Georgia High School Football Kickoff Weekend

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Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County kick off new season

It’s is hard to believe that the 2018 Georgia High School Football season kicks off this weekend.  I’m not sure I have fully recovered from last year’s Class 5A championship game but I have to shake it off and turn the page to a new season.  For the past two seasons I have had a weekly feature on Georgia High School football.  I’m going to do it a little differently this year but I’m defintely going to be tuned in to high school football games on Friday nights again this fall; however, I will have a few weeks that I will miss here in the early part of the season due to personal reasons.

With each season there are three teams I always follow.  They are Warner Robins, Villa Rica and Clinch County.  Why these three teams?

I’ll start with the first one in my personal timeline – Clinch County.  My father used to play football for the Panthers.  The first football game he took me too was a Clinch County game and that’s something special to me.  Homerville is that typical small, rural Georgia town where they close down the town on Friday Nights to go to the football games.  It is a great atmosphere.  When I started high school, I attended Villa Rica High School where I attempted to play on the football team.  (There may be a blog about this later)   Then, years later, I ended up in Warner Robins and from 1984 – 2010 I spent many Friday nights in the fall at International City (now McConnell-Talbert) Stadium in Warner Robins.  I adopted Warner Robins as my team and I still follow them today.

So, here’s a little preview of the three teams I follow:

Warner Robins Demons

The Demons’ were my surprise team last season as they rebounded from a 3-8 season in 2016 to 14-1 and an appearance in the Class 5A State Championship game.  Warner Robins returns experienced quarterback Dylan Fromm (Yes, his older brother is Jake).  Dylan made his own mark on the high school field last season with a school record 3,505 yards and 35 touchdowns.  His favorite target is his brother – Tyler Fromm – who had 43 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns.  The only question mark for the Demons is how they will replace seven starters on defense.  The schedule is going to be interesting as well.  The Demons open tonight against Tift County as well as Colquitt County on September 14.  My gut tells me that the Demons might go 7-3 this season.

Villa Rica Wildcats

The Wildcats finished 5-5 last season and if not for two Paulding County schools (East Paulding and Paulding County), they would have made the playoffs.  In fact, the Wildcats started 4-1 but the second half was brutal with losses to Carrollton, Kell and Rome.  Villa Rica opens the season tonight at Campbell and they still have Carrollton, Rome and Kell to contend with.  Friday Night Football magazine lists Villa Rica as a team on the rise in Class 5A.  I’d like to agree with that but this is a tough region.  I’m thinking a 6-4 record for the ‘cats in 2018.

Clinch County Panthers

The Panthers are looking to repeat as Class A Public school champions this season and they have a pretty good shot at it with All-State Trezmen Marshall in his senior season.  Marshall is the first Clinch County player to be named Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Preseason Super 11.  The Georgia commit can do it all – kickoff specialist, inside linebacker, nose guard, punter, quarterback and tailback.  The Panthers finished second in the region but defeated region champion Irwin County for the state title last season.  The Panthers open at home tonight against Hebron Christian Academy before a challenging three weeks with games against Brooks County, Dooly County and Irwin County but playing these heavyweights at home will help.  I’m expecting the Panthers to roll to a 10-0 record.

As we embark on another high school football season, let me share with you some of my resources I use throughout the season:

  • Georgia High School Football Historians Assocation
    • This is absolutely the best-ever resource for team records, histories and statistical information
  • Georgia High School Football Daily
    • This has been an amazing resource of information.  It is produced and owned by Todd Holcomb and Chip Saye.  I’m not sure what’s going on with it this year as it hasn’t been updated since August 1st.
  • Score Atlanta
    • Another good source of information and stories as well as game reports.  I am usually constantly checking the High School Scoreboard on Friday nights.
  • Tommy Palmer Media Group
    • Tommy Palmer is a legend and I consider him THE expert in Georgia High School football.  He does the Georgia High School Scoreboard Radio Show starting around 10 pm on Friday nights.  Palmer also does a couple of other podcasts such as “This Week’s Top Ten” and “This Week’s Top Games”.
  • GPB Football App
    • Georgia Public Broadcasting has improved this app over the years and it is a good place to go.
  • Sportsmic App
    • This is another app on my iPhone and one I use to listen to Warner Robins broadcasts.

So here are my preseason picks to win state titles in 2018:

  • Class 7A:  McEachern
  • Class 6A: Tucker
  • Class 5A:  Rome
  • Class 4A:  Cairo
  • Class 3A: Peach County
  • Class 2A: Thomasville
  • Class 1A (Private): Eagle’s Landing Christian
  • Class 1A (Public):  Clinch County
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Three-peat! Oklahoma Thunder Takes Third Straight Gridiron Bowl Title

thunderFor the third time in the past three years, the Oklahoma Thunder knocks off a team from Tennessee to win another Gridiron Bowl Championship in the Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL).

The Oklahoma Thunder dominated the game early to defeat the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs 38-15 in Gridiron Bowl IX in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Thunder had previously defeated the Nashville Storm in 2016 and Chattanooga Eagles in last season’s Gridiron Bowl.

A dominating performance by the Thunder offense broke the game open in the 2nd quarter, outscoring Middle Tennessee 25-6 in a 10-minute span.  Thunder QB Brandon Noohi threw touchdown passes of 24 and 29 yards and WR DJ Dempsey added a 13-yard TD run to lead the scoring. Noohi went finish with 229 yards passing and four touchdowns.

The Thunder defense held the explosive Bulldawgs’ offense to 202 yards.   Oklahoma’s BJ Hodshire was critical to the run defense, forcing three fumbles while holding Middle Tennessee to only 19 rushing yards on 20 attempts.  DT Calvin Barnett also had two sacks, and S DJ Wolfe also added a key interception.  The 15 points scored by Middle Tennessee were the only offensive points surrendered by the defense throughout the postseason.

With the victory, the Thunder organization now claims 7 national and world championships in its 10-year existence.   It’s three consecutive national titles are the most ever by a GDFL team.

 

Madison Radicals Finally Win AUDL Title

MadisonThe Radicals have always been the bridesmaid but never the bride when it came to the championship in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) but yesterday they celebrated their first title in franchise history as they defeated the Dallas Roughnecks 20-16 on their home field.

The Radicals (15-2) took an early lead when Peter Graffy scored off of an assist from Colin Camp.  Madison and Dallas (15-2) went back-and-forth throughout the rest of the first, finishing the quarter tied at 6, before the Radicals opened up a 10-8 lead heading into the halftime break. With the lead still at two late in the third quarter, Kevin Pettit-Scantling caught a deep pass to score as time expired to hand the Radicals a 15-12 advantage.  Madison pulled away in the fourth quarter, taking a 19-13 lead with 3 minutes left and holding on to seal the victory.

Kevin Brown had three assists and Andrew Meshnick and Thomas Coolidge each had two blocks for the Radicals. Brown also led the team with 22 completions.

The Radicals, which were formed in 2013 and have advanced out of the Midwest Division every season of their existence, were making their third appearance in the title game after downing Los Angeles 24-19 in the semifinals Saturday night.  The Radicals showed their experience, proving far more prepared for the intensity of the moment from the opening pull. They leaped out to score the first four goals. The four straight defensive breaks were all created by incredible Madison blocks instead of simple Los Angeles miscues from the Aviators. By the time the first quarter ended, the Radicals had blitzed the Aviators to a lead of 9-3. Pat Shriwise was especially impressive with his throws, and he finished the game with a team-high five assists on 39-of-40 throws.

Madison lost the 2013 and 2015 finals and have made five final four appearances.

The Dallas Roughnecks were making their third straight appearance in the AUDL final four having won the title in their first season in 2016 and losing to the Toronto Rush in the semifinals last season.

In their semifinal win over the New York Empire, Dallas opened the third quarter with continued pressure, forcing a Harper Garvey throwaway. The Roughnecks offense cleanly converted once again, as Dillon Larberg led the charge. He finished the game with five assists. The pace finally slowed, as both teams settled into more effective defenses. Offences held up, throwing clean points, but taking longer to score. The third quarter finished with only one turnover – ending in a Dallas break – as the Roughnecks received in the final quarter, leading 25-23. Jay Froude led Dallas in the third quarter, beating Beau Kittredge at will to pace the offense.  The fourth quarter began with Dallas again throwing to Froude deep, but Kittredge caught up and tipped the disc. It was a sign of Dallas’ impending win when Froude still easily tracked down the score. A Dallas break pushed them ahead by four points following an Empire turf.

The future of the AUDL looks to be bright as the league is on their way to raising $450,000 to take the league to a higher level to become a professional league in North America.  The AUDL currently has 150 investors to date on their effort.  The AUDL has experienced consistent growth in its first six years and hopes to expand exposure of the sport beyond the Ultimate community to include a broader sports audience and fan base, which has created the opportunity to partner with us at a very unique time.

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France Tops Austria for European American Football Title

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France RB Jason Aguemon led the French ground game

Just a month fresh of France winning the World Cup in the world’s most popular version of football, France’s American Football all-stars won another title, although probably not as celebrated as the World Cup, when they came back from an early deficit to defeat Austria 28-14.  France claimed their first International Federation of American Football (IFAF) title in Vantaa, Finland on Saturday.

Trailing 14-7 at the half, France staged an outstanding second half offensive display while the defense shut down the vaunted Austrian running game. France opened the scoring though in a first half that resembled a chess match between the two head coaches France’s Patrick Esume and Shuan Fatah from Austria.

French quarterback Paul Durand, who was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, connected with Andrew James in the first quarter to give France a 7-0 lead.  Austria responded as the Austrian offensive line started opening up huge holes and running back Sandro Platzgummer who had played brilliantly all tournament long, found a gap and raced 41 yards to tie the game up at 7-7. The Austrian defense continued to dominate while quarterback Alexander Thury caught France in one on one coverage against huge wide receiver Bernhard Seikovits throwing it to him in the corner of the end zone to give Austria a 14-7 lead.

France set the tone on their opening drive of the second half driving to the Austrian 44 yard line and then Durand handed the ball off the running back Jason Aguemon on a draw play who got outside and scampered down the sideline to score the tying touchdown with three minutes gone in the third quarter.

With Austria unable to move the ball, France took over again on their own 37 yard line with just over seven minutes left in the quarter. Durand mixed up his play calling driving France down to t Austria’s one yard line and found Jerome Valbon all alone for the go ahead touchdown.

The France defense kept playing brilliant football and France took over again, at the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Durand engineered a 75 yard, clock-eating, five minute long drive capping it with a beautiful 20 yard touchdown pass to Jefferson Alexandre to extend the lead to 28-14.

Austria’s offense simply could not move the ball after that. Despite two possessions in the final five minutes, including getting the ball with a minute and a half after an interception, Austria’s offense was unable to find the end zone. A final incompletion with a minute left from Thury to Adrian Platzgummer sealed the historic win for France.

Click here to watch highlights from the game.

Here are the scores from the IFAF European Tournament:

  • First Round
    • Israel 28, Spain 20
    • Switzerland 21, Slovakia 0
    • Russia 20, Norway 0
    • Serbia 56, Hungary 0
    • Czech Republic 14, Poland 7
    • Netherlands 17, Belgium 3
  • Second Round
    • Italy 40, Israel 10
    • Serbia 17, Switzerland 0
    • Great Britain 30, Russia 3
    • Czech Republic 20, Netherlands 13
  • Third Round
    • Italy 17, Serbia 14
    • Great Britain 38, Czech Republic 13
  • Group Round
    • Group A
      • Austria (2-0)
      • Sweden (1-1)
      • Denmark (0-2)
    • Group B
      • France (2-0)
      • Finland (1-1)
      • Great Britain (0-2)
  • Bronze Medal Game:  Finland 35, Sweden 21

Thanks to the American Football International website for the game reports and highlights.  If you want to know more about American Football being played around the world, you really need to visit their site and subscribe.

How ‘Bout Them Dawgs, ArenaBowl and Frisbee Final Four

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Bulldawgs Win, Washington Wins ArenaBowl, Final Four set in AUDL

This isn’t a “false start” on the college football season and I’m not talking about THOSE Dawgs.  I am talking about the lesser known Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs who have advanced to the championship game of the Gridiron Developmental Football League (GDFL) after defeating the Erie Express 14-7 on Saturday.  Never heard of these Bulldawgs?  I haven’t heard much about them except for an occasional post on my Facebook feed.  Rahim Muhhamed scored from nine yards out with 1:05 left to break open a 7-7 tie to give the Bulldawgs the winning score.  They will now face the Oklahoma Thunder in Birmingham on August 11th for the title.  The Bulldawgs are made up of many players from the previous Nashville Storm semi-pro team that played in Nashville for many seasons and were one of the top teams in semi-pro football.  I also did not know that the Bulldawgs were playing their home games at Ensworth which is probably the closest high school to me.  Gridiron Bowl IX will be the third in a row for the Oklahoma Thunder who defeated the OKC Outlaws 20-0. The Thunder will be going for their third straight Gridiron Bowl championship. With the Bulldawgs victory, this makes it the third year that the Thunder will take on a team from Tennessee in this game. In 2016, they defeated the Nashville Storm at home. Last year it was the Chattanooga Eagles that fell victim. Now the Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs will try to make the third time a charm.

The indoor football version of the Super Bowl was played this past weekend as the four-team league crowned the Washington Valor as ArenaBowl XXXI champions when they beat the Baltimore Brigade 69-55.  The Valor had only won two games during the regular season and was the last place team entering the postseason.  The league REALLY needs some more teams or a better playoff format.  Washington quarterback Arvell Nelson put the Valor on the board first with a touchdown during the second quarter. Nelson had a record-setting game with 223 yards passing and five touchdowns.

MVP: QB Arvell Nelson – 23/33 passing, 223 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, ArenaBowl-record 15 rushing attempts, 42 rushing yards and an ArenaBowl-record five rushing touchdowns

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: WR Doug McNeil III – eight receptions, 95 receiving yards and four total touchdowns

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: DB Svante Davenport – 2.5 total tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery

Championship weekend is set in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) as the Dallas Roughnecks, New York Empire, Madison Radicals and Los Angeles Aviators won their division title games to advance.  Dallas edged the Raleigh Flyers 20-19, the New York Empire upset the Toronto Rush 18-17 and Madison topped the Indianapolis Alley Cats 27-18.  The Los Angeles Aviators clinched their division title last week against San Diego.  Dallas is the only participant which has won a title (2016).  Madison, which is hosting Championship Weekend, has been runner-up in two final fours (2013 & 2015).

 

Can Nashville Support Major League Baseball?

Nashville_MLBMajor League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred recently mentioned Nashville as a possible candidate for a future expansion team.  Nashville was mentioned along with Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Montreal and Vancouver.  It is expected that MLB will expand from 30 to 32 teams in the future but no timetable is set at this time.  The last time MLB expanded was in 1998 when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Tampa Bay Rays) were added.

So what are Nashville’s chances of added yet another major league sports franchise to join the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators and Nashville’s Major League Soccer team?

Nashville continues to grow.  You only have to look around downtown to see the construction and towering cranes at work to know that the growth continues.  Nashville is currently 24th in the United States in population with 667,560 which is larger than current MLB teams in Baltimore, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Atlanta, Miami, Oakland, Minneapolis, Arlington, Cleveland, Tampa, Anaheim, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  Yes, I was surprised by that too.

The Nashville Sounds average about 9,000 fans per game  but we’re talking about a minor league team so those numbers isn’t the same as if Nashville had a MLB team.  It’s a bit difficult to attract fans to watch the Sounds play the El Paso Chihuahuas or New Orleans Baby Cakes as opposed to the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees.  So, you really can’t determine support for a MLB baseball team on attendance figures for a minor league team.   The Miami Marlins are currently averaging 9,762 per game so I wouldn’t doubt that a Nashville team could exceed that and more.  If the Nashville Predators can average 17,307 per game I am confident that a MLB baseball team in the Music City could average at least 25,000 per game.

The Nashville Sounds issued a statement that First Tennessee Park could not be converted to MLB standards but that statement is in conflict with what was reported when the stadium was initially being constructed.  At that time it was said that the ballpark could be expanded with addition levels to support a MLB team.  Even if that were the case, it is certain that Nashville would have no problem constructing a stadium.  If they can do it for a Major League Soccer team they certainly could clear that hurdle.  I’m not knocking soccer but – seriously – a baseball stadium wouldn’t be a problem.

So what about Nashville’s competition for one of the two expansion slots?

The common assumption is that Montreal is a lock to get one of those expansion slots but I’m not so sure I agree with that.  True, they have a stadium and structure to support one but they have already lost the team that they had so I would be inclined to think MLB should go elsewhere.  Portland would have a natural rivalry with Seattle but I still think Portland is just too small of a market for a team.  Las Vegas is a gamble – no pun intended.  The National Hockey League (NHL) was lucky with the Vegas Golden Knights but I really don’t see Major League Baseball there.  Vancouver doesn’t seem to fit either.  They lost the Grizzlies to Memphis and really don’t have much experience as a major league city.   Charlotte is another good possibility which I think would be a good market for MLB.  Charlotte is 17th on the U.S. Population list.  Of course, market size isn’t the only factor MLB would consider.  They must also consider placement of franchises to fit into any realignment that would be needed.   It is not clear if MLB would realign into two leagues with four divisions or if they would just insert new expansion teams into the currently alignment.  If I were in charge of it, I would place the Nashville MLB franchise in the National League Central Division with Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

So what would you name a Nashville MLB team?   Personally, I don’t see any reason the team couldn’t continue to be called the Sounds.  Some have offered other ideas such as:  Tennessee Banjos, Nashville Stars, Tennessee Raccoons, Nashville Fiddlers, Nashville Jammers or Nashville Pickers.

So what would the standings in the NL Central look like with a Nashville team?

  • Chicago Cubs (58-42)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (58-45)
  • Nashville Sounds (55-47)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (53-50)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (51-51)
  • Cincinnati Reds (45-47)

I like it.  I think that looks right.

I think the Music City has proven that it can handle the big leagues.  An expansion team – or even a relocation of an existing MLB team would be a good fit here.  It “sounds” good to me.

 

 

 

2018 AUDL Playoffs Take Flight

audl-2018The post-season of the 2018 American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) season takes off this weekend with 11 teams entering July Madness as they hope to make it to the final four in Madison during the weekend of August 11-12.

Let’s take a look at this year’s playoff teams:

  • Dallas Roughnecks (13-1) – The Roughnecks won the title in 2016.  They hope to add yet a second title having won the South Division title and a first-round bye.
  • Toronto Rush (13-1) – Their only loss of the season came against DC on June 9.  The Rush will have a bye this weekend awaiting the winner of DC-New York. The Rush have ruled the East Division having won each season since they began play in 2013.
  • Madison Radicals (12-2) – The Radicals have always been the bridegroom and never the bride in the postseason.  They are making their fifth straight playoff appearance but have yet to win the title having lost in the 2013 and 2015 finals.  They will have a bye this week as they await the Indy-Minnesota winner.
  • Los Angeles Aviators (11-3) – The league’s top scorer, Sean McDougall (58 goals) leads the Aviators as they won their first division title.  Their only loss in the division was to the San Diego Growlers.
  • Indianapolis AlleyCats (11-3) – The Cats were a hot team this season in the AUDL with their best regular season ever.  Rick Gross (56 goals) and Cameron Brock (56 goals) lead the attack for Indy.
  • Raleigh Flyers (10-4) – The Flyers host Austin in the playoffs this weekend.  They won a thrilling 25-23 overtime game at Austin in their last meeting.  Reigning league MVP Jonathan Nethercutt and teammate Jack Williams leads the Flyers.
  • DC Breeze (8-5) – Rowan McDonnel leads the Breeze as they hope to repeat their 10-goal win against the New York Empire in their last meeting.  The Breeze won the regular season series against the Empire 2-1.
  • New York Empire (8-6) – The Empire battled through a roller coaster season lead by Ben Jagt (51 assists) and Harper Garvey.
  • Minnesota Wind Chill (8-6) – No stranger to the postseason making their third-straight appearance.  They will travel to Indianapolis this weekend.  They tied the regular season meeting 1-1.
  • San Diego Growlers (7-7) – San Diego qualifies for the postseason for the first time in their four-year history.   Should they win against L.A. they would have their first winning season.
  • Austin Sol (7-7) – The Sol are also making their first postseason appearance in franchise history.  They will play the Raleigh Flyers in the division semifinal round.  The Sol squeaked into the playoffs as a result of a forfeited win over the Tampa Bay Cannons in Week 15.

This weekend’s playoff schedule:

  • Saturday, July 21
    • Minnesota at Indianapolis
    • San Diego at Los Angeles
    • New York at DC

Playoff Notes:

  • To save on travel, the Raleigh Flyers play at Austin Sol on Saturday, July 27th with the winner playing at Dallas on July 28th.
  • With only five teams in the West Division this year, only two teams qualified for the playoffs scrapping the divisional semifinal round.
  • Last year’s champion, San Francisco FlameThrowers, failed to make the playoffs.
  • The Stadium Network will broadcast the following games:
    • July 21 – New York at DC (7 pm ET)
    • July 28 – Raleigh-Austin winner at Dallas (8 pm ET)
    • August 11 – Semifinal games
    • August 12 – Championship game