Class 5A blog: Locust Grove, Northview continue building process

Credit: Stan Awtrey

Credit: Stan Awtrey

It isn’t easy to build your way up from the bottom, but that’s the mission faced by Locust Grove and Northview this season.

Locust Grove, which now competes in Region 2, did not win a game last season and has lost 16 in a row. The Wildcats are competing in their first season under Garry Fisher, their third head coach in as many seasons. They lost the season opener 43-7 to McDonough and host winless King on Friday night.

“We started with our seniors,” said Fisher, who spent 17 years as a college coach and served as the defensive coordinator at Drew in 2021. “Those guys are eager to win because they haven’t won a lot. And we’ve got a bunch of young guys coming into the program who are excited. Our goal has just been to get better every day and compete – and we’ve been able to do that.”

Locust Grove’s top seniors include running back Wyatt Turpin, tackle Mitchell Prater and safety Zechariah Addison.

Northview, which competes in Region 6, has already won a game this year. The Titans beat McNair 23-12 in the opener, but lost to Lakeside 30-6 in the second game. Scott Schwarzer is in his second season after helping rebuild the program at Chamblee in 2019-20.

Schwarzer had 12 players transfer out of the program before he even arrived, but has since been welcomed with great community support. This year, after going 2-8 in 2021, the Titans have made great progress. A year ago the program finished with fewer than 50 players. This year they’re at almost 70, with 25 ninth graders opting to sign up.

The Titans have a college prospect in Jimin Kwan, a senior two-way lineman who had not played football until being discovered by an assistant coach in the eighth grade. Kwak (5-11, 245) was second-team all-region last year and has received interest from several high-academic schools.

Northview also features senior lineman Jordan Gold (6-2, 250), junior lineman Drew Flanary (5-11, 240) and junior tight end/linebacker Keilan Slaton (6-0, 200).

“Our offensive line can be better than it’s been in a long time,” Schwarzer said. “We’re going to continue to try to do what our kids are capable of doing. How many games are we going to win? I don’t know. We just want to see improvement and continue to build.”

Three most impressive wins from last week

Flowery Branch beat St. Pius: The Falcons have proven they can have it both ways this season. After putting 39 points on the board in beating Decatur in the opener, Flowery Branch shut down St. Pius 9-0 with a great defensive effort on Friday. Coach Jason Tester’s team forced five turnovers and limited the powerful St. Pius running game to only 131 yards. As a result, Flowery Branch entered the state rankings for the first time at No. 7.

Dutchtown thumps Tift County: The Bulldogs remained unbeaten in their first year under coach Niketa Battle. Dutchtown followed its 24-13 opening win over Stephenson with a 33-7 victory over Tift County. Dutchtown scored two late touchdowns to break open the close game. Dutchtown’s Jamal Bing proved to be a dependable, durable back and his touchdown in the third quarter pushed the lead to two touchdowns. He finished with 20 carries for 108 yards.

Decatur knocks off Wesleyan: The Bulldogs bounced back from a tough loss on opening night to beat Wesleyan 30-28. Decatur took the lead on a fourth-quarter touchdown from Harrison Hannah to Tre’vyon Webb, then a two-point conversion pass to Kenric Lanier. The inning points came when Isaac Krone kicked an 18-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.

Credit: Mark Brock, DeKalb County Athletics

Credit: Mark Brock, DeKalb County Athletics

Three top performers from last week

Sammy Brown, Jefferson: The junior running back/linebacker was a two-way force in the 56-28 win over Wrens, S.C. Brown ran 15 times for 178 yards and four touchdowns, had 10 total tackles and intercepted a pass.

Fabian Walker, Chamblee: The quarterback threw for 251 yards and five touchdowns in a 59-0 win over Towers. Walker threw scoring passes to four different receives – two to Jordan Thornton and one apiece to Noah Habtermariam, Tristian Sizemore, Levi Bradam.

Jack Stanton, Greater Atlanta Christian: Stanton threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns in a 23-19 win over Lovett. Stanton completed 7 of 9 passes for 81 yards and threw the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds remaining.

The rankings ... No. 11-15

This is unofficial, but here are the next five candidate who should be considered for a spot in the rankings:

No. 11 Jefferson (1-1): This week – vs. St. Pius

No. 12 Clarke Central (1-1): Does not play this week.

No. 13 Cambridge (1-1): This week – vs. Alpharetta

No. 14 Tucker (2-0): Does not play this week.

No. 15 Ola (2-0): This week – vs. Jackson