Peachtree Ridge Will Be Led By Their Elite Secondary & QB in 2024

Peachtree Ridge is coming off their first 10-win season since 2009 and one of their best playoff finishes since 2016. The Lions are a talented bunch on both sides of the ball, but it starts with their secondary, one of their best units heading into 2024.

The secondary for Peachtree Ridge will be elite. There are so many guys on the back end who can play.

It starts with Dorian Barney.

Barney can flat-out cover and can take away the opposing team’s best receiver. It will be interesting to see in marquee games if the Lions will let him follow the opposing team’s best player or stick to the scheme they have implemented. He is physical at the top of the route and has great closing speed on the ball. I expect him to have a major season and stuff the stat sheet.

Another key player to watch is three-star Osiris Gilbert, who is a playmaker on the backend. Similar to Barney he was making plays in practice. King Thomas is another one who will man the slot and will be a versatile asset for the Lions. Last but not least is Tristen Hill. Hill can come down and lay a big hit and play the ball equally as well. Wherever you look in the secondary, there is a guy.

“It might sound a little cocky but I’ll put our secondary up against anybody in the state. We have Dorian Barney, who is a top corner in the country. Tyson Sanford on the other side ran a 10.8 last week. He started last year as a sophomore. King Thomas is playing nickel,” said head coach Matt Helmerich.

“He’s got offers and is in the class of 2026. Tristen Hill has offers and is in the class of 2026. Osiris Gilbert ran a 10.6 in track and he’s got 22 offers, so that’s your back five. Right now, I think that is the strength of our team. Those guys are playing really well.”

“Dorian is long. He gets it you know. He is in and out of his breaks, reading the ball and the routes, and reading the quarterback. I was lucky enough to coach Asante Samuel back in the day and he was probably the smartest corner I’ve ever coached. I put Dorian right behind him at 1B or two,” said Helmerich.

“He’s just so dang smart and has a nose for the football. Pleasantly surprised last year as he got stronger, played physical and came up and popped people when he was breaking on a route for a receiver or even helping out in the run game. Same with Osiris. He is 5’10 and a half pounds at 166 pounds. Not the biggest guy in the world but he’s a 4.4 kid that can fly. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s fast and he’s not afraid to hit either. You have guys like that in the secondary that can fly around and be physical. You got something good.”

Darnell Kelly is an elite quarterback.

He’s not ranked yet but has made a lot of top quarterback lists in the state. One of his best throws on the day came towards the end of practice. The ones were running against the ones on defense. It was a tight window and not a lot of space to fit the ball in between the slot corner and the safety coming down. Kelly fit it in perfectly and hit the receiver right in the hands.

“Darnell Kelly is our gunslinger back there and he’s pretty darn good. Everybody knows about him. He works his butt off in the weight room. I’ve had some really good quarterbacks in the past and I don’t think they mind me saying this because they know it. They did not like the weight room,” said Helmerich. “He’s in there benching 230+ and loves power cleaning. He doesn’t shy away from squats. He’s put on some really good weight this year, and he’s definitely gotten a lot faster. He started off the year in track and ran mid-11s in the 100, which is pretty darn good for a taller quarterback. He can run. His development over the last 12 months has been really impressive.”

Some underrated guys on the defensive line to watch are Zachiah Deville and Ryan Gaudin. Deville made several plays through the Lions’ scrimmage at the end including a TFL. He plays in the interior of the defensive line and was also great in drills during practice. The other is Ryan Gaudin who had a sack on Kelly and showcased his motor throughout the day. Their roles will be huge next season especially if they can create pressure and force quarterbacks into bad decisions.

Peachtree Ridge will have a lot of depth at the running back position. The Lions are known as a passing team but have a lot of players who can play at the running back position. Bryce Green was running with the first team and Justyn Davis was another that caught my eye, especially with his chiseled frame. He has no hesitation and is a downhill runner and gets to the second level quickly and is tough to bring down

“We returned all of our running backs from last year. Justyn Davis is probably our best-looking guy coming out of the weight room. He’s yoked up. Bryce Green was fabulous today catching passes out of the backfield and finding the hole. He’s got a burst,” said Helmerich.

“Another class of 2026. Sedric Addison is a little banged up from the track. He was a starting running back last year. He’s class of 2026. Another guy Nate Crownie started as a sophomore two years ago. That’s a pretty good room. They’ve been working hard. I like to see them challenging each other. You know mostly we are a one-back team and everything. We toss the ball around a little bit, so those guys are really fighting for spots right now.”

Helmerich was also impressed with his offensive line and how some of his young players in the receiver room stepped up.

“It was good to see some of the guys on the offensive line step up a little bit. We’re a little young there but they’ve been fighting,” said Helmerich. “We got some young receivers that are coming out here and balling. Kobe Hoax, another class of 2026. With his athleticism, speed and jumping ability he catches everything. We think the world of him. I think the sky’s the limit for him too.”

Wide receiver will continue to be a position to watch. Rara Thomas got a lot of play on defense yesterday and will play on both sides next season. Another name that caught my eye was Julian Kendrick. Kendrick made plays throughout the day and was a reliable target for Kelly. He was winning his one one-on-one matchups and showed he could be a playmaker for the Lions next season.

Peachtree Ridge will play against the Milton Eagles in their spring scrimmage next Friday in one of the most highly anticipated spring games matches in the state.

“I don’t know how good an idea it is now to see that they return 95% of their team, but I want to see where we are after spring. It’s a good measuring stick. We want to play the best and beat the best. Right now they are the best in Georgia coming off a state championship year and most of their best players are coming back,” said Helmerich.

“It’s going to be a good challenge to see where we are physically. They have some big ole dudes and added another tight end so they got the most tight ends in history on one team with FBS offers. I’ve never seen anything like it. Of course, they have a quarterback and kids that can run. They have some really tough kids. It will be a good test. We will see where we are next week.”

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply