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Archer at Norcross on GPB! State Powers Collide
You know what was unusual about the 2015 Georgia high school football season? It was the first time in four years that neither Norcross nor Archer played for the state championship. The Blue Devils won consecutive GHSA AAAAAA state titles in 2012 and 2013 and went 28-2 while doing it. The Tigers reached the 2014 state final in just the program’s fifth full season of existence before falling to Colquitt County 28-24 in the Georgia Dome.
Friday night on GPB those two state powers will meet for just the second time ever when Archer visits Norcross for a 7:00 p.m. “Football Fridays in Georgia” show time. Back in 2014, the then-upstart Tigers knocked off the Blue Devils 38-22 in the first round of the state playoffs on the way to reaching that aforementioned state championship game. That Archer win ended Norcross’ reign as two-time state champs and 10-game playoff winning streak. This Friday night on GPB they meet again.
Fast forward to this week where the Tigers enter 1-2 and the Blue Devils 3-0 and ranked fifth in the GPB AAAAAAA Top-10. Archer has been hit hard by graduation (31 seniors lost from last year’s team). That was a group that went 33-7 the last three seasons. On top of that, Archer got walloped by the transfer of two star players…two of the best players in the nation…when Isaiah Pryor (ESPN #3 safety committed to Ohio State) left for IMG and then Jamyest Williams (ESPN #4 CB committed to South Carolina) bolted for Grayson. And if all that weren’t enough, starting quarterback Dillon Waye was injured his collarbone at a pre-season camp and sophomore starting safety Braylen Weems took over under center. We may see both Friday night.
Meantime Norcross has beaten Walton, Collins Hill and North Gwinnett. Impressive. A year ago the Blue Devils started 7-0 before the schedule got the better of them and lost their last four including a 20-14 first round playoff loss to surprising South Forsyth. Now in their third season removed from their last state championship, the Blue Devils have “matured” in the words of Coach Keith Maloof.
The same could be said for the Blue Devils’ QB Baron Radcliff who is passing for over 200 yards per game with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s got a deep and talented WR pool to work with led by Jared Simpkins, who’s got six offers including Louisville; Jacob Burrell, Michael Cole and Tamir Jones. Norcross has three talented running backs who split time, in fact one of Coach Maloof’s biggest challenges is having so many weapons and only one football. That’s one of the things they are still figuring out but at the very least Maloof feels he should never have a skill player who’s tired.
Norcross got hit by the transfer monster too when ESPN 5-star Robert Beal left the program for IMG Academy. Ranked the overall #5 player in the nation by ESPN, Beal is committed to Georgia but his departure from Norcross left many unhappy.
Despite that the Blue Devils have been good on defense led by LB Monty Montgomery (Georgia State offer), DE Jalen Pinkney committed to Vandy (where he’ll play with his brother Jared who is a former Blue Devil and current Commodores redshirt freshman tight end) and ESPN 3-star CB Da’Meon Williams who is committed to Georgia Tech.
One other thing to watch for Friday night is Team Maloof. We’ll have a lot more about Coach Keith Maloof and his family during our game. Keith has 160 wins and will likely break his father George’s career victory record this season. Along with his dad and brother Kevin, a Maloof has been a high school head coach in Atlanta for the last 60 years. And now Kevin’s sons Tyler and Tanner are on his staff. So it should be a lot of fun.
Here’s a look at all the players you should keep your eyes on from a recruiting standpoint:
Junior CB Taiyon Palmer - Committed to Duke
Senior LB Quinn Miller - Offered by Cincinnati, UCF and Mercer – Wrestling offer from
Senior DE Sam Wright - Offered by Duke
Norcross (all seniors)
DE Jalen Pinkney - Committed to Vandy where his brother Jared is redshirt freshman
QB Baron Radcliff - Committed to play baseball at GT and is standout OF - Five football
offers including Vandy, BC, Georgia Southern
CB Da’Meon Williams - ESPN 3-star CB who is committed to Georgia Tech
WR Jared Simpkins - Six offers including Louisville, Cincinnati and East Carolina
LB Monty Montgomery - Offered by Georgia State
WR Tamir Jones – Offered by Georgia State