Georgia High School Football Review:  Week 3

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine messed up this week’s schedule of game which caused postponements, cancellations and delays but most of the games were played over the course of the Labor Day weekend.

In the best matchup of the week, Grayson defeated McEachern 16-13.  Grayson’s Will Van Pamelen booted a 20-yard field goal on the final play for the win.

Some interesting games over the weekend:

Georgia teams swept Colorado at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as part of the KSA Evevnts Football Series in Orlando, Florida.  Tift County defeated Thunder Ridge, Colorado 55-19 and Glynn Academy beat Pomona, Colorado 33-14.  


Blessed Trinity traveled to Dublin, Ireland to play St. Peter’s Prep from New Jersey. Blessed Trinity couldn’t keep up with St. Peter’s after tying the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, they were dominated the rest of the game, losing 41-28.

Camden County was scheduled to play in Lake City, Florida against Columbia County, but the game was cancelled due to the weather and field conditions. 

Tucker 21, Colquitt County 20.  Tucker won in Moultrie to drop the Packers to 0-3.

Madison County 17, Elbert County 15.  Madison County was 1-9 last year but now improves to 2-0 this season with a huge upset of #7 Elbert County.  

Brooks County 35, Clinch County 21.  Brooks County forced four turnovers to build a 28-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Cartersville 56, Calhoun 0.  Calhoun has not lost by 50 points since 1980.  Cartersville dominated from start to finish in what many thought would be a heavyweight battle but Cartersville QB Trevor Lawrence was 21-of-32 for 348 arms and three touchdowns.   It should have been called at halftime.

Lowndes 35, Parkview 34.  Parkview rallied from a 35-14 deficit in the fourth quarter but missed the extra point with 2:44 left.  It was the first time the two teams had met since 2004 when the Vikings beat Parkview 17-14 for the state title.

Peach County 20, Warner Robins 19.  In another game plagued by a late extra point, the Demons scored on a touchdown pass with 47 seconds left but the extra point was blocked to preserve the win for Peach County.  Warner Robins now drops to 0-3.

Top Teams in each classification:

  • 7A – Roswell (2-0)
  • 6A – Houston County (3-0)
  • 5A – Buford (1-1)
  • 4A – Cartersville (2-0)
  • 3A – Pace Academy (2-0)
  • 2A – Fitzgerald (1-0)
  • 1A (Public) – Macon County (1-0)
  • 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (2-0)
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Friday Flashback:  2007 Little League World Series


As the Little League World Series concluded last week, there was a local team from Goodlettsville, Tennessee in the tournament.  People here were psyched up about it as you would imagine.  Unfortunately, the Tennessee team came up short to New York in the United States final.   I can understand the hype as I got wrapped up in it in myself in 2007 when the Warner Robins Little League team made it to the championship against Japan.

Japan was the overwhelming favorite in that game but the United States team represented by Warner Robins Little League made it one of the most dramatic endings in Little League World Series history.

Dalton Carriker won the game for the USA with a walk-off home run in the 8th inning (Little League regulation games are 6 innings).  The team went undefeated winning all 12 games on their road to the championship and ended with the 3-2 win over Japan.

Warner Robins pitcher Kendall Scott pitched 5.2 innings, gave up one hit and struck out 10.

Japan scored in the top of the first when Japan’s Yuri Yasuda dropped a triple onto the right field warning track to bring Masaya Ogino home from second base for a 1-0 lead.  In the second inning, Japan loaded the bases when Ogino smacked a hit off of USA pitcher Keaton Allen’s leg and toward the infield dirt which allowed a run to score to extend the lead to 2-0.  The USA team shut down Japan after that and got out of the inning.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the bottom of the second, Allen hit a two-run double off the centerfield wall to tie the score at 2-2.  

Carriker’s dramatic home run came on a 2-1 pitch from Japan’s Junsho Kiuchi in the 8th.   Click here to see it.

Living in Warner Robins at the time, I witnessed the hype first hand and even attended the victory parade.  The success of Warner Robins Little League eventually led to the Southeast Regional Tournament location to be moved to Warner Robins in 2008.
  

Team of the Week:  Philadelphia Soul


The odds were against the Philadelphia Soul in ArenaBowl XXIX against the Arizona Rattlers.

They were playing in Arizona.   They had lost their last two ArenaBowl appearances to the Rattlers.

None of it rattled the Soul.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh was 20 for 36 for 278 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Soul to their first ArenaBowl title since 2008 beating the Rattlers, 56-42.

The Soul jumped out to a 21-0 lead when Raudabaugh connected with Darius Reynolds for a 16-yard touchdown pass.  Dwayne Hollis returned a fumble 49 yards for a score and Tracy Belton recovered a kickoff in the end zone for another.

In a game where possessions are vital, Arizona had a chance to get back into the game and possibly cut the lead to seven points, but Rattlers’ quarterback Nick Davila’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by James Romain with 48 seconds left.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has declared today to be “Philadelphia Soul World Champions Day” in Philadelphia with a celebration rally at the City Hall Courtyard.

The Soul are the winningest professional sports team in Philadelphia since 2004.

High School Football Review:  Week 2

The defending champs are down.  Now 0-2 after losing to American Heritage, a top-ranked team from Plantation, Florida the Colquitt County Packers are down but not out.  Colquitt County Coach Rush Propst has a way of pulling out the best from his teams after poor starts.  In 2010, they started the season 0-3 and still ended up in the state championship game.  (They finished 9-6 and lost to Brookwood in the title game).  Colquitt County’s next opponent is Tucker (1-1).
Other top Georgia teams didn’t fare well with out-of-state oppponents either.  Camden County lost to Venice from Sarasota, Florida, 46-17.  Georgia’s top ranked team, Grayson, fell to IMG Academy from Bradenton, Florida, 26-7.

Overall, Georgia teams were 6-6.


In other games:

  • Lowndes 69, Bayside, FL 0
  • North Augusta, SC 28, Evans 20
  • Fox Creek, SC 37, Cross Creek 20
  • Minor, AL 54, Central Carrollton 0
  • Callaway 42, Handley, AL 28
  • Dade County 20, North Sand Mtn 7
  • Mt. Zion-Carroll 47, Ranburne, AL 0
  • Lincoln County 41, McCormick, SC 0
  • Chattooga 49, Cedar Bluff, AL 7

Traditional powerhouse teams are facing some uphill battles after the second week.  Perennial Class A Charlton County lost their opener to Brantley County, 32-29.  The win snapped the Indians’ 22-game winning streak over the Herons.

Warner Robins lost to Locust Grove in their first ever meeting, 44-21, in a turnover-plagued game for the Demons.   Warner Robins has been outscored 99-24 in their first two games.  The last time the Demons’ started the season 0-2 was in 2010 when they finished 2-8.  It might not be long before people will wonder about the decision to hire Mike Chastain as their head coach.  Personally, I was shocked that the Demons didn’t promote from within.

In other games:  

Clinch County travelled to Darien and defeated McIntosh County Academy, 32-7.

Villa Rica fell behind LaGrange quickly as the Grangers’ quarterback Amad Ogletree scored on a 40-yard run and Jalen Wilson intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for touchdown for a 14-0 lead just five minutes into the game.  LaGrange never let the Wildcats get close for a 28-7 win.

Westside Macon lost their first game to another Bibb County school. Southwest Macon defeated the Seminoles 8-3. Westside opened in 1997.

In the state’s highest scoring game, Griffin edged county rival Spalding, 53-50.  

Here are this week’s top ranked teams:

  • 7A – Roswell (1-0)
  • 6A – Houston County (2-0)
  • 5A – Buford (0-1)
  • 4A – Cartersville (1-0)
  • 3A – Pace Academy (1-0)
  • 2A – Fitzgerald (1-0)
  • 1A (Public) – Clinch County (2-0)
  • 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian (2-0)

Friday Flashback:  The Goodwill Games

With the Summer Olympic Games concluded in Rio, it brought my memory back to the Goodwill Games.  No, these weren’t games sponsored by the thrift shop chain and it didn’t involve discount athletes.  The Goodwill Games were held from 1986-2001 as an alternative to the Olympic Games which had become marred by politics and Cold War indifference.  The games were created by Ted Turner in reaction to the political posturing by the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1980s.  The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviets invading Afghanistan.  The Soviets returned the favor by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Turner spearheaded the games in hopes that the games would restore relations between Russiai and America.  He, as well as many others, did not agree with using the Olympics as a politician tool in boycotting competition.

The Goodwill Games were held every four years and also featured separate summer and winter games just like the Olympics.  

The first games were held in Moscow in 1986 and featured 182 events and 79 countries with over 3,000 athletes competing. World records were set by Sergey Bubka (pole vault) and Jackie Joyner-Kersee (heptathlon), men’s and women’s 200 m cycle racing.  

Some interesting tidbits about the Goodwill Games:

  • Featured the same track stars, swimmers and gymnasts as the Olympics but eliminated preliminary rounds of competition so that every event was a final.
  • Included Motoball in 1986 which was a sport that was motorcycle polo with all players (except goalkeepers) riding motorcycles.  1986 was the only year it was included.
  • First international event to feature beach volleyball in 1994.
  • Goodwill Games never competed in same years at the Olympic Games.

Summer games were held in Moscow (1986), Seattle (1990), Saint Petersburg (1994), New York City (1998) and Brisbane (2001).  They were scheduled to be held in Phoenix, Arizona in 2005 when the games were cancelled.

Winter games were held in Lake Placid, New York (2000) and scheduled for Calgary, Alberta in 2005 when the games were cancelled.

The games were bought from Turner by Time Warner in 1996 and organized the 2001 Games in Brisbane, Australia before announcing that would be the last edition of the games because of increasing costs and low television ratings.  Turner blamed the demise of the games on the management of Time Warner.  Some attribute to the demise of the games to the fall of the Berlin Wall and lack of urgency to promote peace after the end of the Cold War.  

ArenaBowl XXIX:  Strange Place and Time


The Arena Football League has had a strange season with teams folding or reshuffled before the start of the season and the league deciding to include all eight teams in the playoffs.  It should be no surprise that the championship game has a couple of quirks as well.

The Arizona Rattlers will host the Philadelphia Soul on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.   The game will be played at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

ESPN, which has broadcast rights to the game, dictated the time and day for the ArenaBowl.   The scheduling demand meant that the Rattlers can’t play at their home arena because the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team is playing at Talking Stick Arena.  The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. because ESPN is broadcasting the California vs. Hawaii college football game at 7 p.m.

As for the game, both teams are entering the ArenaBowl with 15-3 records.  The Rattlers beat Portland (84-40) and Cleveland (82-41) while the Soul disposed of Tampa Bay (63-41) and Jacksonville (55-50) to play for the title.  The Rattlers are looking to win their sixth title while the Soul are searching for their second.  The Soul won it in 2008 but came up short in the 2012 and 2013 title games (both to Arizona).

The game will feature the two top quarterbacks in the league.  Arizona quarterback Nick Davila led the league with 111 touchdown passes while Philadelphia quarterback Dan Raudabaugh was second with 101.

In a game not known for defense, the Rattlers are first in the league with 29 sacks while the Soul are the leaders in picks with 25 interceptions.

The Rattlers are 7-1 all-time against the Soul with Philadelphia winning earlier in the season 65-58.  The Rattlers evened the season series a month later winning 80-63 at home.

MILTON’S ARENABOWL PICK:   Arizona 72, Philadelphia 65

Team of the Week:  Denver Outlaws


If you have never watched a professional lacrosse game, you need to go on YouTube and watch the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) championship game from this past weekend. It was perhaps the most exciting game in the history of lacrosse. The Denver Outlaws won the 2016 MLL championship in a 19-18 victory over the Ohio Machine at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta.

It was Denver’s second title in three years. A goal by Eric Law with 12.9 seconds left sealed the win for the Outlaws. Law was also named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game.

The Machine led 9-3 when the game was delayed by the weather in the second quarter. After the delay, the Machine continued to pour it on as they built a 14-7 lead at halftime. Following the intermission, the Outlaws went on an incredible 8-1 run to tie the score at 15-15 before the end of the third quarter. The teams traded goals in the fourth, with midfielder Greg Downing tying the game late before Law’s go-ahead goal in the final minute.

It was Denver’s sixth championship appearance in 11 years.

The Outlaws are owned by Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.

Olympic Sports That Should Have Pro Leagues

Now that the Summer Olympic Games have concluded, we can go back to our normal rotation of sports. Every four years we are introduced to sports that are played that do not have professional sports leagues in the United States. Here are some that I think could be a professional league here:

TEAM HANDBALL

This sport is not widely known in the US but it should be. It is an exciting and high-scoring sport that combines elements of soccer and basketball. The sport was created in Germany around the late 19th century and became a way for football (soccer) players to stay in shape during the cold winter months. Today the sport is mostly popular in Denmark, France, Poland and Germany.

Just before the 1996 games in Atlanta, I attended an exhibition game but there were just a handful of spectators. Americans don’t know about the sport or they get it confused with the wall version of handball. Look up team handball on YouTube and you will see some good video of the sport.

The only way Team Handball could become a professional sport here is for someone who is known to back the sport. If the US teams ever won the Gold Medal that would be some help but someone like Mark Cuban or other sports guru would need to bring attention to the sport and provide financial backing to get it started.

Will it happen? Probably not. If the sport’s popularity is based upon the US Teams winning a Gold Medal then it has a slim chance of happening. Neither team qualified for the Rio games.

If I were putting a professional league together, I would play a 20-24 game schedule from May-August so as not to compete with the NBA or NHL. Teams would probably do well in cities like Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Miami and Orlando.

WATER POLO

This sport would be an ideal summer league in the US. The sport is very physical and lots of contact goes on underneath the surface. The games are usually low-scoring so that could hinder the sport from taking off here. With kids and swimming pools in the summer, the sport could support a professional league.

Again, the sport would need some major financial backing because they would also need facilities for the sport.

A big plus for the sport is that the NCAA sanctions the sport and competes every year. The most successful teams are California, Stanford and UCLA who have won the men’s title 33 times between them.

If I were putting a professional league together, I would play an 18-20 game schedule from June-August. Teams would probably do well in cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Boston and Miami.

FIELD HOCKEY

This sport is a combination of ice hockey and soccer that is played outdoors on a grass or turf field. It is popular in Argentina, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. It isn’t very well-known in the US although it is regionally popular for high school girls’ teams in the Northeast. If mentioned, people mostly will associate the game as a girls’ sport which hurts any chance the sport would need to become a professional league here. That isn’t being sexist but the unfortunate truth for a major sports league to even get on the map. Although the sport is very competitive and physical, it is also low-scoring.

The NCAA also sanctions the sport which is a plus for any potential professional league to be developed. The Syracuse women on the 2015 title over North Carolina 4-2. In the NCAA, the championship is contested exclusively by women’s teams and there is no equivalent NCAA men’s championship in the sport.

If I were putting a professional league together, I would have a simultaneous men’s and women’s league culminating in a championship weekend. Teams would play a 12-14 game schedule from April-June. Teams would probably do well in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC.

VOLLEYBALL

If there was ever a sport that was primed to have the best chance at becoming a professional league in the US it would be volleyball. There have been attempts made to establish leagues such as the International Volleyball Association (IVA), Major League Volleyball (MLV) and Premier Volleyball League (PVL). The PVL is still playing but it is more like a national club league.

Volleyball is known in the US. Almost everyone has played the game in P.E. Class or in the backyard of someone’s house. The NCAA sanctions the sport for both men and women but for most high schools, the sport is mostly a girls’ sport.

It would take some backing from major sports arena owners to make a professional league possible. Perhaps NBA or NHL owner who want to continue to generate revenue during the offseason. Fortunately the popularity of beach volleyball has subsided to where indoor volleyball could have a viable shot once again.

If I were putting a professional league together, I would find a way to combine men’s and women’s teams as one squad. Teams could alternate between sets. It wouldn’t have to be a separate men’s or women’s league. Teams would play a 32-game schedule from May-September. Franchises would probably do well in cities like Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego and Dallas.

Aside from playing in leagues overseas, there aren’t many options for athletes in these sports. Unless there are avenues for these sports in the US, you won’t see them on any cable sports channel in the near future. It was only a few years ago that you could have added soccer to this list and you can see how it has grown with Major League Soccer (MLS). Anything is possible and, personally, I could watch any of these sports ahead of soccer.

High School Football Review:  Week 1


The two-time defending champs went down in defeat at the Georgia Dome on Saturday as Mill Creek defeated the Colquitt County Packers 34-27.  The win ended the longest winning streak in the state at 30 games.  You could hear cheers from Parkview Panther fans as their team continues to hold onto their record of 46 games.   Mill Creek’s Cameron Turley was 16-of-27 passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns.  

The two biggest rivalry games in the state went in different directions.  Valdosta beat Lowndes 38-13 and Northside routed Warner Robins 55-3.  It is the earliest the teams have met in the season.  Valdosta has now won the last three meetings against Lowndes.  Valdosta also became the first high school football program to win 900 games in its history.

Warner Robins’ 52-point loss was the worst in the series history.

Defending Class A champion Clinch County picked up where they left off last season with a 47-7 thrashing of Bleckely County.

Villa Rica overcame a five-point deficit at halftime as Junior running back Elijah Fluker ran for 211 yards – 150 of those yards coming in the second-half to defeat Central Carrollton 20-13.

Here are the top teams in each classification after Week 1:

  • 7A – Grayson 
  • 6A – Houston County
  • 5A – Buford  (although they lost?  Some Buford favors from the pollsters)
  • 4A – Cartersville
  • 3A – Calhoun
  • 2A – Fitzgerald
  • 1A (Public) – Clinch County
  • 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian  

Friday Flashback:  Billy Mills

Unless you are an avid Olympics fan you have probably never heard of Billy Mills.  Mills won the Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics which is considered to the one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.  Mills was basically an unknown having finished second in the U.S. Olympic trials.  

In the final lap of the 10,000 meter run, Mills overcame Olympic favorite, Ron Clarke of Australia, who held the world record in the event, and Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia after it appeared  he was too far back to be in contention.  He pulled away and sprinted out of nowhere and passed them both winning with a time of 28:24.4 which was almost 50 seconds faster than he had ran before and set a new Olympic record for the event.  It was the first time that an American had ever won the gold medal.

You can view the footage of the race here.

Gammoudi was quoted saying of Mills:  “The arrow shot from the heavens”.

Mills was the second Native American to win an Olympic gold medal.

Mills was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  His given name, Makata Taka Hela is said to mean “love your country”.  He was orphaned when he was twelve years old.  He took up running while attending Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas.

Today Mills works with his charity, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and speaks to groups throughout the world about the lessons he has learned from his incredible life.