POY Watch: Lawrence takes lead from Fromm, Solomon

BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

Jake Fromm of Houston County or Aubrey Solomon of Lee County has led GHSF Daily’s Player of the Watch each week this season, until now.

With their teams losing last week, they face longer odds.

Fromm’s trouble is that his team isn’t likely to make the playoffs. Houston County, ranked No. 1 two weeks ago, has lost consecutive region games in a five-team region. Unless the Bears beat No. 1 Valdosta or No. 2 Northside, they are out.

In fact, they might need to beat both or they could be edged out in tiebreakers for the fourth playoff berth because they’ve lost to Lee County and Coffee, the teams with which they’d most likely finish tied if they are 1-3 in region play. The Maxwell Ratings give the Bears only a 3.4 percent chance of getting into the postseason.

The last statewide player of the year whose team didn’t make the playoffs was Billy Ray of Dunwoody in 1985.

For Solomon, whose team lost last week to Northside, the trouble is his position. Defensive linemen have won the player-of-the-year award twice in the past five seasons – Derrick Brown of Lanier in 2015 and Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson in 2011. But Brown and Nkemdiche were top-five national recruits. Nkemdiche’s team won a state title.

Solomon, who is no slouch as a prospect and whose team is not to be written off, remains a strong contender, but it just got harder.

The new No. 1 is Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville. Lawrence is having an outstanding season, but not necessarily a monster year. He’s just the safest projection at this point. Lawrence is a big-name player on a team with an excellent shot to win a state championship.

1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville:Lawrence was 18-of-30 passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-21 victory over Sandy Creek. For the season, Lawrence is 139-of-222 (62.6 percent) for 2,174 yards and 27 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Cartersville is 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA. Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 junior recruit in the nation.

2. RB Zay Malcome, Westminster:Playing only the first half, Malcome rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in a 55-6 victory over McNair. On the season, Malcome has rushed for 957 yards and 13 touchdowns on 112 carries (8.5 ypc). He has 14 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. He has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averages 54.2 yards on four returns. He averages 24.5 yards on six punt returns. He has intercepted two passes and returned them for 83 yards. Westminster is 5-2 and ranked No. 3 in Class AAA.

3. QB Justin Fields, Harrison:Fields was 14-of-17 passing for 182 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-0 victory over South Cobb. For the season, Fields is 82-of-123 passing (66.6 percent) for 1,448 yards and 15 touchdowns and has rushed for a team-leading 574 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 carries (7.2 ypc) for a 7-0 team ranked No. 3 in AAAAAA.

4. QB Jake Fromm, Houston County:It wasn’t Fromm’s fault that Houston County lost to Coffee 42-34 last week. Fromm was 24-of-42 passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns. He even rushed for 86 yards and a score. For the season, Fromm is 197-of-310 (63.5 percent) for 3,206 yards and 31 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He is on pace to break Hutson Mason’s single-season passing record in the 12th game, but his team now is unlikely to make the playoffs. Houston County is 6-2 and unranked two weeks after holding the No. 1 spot. Fromm, who is committed to Georgia, is the consensus No. 4 pro-style quarterback prospect nationally.

5. DL Aubrey Solomon, Lee County:Solomon had seven tackles and two tackles for losses in a 26-7 loss to Northside. For the season, Solomon has 57 tackles, 13 for losses, eight sacks, 12 QB hurries and 14 big hits. Lee County is 6-1 and ranked No. 4 in AAAAAA. Solomon is the consensus No. 5 defensive-tackle prospect in the country.

Others to watch: Macon County QB K’hari Lane threw five TD passes in a game for the fifth time last week in a 41-7 victory over Schley County. Lane is 113-of-186 passing for 2,097 yards and 30 touchdowns for a 6-2 team that is ranked No. 2 in the Class A public-school division. … Griffin QB Tylan Morton threw for 392 yards – completing 31 of 35 attempts – in a 42-35 victory over Fayette County. Morton is 185-of-250 (74.0 percent) for 3,093 yards and 29 touchdowns with six interceptions for a team that is unranked despite a 7-1 record. … Grady QB Caylin Newton passed for 263 yards and rushed for 126 in a 55-6 victory over North Springs. For the season, Newton is 123-of-177 passing (69.5 percent) for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has rushed for 443 yards and 10 touchdowns. … Roswell RB Sheldon Evans rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in a 55-10 victory over Walton. Evans has rushed for 968 yards (6.9 ypc) and 11 touchdowns for the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAAA. Roswell is 7-0. … Lowndes QB Michael Barrett passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-24 victory over Tift County. Lowndes is 7-1 and ranked No. 6 in AAAAAA. Barrett is 83-of-127 passing (65 percent) for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He has rushed for 556 yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries (6.9 ypc).

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