Prep Zone: High School Sports blog 

AJC updates from the world of high school sports in metro Atlanta and Georgia

Unheralded Griffin running back fueling prolific offense

  • 1:31 pm Thursday, October 30th, 2014 by David Purdum

Griffin racked up 56 points and a ton of yards against a star-studded Carrollton defense in last season’s Class AAAA state championship game, without one of the Bears’ most powerful weapons.

Running back Malik Miller missed last year’s championship game with an injury. He’s back this season, with a vengeance.

“For the first 15 yards, he’s the best running back I’ve ever been around,” Griffin coach Jarrett Laws said of Miller. “He may not have that top-end, breakaway speed, but he’s had at least one explosive run, 20 yards or more, in every game.”

At 5-10, 200 pounds, Miller is described by offensive [More]

Friday rewind: 1,000 total yards, 108 points and 0 punts

  • 9:13 am Saturday, October 25th, 2014 by David Purdum

–St. Pius X and Arabia Mountain combined for exactly 1,000 total yards and 108 points in the Golden Lions’ 70-38 win Friday. It’s the second most points St. Pius has ever scored, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association.

The Lions did not attempt a pass and rushed for 527 yards. Ransom Klinger scored three touchdowns, and Dalton Wilson, Joe Connors and Grant Holloman each had two touchdown runs for St. Pius. Arabia Mountain finished with 473 yards, with quarterback Jakobi Myers passing for 295 yards and six touchdowns. Neither team punted.

(CORRECTION: St. Pius scored 72 points in a [More]

Friday night high school football glance: Class AAAA

  • 4:16 pm Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by David Purdum

–Class AAAA No. 1 Buford heads into its most challenging stretch of its region schedule with a road test at North Oconee. The Wolves (7-0, 4-0 Region 8-AAAA) have won 32 straight games and have yet to be challenged in region play. North Oconee running back Kawon Bryant (906 yards, 13 touchdowns) will look to do just that. The Titans (5-2, 4-0)have lost both previous meetings with Buford, both coming in the playoffs, including a 13-0 loss in 2012.

–A Region 5-AAAA battle between No. 2 Sandy Creek and No. 6 Woodward Academy features two of the top running backs in [More]

Q&A with state’s leading rusher: Pickens’ Shannon Brooks

  • 9:00 am Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by David Purdum

Pickens running back Shannon Brooks’ last three games:

-274 yards on 13 carries with 4 touchdowns and 1 65-yard touchdown pass in a 69-34 win over LaFayette on Oct. 17.

–301 yards on 30 carries with 6 touchdowns and 4 receptions for 98 yards and 1 touchdown in a 62-40 win over Southwest Whitfield on Oct. 10.

–246 yards on 22 carries and 4 touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Northwest Whitfield on Oct. 3.

To recap, that’s 16 touchdowns in three games. Not bad.

On the season, Brooks has rushed for 1,729 yards, averaging 12.1 yards per carry, with 26 touchdowns. Four of his seven [More]

AAAA Friday rewind: State’s leading rusher explodes again

  • 9:50 am Saturday, October 18th, 2014 by David Purdum

–Pickens running back Shannon Brooks is on an amazing run. Brooks accounted for 384 yards and five touchdowns in the Dragons’ 69-34 win over Lafayette on Friday. The Minnesota commitment scored four rushing touchdowns and threw a 65-yard touchdown pass. Brooks has scored 12 touchdowns in his last two games and leads the state in rushing with 1,729 yards.

–It hasn’t been a good idea to kick the ball to Woodward Academy’s Elijah Holyfield. The son of boxing great Evander Holyfield, Elijah returned the opening kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown, jumpstarting the War Eagles’ 35-7 win over Fayette County on [More]

Huge South Georgia showdown highlights Class AAAA Friday slate

  • 6:09 pm Thursday, October 16th, 2014 by David Purdum

There’s a giant rivalry showdown with massive playoff implications Friday in South Georgia.

No. 5 Thomas County travels to No. 8 Cairo in a game that likely will decide the winner of Region 1-AAAA, Sub-region B. The top seed out of Region 1 ultimately will be determined by region play-in games, but the loser of Friday’s game would all but be eliminated from a chance at the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.

That’s especially bad news since the 3-seed out of Region 1 will be placed in the same quadrant of the Class AAAA playoff bracket as No. 1 Buford and [More]

Class AAAA playoff glance: Buford, Griffin would meet in quarterfinals

  • 3:32 pm Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 by David Purdum

No. 1 Buford and No. 3 Griffin, the defending Class AAAA state champion, seem destined to meet in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

Barring a stunning turn of events, Buford will be the top seed out of Region 8-AAAA and will be placed in the same bottom-left corner of the playoff bracket as the top seed out of Region 4-AAAA, which almost certainly will be Griffin.

The Wolves won back-to-back Class AAA state championships in 2012 and 2013 and have won 31 straight games overall. In its first season in Class AAAA, Buford (6-0, 3-0 Region 8-AAAA) has won its first [More]

Friday rewind: St. Pius stunner; Running back explodes for monster game

  • 9:16 am Saturday, October 11th, 2014 by David Purdum

Marist, St. Pius X renew intense rivalry

  • 8:45 pm Thursday, October 9th, 2014 by David Purdum

St. Pius X coach Paul Standard’s hype game is in excellent form heading into tonight’s showdown with archrival Marist.

Some examples:

“They (Marist) don’t need to get fired up. They look like the second coming of the Green Bay Packers.”
“They’re ‘ginormous,’ and we’re small and slow.”
“We have deceptive speed – we’re slower than we look.”


Standard’s assessment, while slightly exaggerated, rings true in a lot of ways – Marist has been impressive this season. The War Eagles (6-0) have shut out three of their last four opponents, allowing only a second-half touchdown run to Lithonia in last week’s 33-6 win. Senior quarterback Sam [More]

Unsportsmanlike penalty on coach sparks program’s first win

  • 12:45 pm Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 by David Purdum

It was quite the way to earn the first win in program history.

New Hampstead, a fledgling AAAA school located outside of Savannah in Bloomingdale, began its first varsity season with five straight losses. On Friday, the Phoenix, which has only six seniors on its 63-man roster, trailed Glascock County 20-0 early in the third quarter. That’s when New Hampstead coach Bernard Gaither got angry.

“I got a penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at the refs,” Gaither said.

What happened next, though, inspired a dramatic comeback win.

“After I got the penalty, the players turned to me and said, ‘Coach, you don’t [More]