Host Buford, Grayson headline upcoming ‘Gwinnett vs. The World’ Doubleheader

Buford QB Aaron McLaughlin. Credit: AJC

Buford and Grayson will square off against Deerfield Beach (FL) and Bergen Catholic (NJ), respectively, in the first-ever “Gwinnett vs. The World” high school football double-header at Buford Stadium on Friday, Aug. 31. Grayson and Bergen Catholic (NJ) will face-off in the 5:30 PM opener and Buford will host Deerfield Beach (FL) with a scheduled starting time of 8:30 PM.



GRAYSON RAMS (GA): Grayson went 10-2 in what marked head coach Christian Hunnicutt’s first season at the school. The Rams defeated Hoover (AL) 35-26 in last year’s season opener and then swept their remaining trio of out of state, non-region opponents [John Curtis (LA) 22-9, International School of Broward (FL) 74-0 and Ramsay (AL) 42-16]. Both losses last year were to other Gwinnett County powerhouses (a 6-3 region loss to Archer and a 35-28 loss to eventual state champion North Gwinnett in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs). The Rams have one of the most talented groups of rising seniors in the country leading them next season: 4-star OLB Owen Pappoe (6-0, 211), 4-star OT Wayne Morris (6-6, 293), 4-star ATH Ronald Thompkins (5-11, 195), 3-star OT and Michigan commit Trente Jones (6-6, 282), 3-star safety Kenyatta Watson II (6-2, 187), 3-star DT and FSU commit Tru Thompson (6-0, 338), 3-star CB and Duke commit Jalen Alexander (6-0, 165), 3-star WR Kenjon Jackson (6-5, 200), 3-star S and Georgia Tech commit Jeremiah Smith (6-2, 180) and starting center and Auburn commit Jakai Clark (6-2, 305). The Rams are an athletically-gifted team with championship size, speed and depth. Last year, the team’s 56 sacks came from 15 different guys. The first concern for Hunnicutt will be grooming a replacing for quarterback D.J. Irons (Eastern Kentucky signee) and receiver Jaquavius Lane (Kansas State signee). Although Lane was the team’s leader with 8 receiving touchdowns last season, it was Johnson who racked up a team-high 608 yards off just 27 catches and his 6-foot-5 frame will be a tough matchup for opponents all year, especially in the red zone. Additionally, Thompkins’ elite playmaking will be a major aspect of Grayson’s offense this upcoming season.

BERGEN CATHOLIC CRUSADERS (NJ): Bergen Catholic added its 17th all-time state title this past season, demolishing St. Peter’s Prep 44-7 in the title game. The Crusaders had some big time stars on last year’s roster, including Ohio State signee Javontae Jean-Baptiste (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) at outside linebacker and Boston College signee John Langan at quarterback. The Class of 2019 is headlined by ATH Josh McKenzie, RB Rahmir Johnson, DE Aeneas DiCosmo and TE Tyler Devera. Four-star safety Jordan Morant is currently the state’s No. 3 ranked prospect for the Class of 2020. McKenzie did it all last year, taking a team-high 145 carries for 907 yards and eight scores, while accounting for 41 tackles from the safety position. Johnson, who like McKenzie can both run and catch the football, posted 555 yards off 90 carries this past season and scored six times. Devera has great size at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and found the endzone four times last season. Jean-Baptiste posted a team-leading 11.5 sacks last season, but DiCosmo is ready to be this year’s leader after leading the Crusaders with a team-high 15 TFL to go with his nine sacks. Anthony Corbin is another versatile playmaker that can contribute as a linebacker, running back or safety. Last season, Corbin used his speed to get to the football and ended up leading the team with 109 total tackles while adding 8.5 TFL, 2 interceptions and taking his only two carries each for touchdowns of 83 and 54 yards, respectively.


BUFORD WOLVES (GA): Buford has been toppled by two-time defending state champion Rome in each of the last two postseasons, but the Gwinnett-based Wolves’ have another star-studded roster this season and will once again be one of Class 5A’s strongest contenders. The Buford program boasts 10 state titles since 2001, 15 final appearances since 2000 and 19 consecutive seasons with 10 or more victories. John Ford’s group went 11-2 last season, in what marked his first year at the school. The Wolves graduated another strong senior class this past year, highlighted by RB Anthony Grant (FSU), RB Christian Turner (Michigan), S Bryson Richardson (UNC), WR Isaiah Issac (Wake Forest) and OLB Brock Mattison (Appalachian State), but their Class of 2019 is once again loaded, especially on the line of scrimmage. Center Harry Miller (6-4, 310) is a four-star prospect and has 3-star guard Riley Simonds (6-3, 300) and 3-star tackles Reece McIntyre (6-5, 290) and Carter Colquitt (6-6, 295) helping him anchor one of the most talented (and biggest) offensive lines in the nation. Running back Derrian Brown will play a much bigger role this season after splitting carries with Grant, Turner and the rest of Buford’s deep and talented stable of backs. Three-star defensive end Ahmad Craig stands 6-foot-6, 240 pounds and has a chance to shoot up the recruiting boards. Class of 2021 quarterback Aaron Mclaughlin is back after taking over the starting job as a freshman last season and already holds offers from Auburn, Michigan, Ole Miss and USC, among others.

DEERFIELD BEACH BUCKS (FL): Buford’s opponent Deerfield Beach (FL) went 8-3 last year, its trio of losses coming to powerhouses St. Joseph Regional (NJ) (44-21), St. Thomas Aquinas (14-0) and Western (20-17) in the opening round of the state playoffs. Deerfield Beach will move on from its Class of 2018 graduates that sent ILB Rosendo Louis to the University of South Carolina, CB Miguel Edwards to Oklahoma, ATH Ashtan Pierce to Kentucky and TE Daniel Barker to Illinois. Quarterback Tyron Herring could be poised for a big season with the addition of a second Class of 2020 star to throw to; Deajuan McDougle and fellow three-star Aydin Henningham are joining forces after Henningham transferred over from Atlantic HS this December. Class of 2019 4-star Ge’mon Eaford is a physical 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker that already has 44 offers on the table, and Robert Boyd is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle that will lead the Bucks up front next season. Running back Jaylan Knighton, who committed to Oklahoma this past week (April 13) had a breakout sophomore season and is currently ranked the No. 22 Class of 2020 prospect in the state of Florida.

Tags: , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply