4 Questions with Gradick Sports director Matt Skinner

Today’s interviewee is Matt Skinner, the director of Gradick Sports and the football play-by-play announcer for the University of West Georgia. Gradick Sports is a group of six radio stations in Carrollton and Tallapoosa that covers Carrollton, Bremen, Bowdon, Haralson County, Heard County, Mount Zion, Temple and Villa Rica.

1. What’s your assessment of Carrollton so far? Is this a legit top-10 Class 7A team? “Carrollton has been extremely impressive thus far this season. They have a great mixture of experienced leadership and very talented freshmen and sophomores spread throughout the team. They are outscoring opponents 183-35 in the first half. They’ve scored five defensive touchdowns and forced 17 turnovers through six games. I think they are legit a top-10 team, and it should not surprise anyone to see them playing after Thanksgiving. Everyone wants to talk about the quarterback play and rightfully so, but Bryce Hicks at running back and the offensive line have been very impressive. They run the ball at over six yards a carry and 166 yards a game. The defense is only allowing 10 points a game and gets off the field, only allowing 26% of third-down conversions The only question marks they have presented would be penalties. They’ve averaged nine penalties a game for almost 82 yards, but to be honest that hasn’t really stopped them either.”

2. Speaking of Carrollton’s quarterback, what’s your impression of Julian “Ju Ju” Lewis? “He is definitely as great as advertised. His composure is impeccable. Nothing seems to faze him. Being a freshman, playing at the highest class in Georgia with the spotlight on you at all times is an extremely tough thing to do. He took some big hits against South Paulding and Rome and got right back up and delivered big passes in each game. Coach Joey King has a very big playbook and numerous calls that he puts on Ju Ju, and he has been really good about getting them in the right play. His footwork and awareness in the pocket are just crazy. The zip he has on the football is just ‘different’ than about anything I have seen. More importantly, he is a team guy who knows how to lead and be a follower when he needs to be.”

3. Outside of Carrollton, what’s the best story line around Carroll County football? “We are blessed here in our community to cover nine different high schools. There are some very exciting things happening here. The Bowdon Red Devils are ranked No. 2 in Class A Division II, led by Robert McNeal and their experienced offensive line and their stingy defense led by defensive coordinator Jarret Thomas and senior defensive end Asher Christopher. They have a tough non-region test this week against St. Francis. The Red Devils are a team that should be playing after Thanksgiving in our area. Another team on the rise is the Central Lions. They are 4-1 including a win over Bowdon. They have their biggest game to date against the Cedartown Bulldogs Friday night. This could possibly be for the championship in Class 4A Region 7. They have a lot of talent and with a week off, the hope is they can give Cedartown everything they’ve got.”

4. Is there another player or team that you haven’t discussed that people need to know about? “The talent in this area is extremely deep. Everyone knows about Julian Lewis at Carrollton, but people really need to be paying attention to Bryce Hicks. He is a very underrated player in the class of 2024 with offers from Liberty, Coastal Carolina, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan. The Trojans also have WR Takare Lipscomb (Arkansas State), WR Caleb Odom (15-plus offers) and LB Montreze Smith (multiple offers). The Central Lions have some big-time players, as well – WR/DB Vicari Swain (South Carolina commit), DB/WR Kameron Edge (Georgia State and Georgia Tech offers), and a really fun player to keep up with for the next couple of years, freshman RB Jonaz Walton. He has had a phenomenal first season, and the offers have started to roll in, including an offer from Georgia. Villa Rica has OL Jatavius Shivers, who is committed to South Carolina. Bowdon senior QB Robert McNeal’s recruitment has really begun to take off. Bowdon also has Sr. RB/LB TJ Harvison, who also has many offers. Temple senior QB Cam Vaughn has an opportunity to be special at the next level. College coaches, if you happen to read this, watch this kid throw the football.”

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