Sunday, October 28, 2018

Williams leads Augusta in exhibition game upset win over South Carolina

Tyvez Monroe nailed the game winner in Friday's exhibition game.

Augusta earned a 77-72 exhibition game upset win over South Carolina Friday when senior Tyvez Monroe drained an 18 footer off of one dribble after receiving a sweet feed from freshman Tyree Myers to give the Jaguars a 73-72 lead over the Gamecocks with 37 seconds remaining. Myers, who scored 16 points on 5 for 5 shooting (3 for 3 from deep), iced things with 4 made free throws in the final 30 seconds.

Senior center Deane Williams led Augusta with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The senior had this to say about his ability to play well with 4 fouls during the final 6 minutes:

"I think it was just trusting my teammates. Knowing that they've got my back and I've got theirs. That's all it came down to. Nothing more complicated than that," Williams told me after the game.

Deane Williams (24) did it all in Friday's win.

At 6-8, Williams can be a force. He averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds last season, and he most certainly did have the backs of his teammates Friday. He was the best player on the court which included preseason all SEC first teamer Chris Silva, the 6-9 returning co-defensive player of the year in the league.

Williams made two first half threes, and twice during the second half he made long two pointers with the shot clock running down. But it was his defense, his rebounding, and his overall leadership that made the biggest difference. The Jaguars actually out rebounded (40-37) their larger opponent with a lineup that usually featured three 6-0 players and nobody besides Williams taller than 6-4.

Friday’s Full Game Highlights: Burke County topped Thomson and North Augusta knocked off Aiken to secure home playoff bids

Juanya Dove helped lead a Burke County comeback win over Thomson.

First Burke County came back from a 21-10 third quarter deficit to take a 24-21 lead over Thomson with 6:34 remaining in Friday’s installment of this classic area rivalry when junior quarterback Juanya Dove scored on a short run. Then after Thomson’s Damekus Taylor put the Bulldogs ahead 28-24 with 59 seconds left with a 22 yard scamper, Dove engineered another comeback. Using his feet and his throwing arm, he marched the Bears to the 1 yard line. Fellow junior Leon Mcgee scored on a dive play with 14 seconds remaining to secure a Burke County win, a second place region finish, and a home state playoff game come November 9th.

“My whole thing was ‘never give up,’” Dove told AugBball’s Robert Drew after the game. “No matter how many points we’re down, even if it seems like we have no fighting chance to get back in the game... never give up.”

Juanya’s statements, and his play on the field, which you will see in the full game highlights below, are proof that sports and competition teach valuable life lessons.

When North Augusta’s dynamic defense was set to face Aiken’s high voltage passing game, we knew we wanted to get the highlights from that game on film. But my first reaction while watching the game reel below was that it is fitting to see the area’s two best defenders, Chris Torres and Caree Collier, grab some offensive glory by scoring the first two touchdowns of the game for the Yellow Jackets.

North Augusta secured a top two region finish and a November 9th home playoff game with the 41-19 win.

Here is a close look at one of the leaders in the race for AugBball’s area player of the year award, Caree Collier.


***Greenbrier video***


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

AugBball News (10/24/18) - High School football update, Augusta University to play South Carolina, the 706ers make plans, and Murphey triumphs in the playoffs

Pictured: Dakale Fluellen, Josey QB

Dakale will play in the CSRA All Star Senior Bowl on December 15. AugBball is the sponsor of the Senior Bowl, the Junior Bowl, and the Underclassmen Bowl, which will all be played that day. If you are an all star football player, register to play in a CSRA All Star Bowl game at this link:

Item #1 - High School Football's region schedule is winding down

Football’s second season (the region schedule) is wrapping up. With 4 of the 6 regions that I follow having their #1 state playoff seeds decided, the games of interest this weekend include the following:

Aiken (1-3) at North Augusta (3-1)

North Augusta can clinch at least a top 2 seed with a win. After that it’s up to the result of Brookland-Cayce (3-1) and Airport’s (3-1) game to decide whether the Yellow Jackets will enter the playoffs as a 1 seed or a 2 seed from class 4A’s region 5. In the case of a North Augusta win, a BC win would make the Jackets a 2 seed, while an Airport win would give North Augusta the crown.

Greenbrier (1-2) at Lakeside (2-1)
Grovetown (3-0) at Heritage (1-2)
Alcovy (3-0) at Evans (2-1)

One could get busy determining the possible combinations of finishes possible in class 6A, region 3 depending on the results in these final two weeks. Although anything can still happen, Grovetown sits in the pole position with 3 wins and no losses.

Burke County (2-1) at Thomson (1-1)

Burke County can secure class 4A, region 3's second seed with a win in this rivalry game, which Rob Drew will cover as AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl's Game of the Night.

Item #2 - Basketball season is here!

Augusta University will tip off Friday at 6:00 P.M. in Columbia at Colonial Life Arena against South Carolina in an exhibition game.

Item #3 - The 706ers drop some news

And the Augusta 706ers recently announced two events that will keep the buzz going about our new professional team and about area basketball in general.

First, the 706ers will hold an open scrimmage at 4:00 P.M. this Sunday to give everybody an early look at the roster and to raise money for the family of Melquan Robinson, the 12 year old who died tragically last week playing in a youth football game:

And on November 10, before the 706ers take the court at the James Brown Arena for the first time, many of the area's best high school girls and boys teams and players will give the fans more bang for their buck when they play in a great slate of preseason scrimmage games at the venue:

Item #4 - Murphey Middle School's Brigham brothers lead the Mavericks to the championship game

Markell Brigham crosses the goal line in Tuesday's win.

Slowly but surely AugBball is increasing its coverage of local sports. Tuesday's Richmond County Middle School semifinal matchup between Murphey and Pine Hill was the latest example. Full highlights from Murphey's 44-0 win will be shared soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Strom Thurmond, Baldwin and Greene County clinched region titles; Grovetown and Evans put themselves into position; and Hephzibah flexed its muscles

Jequan Harris - Junior Quarterback - Strom Thurmond

Fifth ranked Strom Thurmond (8-2, 4-0) turned in a dominant 31-13 home win over Pelion Friday to finish its regular season as the class 3A, region 5 champion. The Rebels will take an extended break before entering the state playoffs as a number one seed.

Thurmond’s only two losses came to North Augusta and South Aiken, both South Carolina playoff teams from the higher 4A classification. These Rebels remind me of the Rebels of Hephzibah, whom I’ll feature next. Both teams’ rosters are loaded with playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Strom Thurmond’s standouts include, but aren’t limited to, the following players, who are featured in the highlight video below from Friday’s win over Pelion: #36 Robert Whitt (Sr DE), #3 Jequan Harris (Jr Quarterback), #20 Robert West (Sr, DB), and #28 Charquez Booker (Freshman, RB):

Hephzibah dominates in Homecoming win

Like Thurmond, Hephzibah has posted a stellar season. The Augusta Chronicle’s Brandon Johnson shared in his report from Saturday’s 33-6 homecoming win over Laney that the victory tied Hephzibah’s school record for wins. These Rebels will try to break that record Friday when they visit Josey for the chance to reach 8-2 overall and 7-1 in region play.

It’s easy to understand why Hephzibah has invaded its 9 team class 2A region and claimed a 2 seed in its first season in the league. The Rebels play hard, and the roster is littered with playmakers you’ll see in action in these live highlight posts from Saturday’s win.

Grovetown and Evans are on a collision course after Friday's wins

Grovetown made it three straight wins in region play with Friday’s 30-14 victory over Lakeside. The Warriors out-rushed the Panthers 275 to 44 yards. Senior JQ Brown contributed 151 of those, including a 48 yard scamper that gave Grovetown a 17-7 third quarter lead.

For the second straight season the Warriors are rounding into form at the right time, as they enter the final two weeks of the season. And also for the second straight year one can envision a crucial late season matchup looming between Grovetown (4-4, 3-0) and Evans (2-6, 2-1), which beat Greenbrier 20-16 Friday.

The Warriors appear to be rounding into shape as well, if these highlights from Friday’s win accurately tell the story.

Baldwin and Greene County posted statement wins over favored foes

Despite the impressive play from the team’s discussed above, Baldwin (class 4A, region 3) and Greene County (Class 1A, region 7B) probably played the weekend’s most impressive football. Both teams clinched region titles by knocking off the prior favorites in their respective leagues when Greene County (6-2, 5-0) won 36-28 over Aquinas, which entered the game sporting a 7-0 record.

... And Baldwin (4-5, 3-0) shocked #9 Burke County 30-7 at home.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A preview of this Friday's key games, plus full highlights from Burke County, Baldwin, Grovetown, and North Augusta's wins Friday

Burke County, Baldwin, Aquinas, Lakeside and Grovetown all match up with fellow unbeaten teams Friday.

Burke County and Baldwin have sprinted forward to be the only two class 4A, region 3 teams to post wins after what proved to be a very important first two weeks of league play. The 9th ranked Bears (6-2, 2-0) will travel to Milledgeville to take on the Braves (3-5, 2-0) this Friday in a matchup that may decide the region's champion. Burke County will enter the game on a 6 game winning streak, with the two most recent victories being dominant outings against region opponents Cross Creek (41-7) two weeks ago, and Richmond in a 32-7 rout last Friday in Waynesboro.

Baldwin has taken a more adventurous path to this point, having earned their two league wins on the road, first at Richmond (28-21 in overtime), and next at Thomson (27-6) Friday:

Lakeside, Grovetown, Greenbrier, and Evans all still have a chance

Our area's four representatives in class 6A, region 3 will face each other Friday when Lakeside (4-2, 2-0) invades Grovetown's (3-4, 2-0) turf, and Evans (1-6, 1-1) visits Greenbrier (1-6, 1-1). The winner of the Grovetown-Lakeside game will take the inside track towards gaining this region's top state playoff seed with two league games remaining.

Lakeside's complete body of work this season makes the Panthers the favorite in this four team race. Junior quarterback Jaden Taylor has quietly put together as good of a season as just about any player in the area.

His success running and throwing the ball should be a compelling story to follow when his Panthers are confronted with Grovetown's well regarded defense, which has given up only 7 points in two weeks of region play. 

The Warriors' offense has only posted 32 points combined in those outings, but one touchdown and a pair of field goals turned out to be enough in last Friday's 14-7 road win over Greenbrier last Friday.

Aquinas, still unbeaten, will face its stiffest test yet

The area's only remaining undefeated team, Aquinas (7-0), has taken a path that gets more difficult each week. First the Irish topped rival Lincoln County by a touchdown at home in the first week of region play. Two weeks later a 47-7 win at Washington-Wilkes proved to be much more convincing than anybody expected. Then the Irish turned back a surging Hancock Central squad that took a 8-3 lead into halftime last Friday before Aquinas came back to win 16-8.

This Friday will bring the most difficult test to date for Aquinas when the Irish will travel to Greene County (5-2, 4-0) to face another team that has yet to lose in the region. It is only right that a possible unbeaten regular season run would include such a stiff test.

North Augusta's comeback win Friday made that region's picture absolutely unclear

While the coming Friday's matchups discussed above all should provide clarity to those region's races, the picture in South Carolina's class 4A, region 5 still seems perfectly muddy. With North Augusta, South Aiken, Brookland-Cayce, and Airport all currently holding 2-1 league records, the most reasonable prediction may be that North Augusta, South Aiken, and Brookland-Cayce will finish the 5 game region slate in two weeks tied at the top of the standings.

But if there is one thing we should have learned by now, it is that comebacks are the rule on Fridays in this region. Brookland-Cayce started that trend three weeks ago by ending their region opener at North Augusta with a 27-0 run to gain a 41-34 road win. South Aiken returned the favor a week later with a comeback win over Brookland-Cayce. And to close the loop, North Augusta finished Friday's game at South Aiken with 27 unanswered points of its own in a 34-24 comeback win (highlights above) on the road.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What did North Augusta, Baldwin, Burke County, and Grovetown teach us Friday night?

Caree Collier and Chris Torres perform their captain duties before Friday's game.

***Full game highlight videos of the four games discussed here will be released Sunday evening.***

North Augusta's lesson: A heart breaking loss can teach you how to win.

North Augusta quarterback Tanner White rushed for 4 touchdowns in his team's 34-24 comeback win over rival South Aiken last night. During his post game interview he let on that he and his teammates learned a lot from a stinging loss to Brookland-Cayce two weeks ago, in which North Augusta gave up a 20 point lead when Brookland-Cayce ended the game on a 27-0 run, which happened to be the same exact finish North Augusta mounted in Friday's win over the Thoroughbreds.

"We knew we had it in us the whole game," White said when asked how his Yellow Jackets were able to overcome a 24-7 second half deficit. "We felt like we should've won the Brookland-Cayce game. We shouldn't have given up that lead. We just knew that if we gave up that lead (to BC), they (South Aiken) can give up that lead. And we just never stopped fighting."

The video above shows many of the high points from North Augusta's comeback win. But it will take until I publish the full game highlight video to do justice to the team effort used to complete such a win. In addition to White's rushing touchdowns, he found receivers Junius Walker, Lonnie Lee, and Zion Dobbs all for key completions. And defensive standouts Caree Collier, Chris Torres, and Derian Gibson all impacted the game in even more ways than usual. Gibson created two turnovers and tallied multiple tackles for a loss. Collier and Torres swarmed the ball carrier, as they usually do, whether in the backfield or in the secondary. And all three defensive dynamos played a role blocking and even carrying the ball, in Torres and Collier's case. But I'll detail all of those things along with the rest of the game's most important plays after the full game highlights have been edited.

Baldwin's lesson: Playing a very difficult pre-region schedule can be very beneficial.

In a post previewing the first week of the class 4A, region 3 schedule, I wrote this about Baldwin's schedule in the first half of the season:

The results from Baldwin’s first 5 weeks of play read like one of GPB's top ten in Georgia rankings:

Washington County (#8 Class 2A) 19, Baldwin 7
Jones County (#2 Class 5A) 41, Baldwin 14
Veterans 38, Baldwin 30
Warner Robins (#6 Class 5A) 49, Baldwin 14
Northside Warner Robins (#8 Class 6A) 45, Baldwin 0

Playing what some have called the most difficult non region schedule in the state has paid off for Baldwin because after warming up with a win over Greenbrier, the Braves have tallied region wins on the road against then undefeated Richmond last week, and Thomson last night. The 27-6 decision over the Bulldogs sets up a showdown in Milledgeville next Friday between the top two teams in the region standings: Baldwin and 9th ranked Burke County. That brings us to our next lesson...

Burke County's lesson: The Bears are a perennial top 10 team in Georgia for a reason

Burke County also began its season with an incredibly difficult pair of opening games, first against Benedictine (currently ranked #6 in class 3A) and then against Ware County (currently ranked #10 in class 5A). The Bears dropped both contests by one point, failing to score on the final play each time. Anybody who thought then that those results were a sign of a down year in Waynesboro would have to reconsider today after seeing that Burke County has reeled off 5 straight wins and outscored opponents in those games by a combined score of 247-75.

Coach Eric Parker lost key players from last year's team to graduation. But a program like his will be a force no matter which class has recently left the school because, well, the Bears are a perennial top 10 team for a reason.

Grovetown's lesson: A large and physical defensive front may lead to a region title.

Grovetown's four man defensive front

From the picture of Grovetown's defensive line directly above:

Top left: Simeon Barrow (DE) - 6'3" 235 lbs
Top right: Jermarvian Fraley (DT) - 5'9" 294 lbs
Bottom left: Kyle Bryant (DE) - 6'3" 238 lbs
Bottom right: Jeremiah Williams (DT) - 6'0" 295 lbs

As you can see in the update below about the key plays from the second half of Grovetown's win over Greenbrier last night, Williams and Fraley played a key role in the Warriors' victory. They will have their hands full with Lakeside quarterback Jaden Taylor next Friday. But it will be difficult for Grovetown to lose the battle at the line of scrimmage with these four players up front.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Previewing North Augusta vs South Aiken and many more of Friday night's key games

Chris Torres and Caree Collier will lead North Augusta into unfriendly territory Friday.

***For live highlights and updates from these three games, follow @AugBball on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and also @csraallstarbowl on Twitter.***

AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl will provide live highlights and updates from the following three games Friday night.

Richmond (6-1, 0-1) at #8 Burke County (5-2, 1-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

Grovetown (2-4, 1-0) at Greenbrier (1-5, 1-0)
Class 6A, Region 3
Game Preview

AugBball Game of the Night
North Augusta (5-2, 1-1) at South Aiken (4-2, 2-0)
South Carolina Class 4A, Region 5

Below is a preview for the Game of the Night between North Augusta and South Aiken, as well as a tour around the area games and stories that I'll be tracking this weekend.

When these rivals last met almost exactly 365 days ago, North Augusta prevailed 21-7 at home, and the experience was marred by a post game handshake line scuffle that led to player suspensions on both sides. So we know Friday’s edition of this rivalry at the Stomping Grounds in South Aiken will be filled with passion. What’s more is that the winner will hold at least a share of the top spot, or more, three games into a five game region slate.

Last year’s game wasn’t solely about a post game scuffle. It also featured a hat trick performance by then senior Dejuan Bell, who grabbed three interceptions to lead the Jackets to the win. Bell was last seen scoring his first collegiate touchdown for Furman University:

Bell has moved on, but current defenders like linebacker Caree Collier (89 tackles through 6 games), Chris Torres (77 through 6), and Derian Gibson (51.5 through 6), all seniors, have given North Augusta the reputation for having the best defense around.

On the other hand, South Aiken’s offense seems to have hit its stride after scoring 75 points combined in its two region wins over Aiken and Brookland-Cayce. That offense is led by the versatile 6’4” 200 pound junior quarterback Jesse Sanders. I call him versatile not only because last week he passed for 180 yards and ran for another 109 in last week’s 40-35 win over Brookland-Cayce. But because during last season’s game at North Augusta he made the most impressive reception I had caught on camera at the time, this sweet one-handed grab on a route down the middle of the Jacket defense:

So Sanders can run, throw, and catch. He and his teammates will have to use all the weapons at their disposal against the Jackets’ vaunted defense Friday night.

More notes from more of Friday's games

Burke County’s “Power Players”

Ja’Michael Dukes, Burke County’s 6-0, 280 pound nose guard and tight end was named the Power Player of the Game by the True Citizen (see above) after his team’s 41-7 win over Cross Creek last Friday. He deserved the recognition. And it reminds me that whether it be Dukes, or junior running back Leon Mcgee (3 rushing touchdowns last week), or junior quarterback Juanya Dove, or senior linebacker and all around the field playmaker Chadd Crumbley, or, last but not least, the most fierce offensive line in the area (with all due respect to Aquinas’s award winning bunch), which is led by 6'4" 355 pounder Samuel Hill, the Bears pack plenty of power into every punch they throw, especially in Waynesboro. That's where Richmond will need a win to after last week’s heart breaking overtime loss at home to Baldwin:

Speaking of Baldwin...

Baldwin (2-5, 1-0) at Thomson (2-4, 0-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

The Braves have the chance to get to 2-0 with, if they achieve part two Friday night, another impressive road win before hosting Burke County next week. One thing I wouldn’t do if I were Thomson is underestimate the Braves’ cornerback duo of Tray Traywick and Donte Justice, both Kent State commits. Baldwin’s first score in last week’s 28-21 win at Richmond was a Traywick pick six:

Friday’s games I wish I could find a way for AugBball to cover but can’t include the following:

Lakeside (3-2, 1-0) at Alcovy (2-4, 0-1)
Class 6A, Region 3

The Panthers get the chance to improve to 2-0 in league play, and junior quarterback Jaden Taylor is quietly having one of the best seasons of just about any area player.

Aiken (1-5,1-1) at Airport (4-3, 1-1)
South Carolina Class 4A, Region 5

The Hornets will get the chance to form their first winning streak in years, and in the process maybe take a spot at the top of the region standings. Korey Wallace (QB), Jeremiah Green (RB/WR), Charvis Jones (WR), and Stavon Porter (WR) may form the most potent offensive attack in the area.

Hancock Central (5-2, 3-1) at Aquinas (6-0, 3-0)
Class 1A, Region 7B

Aquinas will take its 6-0 record into Friday’s home game to start a 2 week stretch in which they face Hancock Central, who has only lost one region game, this Friday, and Greene County, who has yet to lose any, next week. The Irish are coming off of a dominant display of rushing in last Friday’s 47-7 win at Washington Wilkes. The Aquinas offensive line was recognized throughout the local media during the past week for their 491 yard, 7 touchdown running stats in the game. Here's my post game interview after last week's win with Ryan Colley, a guard on that line:

Heritage (2-4, 0-1) at Evans (0-6, 0-1)
Class 6A, Region 3

Finally, our first close look at Evans showed that the class 6A, region 3 race is at least 4 teams (Lakeside, Grovetown, Greenbrier, and Evans) deep. The Knights’ standout pair of cornerbacks/wide receivers Derrick Canteen and Deddrick Holmes put on a mini-show in last week’s 28-20 loss at Lakeside:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Previewing Grovetown and Greenbrier's showdown Friday for the top region spot

Miami (Ohio) commit Kyle Bryant recorded 2 sacks in Friday's shutout win over Alcovy.

Grovetown (1-0) at Greenbrier (1-0)
Class 6A, Region 3

Grovetown and Greenbrier, opponents in this Friday's class 6A, region 3 showdown to decide which of the two teams will leap to 2-0 in region play, share many characteristics. Both teams are led by their defense. Both played difficult non region schedules and struggled to find wins, but both put those early season challenges to good use by kicking off the region schedule last Friday with a win. The schools even share a common road that both schools' students use to get to class every morning, something Grovetown coach Damien Postell reminded me about Monday morning at his team's practice.

"I mean it's big. It's the battle of William Few (Parkway)," coach Postell explained. "It's always a tough game. We're just trying to hold on to that sledgehammer another year."

That's what the annual contest between these region rivals from Columbia County is called by those involved. Each season the winning team gets to keep the sledgehammer, which has "Grovetown" written on one side, and "Greenbrier" on the other, until the next year when it goes back up for grabs. Grovetown has won 7 straight games in the series after the Wolfpack claimed the first game between the teams. And to add more sting, Grovetown's star running back, senior JQ Brown, was the star rusher for Greenbrier last season and the season before that. Brown and defensive back Tyler Mullins both transferred after their junior year from Greenbrier to Grovetown.

If an inter county rivalry game with a special name and a special prize, with the adder that a couple key players recently transferred from one of the teams to the other, doesn't have enough to interest you, then just add the fact that the winner will take sole possession, or at the least a share, of first place in the region standings two games into a five game schedule. And did I mention the game will be televised on MeTV?

If you aren't in front of a TV Friday night, you can still keep up with the game by watching @AugBball and the CSRA All Star Week's bonus coverage on social media because this is the kind of game we set out to bring you throughout October's region race and beyond.

No matter how you watch Friday's game, you can expect to see a scrappy Wolfpack defense that has forced turnovers at a high rate all season long:

Grovetown's Defensive Front

It's easy to see by looking at Grovetown's defensive front why so many people are impressed by the team's potential on that side of the ball. Kyle Bryant (pictured at the top), a six foot three inch, 238 pound defensive end who has committed to Miami (Ohio), has recorded 5.5 sacks through 6 games. And the teammates to his side are equally prolific at making stops behind the line of scrimmage:

Jeremiah Williams (6'0" 295 lbs) - 11 tackles for a loss this season

Simeon Barrow Jr. (6'3" 235 lbs) - 16 TFL, 6 sacks through 6 games

Bryant rightfully expressed the highest confidence in his defensive unit when I asked him Monday if he thought his defense could shut down the offenses they will face going forward:

"Yes sir, straight domination the rest of the season," Bryant said. "That's the plan."

This defense is more than just talk, as you can see here:

In addition to the Grovetown-Greenbrier matchup, you can expect to find live coverage of two more games that will impact the top of the region standings this Friday:

North Augusta (1-1) at South Aiken (2-0)
SC Class 4A, Region 5

Richmond (0-1) at #8 Burke County (1-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

Saturday, October 6, 2018

These are last night’s key results and the impact they had on region standings, as well as a look forward to next Friday’s key games

After scoring 3 touchdowns last night Burke County's Leon Mcgee will look ahead to Richmond's visit Friday.

Last night, the first Friday night when ALL teams had finally begun region play, brought results that make me look forward to next Friday when the race for a region championship will continue to unfold before wrapping up in less than a month. Home games in the state playoffs are awarded to the top two finishers in each region. So a 1-0 or 2-0 start to a region schedule with 4 or 5 games on it can be just the kind of beginning a team needs to eventually achieve its regular season goals. Here are some of results of interest from Friday night, whether it be because of the outcomes themselves, or what those results means for next Friday’s region matchup:

Wins by South Aiken, North Augusta, and Aiken set up a possible log jam near the top of SC region

The most interesting results from Friday night, because they put in place the dynamics for what will be next Friday’s most anticipated matchup, came from South Carolina’s class 4A, region 5. South Aiken’s 40-35 home win over Brookland-Cayce extended the Thoroughbreds’ winning streak to 4 games for the region’s leader after two weeks of league play.

To stay on top, South Aiken will have to defeat North Augusta at home next Friday. The Yellow Jackets topped Airport 28-10 last night, doing their part to make next Friday’s game matter even more than the matchup between fierce rivals would mean if the top spot in the standings weren’t on the line.

A South Aiken win would mean a 3-0 start in a 5 game region race and it would put the Thoroughbreds firmly in front of the pack with two games remaining. That’s one scenario. On the other end of the spectrum of possibilities for next Friday is the chance that a North Augusta win over South Aiken, a Brookland-Cayce victory over Midland Valley, and an Aiken win at Airport would be the path to a four way tie for first place with 2 weeks remaining.

Not many people would have expected Aiken to have the chance to compete for a top 2 spot in this region. Last night’s 41-14 win over Midland Valley was the first win in 2 years for the Hornets. But the 2018 region records are all that matter now. And the Hornets, which have one of the area’s most exciting offensive attacks behind the brilliant quarterback play of Korey Wallace, have gained solid momentum. Last night’s win was preceded by a 35-34 loss at South Aiken the prior week, providing proof during the last 10 days that Aiken will be a factor during the league’s final three weeks of competition.

Baldwin and Burke County have sprinted ahead; Richmond and Thomson will try to catch up

Georgia’s class 4A, region 3 race broke into a sprint immediately out of the starting block last night when Baldwin ended Richmond’s undefeated start to the season with a 28-21 come from behind overtime road win.

Now Baldwin gets the chance to earn its way to a 2-0 start if the Braves are able to grab a second road win in two weeks when they invade Thomson. The Bulldogs, who were off Friday, will try to do what Baldwin appears to have done, which is to benefit from the experience of playing a pre-region schedule against state wide powers, and to round into shape and play at a high level now that league play has arrived.

Meanwhile, Richmond will find itself in the unenviable position of needing a win in Waynesboro against our wide area’s best team in order to not fall to 0-2 in the region standings. #9 Burke County won its fifth straight game last night, a 41-7 decision over Cross Creek to open region play.

Lakeside, Grovetown, and Greenbrier all start region play with wins

Three of our area’s four representatives in the six team class 6A, region 3 mix opened league play with a win Friday. Grovetown shut out Alcovy 18-0, and Greenbrier went on the road to top Heritage 21-10. Those results set up an intriguing Warriors-Wolfpack showdown at Greenbrier next Friday, a game that will be televised on WJBF.

The winner of that game will have made a 2-0 beginning to a 5 game region schedule. Lakeside will try to do the same in a road game at Alcovy after the Panthers knocked off bitter rival Evans 28-20 at home last night.

Hephzibah's in the driver's seat for a top 2 spot after a key win, and Aquinas, although undefeated, still has plenty of work ahead

Hephzibah made a huge stride in its bid to lock up a top two spot in class 2A, region 4 with a 20-14 win over Harlem last night. The Rebels will control their own destiny if they are able to defeat their three remaining opponents, Westside, Laney, and Josey, which between them have only managed 3 wins in 12 tries. Jefferson County continued its sprint away from the region pack last night with a 45-12 win over Laney.

Even Aquinas (class 1A, region 7), which extended its undefeated start to the season to 6 games with a dominant 47-7 pounding of Washington-Wilkes (see highlights above), has plenty of work yet to do if the Irish are to be crowned the region champion. The fun will continue for Aquinas next Friday when Hancock Central, which has only lost once in region play, visits Augusta. And two weeks from now, Aquinas will visit Greene County, which has let to lose in the league.

Aquinas remains unbeaten with blowout win at Washington-Wilkes

Aquinas rumbled into the end zone 7 times in Friday's blowout win over Washington-Wilkes.

Aquinas improved to 6-0 Friday after defeating Washington-Wilkes 47-7 in Washington. The Irish were essentially unstopped the entire evening as Aquinas pounded in 7 rushing touchdowns by four different players in a dominant win. There was plenty of credit to assign after such a convincing victory. AJ Williams, Kam Brinson, and JP Lambert each rushed for a pair of touchdowns; Antonio Wilder recorded 3 sacks and a forced fumble; Joseph Welch grabbed an interception with his back to his own goal line and delivered hit after hit on defense; Ward Tyre forced a fumble in Aquinas's red zone; left guard Ryan Colley opened big running lanes for Lambert; Brinson and John Parrish blanketed Washington-Wilkes' talented receivers and wouldn't allow them to run after the catch.

That's a long list of good things done. Forgive me because after filming the game without being able to share any news or highlights with you, I had to describe those individual performances immediately after getting to my keyboard and editing this full game highlight video:

I'll be back with more reactions from Aquinas's win in Washington. I'll also post more this weekend about what particular Friday results mean for the various region races and next week's matchups. Results of note include the following (off the top of my head): Baldwin's win at Richmond, South Aiken's victory over Brookland-Cayce, Aiken's win over Midland Valley, Greenbrier's decision over Heritage, Lakeside's win over Evans, Grovetown's victory over Alcovy, Burke County's win against Cross Creek, and Hephzibah's win against Harlem.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Richmond's attention to the details has helped the Musketeers sprint into region play 6-0

Mason Cobb connected with Clydell White for two TD completions in Friday's overtime win.

***This feature, which is brought to you by AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl, previews this Friday's Co-Game of the Night, between undefeated Richmond and the visiting Baldwin Braves.***

Head coach Lyle Burns quickly answered my question Tuesday about the lessons his team has learned during their unbeaten run through the pre-region schedule:

"A lot of people just focus on the end. But in all those individual plays there are two and three reads and progressions you go through," coach Burns explained. "We just hope that we're getting better at that philosophy and that system as we go into these games that have circumstances."

A lot of coaches talk about focusing on "process over results." But for coach Burns, a dedication to the details, and to the proper technique in each circumstance, seems to permeate through every aspect of Richmond's program. At a lively practice Tuesday ahead of Friday's region schedule opening clash against league rival Baldwin, Burns took the time to explain and demonstrate in detail almost every offensive player's alignment, what reads they were expected to make, depending on how particular defenders would align and react, and what proper execution would look like in each case.

Burns' attention to the details, and that of his players, came through again when I asked him to describe defensive back Christopher Murray's game sealing interception in overtime last Friday in Richmond's 20-14 overtime win at Greenbrier:

"He just did a good job. He had the right leverage on the receiver. And he broke at the proper time. He's a deep third defender, but when the hand separates to throw he can break on it and he did," said Burns. "He had good position. If he had aligned wrong he wouldn't have made the play. So he did all of the things before the interception that gave him a chance to make the play."

Game of the Night Preview
Baldwin (1-5, 0-0) at Richmond (6-0, 0-0)
Class 4A, Region 3

A team made up of players who are taught to focus this intensely on the details doesn't need to be reminded that Baldwin's 1-5 record can be deceiving. The Braves' 5 losses all came to statewide powers like Jones County and Warner Robins. And Baldwin's win came at Greenbrier, from where Richmond narrowly escaped with a win last Friday.

"Every game has an impact on the end of the year in whether you're going to play or not," Burns said of the importance of the coming four game stretch of league play. "And you never know how it's going to fall, so each game is important."

The Musketeers will rely on an explosive offense that posted 28 touchdowns during the team's first six wins, the school's most to start a season since 1961, per the Prep Sports Report's Ashley Brown.

Torri Taylor - Richmond

Running back Torri Taylor (above) has posted the kinds of statistics that would make good "area player of the year so far" argument material. The senior, who also plays in the defensive backfield, has scored 8 touchdowns and rushed for 793 yards already this season.

Quarterback Mason Cobb has been remarkably consistent, passing for more than 100 yards in 4 of the team's six wins and throwing 10 touchdown passes against only 1 interception for the season. Against Greenbrier, Cobb connected on touchdown throws twice with Clydell White, a versatile player who accounts for an average of more than 100 all purpose yards per game in every possible way, including receiving (45 yards per game and 5 total touchdowns), rushing (25 ypg and 2 TDs), and kick returning (42 yards per game).

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Catching up with playmaker Kam Brinson and previewing Friday's Co-Game of the Night, Aquinas at Washington-Wilkes

Aquinas's game Friday is 1 of 2 "Games of the Night" from AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl.

***This special feature is a result of the combined efforts of the AugBball and CSRA All Star game writers, who bring you high school football coverage every week.***

Aquinas's Kam Brinson is having an "area player of the year" kind of season because he has led the Irish, from almost every spot on the field, to a 5-0 start heading into Friday's region showdown on the road against Washington-Wilkes.

"Kam's a special player, man. Wherever you put him: wide out, running back, quarterback, corner, safety, punt returner, kick returner... a special player," Aquinas coach James Leonard told AugBball reporter Rob Drew before Monday's practice. "He dealt with some injuries last year, and you could tell this summer he was determined to make a name for himself."

Make a name for himself he has. Assuming quarterback duties after JP Lambert was injured during the team's week three win at Wilkinson County, Brinson rushed for 135 yards in a region win over Lincoln County, and for another 183 yards and 3 touchdowns in last Friday's 48-21 win over GMC. But his rushing statistics weren't what everybody was buzzing about after Friday's game. The buzz was about this particular touchdown, which I quickly declared "the run of the year so far" after seeing it on Twitter late Friday night:

It took until Monday morning for me to discover another hidden gem of a play by Brinson in Friday's win. That is this diving interception, which I have to call the most impressive pick I've season this season, too. Aquinas's film crew captured it from two angles:

Friday's Game of the Night:
Aquinas (5-0, 2-0) at Washington-Wilkes (2-4, 1-1)
Class 1A, Region 7

Aquinas Quarterback JP Lambert is back after missing time due to injury.

Friday's game will test Brinson's skills as a defensive back because Washington-Wilkes sports the most explosive passing offense Aquinas has seen this season. Senior Deandre Lester led the area in receiving after week 6, and junior quarterback Donovan Anthony is adept at hitting his many targets on the Tigers' talented offensive unit, which Matt Lane described well during this segment on WJBF's broadcast of their win over Lincoln County last Friday:

Of course the Irish will rely on a team effort to get past the Tigers on the road.

"A lot of athletes there (at Washington-Wilkes). They are much, much bigger than us. So we'll be fighting the size battle once again," coach Leonard explained. "But we feel good. Getting better each week, slowly but surely."

Aquinas has its share of athletes too. 6'3" 220 pound defensive end Jaden Blount, a junior, will need to bring the same kind of pressure Friday against Anthony that he brought on the game deciding plays that shut down Lincoln County's final drive in the Irish's 14-7 week four win.

And two way players like John Parrish and Joseph Welch will need to make the same kind of impact that I saw them make at Harlem weeks ago.

AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl will be in Washington Friday to chronicle the action from this Game of the Week.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The CSRA Bowl Player Watch List contains 115 names from more than 30 schools; help us add another 100+ names!

Richmond's Torri Taylor is one of the 115 potential all stars on the CSRA Bowl Player Watch List below.

Last week we announced AugBball’s sponsorship of the CSRA All Star Bowl Week. This week we share with you our "CSRA All Star Bowl Player Watch List."

The first watch list (below) contains 115 names, and it was assembled by the AugBball and CSRA All Star Bowl Week staffs. These are the players who have caught the eyes of our writers so far this season. We need nearly 200 players in total to play in the three games.

Coaches, please help us nominate more than 100 more players and dramatically increase the numbers of offensive linemen, defensive players, special teams players, and underclassmen, all of whom are currently underrepresented in the lists below.

We want everybody to help us field the best teams of seniors, juniors, and underclassmen when the best football players within short driving distance get together for the CSRA All Star Bowl Week’s games and practices December 10-15. We are dedicated to following the action on Friday nights from region play through the post season.

We ask the players to get themselves nominated. We ask the coaches to nominate more players, and also to go through the nomination process for the players we’ve already placed on the watch list because every player needs the kind of information only a coach can provide, which can all be submitted at these links:

Nominate a senior here:

Nominate a junior here:

Nominate a sophomore or a freshman here:

Please help us reach the most talented 200 players in our wide area so we can have a great all star week. And please watch the next 8-10 weeks as the AugBball and the CSRA All Star Bowl writers follow region and state playoff action for more than 30 of your favorite area teams!

CSRA Bowl Player Watch List

***None of these lists are in any particular order***



Chase Pennington - Sr - Harlem
Anthony Grant - Sr - Butler

Dakale Fluellen - Sr - Josey
Tanner White - Sr - North Augusta
Korey Wallace - Sr - Aiken
Reed Charpia - Sr - Brookland-Cayce
JP Lambert - Sr - Aquinas

Damekus Taylor - Sr Thomson
Mason Cobb - Sr - Richmond
Jaden Jenkins - Sr - Jefferson County

Torez Hicks - Sr - Baldwin
Cam Mitchem - Sr - Fox Creek
Jamaal Washington - Sr - Silver Bluff
Kentavious Williams - Sr - Ninety Six

Running Backs

Bubba Murray - Sr - Thomson
Torri Taylor - Sr - Richmond

Jimmie Foreman - Sr - Silver Bluff
JQ Brown - Sr - Grovetown
AJ Brown - Sr - Harlem

Rayquan Riley - Sr - Hephzibah
Jarvis Washington - Sr - Laney
Ferris Lowery - Sr - Aquinas
Monquavious Leverett - Sr - Lincoln County


Kam Brinson - Sr - Aquinas
Jeremiah Green - Sr - Aiken
Chadd Crumbley - Sr - Burke County

Wide Receivers

Jamal Benjamin - Sr - Lakeside
Deddrick Lewis - Sr - Evans
Mykel Santos - Sr - Grovetown
Bashon Morris - Sr - Grovetown
Malik Frails - Sr - Harlem
Thomas Hudson - Sr - Butler
Lonnie Lee - Sr - North Augusta
Junius Walker - Sr - North Augusta
Zion Dobbs - Sr - North Augusta
Stavon Porter - Sr - Aiken
John Parrish - Sr - Aquinas
Deondre Lester - Sr - Washington-Wilkes
Clydell White - Sr - Richmond

Donte Justice - Sr - Baldwin
Keyshawn Toney - Sr - Williston-Elko

Defensive Backs

Derrick Canteen - Sr - Evans
Tyler Mullins - Sr - Grovetown
Justin Franklin - Sr - Grovetown
Jamir Malone - Sr - Grovetown
Derian Gibson - Sr - North Augusta
Isaac Johnson - Sr - North Augusta
Jaylan Tillman - Sr - North Augusta
Demian Williams - Sr Burke County
Myles Jackson - Sr - Jefferson County
Tray Thomas - Sr - Jefferson County

Linebackers and Defensive Ends

Logan Etterle - Sr - Harlem
Quest Caines - Sr - Harlem
Elijah Mayes - Sr - Hephzibah

Theron Foreman - Sr - Laney
Jacquez Jones - Sr - Laney
Chad Welcher - Sr - Laney
Zaire Harrison - Sr - South Aiken
Chris Torres - Sr - North Augusta
Caree Collier - Sr - North Augusta

CJ Hazel - Sr - Aiken
Robert Whitt - Sr - Strom Thurmond

Defensive Linemen

Jeremiah Williams - Sr - Grovetown

Dequan Dorsey - Sr - Harlem
Cail Dixon - Sr - Harlem
Javon Wynn - Sr - Lincoln County
Ja'Michael Dukes - Sr - Burke County



Juanya Dove - Jr - Burke County

Jequan Edwards - Jr - Strom Thurmond
Craig Pender - Jr - Barnwell
Jaden Taylor - Jr - Lakeside
Kori Bryant - Jr - Grovetown
Eli Broadnex - Jr - Screven County
Jesse Sanders - Jr - South Aiken
Harrison Puckett - Jr - Midland Valley
Donovan Anthony - Jr - Washington-Wilkes

Running Backs

Leon Mcgee - Jr - Burke County
Stanley Hill - Jr - Strom Thurmond
AJ Williams - Jr - Aquinas
Kobi Ferguson - Jr - Lincoln County


Dallyon Creech - Jr - Barnwell

Wide Receivers

Kyle Smith - Jr - Grovetown
Jaiden Wofford - Jr - Hephzibah
E'Shawn Mayes - Jr - Hephzibah

Charvis Jones - Jr - Aiken
Quann Shears - Jr - Richmond
Jatonious Butler - Jr - Fox Creek

Defensive Backs

Davon Arrington - Jr - Grovetown
Enoch Howard - Jr - Hephzibah
Ronald Coleman - Jr - Hephzibah
Tony Caldwell - Jr - North Augusta
Bradley Goodwin - Jr - North Augusta

Linebackers and Defensive Ends

Latrell Walker - Jr - Grovetown
Ethan Bush - Jr - Grovetown
Simeon Barrow - Jr - Grovetown
Lamarcco Hester - Jr - Hephzibah
Elijah D'antignac - Jr - Hephzibah
Cole Saggus - Jr - North Augusta
Charles Hammond - Jr - North Augusta
Talik Jones - Jr - Aiken

Freshmen/Sophomores (Underclassmen)


Marshall Chambers - Soph - Hephzibah

Marquise Parker - Freshman - Laney
Lleyton Lackey - Freshman - Evans

Running Backs

Cameron Garnett - Soph - Harlem

Tyler Evans - Soph - Aquinas
Corey Danner - Soph - Washington-Wilkes
Charquez Booker - Freshman - Strom Thurmond
Jacari Buckson - Soph - North Augusta

Wide Receivers

Joseph Welch - Soph - Aquinas

Defensive Backs

Calvin Black - Soph - Harlem

Linebackers and Defensive Ends

Travonta Blake - Soph - Harlem
Aaron Muns - Soph - Harlem
RJ Felton - Soph - North Augusta
Junari Williams - Soph - Aiken
Jordan Stringer - Soph - Laney