Drive for the GHSA State Title: Grayson at Archer Preview

Robyn Pettagrew

Archer, a resurgent program with its eyes set on its fifth region title, will face maybe its toughest test of the season when it hosts Grayson Friday for a Region 4 game.

The Tigers, who are on a five-game winning streak, including a win over the then-No. 7 Parkview, secured their first victory over a top-10 team since 2020. Archer has one of the most distinct offensive systems in the state. It is a fast-paced system that sees the offense snap the ball with more tempo than almost any team in the state stressing defenses in ways very few high school offenses can do.

“Over the years, I’ve developed a core philosophy,” said Archer head football coach Dante Williams. “I think year to year it does change because it’s based on your personnel. I have a handful of principles that offensively I look through. We look at the 2023 Archer Tiger guys we have, and we decide how we are going to make that work within our philosophy and find ways that can give us an edge.”

With a pair of star wide receivers in William Wallace and Jonathan Stafford Jr., the Tigers will attempt to attack the Rams secondary, stretching them from sideline to sideline and goal line to goal line. Archer quarterback Jordan Doe will look to return after missing the last game and a half after being knocked out late in the first half of their win against Parkview. Doe’s return will open the offense, allowing Wallace to return to wide receiver, giving the offense one of its biggest weapons back.

Grayson’s roster is one of the most talented in the state, with eight players currently ranked as three-star recruits or better. A victory would put the Rams in a four-way tie for first place in the region with Archer, Parkview, and Newton, giving them an outside shot at a Region Title. However, a loss would drop them to the fourth seed and break their streak of 8-straight years with a home playoff game.

Grayson star quarterback JD Davis holds offers from Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic and will try to spread the ball around to his many weapons on offense against the speedy Archer defense. The Rams’ receivers will have to create space and four-star tight end Kylan Fox and three-star wide receiver John Cineas will be crucial as two of their more dynamic weapons.

The Rams’ defense has been one of the most dominant in the state, giving up only 14 points per game and shutting out three of its eight opponents. The defensive front trio of T.A. Cunningham, Nasir Smith and Tyler Atkinson has been the force that has led the Grayson defense, stopping opponent’s rushing attacks and terrorizing opposing quarterbacks. The front is complemented by defensive backs Jaylen Bell and Dkyah Banks, who will look to slow Archer’s explosive receiving duo.

Speed will be the key for the Archer defense. The Tigers defensive growth has been the difference during the winning streak and has given up only 11.25 ppg compared to 27.75 ppg during their first four games. The speed of the Tigers secondary allows them to force teams to play more physically, making many teams uncomfortable.

“I think from year one to year two, things will always be better,” Williams said. “Especially when you are new because everything is in place and there is no guessing, and expectations are there. These kids have helped expedite that process because they are such phenomenal kids, especially these seniors. They care about one another; they have aspirations and goals.”

You can watch the game live on the Peachtree Sports Network, on the Atlanta News First app and on the National Federation High School Network.


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