Corky Kell Preview: Mill Creek vs. Brookwood

Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis enters his 12th season with the Hawks. The team is coming off of a 7-4 season which saw the Hawks fall to Grayson in the first-round of the state playoffs, 24-6. Mill Creek started its season off in the Corky Kell Classic facing the eventual state champs, Colquitt County. The Hawks held a 14-10 advantage at the half, but the Packers’ constricting defense tightened up and shut down Mill Creek in the second half and cruised to a 31-14 victory.

Junior Cameron Turley is projected to start at quarterback after Daniel David (Appalachian State) graduated. Turley beat out Preston Norwood, who can fill in at wide receiver this season.

Mill Creek boasted the largest offensive line in the state a year ago and even after some massive losses, plenty of talent returns in 2015. Three-star senior Robbie Bell will start at tackle again and already has committed to play at Louisville. Four juniors will line-up alongside Bell in the trenches highlighted by center Tyler Fannin, who has an offer from Marshall. This experienced group led the way running back Johnathan Hawkins (Buffalo). Hawkins ran for 1,183 yards and 19 scores his senior season while David ran for 834 yards and 13 touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback. Edmond Graham is pegged to start at running back and will rush behind this powerful line.

The defense should be the back bone for the Hawks this season. Mill Creek held opponents to seven points or less in six games last season and returns senior defensive end Tyler Vernon after a school record-setting 14-sack season. The 6-foot-3, 230 pound pass-rusher burst onto the scene after a five-sack game against Duluth. He would finish the season with 82 tackles and currently holds offers from Air Force, Arkansas State, Army and Navy.

Tyler Voyles led the Hawks with 117 tackles last season and now lines up for Furman. Linebackers Sidney Otiwu and Aaron Anderson will be key to the Hawks’ hard-hitting, flying-around defense over the middle. Otiwu, a senior, tallied 85 stops in 2014 and holds a plethora of offers from programs like Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern, Army and Navy. Anderson, a junior, finished second on the team with 90 tackles.

Brookwood’s first-year head coach Philip Jones will be tasked returning the Broncos to championship form. The Broncos finished 2-8 in 2014; their first losing record since 1986. Jones takes over for Mark Crews after spending time as the team’s assistant coach. Jones has strong ties to Brookwood and was the captain of the Broncos’ 1996 state championship team.

Last season, the Broncos struggled offensively, averaging 17.7 points per game. Quarterback play was an issue for the already run-heavy offense. Mason Leblanc spent time at both running back and quarterback and gained 751 yards of total offense. He has since graduated, leaving the door open for either sophomore Angelo DiSpigna or junior Tanner Winskie to start.

With Jones at the helm of the Broncos this season along with new offensive coordinator Chad Pickett, expect the offense to open up and take some shots down field. Pickett comes aboard from Archer and is another former Brookwood Bronco. He brings an up-tempo style of offense that will still try to establish the run first.

One constant on the offensive side of the ball will be senior running back Jesse Brown, a Northwestern-commit. Brown gained 1,060 yards and scored five times as the Broncos’ main source of offense. He is a nimble 5-foot-11, 185-pound back who has showed a knack for working in tight space.

The defense will get an overhaul under new coordinator John Poitevint. Poitevint was in charge of the Central Gwinnett defense which shutdown the explosive North Gwinnett offense in round one of the 2014 playoffs and held them to nine points. The Broncos will now switch to a 3-4 scheme instead of a 4-3.

The Broncos lose linebacker Chase Middleton to graduation and Georgia State after a 114-tackle season, but Leonard Warner returns and may be one of the best defensive players in the state. Warner is a 6-foot-4, 219-pound outside linebacker that recorded 56 stops last season and will be counted on to make even more big plays his junior season. ACC and SEC schools alike have offered Warner.

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