WALTON WAS BOUNCED IN THE first round of the state playoffs in 2012, a year after almost winning the state title. The Cobb County
school fell to Grayson in the Georgia Dome in
the season’s final game in 2011, and the Raiders have their sights set on making it back to
play for it all this year.
Senior defensive back D. J. Smith will have a major say in the matter. The 6-1, 195-pound corner/
safety prospect plays both defense and offense
for Walton. He has all the measurables and skills
— size, speed, tackling ability, hands and more.
In order for Walton to get where it wants to
go, Smith must do his thing on a regular basis.
An early season test against Peachtree Ridge
could set the forecast, as both teams are looking to rebound from down years. That game will
be played in the Dome, one of the many great
matchups in the Corky Kell Classic. The Walton
faithful hopes it’s not the last time it’s team is playing there.
IN THE ‘CROSS’ HAIRS
One state title is great. Back-to-back championships are the
stuff of legends. That’s what Coach Keith Maloof and his Norcross
Blue Devils are aiming to do in 2013 after winning the school’s
first-ever state title last season. It won’t be easy. Not with the likes
of Mill Creek, North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge in the region
and other powerhouses waiting in the playoffs. Can Norcross go
undefeated once again?
That’s always difficult to project. But the Blue Devils have two
of the best prospects in the state on their side. Defensive end
Lorenzo Carter (a player you’ve probably already read enough about
to know to what’s up) and versatile weapon Myles Autry form a
dynamic pair. And they’re not alone. The offensive line is stacked
once again, led by Horatio Walker and Ryan Northrup.
Last season was special. But the past is the past. Since 2000, three
schools have repeated as champions. Parkview, 2000-02, Lowndes,
2004-05 and Camden County, 2008-09, each had dominant runs.
With another title, Norcross would join the list of
programs that went from great to elite.
QUARTER ‘BACK’ TO
Last season Lowndes was poised to compete
for the state title, starting 9-0 amid the vaunted
Region- 1 cast of tough teams. But two straight
losses swiftly ended the season, a shocking
loss in the first round of the playoffs replacing
the ideal ending to the story.
The Vikings look to get back to their winning
ways (three state titles in the past decade) this
season, led by senior linebacker Tre Jackson.
The defense figures to be strong, as usual, but
Lowndes needs a quarterback to emerge. There’s
plenty of options to choose from, namely junior
Parker Bonner and sophomore Austin Dixon.
If one of the two can take command of the
huddle and direct the offense, look for the
Vikings to make it further than the opening
weekend of the tournament in 2013.
TIDE ROLLS THROUGH CAMDEN
Camden County will be without long-time coach Jeff Herron this
season. However, the Wildcats won’t lack for playmakers in the
secondary. Seniors Kalvaraz Bessent and Chris Williams are two of
the best defensive backs in the country. And both verbally committed to Alabama early in the year. The Crimson Tide staff will have a
lot to work with concerning these two.
Bessent is a 6-foot, 170-pound corner with elite quickness, in-
stincts and ball skills. Williams is the bigger of the two and most
likely will end up at safety according to Scout.com recruiting ana-
lyst Chad Simmons.
“He is a long-strider, and he covers a lot of ground quickly in the
secondary,” Simmons said. “He really attacks the ball, he shows
great closing speed, and he has that burst to the ball. He an overall
athlete with a lot of upside at safety with his range and length.”
D. J. Smith, Walton
TOP 5 TEAMS
1COLQUITT COUN TY: Is this the year the Packers take the final elite step and
win a state title? There’s enough talent and
QB Elijah Staley
DL Lorenzo Carter
experience returning in order to do so.
RB Treyvon Paulk
DL Dante Sawyer
RB Josh Brown
DL Henry Famurewa
2NORCROSS: Repeat bids for the state title aren’t easy, but Lorenzo Carter and
WR Emmanuel Beal
DL Justin Jones
Company will give the Blue Devils a legit
WR Nate Brown
LB Kevin Mouhon
shot to be champions once again.
WR Drevon Jones
LB Demarquis Gates
3LOVEJOY: Stacked lines on both sides of the ball will make Lovejoy a tough out
OL Horatio Walker
LB Tyrell Tomlin
in the playoffs.
OL Justin Brown
DB D. J. Smith
OL Trent Jenkins
DB Kalvarez Bessent
4NORTH GWINNETT: Bob Sphire’s team has won 10 or more games the past
OL Andrew Marshall
DB Chris Murphy
seven seasons, meaning North Gwinnett is
always in the hunt.
OL Caleb Samuel
DB Nick Glass
5CAMDEN COUNTY: Jeff Herron will be missed, but the talent is still elite and
there’s plenty of it.