Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NBA Opening Night Special AugBball Talk Show Episode



William Avery​ and I went live on Facebook this morning when the buzzer on the clock behind us went off.

Tune in to our NBA Opening Night Special Episode above! Here’s the format:

1) Cavs vs Celtics review


Young Guns:

Jaylen Brown - 25 points
Jayson Tatum - 14 second half points, double-double

Star Watch CLE:

Lebron James: 29 points (12-19 FG), 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks

Star Watch BOS:

Kyrie Irving: 22 points, 10 assists

2) Warriors vs Rockets review

Bench Play HOU:

Eric Gordon: 24 points, 9-10 2 pt FG, 29 min
PJ Tucker: 20 points, 4-6 3 pt FG
Luc Mbah a Moute: 14 points, 2-3 3 pt FG, 23 min

Bench Play GS:

Nick Young: 23 points, 6-7 3 pt FG, 26 min

Star Watch HOU:

James Harden: 27 points, 10 assists
Chris Paul: 4 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds

Star Watch GS

Steph Curry: 22 points
Kevin Durant: 20 points, 4 blocks
Klay’s Thompson: 16 points, 4-7 3 pt FG

3) Top 3 individual performances from opening night

Chad's picks

Lebron James: 29 points (12-19 FG), 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks
James Harden: 27 points, 10 assists
Eric Gordon: 24 points, 9-10 2 pt FG, 29 min

Will's picks
Lebron James: 29 points (12-19 FG), 16 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 blocks
James Harden: 27 points, 10 assists
Jaylen Brown: 25 points

4) Pick Wednesday’s ESPN games (Wizards-Sixers and Spurs-Timberwolves)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NBA preseason predictions by Will Avery and me ahead Tuesday night's tip off



Will Avery and I have previewed the start of the NBA season for the past few episodes of the AugBball Talk Show. During episode 5 Saturday we talked about our preseason predictions for the top 8 seeds in each division, the all star teams, and the MVP and rookie of the year award winners. Those picks and the games that we pick each night when there will be noteworthy games on TV will make for a good competition this season. And we allowed a third contestant ("Player 3" below) in our game.

Tune in to episode 6 of the AugBball Talk Show Wednesday morning (Live on the @AugBball Facebook page) to hear us break down Tuesday Night's Celtics @ Cavs and Rockets @ Warriors action.

AugBball Talk Show Preseason Predictions


Tuesday’s picks (Will)

Celtics over Cavs
Rockets over Warriors

Tuesday’s picks (Chad)

Cavs over Celtics
Warriors over Rockets

Tuesday’s picks (Player 3)

Cavs over Celtics
Warriors over Rockets

Playoff picks


West (Will)


1. Warriors
2. Rockets
3. Thunder
4. Spurs
5. Timberwolves
6. Nuggets
7. Pelicans
8. Clippers

West (Chad)

1. Thunder
2. Warriors
3. Spurs
4. Rockets
5. Clippers
6. Grizzlies
7. Timberwolves
8. Pelicans

West (Player 3)

1. Warriors
2. Thunder
3. Rockets
4. Spurs
5. Pelicans
6. Clippers
7. Timberwolves
8. Blazers

East (Will)

1. Cavs
2. Celtics
3. Bucks
4. Wizards
5. Raptors
6. Hornets
7. Heat
8. Pistons

East (Chad)

1. Cavs
2. Celtics
3. Wizards
4. Raptors
5. Bucks
6. Hornets
7. Sixers
8. Heat

East (Player 3)

1. Cavs
2. Celtics
3. Bucks
4. Wizards
5. Raptors
6. Hornets
7. Heat
8. Sixers

All Star Teams


East All Stars (Will)

Irving
Wall
James
Antetokounmpo
Embiid
Walker
Beal
DeRozan
Hayward
Love
Porzingis
Turner

West All Stars (Will)

Curry
Westbrook
Durant
Leonard
Towns
Harden
Lillard
Davis
Butler
Cousins
Griffin
George

East All Stars (Chad)

James
Irving
Antetokounmpo
Hayward
Love
Lowry
DeRozan
Wall
Beal
Walker
Embiid
Wade

West All Stars (Chad)

Curry
Durant
Harden
Westbrook
George
Thompson
Paul
Anthony
Davis
Cousins
Leonard
Lillard

East All Stars (Player 3)

James
Irving
Antetokounmpo
Hayward
Love
Lowry
DeRozan
Wall
Walker
Thomas
Drummond
Schroder

West All Stars (Player 3)

Curry
Durant
Harden
Westbrook
George
Thompson
Paul
Anthony
Davis
Cousins
Leonard
Lillard


MVP (Will)

Kevin Durant

MVP (Chad)

Kawhi Leonard

MVP (Player 3)

Steph Curry

ROY (Will)

Dennis Smith Jr

ROY (Chad)

Malik Monk

ROY (Player 3)

Malik Monk


Live interviews with Augusta University (men's and women's) coaches and players at the first practices

I interviewed three coaches and 4 players live from the practice floor at Augusta University for the Jaguars’ first practices of the 2017-18 season. Check out my interviews with Dip Metress (head coach, MBB); Drew Gibson (asst coach, MBB); TC Fields (Sr, MBB); Kyle Doyle (Sr, MBB); Tyvez Monroe (Jr, MBB); Millette Green (head coach, WBB); and Mallory Myers (Jr, WBB).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Live interviews Monday at 7:30 with Augusta University head coaches Dip Metress and Millette Green


Aaron Byrd snaps a pass in Augusta's first practice of the season Sunday morning.


Tonight at 7:30 at the Augusta University Athletics Facebook page I will have interviews with Augusta University head coaches Dip Metress and Millette Green live from the practice floor during the men’s and women’s teams’ first Monday of practice. Share, like and follow on Facebook to watch the interviews and see the Jags in action in the background. Send us questions for the coaches too, please.



About coach Metress*


Metress is beginning his 22nd season as a head coach and his 14th at Augusta, where he has recorded an incredible .730 winning percentage. 8 of Augusta’s 12 NCAA tournament appearances have come under Metress’s direction, and he led the Jaguars to 3 consecutive elite 8 appearances between 2008 and 2010.

The Jags finished 24-8 last season and earned the Peach Belt Conference’s East Division regular season title by recording the best record in the entire conference. Augusta was eliminated in the NCAA tournament round of 32.

Senior Tamyrik Fields will again be a team leader for Augusta.

About coach Green


Green is beginning her first season at Augusta and her first as a head coach after assisting at William and Mary, and before that Fairleigh Dickinson and Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). Green is a 2003 graduate of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was a member of the women’s basketball team.

Senior Kyle Doyle sizes up his options Sunday during Augusta's first practice.


*Complete bio info for the coaches can be found at augustajags.com.


Highlights of Keshun Sherrill, plus an interview, after Sherrill's 22 points in blowout home opener win





Keshun Sherrill scored 22 points to lead New Heroes to a 91-65 win over the Den Helder Suns in Dutch Basketball League Play today. Sherrill made 10 of 17 field goals and scored 16 first half points as New Heroes built a commanding 53-28 lead going into intermission.

New Heroes improved to 2-0 after opening the season Tuesday with an 81-63 road win over Weert.

I interviewed Keshun over the phone after his team's home opener (see below). He talked about the fiery (literally) introduction before the game, his ability to use his left hand (Sherrill made 4 left handed shots Sunday), and the fact that his image is already on the back of the team's bus (See photo via New Heroes).

Of course Sherrill is the all time leading scorer for both Augusta University and the Peach Belt Conference.



New Heroes improved to 2-0. The game can be viewed in full at this link: https://youtu.be/MKGlGJDSCvQ

Saturday, October 14, 2017

AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery - Episode 5



AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and William Avery - Episode 5
Live from the CSRA Middle School Developmental League
Topics:
1. HS Football
- N Augusta tops S Aiken
http://www.augbball.com/…/north-augusta-tops-south-aiken-im…
- Evans over Grovetown
http://www.augbball.com/…/evans-42-grovetown-32-full-highli…
- Aquinas vs Washington-Wilkes is Game of the Week
2. Picks for Tuesday’s NBA double header and preseason picks for the top playoff spots
3. Crazy college football upsets
4. College Bball practices beginning
NBA predictions
Playoff picks
West (Will)
1. Warriors
2. Rockets
3. Thunder
4. Spurs
5. Timberwolves
6. Nuggets
7. Pelicans
8. Clippers
West (Chad)
1. Thunder
2. Warriors
3. Spurs
4. Rockets
5. Clippers
6. Grizzlies
7. Timberwolves
8. Pelicans
East (Will)
1. Cavs
2. Celtics
3. Bucks
4. Wizards
5. Raptors
6. Hornets
7. Heat
8. Pistons
East (Chad)
1. Cavs
2. Celtics
3. Wizards
4. Raptors
5. Bucks
6. Hornets
7. Sixers
8. Heat
MVP (Will)
Kevin Durant
MVP (Chad)
Kawhi Leonard
ROY (Will)
Dennis Smith Jr
ROY (Chad)
Malik Monk
Tuesday’s picks (Will)
Celtics over Cavs
Rockets over Warriors
Tuesday’s picks (Chad)
Cavs over Celtics
Warriors over Rockets

Friday, October 13, 2017

North Augusta tops South Aiken; improves to 8-0

Dejuan Bell had 3 interceptions in North Augusta's win over South Aiken.



North Augusta’s defense made the difference in the Yellow Jackets’ 21-7 win over region rival South Aiken Friday. Class AAAA's #4 ranked North Augusta improved to 8-0 with 2 regular season games remaining. South Aiken fell to 6-2.



Defensive back Dejuan Bell grabbed three interceptions in the first three quarters as the Yellow Jackets hung on to a 7-0 lead, which was established late in the first quarter when quarterback Landon Washington rushed for a 3 yard touchdown. South Aiken finally got on the board in the third quarter when Deshun Kitchings scored from 5 yards out after Chris Roberts marched the Thoroughbreds down field with a string of rushing gains.

North Augusta's crowd roared when the Yellow Jackets made two key second half stops.


Then North Augusta’s defense made two key second half stops. First, with the crowd roaring its support, the Jackets stuffed Roberts on 4th and 1 at North Augusta’s 45 yard line. Next, Zach McGhee dumped Cody Boynton deep in the backfield on 3rd and 10 early in the 4th quarter.

McGhee’s stop swung the momentum back to North Augusta, which quickly scored to take a 14-7 lead after a Landon Washington to Kashawn Johnson connection, a couple Derius Gibson rushes, and finally a Washington keeper for another touchdown.

Landon Washington rushed for 2 touchdowns in North Augusta's win Friday.


After playing more stingy defense, the Yellow Jackets drove 75 yards on the final series to earn the 21-7 win. Washington set the tone on that last drive, running over a defender to get the initial first down. Gibson would take it from there, moving the chains with several significant gains, and finishing with a 15 yard touchdown dash on 4th and 1 with 31.7 seconds remaining.

Evans 42, Grovetown 32 - Full Highlights

AugBball Bonus Coverage:




Evans quarterback Damekus Taylor ran for 3 touchdowns and threw for 2 more as the Knights topped Grovetown 42-32 on the road to improve to 2-0 in region play. The Warriors dropped to 2-1.

Taylor piled up over 140 rushing yards and more than 200 yards passing. Thanks to Chris Gay and Ashley Brown for the stats. And to Robert Drew for the video highlights.

3 HS Football Games I'm Tracking Friday Night

#5 South Aiken at #4 North Augusta is the game of the night!

Follow @AugBball on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter Friday night to see the live highlights and updates from this South Carolina class AAAA showdown:




Special Bonus: Saturday morning highlights from Evans's (4-2, 1-0) visit to Grovetown (4-3, 2-0) for at least a share in the region's top spot.


Here is my interview with Grovetown coach Damien Postell immediately after the Warriors beat the defending region champion Heritage 42-39 last Friday to move to 2-0 in region play:


Finally, Aquinas (4-2, 2-0), winner of 3 straight, enters a 3 game stretch with a home game against Greene County tonight. It will be the final regular season home game for the Fighting Irish, who are rolling after 3 straight wins.

Aquinas coach James Leonard spoke about the community support his program receives this week in the AJC:



This is Aquinas's Boys Basketball coach Darren Douglas telling me about the school, coach James Leonard, and the football team in a recent Coach Talk interview:



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Media Day Information and Coach Talk with Darren Douglas and Jeff Williams

Dear basketball community,

Before you hear from Darren Douglas and Jeff Williams, please read about our coming high school basketball media day, which we hope will be packed with every HS boys and girls coach, and key players appointed by their coaches.

Date, time, and place for the expanded Augusta region’s media day:


  • Sunday, November 5 from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Old Columbia Middle School
  • Message me or Email cookchad08@gmail.com for more details or with questions and RSVPs.
  • Schools from Richmond, Columbia, Aiken, Burke, McDuffie, Screven, Jefferson, Baldwin and every other county whose basketball affects ours are invited.
  • I ask all my coaching friends, and all players, parents, and hoops fans to spread the word that we want to see every high school boys and girls coach and their appointed player representatives from all the schools. Wear school athletic gear. I will be doing interviews the whole time. Darren has invited the entire media. Now please help me make sure the HS hoops coaches know they are their selected assistants and players are invited! 
  • Share, share, share!

Coach Talk: Darren Douglas (Aquinas)


In his first season as the head coach, Darren Douglas led Aquinas to a 26-2 record, a region championship, and a class A state playoff quarterfinal finish last season. 26 represented a 15 game increase in the win column. Coach Douglas talked to me this week about his program's focus in the off season. Darren said he is teaching his players how to "work," and that his ultimate goal is teaching them how a strong work ethic can help them become "better fathers, better husbands, and better people."


Coach Talk: Jeff Williams (Lakeside)


Lakeside senior Brad Hilley works participated in last Wednesday's skill work with coach Jeff Williams.


In his first season in charge, head coach Jeff Williams led Lakeside to a 21-5 season, an undefeated regular season region record, and a region tournament championship. The Panthers won 10 more games than the prior season and achieved many milestones not reached before in the school's three decades of existence. Coach Williams talked to me last week about his team's focus during the off season, what they are doing to improve, and which players are getting the most out of their time in the gym.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Keshun Sherrill starts strong and Ben Madgen is making his dream come true



Sherrill's image is on the team's bus
Keshun Sherrill, the all time scoring leader for Augusta University and the Peach Belt Conference, notched a win in his professional debut, scoring 18 points, dishing 8 assists and grabbing 7 rebounds as New Heroes Basketball topped Weert 81-63 Tuesday in Holland. Sherrill made 8 of 13 field goal attempts and 3 of 6 three pointers, and he also grabbed 4 rebounds. I asked Sherrill in a message after the game whether he was nervous in his first professional outing:

"I would say I was more anxious than nervous," said the pure shooting point guard who racked up 2,333 points in college. "Of course I had the first game jitters, but when the ball went up in the air I was good to go."

Trailing 21-16 after one quarter, New Heroes took command of the game by outscoring Weert 25-5 in the second period. New Heroes led 41-26 at halftime, and the lead only briefly narrowed to as close as 13 once early in the fourth quarter.

New Heroes plays its first home game Sunday.

More news about Jaguars in Europe

Big brother KJ is off to a good start in Germany


After my preseason update about Sherrill and another Augusta University legend, Garret Siler, Augusta assistant Lennie Carlson, who has a wealth of experience playing professionally overseas and coaching at the highest levels, commented that he believed Sherrill will eventually reach a higher level of European ball, possibly in Germany or France. Germany is where Sherrill's brother KJ - who earned All Peach Belt Conference honors in his only season at Augusta University after transferring from UNC Charlotte - is playing. The older Sherrill, who at 6'8" stands a foot taller than Keshun, has averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds in his team's first 6 games. His Bonn II squad's next outing will be this Saturday.

The Sherrill brothers saw each other during the preseason when KJ and his girlfriend watched Keshun play when New Heroes played an exhibition game in Germany. Their close proximity to each other has to help the strain of living in a foreign country. "The next time I'll see him will be Christmas. Instead of coming back to the states I'll go and spend it with them," Sherrill said.


Ben Madgen is living out his dream


This post by Ben Madgen is a must read!
http://www.eurocupbasketball.com/eurocup/features/blogs/2017-2018/ben-madgen/i/896uownnyoqr8cby/ben-madgen-living-the-eurocup-dream

Ben Madgen, who led Augusta to three consecutive elite 8 NCAA tournament appearances and whose school and conference scoring records Sherrill finally broke in the second to last game of Sherrill's career, is living out his dream of reaching the highest level of European basketball. In a blog post written by Madgen and posted on the official website for EuroLeague and EuroCup basketball, the highest level of ball besides the NBA, Madgen tells his story of success, adversity, risk taking, and the partnership of marriage.

After starring in Australia, his home country, and Belgium for the first half-decade since leaving Augusta, Madgen eventually found his way last season to Lithuania, where he averaged 14 points per game in EuroCup play for Panevezys. This season he plays for Lithuania's Lietuvos Rytas, also a EuroCup participant, and he has scored 9 points per game in the first 6 outings of LKL league play.

Madgen's best game this season was his 21 point outing in a 75-69 road win against Vytautas Thursday. He made 9 of 12 field goal attempts, including all 8 of his two-point tries. Here are the game highlights:


Lietuvos plays its first EuroCup game tomorrow at noon our time. I'll report on Madgen's first outing afterwards!


Monday, October 9, 2017

#4 North Augusta's showdown with #5 South Aiken will likely decide the region's champion

North Augusta vs South Aiken is Friday's AugBball Game of the Night

The sprint through region play will last four more Fridays. Over that time period, about a half-dozen games pitting region rivals will likely decide which teams will grab their region's #1 seed, and with it the chance to earn at least two home games in the state playoffs come November. And high school football's closest watchers are excited about it!


I'll have more on the other games mentioned above later. For now I'll focus on Friday's showdown at North Augusta between the Yellow Jackets (7-0, 1-0) and defending region champion South Aiken (6-1, 1-0), the results of which should eventually determine the top seed in South Carolina's class AAAA, region 4. North Augusta, ranked #4 in the state, has scorched through its schedule so far, outscoring opponents by an average margin of 27 points per game. And South Aiken, ranked #5, has picked up a ton of steam since dropping its second game of the season at White Knoll. The Thoroughbreds have won 5 straight games by an average margin of 38 points.


South Aiken's first region game (September 29)


In their first week of region play, both teams made it obvious that their only challenge in October will be against each other. First South Aiken routed rival Aiken 51-10 at home in a game televised on WJBF. In that game, running back Chris Roberts ran for 133 yards on 15 carries and caught 2 touchdown passes. And receiver Deshun Kitchings added a couple scores, one through the air and another on the game's opening kick-off, a 95 yard sprint that you will see at the beginning of this highlight reel he shared on Twitter:


North Augusta's first league game (October 6)


Not to be outdone, a week later North Augusta ran Airport off the field 47-7, avenging a loss suffered in the final regular season game last season. Speedster Dejuan Bell scored 3 touchdowns in that game, first on a 60 yard punt return, next on a 2 yard rush, and lastly on a 61 yard reception.

Dejuan Bell has 9 touchdown receptions this season.

Friday's game will be my first time watching the Thoroughbreds in person after featuring North Augusta's 34-21 home win over another rival, Strom Thurmond, three Fridays ago:



Judging from the statistics, the teams' standouts at the skill positions look like mirror images of each other:


But when these rivals meet in the most important game of their region schedule, or their "second season," as North Augusta coach Brian Thomas calls it, the statistics that were piled up in August and September can be thrown out the window!



Saturday, October 7, 2017

#2 Thomson scores 41 unanswered points, routes Hephzibah 55-20

Thomson's De'arious Jones celebrates his touchdown on an interception return Friday.

With 7:30 remaining in the second quarter of Thomson's 55-20 win over region foe Hephzibah, Artest Banks recovered a blocked punt, catching it on the fly in the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 21-10 lead. During the next 10 minutes of play, class AAAA's #2 ranked Thomson would pile on another 28 points, scoring in every imaginable way.

First Tyrek Braswell rushed for his second touchdown of the game from 8 yards out after Mills Ridings completed a long pass to Jacorey Crawford and followed up with a long run to set up Braswell's score. Next Tyrese Jones returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown to give Thomson a 35-10 lead with 1:26 left in the first half. Then before the break, Ridings found Marcus Cade for a pretty touchdown completion from 33 yards out. And finally, right after the third quarter began, De'arious Jones intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 49-10 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.



Before that spree began, Braswell opened the scoring with a touchdown run from inside the 5 yard line. That score came on the third play of the game's first drive, and it was set up by a 43 yard Christian Tutt kick off return and two big gains from scrimmage.

Christian Tutt rushed for a touchdown, tallied over 70 yards returning kicks, and had a tackle for a loss Friday.


Hephzibah answered with a lengthy drive that ended in a Renan Orroyo field goal. Thomson immediately scored again when Braswell set up Tyler Curry's short touchdown run with a long sprint down the right sideline. Curry's score put Thomson ahead 14-3.

The game briefly looked like it would be more competitive than most people expected when Hephzibah's Max Lockwood engineered a touchdown drive on the Rebels' second possession. Lockwood perfectly executed a fake punt on fourth-and-one, finding E'shawn Mayes on a 32 yard completion down the left sideline. Lockwood hit Henri travis in the end zone moments later to cut Thomson's lead to 14-10.

But then the floodgates immediately opened, and the Bulldogs would scored 41 unanswered points, capped off with a score by Tutt, who played his last two snaps of action in the third quarter, rushing the ball twice from direct snap, the second time trucking over a defender at the goal line to give Thomson a 55-10 lead before the substitutes took over.

After the game I spoke with Ridings and Braswell about their respective roles and their teammates:




Thursday, October 5, 2017

#4 North Augusta and Grovetown play important region games at home Friday

North Augusta (6-0) and Grovetown's both have important home games Friday against two region foes from outside of the area. South Carolina's class AAAA #4 ranked Yellow Jackets will open region play in a homecoming game against Airport. Grovetown will try to improve to 2-0 in class AAAAAA region 3 play against the defending region champ, Heritage.

Quarterback Landon Washington leads North Augusta into Friday's region opener.

North Augusta vs Airport



South Carolina class AAAA's #4 ranked North Augusta completed what head coach Brian Thomas called its first season with a perfect 6-0 record last week with a 43-13 win at Lower Richland.

Receiver Dejuan Bell caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Landon Washington and Bell returned a kick for another score.

Dejuan Bell - North Augusta


Running back Derius Gibson ran for a pair of touchdowns to go with his 126 rushing yards.

Derius Gibson - North Augusta


Friday's homecoming game against Airport begins the Yellow Jackets' 4 game sprint through region play. If North Augusta is able to avenge its loss at Airport from one year ago, the stage will be set for the October 13th matchup between the Yellow Jackets and rival South Aiken.

The Thoroughbreds are currently ranked #5 in class AAAA following last week's 51-10 blowout win over rival Aiken. Receiver Deshun Kitchings ran back the opening kick off for a touchdown in that game, and Kitchings and company never looked back!


If the Yellow Jackets and Thoroughbred both win Friday, next Friday's clash at North Augusta will be the AugBball Game of the Night!

Grovetown vs Heritage



Grovetown (3-3, 1-0) has a chance to be the first team in Georgia's class AAAAAA, region 3 to get to two wins when Heritage visits Friday night. The Warriors have given up only 3 points the past two weeks while winning two straight games, including a 17-3 victory in last week's region opener at Alcovy.

Greggory Rogers - Grovetown

The Warriors have gotten important contributions from linebacker Greggory Rogers, who leads the region in tackles with 73, and safety Myles Jackson, who is second in the region in interceptions with 4, including 3 against Alcovy.

Myles Jackson - Grovetown

Senior running back D'angelo Durham, who scored two touchdowns last week, carries much of the load on offense.

D'angelo Durham - Grovetown

#2 Thomson hosts Hephzibah Friday in the AugBball Game of the Night

Top 150 (ESPN) player Christian Tutt and #2 ranked Thomson host Hephzibah in Friday's AugBball Game of the Night!

Follow @AugBball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for live highlights and updates from the Brickyard Friday. And expect more Friday night football previews Friday morning!


Shot out of a cannon!

Playing a game for the first time in 28 days, Thomson's Christian Tutt, the area's best player, looked like he was shot out of a cannon Friday against Clarkston at the Brickyard when he ran back the game's opening kick straight down the field and into the end zone, and minutes later ran past everybody for a 40 yard touchdown reception from quarterback Mills Ridings.



Thomson (4-0), the #2 ranked team in Georgia's class AAAA, would take a 49-0 first quarter lead over the winless Clarkston and finish shaking the cobwebs off after the long, weather and scheduling induced break with a 69-0 win ahead of region 3 play. The Bulldogs will host upstart Hephzibah (4-2, 1-0), winner of 4 straight, in Friday's AugBball Game of the Night. Hephzibah is riding high after opening region play with a 41-6 win at Cross Creek.

Rebels coach William Harrell was recently honored by the Atlanta Falcons, I would think at least partly because of Hephzibah's early turn around from last season's winless season:


Conventional wisdom says that Thomson will handle the upstart Rebels in much the same way class AA's #3 ranked Screven County handled the upstart Harlem in last Friday's Game of the Night, which I detailed in part 1 of this week's previews (at this link.)


Players to watch - Thomson

The Bulldogs have averaged nearly 240 rushing yards per game behind senior Tyrek Braswell (99 ypg and 5 total TDs) and junior Bubba Murray (68 ypg and 6 TDs).

Bubba Murray vs Laney (8/18)




Christian Tutt is the area's most highly recruited player. ESPN ranks his the nation's 137th best player and the 17th best cornerback. He has scholarship offers from Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Ohio State, to name only a few:



Players to watch - Hephzibah

The Rebels feature the region's leader in passing yards (Max Lockwood, 768); in rushing yards (Rayquan Riley, 618); in receiving yards (E'shawn Mayes); and in tackles and sacks (Elijah Mayes, 36 tackles and 6.5 sacks). Riley and E'shawn Mayes also join Thomson's Murray and Braswell as the region's leaders in touchdowns. Riley has tallied 10 scores so far, and Mayes 5.

The Rebels' victory over Cross Creek last Friday was featured prominently on WJBF's football Friday coverage, which can be viewed at this link: https://youtu.be/M-bbdU3j9Do

Coming soon are previews of North Augusta (6-0) and Grovetown's important home games Friday against two outside the area region foes. South Carolina's class AAAA #4 ranked Yellow Jackets will open region play in a homecoming game against Airport. Grovetown will try to improve to 2-0 in class AAAAAA region 3 play against the defending region champ, Heritage.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Previewing class A and AA Region Action (Week of October 6)

Tyquan Johnson (top) and Ty King (bottom) have Screven County and Jefferson County on a collision course for the class AA, region 4 title.


This Friday is the first night when all area teams will have officially made the leap into region action, sort of like Aquinas's George Welch did last Friday when the Fighting Irish jumped out to a 1-0 start in league play:


This is the first of several AugBball region preview posts before Friday's games. Here I'll focus on the area's class A and class AA regions on the Georgia side of the border. Soon to follow will be previews for class AAAA region action in both South Carolina and Georgia, as well as the key class AAAAAA region games in Georgia.

Class A Catch-Up

Aquinas (3-2, 2-0) is surging, having won two straight games including an important 9-3 win at Calvary Day two weeks ago. Because the Irish's state playoff hopes are tied to class A's "power rankings," the win at Calvary Day, which is currently #11 in the rankings on the private school side (Aquinas is currently #15), jump started the Aquinas's season after a 1-2 start that included a three week hurricane induced break from play. GPB Sports took notice of the Irish's big win and featured it on last Wednesday's mid week update:



Aquinas's more recent win, a 45-14 drubbing of region foe Hancock Central on the road Friday, wasn't nearly the nail biter as the game at Calvary Day. Quarterback John Paul posted 289 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes while completing 21 of 31 attempts in that win. Paul found the senior Welch for two of those scores, and Welch finished with 89 receiving yards on 7 catches.


Class A, Region 7B standings (Oct 3)


The Irish's next couple games, both at home, come against region opponents which aren't as close to the top 16 cut off in the power rankings needed to qualify for the state playoffs. First comes #32 Warren County (Friday), and then #25 Greene County on October 13. If Aquinas extends its win streak, its October 20 road game against Washington-Wilkes (#11 in the public school power rankings) will matter a lot. The Irish will then wrap up the regular season at Lincoln County the following week in another promising matchup. Aquinas, Washington-Wilkes, and probably Greene County and Lincoln County, are on a four week collision course of games that will determine the sub region's winner.


Live broadcast
Warren County @ Aquinas
Friday, October 6 at 6:30 PM


Speaking of Washington-Wilkes (2-3, 1-0) and Lincoln County (1-4, 0-1), those two class A public school teams, both rich with tradition, played Friday. Washington-Wilkes was victorious and the Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux had the game story at this link. Michaux's article the morning before the big rivalry game about Washington-Wilkes's 1967 state championship team was a fantastic read. It made me realize that I shouldn't wait until next season to get interested in this class A region race.


Class AA's two team race

In last week's "AugBball review," I asked if Harlem could make class AA's region 4 a three team race. CJ Wright and a host of Screven County (5-0, 3-0) playmakers and hard hitters answered that question with Friday's 35-0 route of the Bulldogs in Sylvania.

CJ Wright does it all for Screven County, including kicking off.

I wasn't the only person hoping for a competitive game Friday. Screven County's broadcast announcer Burton Kemp Jr. wrote two features in the Sylvania Telephone about Harlem's visit, one headlined "Hot Harlem here looking for the upset" and another titled "Finally, a meaningful game on the schedule." But Kemp also pointed out that the Gamecocks, or the Roosters as he calls them, are ranked #3 in class AA. And they went into Friday's game leading the state in points scored, AND holding the second spot in points allowed, for good reason.

I promise I had no idea the front page of the Sylvania's paper's sports page mention a "hot" Harlem when I prefaced my question for Wright after the game by saying "Harlem came in here kind of hot." Wright's mention of Herschel Walker in his answer was entertaining. See it and learn about his well rounded athletic record here:



It appears that Wright, Kemp, and I were all surprised by Harlem's Cameron Garnett's absence from Friday's entire game. That didn't help Harlem. And AJ Brown, who joined Garnett to make the region's top two rushers leading into the game, only played the first quarter. But with all due respect to Harlem, which has another daunting game Friday at #8 ranked Jefferson County, I don't think the final score would have been different Friday had the Bulldogs been at full strength.

The Facebook post directly below has the link to my story from Friday's game, which includes full highlights and pictures:



Jefferson County (6-0, 3-0), which entered Friday's 49-8 win over Glenn Hills tied for first in class AA with the Gamecocks in points scored, has joined Screven County on a collision course towards their November 3rd showdown in Sylvania that will likely have at stake the region title. That game has the potential to be the most exciting regular season game of the season. The offensive firepower involved is too extensive to do justice to here. But here are a couple interesting matchups involving each team's passing game:



I'll be back with previews for the class AAAA scene (for Georgia and South Carolina) and Georgia's class AAAAAA scene Wednesday night!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Screven County routes Harlem; Gamecock playmakers everywhere

Armani Bunbury (middle), Erick Roberson (right), Kim Hunter (left), and CJ Wright (back) make a loaded Screven County backfield.


Five different Screven County players reached the end zone Friday as the Gamecocks routed Harlem 35-0 at home to improve to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in region play. Class AA's #3 ranked team is loaded with playmakers, and none or more difficult to stop than 285 pound fullback/defensive tackle CJ Wright, who punished the Harlem defense throughout the evening and scored a third quarter touchdown. Wright will play at Georgia Southern next season:



6'3" 195 pound receiver Tyquan Johnson was as impressive as Wright. The future South Carolina Gamecock caught 5 passes from quarterback Armani Bunbury, including a 6 yard touchdown strike that gave the Gamecocks a 21-0 first half lead.



Bunbury, a threat to run and pass the ball, started the scoring with a long touchdown pass to Johnathan Roberts on Screven County's first possession. The quarterback with all the moves would throw for another score, and he notched the Gamecocks final touchdown in the third quarter when he faked everybody out, including me and my camera, and scored untouched and almost unnoticed after a perfectly executed bootleg.

Armani Bunbury threw for 2 touchdowns and rushed for another in Friday's win.


Bunbury is one of the playmakers shown in this highlight reel from Friday's win. Also shown are running backs Erick Roberson and Kim Hunter, as well as linebackers Kashawn Robinson and Treston Jamison.



Friday's game made me look forward to the November 3rd showdown between Screven County and Jefferson County, class AA's #7 ranked team. The Warriors (6-0, 3-0) defeated Glenn Hills 49-8 Friday. When these two teams meet in Sylvania, a region title will almost certainly be at stake.

Jefferson County's Ja'Darious Hector - Photo credit: Larry Smith

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

High School Football "Halftime" Review and the AugBball Game of the Week

Follow @AugBball on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for my football coverage, which is brand new at AugBball. I've been featuring a game of the week every Friday and providing live highlights and updates as well as post game interviews and game summaries and much more.

This week's game of the week:
Harlem (4-1, 2-0) at #3 Screven County (5-0, 2-0)


Harlem's visit to Screven County this Friday will be AugBball's Game of the Week!


Now let's get to the halftime review...

Six of the high school football season's 12 weeks have passed. These are the stories about the local teams that are on the top of my mind, and the teams and games that I plan to closely track in the next month.

1) Burke County played flawless throughout the pre-region schedule


"If we are the team we say we are..." - BC Coach Eric Parker


After 5 games, four of them against teams in a higher classification, Burke County has proven, at least statistically, that it is a team that can get "a yard or two" in the most important moments of a game. I'm referring to coach Eric Parker's quote in Saturday's Effingham Herald about his decision to go for it on fourth-and-two in his own territory while leading 28-19 in the fourth quarter at Effingham County Friday.

"We didn't want to give them the ball back," Parker said. "We had some success running the ball so we decided -- if we are the team we say we are -- we need to get a yard or two."
Jaylen Odom gained 35 yards on that play, and the Bears, class AAAA's #7 ranked team, scored two plays later and picked up an impressive road win to establish a 5-0 record before beginning region play at Cross Creek October 6.

Jaylen Odom gained 35 yards on a crucial fourth down play. Photo credit: Larry Smith

Burke County tallied 480 rushing yards against Effingham County, and that wasn't even a season high. That came during a week 3 win over Washington County when the Bears rushed for 568 yards and scored 33 unanswered points to turn a 17-9 third quarter deficit into a 42-17 trouncing. This type of dominance should continue through region play, at least until October 27 when region rival Thomson, the state's #2 team, visits Waynesboro for a showdown between the two best teams in the area, at least on the Georgia side of the border.

Everybody is anticipating the October 27th Thomson-Burke County showdown!


Speaking of #2 ranked Thomson, the Bulldogs have been off for three weeks. They are back in action Friday at home against winless Clarkston before beginning region play. I expect them to sail through the region schedule leading up to the game in Waynesboro, which will be televised by WJBF and featured here as my game of the week.

2) North Augusta is poised for its best season in years


The Yellow Jackets have avenged 2 of last season's losses, but the 2 more important opportunities are ahead.


North Augusta has sprinted to 5 comfortable wins and in the process has beaten both Lexington and White Knoll in the same season for the first time since 2012. After taking care of rival Strom Thurmond last week, the Yellow Jackets have one more non region game, this Friday at Lower Richland, before getting the opportunity to get revenge at home over region foes South Aiken and Airport, both teams they couldn't get past on the road last season.

I'll be back at N Augusta for the October 13th showdown with S Aiken, which may determine whether the Jackets earn their first region title since 2013.


The 34-21 win over Thurmond was probably the most competitive contest so far for coach Brian Thomas's senior laden team, which sports an average margin of victory of 24 points. And besides an interception on the first play that led to a quick Strom Thurmond touchdown, the Yellow Jackets were essentially flawless for the next three quarters of play, scoring 28 unanswered points and keeping the Rebels out of the red zone all but one time.

The offense is loaded with firepower, and the most reliable ingredient last Friday was the running game. Running back Derius Gibson ran for 217 yards on 17 carries in the first game all season in which he played during the fourth quarter. The offensive line deserves a lot of the credit. 168 of the yards were gained on 4 plays in which Gibson was touched by a defender within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage only one time. Here is a look at that dominance by the North Augusta line, led by left tackle Sam Bryant and left guard Bryce Williamson:



Quarterback Landon Washington is among the area's leaders in passing touchdowns (9), passing yards (866) completion percentage (62%). And he showed poise Friday after throwing an interception on the game's first play, which allowed Strom Thurmond to take a quick 7-0 lead. On his very next snap, Washington stood in the pocket and took a hit from Thurmond's Tre Moore right after releasing a touchdown pass to Junius Walker. Washington was on target the rest of the night. His 5-12 completion-attempt figures were skewed by three dropped passes, two of which were on third down. The dual threat QB also ran for a touchdown.

Washington's favorite target, senior speedster Dejuan Bell, averages over 20 yards per completion and has found the end zone 6 times through the air. He is a constant threat, as he showed Friday with a 37 yard kick off return that set up North Augusta's first touchdown. Bell also haunts the secondary, where he has grabbed 4 interceptions this season. Taking turns with Bell making big plays is Kashaun Johnson, who returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown Friday. Johnson also has a pair of interceptions on the season.

3) The 6A Race is unpredictable until Evans, Greenbrier, and Grovetown meet


These teams have all looked good while playing completely different schedules.


Damekus Taylor has accounted for the most touchdowns (20) of any area player.


Evans (3-2) has had a thrilling ride through non region play, including a 49-48 overtime loss at Washington County two weeks ago and a dominant 45-2 whipping of Baldwin last Friday. Those two games were a continuation of a season long trend of junior quarterback Damekus Taylor and senior running back Corey Watkins lighting up the scoreboard. Watkins has run for 8 touchdowns and returned a punt for another score. And Taylor has scorched defenses with 14 running and 6 passing TD's. His highlight reel from Friday's win at Baldwin is worth viewing!



For the second straight season, Greenbrier finished non region play with 5 wins and no losses. Like Evans, the Wolfpack has only played schools from lower classifications. But Greenbrier has yet to play a team that has posted a quality win. That said, the Wolfpack appears to be capable of doing what it couldn't do last season: follow a successful first half of the season with a string of wins in region play.

Its disciplined and aggressive defense has played mistake free ball and held opponents to 21 points through 5 games. And running back JQ Brown has posted gaudy statistics (16 touchdowns and 757 yards in 5 games). Brown has benefitted from impressive offensive line play. That shows in these clips from Greenbrier's 34-7 win over Harlem, the most competitive game the Wolfpack has played to date:



Grovetown and Lakeside may have played the toughest schedules of any region teams. And the Warriors showed plenty of life by dominating Richmond 29-0 on the road last Friday. Linebacker Gregg Rodgers made a big impact on that game, tallying 14 tackles, 4 for a loss, and a sack.

Add defending region champion Heritage to that list of Columbia County schools and you have a wide open region. These key games during the next few weeks will determine a lot about this race:

October 6th:

Heritage at Grovetown
Lakeside at Greenbrier

October 13th:

Evans at Grovetown (WJBF Game of the Week)
Greenbrier at Heritage

October 20th:

Greenbrier at Evans


4) Can Harlem make the class AA race a three team affair?


The Bulldogs will have to earn it on the road against two of the state's top teams.


Harlem (4-1, 2-0) looks poised to make its first state playoff appearance since 2001. The Bulldogs are trending towards a #3 seed after beating Glenn Hills and Butler the past two weeks. But why not take a giant leap forward and upset #3 Screven County this Friday, and/or #7 ranked Jefferson County next week? The Bulldogs are riding a wave of excitement, and I would bet freshman Cameron Garnett (12 touchdowns and 713 rushing yards this season) and junior AJ Brown (10 touchdowns and 713 rushing yards) believe their team can accomplish anything right now.

Obviously, defeating Screven County on the road Friday will be easier for me to type than it will be for the Bulldogs to make happen. The first question will be whether 285 pound fullback CJ Wright, who will play at Georgia Southern next season, can be stopped:


And if that giant feat can be accomplished, Harlem will have to multitask by catching quarterback Armani Bunbury, who seems to have all the moves, and Tyquan Johnson, a 6'3" 195 pound receiver who has committed to play for the South Carolina Gamecocks:


Like I said, winning Friday is easier for me to type than for the Bulldogs to make happen. But I'll be there to see if they can get it done!

Monday, September 25, 2017

North Augusta had all the answers in Friday's 34-21 win over Strom Thurmond

North Augusta takes the field for Friday's rivalry game.


Playing in front of a capacity crowd, North Augusta responded to an early Strom Thurmond touchdown, scoring 28 unanswered points, and defeating their non region rival 34-21 at home Friday, improving to 5-0 for the season.



The Rebels (3-2) had to have an upset on their minds after intercepting a pass on the game's first play and returning it inside North Augusta's 5 yard line to set up the game's first score, a 12 yard touchdown connection between quarterback Jaquan Harris and receiver Tyrek Williams. But on the very next play from scrimmage, North Augusta quarterback Landon Washington found Junius Walker, who avoided a tackler and ran 30 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 7. The home crowd almost saw their Yellow Jackets tie it even sooner, when Dejuan Bell was tripped up by the kicker on his 37 yard kick off return that set up Walker's touchdown reception.

In our post game interview, Washington talked about "bouncing back" and moving on from throwing an interception on his first play to making a touchdown toss on his second: "We just had to let it go, have amnesia, like I've said for all my years playing. We bounced back from it great. Played great."


Landon Washington threw for a touchdown and ran for another Friday.


Running through huge holes plowed by guard Bryce Williamson and tackle Sam Bryant, running back Derius Gibson provided most of North Augusta's yardage for the next two quarters. First Gibson went for 68 yards to take the Yellow Jackets from their own 4 yard line into Rebel territory. North Augusta came up empty on that drive after a blocked field goal. But Gibson promptly made gains of 38 and 22 yards on the next drive to set up an 8 yard touchdown run by Washington to give the Yellow Jackets a 15-7 second quarter lead.

Derius Gibson rushed for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries.


North Augusta's defense did its part, first by turning over Strom Thurmond on downs after a 35 yard reception by Williams put the Rebels on the Jackets' 25 yard line. Thurmond was unable to pick up the next first down after 4 Jaquan Edwards carries. Later in the half, North Augusta forced a turnover on an Edwards fumble. And the second quarter finished with two Strom Thurmond three-and-outs.

Gibson ran for his first touchdown on the first series of the third quarter by avoiding a tackler in the backfield and proceeding to run untouched for 40 yards to give the Jackets a 22-7 lead. Kashaun Johnson added another score on a 55 yard punt return to give North Augusta its largest lead at 28-7.

Williams, having taken the quarterback duties from the injured Harris, scored his second touchdown on a 55 yard keeper to narrow the deficit to two scores (28-14). The 6'3" 230 pounder played impressively in all aspects Friday, gaining a total of 158 yards from scrimmage (92 running and 66 receiving).

Edwards (30) rushed for 117 and Williams (right) accounted for 158 from scrimmage.


But after each team was forced to punt once, Gibson scored his second touchdown from 1 yard out to give North Augusta a 34-14 fourth quarter lead. Gibson's second touchdown of the game came after a 34 yard scoring drive, set up by a very short Thurmond punt.

Edwards, who ran for 117 yards on 27 carries, provided the game's final score on an 11 yard run late in the fourth quarter.

North Augusta (5-0, 0-0) visits Lower Richlands (2-3) Friday for its final non region game. Strom Thurmond (3-2, 0-0) will host region foe Edisto (3-2).