Archer-Brookwood matchup headlined by AJC Super 11 pick Matthew Hill

WR Matthew Hill of Brookwood. Credit: Chad Rhym/AJC

Archer and Brookwood meet for the seventh time since 2010 and will shift the favor of their 3-3 series record on Saturday at Georgia State Stadium with an 11:45 a.m. kickoff. The Broncos are entering their 37th season, while the younger Archer program gets ready for its eighth varsity season. Despite the differences in age, the two Gwinnett County programs share a similar Maroon and Gold foundation: Both Brookwood head coach Philip Jones and Archer head coach Andy Dyer played for the Broncos and suited up for the Corky Kell Classic in its early years. As a result, this is the first time in event history that a matchup will see the sidelines led by two former participants.

Brookwood’s history in the event began in the inaugural 1992 showcase, and the Broncos found victories in 10 of their first 14 appearances. Following a 42-21 victory over Stephenson in 2005, however, came a tough 10-year stretch in the event. From 2006 until 2015, Brookwood’s only win came in 2010. That victory, however, proved to be the first win of the program’s second run to a state title. The 1-9 record from 2006-15 reflects the quality of opponent that the Broncos have been facing at the start of each season.

Last August, Brookwood scored a 37-23 win over North Gwinnett and improved its record in the classic to 12-13. More notably, the Broncos found an offensive spark that had been lacking in previous seasons and produced their first eight-win season since 2011, despite battling one of the state’s tougher schedules. Last year’s spark could really catch fire this year as 10 of 11 starters return. Leading the hoard of weapons are wide receiver Matthew Hill, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super 11 selection, and running back Dante Black. Hill is also a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection who can ignite Brookwood’s offense with his spectacular playmaking ability and versatility. He posted 39 catches for 810 yards (20.8 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns last season and added 585 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns when filling in for an injured Black for six games. Black runs behind a line led by Duke commit Casey Holman, and quarterback Angelo DiSpigna and receiver Nick Prince add more balance to this seasoned offense. Hill also contributes as a defensive back and explosive return man.

Archer fell 27-14 to McEachern at the Corky Kell Classic last year and has gone 1-2 in its three all-time appearances. With only two returning starters on offense and three on defense last season, Archer’s young roster was fast-tracked with valuable experience that carries over into this year. A 47-0 loss to Roswell dropped Archer to a 1-4 record before the Tigers used a 3-2 finish in region play to secure the program’s fourth-straight playoff berth. The determination that steam-powered Archer’s late-season push not only toughened the talent that returns this year, but exemplified the competitiveness of a head coach who has brought Archer so much success in a short time. Like Brookwood’s Hill, Archer senior Taiyon Palmer gives the Tigers a dynamic playmaker who can contribute in all three phases. The Duke commit primarily starts in a talented Archer secondary but can play receiver and handle return duties.

“[Palmer] has put on 10 or 12 pounds of muscle, which is really going to help him because we are going to expect him to play both ways,” Dyer told Collin Huguley of the Gwinnett Daily Post. “He is going to start at corner but will help at wide receiver, and he will also be a big part of our return game.”

Palmer is joined in the secondary by junior safety Jalyn Phillips and cornerback Andrew Booth, who led the county with seven interceptions during a breakout sophomore campaign last season. With this much talent in the secondary, Archer’s front seven has the safety net to play aggressively. Anchoring the defensive line is senior Will Choloh. The 6-foot-1, 277-pounder has a handful of FBS offers including Air Force, Arkansas State and Appalachian State.

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