The GPB Game of the Week: Marist at SW DeKalb
For the second year in a row, these Region 6-AAAA rivals will square off at DeKalb’s Hallford Stadium, where the Panthers generally play their home games.
Alan Chadwick’s No. 8 War Eagles are coming off a tough 31-24 double-overtime loss to rival Tucker. In the season opener the previous week, Marist defeated Douglass 48-12. Southwest DeKalb also has a loss to No. 4 Tucker, a 50-19 season-opening defeat. The Panthers rebounded the following week to beat Carver (Atlanta) 42-6.
Legendary head coach Buck Godfrey’s squad is struggling to replace five players who signed Division I scholarships after the 2009 season. The Panthers are led this year by Score 44 member Terrence Smith, a linebacker, and Moses Charles, who returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against Tucker. Also starring on defense is tackle Thomas Jackson. Quarterback Andre Wilson can run or throw effectively and will be counted on by Coach Godfrey to crack the War Eagle defense.
Quarterback Andy Perez and running back Gray King of Marist lead the well-coached perennial power that is looking to rebound from the loss to Tucker. The War Eagles are always strong on the lines of scrimmage and are again this year as offensive linemen Justin Olderman and Nick Brigham lead a solid group of “big uglies”. Perez will try to connect with wide receiver Jordan Snellings for big plays.
Marist leads the all-time series 10-6, but lost last year’s meeting 21-7. However, the War Eagles won the previous five matchups prior to 2009. SWD’s victory last season helped earn them the region title, which is the only region title not won by either Tucker or Marist in their region since 1996. Since 2002, the War Eagles leads the series 5-1 and, prior to that season, the two had not played since 1973.
Both programs are perennial powerhouses in Class AAAA, with Marist making the postseason every year since 1982 and SWD making the playoffs nearly every year since the onset of Godfrey’s illustrious 28-year career.
The 790 the Zone Game of the Week- Collins Hill at North Gwinnett
Two Gwinnett powers will face off Friday when the Eagles take on Suwanee neighbor North Gwinnett. Head coach Bob Sphire’s Bulldogs will once again have a game broadcast, as their previous three games were on either television or webcasts. But Sphire and his team know that the games matter a lot more now.
“However, our kids know that when we play Collins Hill in our region opener, that’s when things are going to really matter,” said Sphire after the win over Crenshaw in their last game. “The [national attention] is nice, but our goal is to win the region, continue to win every week in the playoffs, and play as late in December as they play high school football, and win that last game.”
Collins Hill has played three tough teams back-to-back and all of three games came down to the last minute. In the season opener, the Eagles exacted some revenge on Roswell, who knocked them out of the state playoffs in 2009. However, game 2 was a different story as Brookwood outlasted Collins Hill 45-38 to even the Eagles’ record at 1-1. ML King then edged the Eagles 43-36 last week.
No. 2 North Gwinnett is also led by a Score 44 quarterback in CJ. Uzomah and has started the 2010 season on fire, defeating three highly-regarded teams to start the season. Their win over Crenshaw cemented the Bulldogs’ place as one of the truly elite teams in the state. Senior linebacker Brandon McGowan, who returned a fumble for the winning score against the Cougars, is the leader of the Bulldog defense.
North Gwinnett leads the all-time series between the two 5-4, including the last game, which came in 2007. The Bulldogs have won five of the last seven after dropping the first two games of the series, which took place in 2000 and 2001. Sphire is 2-0 against the Eagles, while Reach has yet to coach against North Gwinnett.