Sunday, September 16, 2018

Another test

Harlem's AJ Brown continued his run past the area's defenses in Saturday's win.

The beginning of the region schedule for our area’s class 1A and 2A regions has given a post season flavor to the early part of the regular season. Three consecutive wins each by Harlem and Hephzibah, including 2 within their league during the last couple weeks, give those upstart programs the hope of eventually earning the chance for multiple home playoff games come November, a prize only reserved for the region champion. But despite a couple non-league losses to open the season, long time power Jefferson County has revealed no intention to hand over a top spot without a legitimate fight.

All three teams enter week 6 with 2-0 region records. But those conditions are guaranteed not to last because this Friday Jefferson County will invade Harlem in a game that will be televised live on MeTV. And the following Friday will feature a matchup between Hephzibah and Jefferson County. So when October arrives, the class 2A region schedule will be half finished, and the favorite to win the crown will have emerged.

But before we look ahead, let’s take a look at the ways in which each of these teams was able to earn their second region win last weekend. And let’s also take in the high points from the week 5 outings of the area’s only two undefeated teams, Richmond and Aquinas. Richmond, which is yet to be seriously challenged, continued to click on all cylinders. And Aquinas, coming off an emotional rivalry win in front of an electric crowd, has found ways to win regardless of who is healthy enough to play, and what position they on the field they take.

Jefferson County continued its storming of region 4

Jefferson County's Jaden Jenkins stretches to cross the goal line against Josey.

Both the eye test and a glance at the final scores show Jefferson County to be the overwhelming region favorite. The Warriors followed a 57-16 home win over Butler in week 4 with a 56-6 rout over Josey, this time on the road.

Coach J.B. Arnold told AugBball’s Robert Drew about the changes he made after his team suffered two losses to begin the season:

“We learned after the first two weeks, it just wasn't pretty. We had no identity offensively. We had to come up with something," coach Arnold said after the win over Josey. "We thought playing a lot of kids, getting a lot of kids touches, and getting down hill as fast as we can would fit our personality a lot better than any kind of spread offense.”

Harlem stuffed the run and ran past Laney

Harlem showed the ability to stop such a straight forward running attack Saturday. With the exception of two consecutive long drives by Laney that resulted in second quarter touchdowns, the Bulldogs consistently stopped the Wildcats, keeping them from sustaining any drive during the other three quarters.

*Harlem video*

During Saturday's win and during the team's opener against Aquinas, nose tackle Dequan Dorsey regularly provided penetration up the middle or required multiple linemen to keep him from doing so. That has freed up linebackers Kye Grey, Quest Caines, and Logan Eterlee to meet the runner at the line of scrimmage, and none of them are shy when it comes to making a hit. On the edge is super sophomore Cameron Garnett, who came into the season with a reputation for running the ball but has impressed me with his hard hitting and his ability to contain the rush on the outside on defense.

What remains to be seen is whether Harlem’s run defense can hold up against a team like Jefferson County, which blitzed the Bulldogs 49-0 in Louisville last season. But everything about Harlem’s team looks improved from a year ago. Turnovers and key penalties have been effectively nonexistent in the games I’ve seen. And even the team’s strength from last season, its rushing attack, looks significantly better. Senior tailback AJ Brown has piled up 840 yards and 9 touchdowns in the first four games, and he seems to be brimming with confidence running the ball.

Harlem will reach for new heights Friday against Jefferson County.

All signs point to Harlem being able to take the next step and challenge for a championship. But Friday will bring the first true test of whether that kind of progress has been made.

Hephzibah won third straight behind key plays

Hephzibah will need to get past Glenn Hills Friday on the road before the Rebels will get their shot at the supposed top dog Jefferson County the following week. And the Rebels’ close call against Butler last Thursday should have taught the surging team not to look past any opponent.

If not for a key open field tackle inside the 10 yard line by Ronald Coleman and a subsequent interception in the back of the end zone by Coleman right before halftime, I may not be writing about Hephzibah’s 2-0 start to region play.

But instead of trailing by two scores in the third quarter, Coleman’s heroics kept the Rebels close enough to Butler to allow a pair of scores, one by E’Shawn Mayes and another by by Marshall Chambers, that were enough to let Hephzibah escape with a 16-14 win, their third straight victory.

Aquinas engineered a win to start strong in league play

In the only other area region where league play has begun, Aquinas found a way to start with a win over rival Lincoln County in front of a packed crowd, despite facing significant obstacles. Missing quarterback JP Lambert and running back Ferris Lowery paved the way for a group of players to fill major holes and to prove that the program's #family mantra is more than a meaningless hashtag. In these highlights from Friday's 14-7 victory you'll see Kam Brinson, usually a receiver, filling in at quarterback and completing a key pass to sophomore Joseph Welch, who goes high to make a nice grab. That play set up a score by sophomore Tyler Evans, who scored both of the team's touchdowns. You'll also see a vicious hit on the quarterback by senior John Parrish and consecutive sacks, on third down and fourth down with 1 minute remaining, by Jaden Blount that ended all hopes of a Lincoln County victory.

Aquinas gets this week off before hosting region foe Georgia Military College on September 28. The time for rest and recovery will come in handy for this undefeated family.

Richmond and Torri Taylor showed no sign of slowing down

Richmond continued to take the area by storm Thursday with a commanding 46-20 win on the road against Midland Valley. The Musketeers have yet to be seriously challenged. And Torri Taylor is red hot having followed his Augusta Chronicle Player of the Week performance in week 4 with a 5 touchdown, 215 plus yard rushing game Thursday.

Coming this week at AugBball

Soon I'll share the "player profile" videos from last week's games, and I'll preview the games that will be featured at AugBball in week 6. A teaser is that we are trying to decide which 2 or 3 games to attend between the following:*

North Augusta at Strom Thurmond

Effingham County at Burke County

Jefferson County at Harlem

Grovetown at Thomson

*subject to change

Friday, September 14, 2018

Test post

Follow @AugBball on Facebook, Twitter, and IG for live coverage!

***In addition to the 4 games below, we will also feature the area's hottest team, Richmond, when the Musketeers visit Midland Valley Thursday in a game that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence***

League play in underway. Who will reach 2-0 this weekend?

Quickly the area regions with 8 or more teams have launched into their league schedules. Georgia’s class 2A, region 4’s pack of nine teams will play its second round of region games this weekend as Hephzibah hosts Butler in an attempt for the Rebels to race to a 2-0 league start after last week’s surprising win over defending champion Screven County. Jefferson County can also claim a 2-0 record with a win at Josey after the Warriors topped Butler 57-16 last Friday. And we’ll get to see a special Saturday duel between two more class 2A teams trying to start 2-0 in region play when Harlem visits Laney in an attempt to follow up on last week’s 22-0 road win over Glenn Hills, a playoff team from last season.

4 teams from the class 2A region can exit the weekend 2-0.

Speaking of the playoffs, these league games carry so much more importance in a region with 9 teams than the more common 5 or 6 team regions in the other classes because every region sends 4 teams to the state tournament, with the top 2 teams earning at least one post season home game.

Previewing the playmakers

In addition to the post season implications of Friday’s games for this region, we can look forward to seeing an exciting group of playmakers in action. Some of them, like Jefferson County’s Jaden Jenkins and Harlem’s AJ Brown, are familiar to most fans. Jenkins, a 6’3” 205 pound senior quarterback, has committed to play at Georgia Southern next season. And Brown has lit up the area with rushing statistics for nearly 1.5 seasons. His 623 yards and 7 touchdowns through 3 games are numbers that have been unmatched area wide.

Rising stars

Also competing in these class 2A region games are a handful of players who are building their reputation as exciting, and, in some cases, young playmakers whom you don’t want to miss. On this list of players to watch during this weekend's coverage are Jaiden Wofford (Hephzibah), Dakale Fluellen (Josey), Jarvis Washington (Laney), Cameron Garnett (Harlem), Marshall Chambers (Hephzibah), Jordan Stringer (Laney), and Thomas Hudson (Butler).

A rivalry game at Aquinas starts things in the class 1A region

Jaden Blount and the Irish will seek revenge, and a region win, in Friday's rivalry game.

Aquinas will try to start region play with a win and to begin the season 4-0 Friday when the Fighting Irish hosts rival Lincoln County. The Red Devils came out on top 12-6 last season in Lincolnton. I documented the work of four of Aquinas’s playmakers after the Irish’s 33-31 win over Harlem in week 2. As you can see in these highlights from Aquinas's recent win at Wilkinson County, defensive playmaker Jaden Blount, who looks the part at 6’3” and 215 pounds, will be a load for the Red Devils to handle on the road.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fall League Live Blog (Aug 16)

Saturday, August 16 Results

8:30 PM:  Angels 24 vs Georgia Bulls 48 - JV

7:30 PM:  Angels 51 vs SAS 26 - Varsity

Leading Scorers
Angels - Mac McBride and Ben Dresser, 16 points each

6:30 PM:  Raptors 64 vs SAS 38 - JV

Leading Scorers
Raptors - Jerry Leverett, 15 points
SAS - Emanuel Bryson, 10 points

5:30 PM:  Raptors 28 vs Chaos 39 - JV

Leading Scorers
Chaos - Zalair Knowles, 10 points
Raptors - Keith Littles, 11 points

4:30 PM:  Timberwolves 53 vs Brown's Suns 70 - Varsity

Leading Scorers
Suns - Kyle Baker, 14 points
Timberwolves - Justin Hartfield, 14 points

3:30 PM:  Lakers 44 vs Celtics 76 - Varsity

Leading Scorers
Celtics - Collin Young and Christian Keeling, 20 points each
Lakers - Moses Jones, 10 points

2:45 PM:  GCA 39 vs SAS 0 - MS(A)

Leading Scorers
Garden City - Jarvis Washington, 13 points

2:00 PM:  Fusion 24 vs Cyclones 30 - MS(B)

Leading Scorers
Cyclones - Chris Lane, 7 points
Fusion - Brent Wilson, 8 points

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fall League Begins

This is your place for 2014 Fall League news.  See the upcoming schedule directly below.  All Fall League games are played at the Alleluia Community School (2819 Peach Orchard Rd, Augusta, GA 30906).  And here is a link to the full game schedule.

 Here are results from recent Fall League action:

Tuesday's (Aug 12) Results

Game 1:  Chaos 69 vs Havoc - Junior Varsity

Leading Scorers
Chaos - #12 Mark Moore 22 points; Zalair Knowles 15 points, 10 rebounds
Havoc - #32 Xavier Harrison 11 points; #3 Tre Gomillion 10 points

Game 2:  Strikeforce 52 vs Angels 54 - Varsity

Leading Scorers
Strikeforce - #3 DeAndre 21 points
Angels - #36 Billy Conkright 14 points; #31 Elliot Balducci 13 points; #85 Ben Dresser 12 points (including buzzer beating game winner!

Game 3:  Power 7 vs GA Stars 29 - MS(B)

Leading Scorers
GA Stars - #12 Markell 12 points

Saturday's (Aug 9) Results

Game 1:  Cyclones 21 vs Power 44 - MS(B)

Leading Scorers:
Power - #2 Braylen Davis 9 points
Cyclones - #29 12

Game 2:  GCA 30 vs Elite 26 - MS(A)

Leading Scorers:
GCA - #5 11 points

Game 3:  Strikeforce 68 vs Angels 39 - Junior Varsity

Leading Scorers:
Strikeforce - #15 David Butler 29 points; #24 Jacobi Wood 14 points
Angels - #44 Germane Armstrong 13 points

Game 4:  Lakers 52 vs Strikeforce 50 - Varsity

Leading Scorers:
Lakers - #5 Kham Gordon 14 points
Strikeforce - #35 Dominique Hurst 18 points

Game 5:  Celtics 88 vs Angels 28 - Varsity

Leading Scorers:
Celtics - #34 Christian Keeling 17 points; #5 Zep Jasper 14 points
Angels - #73 Ben Dresser 9 points

Game 6:  Chaos defeats Open

Leading Scorer:
Chaos - Gerald Landy 15 points

Game 7:  Future Stars 52 vs GA Bulls 54 - Junior Varsity

Leading Scorers:
GA Bulls - #20 Kalen Williams 14 points; #1 Dante Jennings 11 points
Future Stars - #12 19 points; #2 11 points

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Johnson, Robinson, and Madison: ABR Live Summer Send-off

Darius Williams is not the only new* face on the GA Stars Augusta AAU team. Daquarius Johnson, Jaylan Robinson, and Keon Madison are also recent additions who seem poised to make an impact during the July evaluation period.

Johnson (6'4" forward) is extremely explosive with a soft shooting touch. Robinson has a very quick first step and he attacks the basket well. And Madison is a defensive pest who can run a team and knock down the open shot.

See these high school teammates (GAIS Eagles) in the video above of action from session 1 of the ABR Live Summer Send-off.