Watson – Grayson – Texas
DB – Jalen Alexander – Grayson – Duke
DB – Jeremiah Smith – Grayson – Georgia Tech
DB – B.J. Gibson – Walton – Navy
DB – Trey Franklin – Warner Robins – Buffalo
DB – Camari Louis – Colquitt County – Kennesaw State
Special Teams
Kicker/Punter – Cory Munson – Northside-WR – Western Kentucky
*Ryan Fitzgerald – Colquitt County – Would be on this list except for the fact that he has not yet signed.
 
 
And the Survey Says … Tennessee is the most represented program on the Signing Day Team with five players. Clemson is next with three. Oddly enough there were only two players that signed with Georgia and the same number for Georgia Tech. Among the other state schools, Kennesaw State won top honors with four signees.
From the far reaches,  the furthest is Nevada with some honorable mentions for Buffalo, Temple, Michigan and Minnesota.
 
Noticeable absences included South Carolina, Ole Miss, LSU, North Carolina -- who traditionally do a little better with our GPB televised teams.
 
So that will just about do it. There will be a few more signings with the traditional National Signing Day still on the calendar the first Wednesday in February but by-and-large this new early signing period has pretty much stolen the thunder from that day.
 
Already looking ahead to our 2019 season on GPB. Can’t wait.
 

Matt has called the best high school football in the country for the last five years on Georgia Public Broadcasting, with 2019 being year number six. Joining the GPB Football Team in 2014, Matt has now called TV Play-by-Play for High School Football in Georgia for 20 consecutive seasons. This incredibly fun run began for... more