Locust Grove's Justin Drake Makes a Different Kind of Choice
By Gabriel Stovall, 2/6/2014, The Henry Daily Herald

LOCUST GROVE — What do you call a 5-foot-11 high school slot receiver who snags 88 balls, accumulates almost 1,000 receiving yards, averages 14 yards per catch and scores six touchdowns?

Some would call him a star. Some would call him a sure-fire college prospect.

Locust Grove coach calls him Wes Welker. Except Welker, the former New England Patriot and current Denver Bronco who plays the slot position arguably better than anyone in the NFL, was not on Locust Grove’s 2013 football team.

But Justin Drake was.

“Justin is definitely that,” Satterfield said. “He’s Wes Welker. He’s got that kind of skill set. He could play for a lot of people with the kind of ability he has.”

But as Drake looked on at the fanfare surrounding Locust Grove safety Cortez McDowell’s signing to Tennessee on Wednesday, Drake knew he also could’ve easily been in a place to put pen to paper on a college scholarship.

He chose a different path.

“Justin Drake had a phenomenal year,” Satterfield said. “It would be hard to duplicate. He had opportunities. He had potential offers. But he wants to serve our country. Right now he wants to go to the military, and I can’t be mad at a kid for that.”

But if you truly know Drake, you’ll realize that this decision was no fly by night deal. In fact, those closest to him are probably not the least bit surprised.

“Since I was a young kid, I’ve been around military life all my life,” Drake said. “My dad was in the military, and we’ve lived on all kinds of military bases. I’ve even lived on another island in a military base, so it’s really a lot of what I know.”

Drake’s father served in the U.S. Navy. His father retired, a Navy man. And while his father’s military life was a large influence in his post-high school decisions, it was his father’s death that motivated him to have the kind of breakout season that would put most high school athletes on somebody’s recruiting board.

“Playing as well as I did this year was amazing,” said Drake, who earned first team all-county and all-region honors. “My dad had just passed away last season, so that was actually a big impact in my life. So I wanted to do well for him, of course.”

Drake’s father suffered a stroke that he never recovered from. But the imprint on Drake’s life had already been set. That’s why while others were signing scholarship offers, Drake was signing papers that would open the door for him to become a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

That doesn’t mean he never thought about parlaying his success into an opportunity to play college ball.

“I mean, I definitely thought about it,” Drake said. “I knew there were some schools that were trying to get in touch with me. But when I told Coach Satt that I didn’t want to play, they backed off and didn’t really tell me anything about those schools.”

Drake said his father’s love for the military became infectious. And from the benefits down to just the honor of fighting for his country, Drake said he is 100 percent all in with his decision.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “You listen to those country songs and military songs that talk about representing your country, and you get all tingly inside. There’s nothing like it. They always told me here at Locust Grove, that if I’m not going to get anything out of football, I’m going to learn how to be a better man.

“I love my time here at Locust Grove. The coaches, and everyone. They’ve just prepared me to be a better, more respectful man.”

Cortez McDowell to Tennessee is Official
By Gabriel Stovall, 2/6/14, The Henry Daily Herald 

LOCUST GROVE — In an era of college football recruiting where a 17 or 18 year old’s word may or may not be good from one week to the next, Cortez McDowell is the exception.

On Wednesday during National Signing Day festivities at Locust Grove High, McDowell became the first Locust Grove athlete to sign a letter of intent to a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) school when he inked his autograph to a scholarship offer from Tennessee.

In 2012, quarterback Keenan Wise signed to Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) Presbyterian College. But Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield said that McDowell’s signing perhaps provided a sign that Locust Grove’s young football program is on the right track.

“I think this was definitely a stamp of approval for Locust Grove,” Satterfield said. “As a coach, you just a have a great sense of gratitude to see a player like Cortez do this. He stuck with the program. He definitely helped our program grow. I couldn’t be more proud of the kid.”

McDowell initially committed to the Volunteers in mid summer, after a short stint where Georgia seemed to be the front-runner.

“To make this official it felt great,” McDowell said. “As a lot of people may know, I’ve been committed since July. And I stayed true to my commitment. So after July 16th, everything just started dying down a bit down the line. And pretty soon, all I was hearing from where Tennessee coaches every day. So since July 16th, I’ve already felt like I was family.”

McDowell had a standout 2013 season in leading the Wildcats to a 6-5 mark, and its first postseason appearance in school history. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound McDowell — a consensus four-star recruit — registered 92 tackles and three interceptions during his senior season. He also electrified Locust Grove’s offense at times as a wide receiver and Wildcat formation quarterback.

McDowell also returned several kicks for touchdowns as well, en route to earning first team all-county, all-region and all-state honors.

Once he arrives at Tennessee, he’ll be reunited with former North Henry rec league teammate Cameron Sutton. Sutton, a former Jonesboro High standout, earned Freshman All-American honors during his first year at cornerback for the Vols.

Also, Lovejoy wide receiver Preston Williams, arguably the nation’s top overall recruit, is a Tennessee pledge for the class of 2015. McDowell said knowing he would have some familiar faces in Knoxville — especially his relationship with Sutton — weighed heavily in his decision to commit and stay true to Tennessee.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really think there was anybody who could’ve flipped me,” he said. “Cam’s like my big brother. He and I were a part of that 72-0 North Henry team that won like five super bowls. I knew that if I were to go there I’d be in good hands being up there with my big brother.”

Now that recruiting is out of the way, McDowell said he has more time to do the things that will prepare him for the next level on the football field. But he said he has one more spring time itch to scratch before concentrating on all things football.

“Now, with recruiting out of the way, I can concentrate more on school and excelling in my last season in baseball,” he said. “And during my downtime in baseball I can get out onto the field and do some of my football stuff on the side.”

Lucas Hughes, LGHS Class of 2013
2013 Olivet Nazarene University Scout Team Player of the Year
Garrett Wallace
2013 Benchwarmers Defensive Player of the Year
Locust Grove Football Not Afraid of Playoff Environment at Veterans

By Gabriel Stovall, Henry Daily Herald, 11/14/13 

LOCUST GROVE — Locust Grove’s football team is right where they envisioned they could be.


Now, as the Wildcats make ready to take on Veterans tonight in Forsyth — Locust Grove’s first playoff game in school history — it’s time for a new vision.


“We basically set a goal for ourselves to try and make that happen,” said defensive backs coach Randy Lee. “When you achieve a goal like that, you’re ecstatic that you’ve made it. But then you quickly discover that it’s not enough.”


Locust Grove is looking for more tonight as it plays the champs of Region 2-AAAA in a good, old-fashioned south Georgia high school football atmosphere.


What a way to welcome your football team into its first playoff experience. But Lee said that judging by what he sees on and off the field, the Wildcats are ready.


“This will be the largest crowd that these kids have ever seen,” Lee said. “There’s no bigger playoff environment than down there in south Georgia. They know it, and they’re going down there, not just to play well, but to win.”


Head coach Clint Satterfield has seen a reasonable facsimile of what such environments are like. Satterfield guided the 2008 Jonesboro High football team to Cleveland Field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta where the Cardinals fell just short of a win, losing 14-10.


Even then, he admits that he remembers his team being “wide eyed” at the sights and sounds of perhaps the premier traditional Georgia high school football power. And while Veterans — also making its first playoff appearance since the school opened in 2010 — doesn’t have the history and tradition of Valdosta, Satterfield said he doesn’t expect any less of a live atmosphere tonight in Kathleen.


“You’ve just gotta try to prepare them for it before they get there,” Satterfield said. “There’s really not a lot you can say. You know you’re going to be the underdog. You know it’s going to be loud and a lot of people, but you’ve just got to do what you can to help them understand what it takes to play well and win on the road.”


To be sure, it will at least take a solid defensive effort on the Wildcats’ part. The Warhawks have not exactly put up eye-popping numbers offensively, but they’ve been good enough — especially in the last five games of the season — to make noise to the tune of scoring 30 points per game.


For Locust Grove, it’s been pitch-and-catch duo of quarterback Tyler Sellers and wideout Justin Drake. Sellers has thrown for 1,865 yards, and Drake has been the recipient of 839 of them — good for 21st in the state, regardless of classification.


Lee said when he looks at Veterans on film, he sees something familiar.


“They are similar to how we play,” Lee said. “They’re just a good football team. Very well coached, and they are fairly close to what we try to do.”


Said Satterfield: “They like to keep a balanced attack with the run and pass. We’ll have to take away some of the things that they like to do, while we keep doing what we do.”


One other thing Veterans and Locust Grove have in common is their ability to overcome adversity in order to get where they are.


Veterans started the season 0-3 before ripping off seven straight and coasting to a region crown. Meanwhile, the Wildcats started their season with a blowout loss to Union Grove, before rebounding to win five of its next six, including posting a 3-0 record in games decided in overtime.


One of those was last week’s 20-19 play-in game win against Jonesboro when Locust Grove had to block an extra point attempt in the extra period to punch its ticket to the postseason. And save for the Stockbridge and Eagle’s Landing losses, even in defeat Locust Grove has been competitive.


That’s why Satterfield believes that his team has more than a fighting chance to come out victorious with an upset win. It wouldn’t be any different than what the Wildcats have been doing all season.


“I think pretty much for the majority of the season, going into every game, we’ve been picked to lose,” he said. “But those three overtime games, to win those, I think it speaks for the character of this team. They know what it feels like to be the underdog and not expected to win. And they know how to win in those situations as well.”

Seven schools in state playoffs for first time

November 12, 2013, by GHSF Daily

Seven Georgia schools are making their first state-playoff appearances this week in classes AAAAAA to AA. The Class A qualifiers will be announced Wednesday.

The most impressive is McIntosh, which opened in 1982. The Chiefs made region playoffs in 1987, but their first state-playoff appearance in history will be Friday at Northside of Warner Robins. The GHSA expanded the state playoffs to 16 teams in 1990 and 32 teams in 1996.

In its third season under coach Lee Belknap, McIntosh (8-2) has set a school record for victories in a season. The Chiefs had never won more than six games. Their most recent winning season was in 1995.

Other schools making their first state-playoff appearances are South Paulding (opened 2006), Sonoraville (2006), Locust Grove (2009), Lanier (2010), Veterans (2010) and B.E.S.T. Academy (2011).

The team that has gone the most years between state-playoff berths is Alexander. The Cougars are 6-4, their first winning season since 1997 (8-3), also the last time that they made the playoffs.

In the top five classes, 75 percent of 2012 playoff teams (120 of 160) returned to the playoffs in 2013.

Here is a class-by-class look at each playoff team’s state-playoff history.



Six Henry County football teams will begin their chase for a state title in earnest this week


By Gabriel Stovall, Henry Daily Herald, 11/12/13
McDONOUGH — So the playoff push is over. The drama of play-in games has ended. For some teams, the football season altogether has ended, and some football players are taking off their helmets and lacing up their basketball sneakers.


But for some of the area’s teams — six to be exact — this is the time that winter conditioning, spring and summer ball and a 10-game regular season is all about.


Playoff time.


Included in the roster of Henry County schools is one first timer, two second timers, one repeat contender and a program trying to re-establish its recent success.


Here’s a glimpse at what we’ll see this week:





Locust Grove


Record: 6-4 overall, 3-2 in Region 4-AAAA, Div. A


Streak: Locust Grove had lost two straight before Friday’s 20-19 overtime play-in game win over Jonesboro.


First Round Opponent: Veterans (7-3 Overall, 7-0 in Region 2-AAAA).


Outlook: The Wildcats have shown grit and deterimination in large quantities on its way to its first state playoffs berth in school history. Friday’s game was its third overtime win of the season, and they needed to block a Jonesboro P.A.T. in order to make it happen. Coach Clint Satterfield’s bunch isn’t all scrap, however. Locust Grove boasts one of the top talents in Georgia in safety/wide receiver Cortez McDowell, and a quarterback in Tyler Sellers who, at one point in the season, was among the state’s leaders as a passer. Add to that emergent wideout Justin Drake, who has 803 receiving yards on 59 catches and six scores. But Veterans, which started the season 0-3, is hot, having won its last seven. Both teams are making their first appearances in the state playoffs.



Stovall: The Power of a Sports Column
By Gabriel Stovall, 10/10/13, The Henry Daily Herald  

If Locust Grove football happens to win a region title, a state title, or even just make a deep run into next month’s playoffs, I’ll only have two words to say to the Wildcats.

#You’re welcome.

#Okay, let me take my tongue out of my cheek and explain. Last week, Locust Grove scored a mild upset over Dutchtown in a 24-21 overtime triumph. One where Tennessee commitment and Georgia’s No. 1 safety prospect Cortez McDowell simply showed out, to the tune of 12 tackles, three pass breakups, one interception, a 97 yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and a five yard scoring grab in OT.

#As you may recall, in the days leading up to that win, we published our “Making the Grade” report, wherein I gave Locust Grove a C- mark. I also stated that Dutchtown and Locust Grove, both 3-2 at the time, seemed to be trending in different directions.

#Apparently that story became quite popular around the Grove. Check out this email I received from one of our readers, Terry Jones:

#“You should be proud that your Friday article was used as great motivation with your C- grade and “2 teams heading in opposite directions” comment! LOL It was posted everywhere and said a lot before the game. In fact that should be a good article for you Friday, taking great credit in the big upset. Keep up the good work bro. See you soon for basketball season.”

#I’m convinced you haven’t made your mark as a sportswriter until someone vehemently disagrees with your assessment of their team or a player, and then reacts to it. See what you’ve done, Locust Grove? Now everyone in the county will want me to pick against their team.

#Just don’t blame me, Wildcats, if I pick you to win this week and, well, you know.

#On with the predictions:

#Dutchtown is licking its wounds after the aforementioned loss to Locust Grove. They will travel to Eagle’s Landing this Friday — I erroneously wrote earlier this week that the game was at Dutchtown — to battle a Golden Eagles squad that feels like it won even after a 35-30 loss at No. 8 Stockbridge.

#Which Dutchtown team will show up? The one that looked uber impressive in wins over Riverdale and Spalding, or the one that was stymied in losses to Luella and Locust Grove? I’m pretty confident in which Eagle’s Landing squad we’ll see.

#A hungry one. Eagle’s Landing gets back to its winning ways. ELHS 38, Dutchtown 21.

#Riverdale’s trip to Spalding County last weekend ended in a blowout loss against No. 3 Griffin. Without quarterback Greg Taylor, who was lost for the season a couple of weeks ago due to a torn ACL, Riverdale’s offense may leave something to be desired. But it shouldn’t be enough to hold them back from a win at Spalding.

#Riverdale goes 1-1 against the county tonight. Riverdale 28, Spalding 7.

#Union Grove is idle this week, but they may want to keep an eye on the Drew-Mundy’s Mill contest at Southern Crescent Stadium. The Region 4-AAAAA clash will have huge region title implications, as the two teams represent the Wolverines’ last two opponents of the season.

#It’s also a game Mundy’s Mill must win if it wants to capitalize on high preseason expectations. Drew’s defense has given up exactly 33 points per game, and the Tigers’ three-headed offensive monster of Rodricus Gates (QB), Eric Tate (WR) and Rodney Smith (RB) seem to be gaining steam at just the right time.

#Mundy’s Mill gets the win 35-31, and should welcome Union Grove into Twelve Oaks Stadium riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak.

#College picks: How ‘bout them Bulldogs? What a game last week in Knoxville. Big shoutout to former Jonesboro standout Cameron Sutton who made big hits and big plays all game long. Injuries plague Georgia as it gets ready to face upstart Missouri Saturday. If it was on the road I’d pick against them. But no way they lose at home.

#Georgia Tech travels to Provo, Utah to face BYU. They’ll go in 3-2 and come out 3-3. As for the Falcons, do you suppose what I did for Locust Grove will work for Atlanta? The only reason I can feel safe in picking them not to lose this week is because they don’t play. Sad, huh?

#Bonus pick: Is anyone playing better volleyball right now in Area 4-AAAAA than Union Grove? After dropping two matches on Aug. 27 to Starr’s Mill and region leading McIntosh, coach Laurie Sponsler’s Wolverines have gone 22-3, including two straight wins over rival Ola.

#Its 34-8 record is second only to McIntosh’s 33-6 mark. Look for Union Grove to make a deep run into the state tournament. Perhaps semifinals at least.

#That’s it. Just remember, I’m not responsible for what happens on the field. But I’ll gladly take responsibility only in situations that make me look smarter.

The AJC Super 11 Team
by Todd Holcombe, 8/16/13
Cortez McDowell
Locust Grove's Cortez McDowell Commits to Tennessee
By Gabriel Stovall, Henry Daily Herald, 7/19/13
LOCUST GROVE — Cortez McDowell committed to Tennessee Tuesday morning, according to the Locust Grove safety's Twitter account.

#"Officially committed to the University of Tennessee #Blessed #VolNation," read McDowell's Twitter feed.

#The 6-foot-1, 205 pound rising senior picked the Volunteers over Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Cincinnati and a host of other schools vying for his services, making him the first ever Div. I recruit in Locust Grove five-year school history.

#“I’m just happy for Cortez and happy for his family,” said Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield. “He’s been a big part of starting a football program here at Locust Grove. He’s been here all the time. He’s a true Locust Grove Wildcat and we’re happy for what the future has for him.”

#McDowell had listed Tennessee as the favorite since spring, and his commitment makes him the second Southern Crescent football player to make a pledge to play for the Vols in as many years.

#Former Jonesboro wide receiver and cornerback Cameron Sutton picked Tennessee last year and is now preparing for his freshman season with the Vols.

#Back in November when the Bulldogs offered, McDowell said he was shocked by the offer, and said that the home state team was going to have to "fight for me to stay in state."

#Apparently the battle has been lost as McDowell — barring a change of heart which is not always uncommon among high profile high school recruits — is headed north.

#"To be honest, both schools [Tennessee and Georgia] are good schools," McDowell said. "I just felt like Tennessee would be a better fit for me. Every time I've been to there, everything was perfect."

#The consensus four-star recruit was a key cog in helping Locust Grove to a 6-4 season in 2012. He snagged a team-leading 36 balls for 652 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, along with 250 rushing yards and three scores offensively.

#As a safety, he recorded two interceptions.

#He is listed as the No. 9 safety in the state of Georgia by and is ranked 12th among safeties in the nation.

#But accolades aside, Satterfield said McDowell is treated the same as any other player.

#“Of course when you have a kid as talented as Cortez, he’s a positive influence on your team,” Satterfield said. “But the type of kid he is, we get on him just like we do all the rest. They see his success and that he wants to win and be a part of what we’re building down here. We really don’t look at him any differently. We’re pretty tight down here.”

#McDowell drew some extra attention shortly after making his announcement Tuesday, when comments he made in an article on regarding his non-selection of Georgia cited McDowell attributing the “trouble players get into” and other safeties being committed to the Bulldogs program as the reasons why he didn’t choose the 2012-12 Southeastern Conference runners up.

#Apparently those comments drew the ire of some Georgia fans who took to Twitter to let McDowell know how they felt.

#Satterfield said he wanted to make sure, however, to let people know that the comments were, in no way, a reflection on any negative feelings towards the Bulldogs, or any other college that recruit McDowell.

#“I think it was just kind of not intended that way,” Satterfield said. “Cortez is such a good kid, it was hard for him to tell anybody ‘no.’ The experience of Cortez being recruited by all the colleges, especially the state schools Georgia and Georgia Tech, was a good experience. Our state schools are first class operations.”

#Now that his college decision is out of the way, McDowell said he wants to turn his full attention toward further helping Locust Grove football establish itself after coming off a 6-4 2012 campaign and narrowly missing the playoffs.

#"We want to prove to everybody that this last year wasn't a fluke," he said. "We're capable of doing it again and showing everyone else around Henry County that we are a team that everybody should fear."



Locust Grove Young Guns Ready to Prove Themselves
By Gabriel Stovall, Henry Daily Herald, 7/13/13 
LOCUST GROVE — As Clint Satterfield discussed his team’s chances of winning the Southside Shootout 7-on-7 Passing Tournament held in Locust Grove in June, he took a brief detour in describing his current football squad.

#He decided to take a moment to express his excitement of another Locust Grove football team that had players on it he hadn’t coached — yet.

#“There’s a lot of excitement in Locust Grove right now about the football that’s happening here,” Satterfield said. “I guess that’s what winning brings.”

#When mentioning winning, he’s not just talking about his 2012 Wildcats squad that, at one point in the middle of the season, was 5-1 before settling for a 6-4 finish.

#He’s not just talking about having one of the top-rated high school players in the nation in safety Cortez McDowell.

#The Locust Grove Middle School’s football team comes to mind.

#“They won the [Henry] County championship last year,” Satterfield said. “That just adds to the excitement here. It lets you know you’ve got some good players coming up through the ranks.”

#But it also means that the young potential has to make the proper adjustments in order to acclimate to the high school game, and give them a chance to replicate their middle school success.

#Rising ninth-grader, and former member of the Locust Grove Middle title team, Matthew Miller understands that.

#“I know it’s going to be a lot more work for us now that we’re getting to high school,” said Miller, who’s trying to make it at Locust Grove High as a linebacker. “In high school, they teach you a whole lot more, and you have a chance to really accomplish a lot more as well.”

#Fellow freshman Tray Birmingham agreed with his former middle school teammate.

#“They just teach you more techniques, and get you bigger and in better shape in high school,” Birmingham said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

#Though the incoming freshman have lofty goals and high aspirations, they also said that they have realistic expectations. D.J. Rawls, who played on the middle school team in the seventh grade, said he knows it’ll take some time to find his groove, especially after taking a year away from football while still playing soccer.

#He said he’s excited in being a part of helping the five-year old high school develop a winning tradition.

#“It’s more work that’s going to push our limits a whole lot more,” Rawls said. “But I like to play, and I definitely wanted to come back now in high school and be apart of what’s happening here.”

10 best HS defensive backs: Deep group led by McDowell, Bessent

10:20 am May 31, 2013, by Todd Holcomb

Georgia’s crop of outstanding defensive backs is deep this season. A couple of dozen have D-1 scholarship offers.

Here are 10 to watch in 2013.

Some of the more heavily recruited players are not included here as defensive backs because their primary position in high school has been elsewhere. Those include Brooks County’s Malkom Parrish and Creekside’s Evan Berry, both quarterbacks, and Tucker’s Dominick Sanders, a running back.

Cameron Albright, North Cobb: The top defensive player on a Class AAAAAA semifinal team in 2012, Albright had 40 tackles and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He also had four touchdowns as a receiver on offense. Recruited as a safety, Albright (6-2, 200) has more than a dozen scholarship offers, including those from Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

Allen Artis, Wheeler: Artis’ 109 solo tackles led Cobb County last season. He  helped lead Wheeler to its first playoff appearance since 2006. He was first-team AAAAAA all-state (AP) last season. He has offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Boston College.

Kalvarez Bessent, Camden County: A cornerback, Bessent had 41 tackles and six interceptions for an 11-2 team last season. He also had 13 receptions for 244 yards and rushed for 481 yards and four touchdowns. Bessent will help Camden overcome the graduate of a similar type player in Georgia freshman J.J. Green. Bessent (6-0, 170) has committed to Alabama.

- Grant Haley, Lovett: Haley again will be the best player on a Top 10 team in Class AA. In 2012, he had seven interceptions. His coach guessed that fewer than 20 balls were thrown to his side of the field when he was in the game. Haley also rushed for 536 yards, caught 18 passes and returned three  kickoffs for touchdowns. Recruited as a cornerback, Haley (5-10, 170) has offers from Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Tennessee and others.

Cortez McDowell, Locust Grove: The best player on a 6-4 team last season, McDowell had 42 solo tackles (second on the team), three for losses, and two interceptions. He was a two-way starter who had 29 receptions for 679 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 209 yards and three scores. McDowell is the top-rated safety prospect in Georgia. His leaders appear to be Auburn, Florida State and Tennessee.

- Nick Ruffin, St. Pius: A cornerback, Ruffin (6-1, 190) had 63 tackles and intercepted three passes for a Class AAA runner-up team in 2012. He also had five tackles for losses. Ruffin has committed to Auburn.

Akebron Ralls, Mary Persons: He’s only 5-8, 170, and he’s not a burner. Ralls is just a player who gets it done on the field as the best player on a team that has won playoff games in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-03.. He’s intercepted 14 passes in that time and made first-team All-Middle Georgia and all-state. In 2012, he forced four fumbles, ran two fumbles for touchdowns, and blocked two kicks. Ralls has no reported scholarship offers.

Qua Searcy, Lamar County:  Searcy had 53 solo tackles and three interceptions and forced four fumbles for a 12-1-1 team in 2012.  He also was the leading receiver (18 catches, 419 yards) on a team that rarely passed. Searcy (5-11, 165) has a leader in Louisville but has reported offers from Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina and others.

- D.J. Smith, Walton: One of the top two-way players in AAAAAA, Smith was a shut-down corner with 42 tackles, eight passes broken up and two interceptions in 2012. He also rushed for 356 yards and had 27 catches for 368 yards in 11 games. He favors Tennessee but is being recruited hard by Clemson, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Kendarius Webster, Stockbridge: Georgia apparently leads for one of the Southeast’s fastest cornerbacks. Webster (6-0, 185) is a lockdown corner for a team that went a school-best 11-2 in Class AAAA and never allowed more than three touchdowns in a game.


ONU Football and head coach Brian Fish announce 2013 recruiting class

Author: Nick Birkey
Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:06 PM
The Olivet Nazarene University football team is proud to announce its commitments for the 2013 season.  
The current commit list consists of student-athletes from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Arizona, and Alaska.

Head coach Brian Fish is excited about each of the incoming recruits both individually and collectively as a whole.   
“This has been another fun year of recruiting.  We have more great talent on the board and I’m particularly happy with the local talent that we were able to keep near home to play their college football.”

2013 Commitments  





High School 




Bremen, IN






Bourbonnais, IL





Bloomington, IL

Normal West





Watseka, IL






Plainfield, IL

Plainfield Central





Romeoville, IL





Frankfort, IL

Lincoln-Way East




Bourbonnais, IL





Indianapolis, IN

Franklin Central




Monrovia, IN






Jeffersonville, IN





Bradley, IL





Roselle, IL

Lake Park West




Kenai, AK






Columbus, IN

Columbus East




Morristown, IN

Eastern Hancock




Manteno, IL





Locust Grove, GA

Locust Grove




Clayton, IN





Chicago, IL

Walther Lutheran





Kankakee, IL





Leonardtown, MD





Marion, IN

Oak Hill





Locust Grove, GA

Locust Grove




Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Christian




Clifton, IL





Ypsilanti, MI

Ann Arbor Pioneer




Scottsdale, AZ

Valley Lutheran




Horton, MI





 Jenison, MI

Unity Christian





Brooksville, FL






Homer Glen, IL

Joliet Junior College




Manteno, IL





Pekin, IL

Pekin Community




Upland, IN





Attica, IN





Dallas, GA

South Paulding





Kankakee, IL





Bourbonnais, IL






Evansville, IL

Evansville Central




Pekin, IL

Pekin Community




Traflager, IN

Indian Creek





Saline, MI


Locust Grove's Hughes Signs with Olivet
The Henry Daily Herald, 3/16/2013
Locust Grove senior Lucas Hughes recently signed a letter of intent to play football at Olivet University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

The linebacker helped the Wildcats to the best season in school history for the four-year school, a 6-4 campaign that left Locust Grove just one game shy of making the state playoffs.

Locust Grove's Wise Commits to Presbyterian
By Brian Paglia, The Henry Daily Herald, 1/16/13
LOCUST GROVE — Keenan Wise felt the familiarity in Clinton, S.C., that he was hoping for.

“It was just like home away from home,” Wise said. “It felt like Locust Grove was in South Carolina went I went there.”

So Wise plans to go back for awhile.

The Wildcats quarterback committed to Presbyterian, a Football Championship Subdivision football program that plays in the Big South Conference, this past weekend on his official visit, almost three weeks before National Signing Day on Feb. 6.

Wise’s commitment is a non-binding verbal until his signs a letter of intent.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound signal caller had a standout season for Locust Grove as a senior. Wise passed for 1,319 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 695 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s 2,014 yards of offense and 24 touchdowns.

But his contribution went beyond just the stat sheet. Locust Grove went through the process of changing its offense before this season around Wise’s dual-threat skill set and Wise made the Wildcats look smart for it, leading them to the program’s first winning record (6-4) and within a game of the state playoffs.

“We progressed a whole lot over four years,” Wise said, “and finishing the way we did as a senior class definitely proves that hard work pays off.”

Presbyterian could use Wise’s combination of leadership and talent. The Blue Hose went 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the Big South this past season with two redshirt freshmen at quarterback.

“They run a spread option similar to what we run at Locust Grove,” Wise said. “It felt like a pretty good fit being able to run and throw. ... The football is on the way up.”

Wise chose Presbyterian over Alabama State, Charleston Southern and Northern Iowa.

Locust Grove's McDowell Surprised by Georgia Offer
By Brian Paglia, The Henry Daily Herald, 11/6/12
LOCUST GROVE — By now word has traveled around Locust Grove High School that Georgia — state school, SEC program, No. 5-ranked team in the country — has come calling for wide receiver Cortez McDowell.

“They all ask me what it was like,” McDowell said. “A lot of them are Georgia fans and are trying to get me to go to Georgia.”

Well, it was surprising and stunning, McDowell said, when Bulldogs coach Mark Richt walked into the team’s defensive meeting room, spoke hurriedly for a bit and then paused to take a deep breath.

In his next one, he offered McDowell a scholarship Saturday.

“I was like at a loss for words at first,” McDowell said, “but after that I told him thank you.”

Georgia’s offer is the fourth for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety and wide receiver. Syracuse and North Carolina State offered during spring practice. North Carolina offered two weeks ago.

McDowell has been on a variety of unofficial visits this season — from Kentucky to Georgia Tech (twice) to Florida State — as he gets his introduction to the spotlight of a coveted high school prospect.

Richt’s scholarship offer was the latest exciting turn. Until McDowell’s visit to Georgia this past weekend for the Bulldogs’ game against Ole Miss, he didn’t have strong reasons to believe he was a priority for Georgia.

A Bulldogs defensive coach had visited Locust Grove earlier this season, according to Wildcats coach Clint Satterfield, and McDowell had received several fliers about the program.

“It felt great,” McDowell said. “It was unexpected when I went up there. It kind of caught me by surprise.

Georgia’s attraction to McDowell isn’t surprising considering the breakout season he’s had. In Locust Grove’s most successful season ever, McDowell has been a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball.

On offense, he has 29 receptions for 679 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. On defense, McDowell has a team-high 56 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and 10 pass break-ups.

With those numbers and an offer from Georgia, McDowell expects his recruiting to get more intense.

“A couple of other big schools are probably going to try to get me to come out of state,” McDowell said. “Georgia’s going to have to fight for me to stay in state.”

McDowell said that’s one of the biggest factors when he makes his decision. He’d like to stay “somewhere close for my mom to come to see me play and not have to deal with traffic,” he said.

And while McDowell begins to tred into the recruiting process, there’s still much to do now. Locust Grove is a school-best 6-3 going into the Wildcats’ game Friday against Riverdale in the Region 4-AAAA playoffs.

A rough 35-0 loss at Stockbridge cost Locust Grove the sub-region No. 1 seed, but McDowell said the Wildcats are eager for their opportunity to make the playoffs for the first time in school history.

“All of us are disappointed” about the Stockbridge loss, McDowell said, “but we’re excited to go to the playoffs.”

Region Playoff Spots Up for Grabs
By Gabriel Stovall, The Henry Daily Herald
The final two weeks of the regular season has some interesting scenarios that will help determine the playoff picture. Several teams in the Southern Crescent will be involved in shaping the outlook of Region 4-AAAAA and Region 4-AAAA. Three games involving area teams will have a big playoff implications.

Staff writer Gabriel Stovall takes a look at the three games that will help shape the season.

Locust Grove at Stockbridge

One thing Locust Grove football hasn’t been short on this season is drama.
Other than a 34-6 victory over Morrow and a 14-0 win against Spalding in back-to-back weeks in September, each of the Wildcats’ games have been decided by nine points or less.

It began with a season-opening four-point loss to Union Grove — a team that can clinch the 4-AAAA, Div. A title tonight with a win over Drew.

But Locust Grove saved its most thrilling moments for the last part of the season. How about a 40-37 win over Dutchtown on October 5 — this after battling back from a 31-0 deficit. And the Bulldogs still had a shot to win it, but a Ryan Kangiser field goal sailed wide as time expired.

And just last week against Eagle’s Landing, when it looked like the Wildcats would lose its second straight after Brandon Dewberry intercepted a Keenan Wise pass with less than 10 seconds remaining, a Locust Grove linebacker popped the ball out of Dewberry’s grasp as he stepped back on a kneel down to kill the clock. The Wildcats pounced on the ball in the endzone as time expired, giving them a 35-34 win.

Now with the 4-AAAA Div. A crown on the line against No. 7 Stockbridge — winners of seven straight with a few close calls of their own, and a quarterback in senior Trenton Earl who has yet to throw an interception — here’s what you can expect from these two playoff bound teams.

What to Expect: Stockbridge’s defense has been the story, giving up just 10.2 points a game after its season opening 23-0 loss to No. 3 M.L. King. Junior defensive end Timarcus Cullins is a game changer in the trenches and the secondary has speed to burn. Meanwhile, Locust Grove’s Wise and Cortez McDowell make up arguably the most dangerous quarterback-wide receiver combo in the Southern Crescent. These two strengths cannot stand up together. Which ever one buckles first and most may decide the game.

MAHONE: Top seeds, playoff positioning on the line
By Derrick Mahone, The Henry Daily Herald
The next to last week of the regular season will see some interesting matchups that will have playoff implications.

A week after defeating Mundy’s Mill to take sole possession of first place in Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A, Union Grove will need another win this evening against Drew to clinch the subregion championship.

The winner of the game at Southern Crescent Stadium will have the top seed from the subregion in the play-in game against the No. 4 seed from the other subregion.

Union Grove will need another big effort from linebacker/fullback Derrick Craine against the Titans, who are looking for their first football championship of any sorts since the school opened in 2009.

A year ago, Drew was in a similar position to be the No. 2 seed and host a first round playoff game when it played Henry County. The Titans would lose that contest 7-0 and have to settle for a fourth seed and round playoff game at Burke County.

Union Grove has gone 3-7 and 5-5 the last two years. This season’s team is 7-1, but after tonight they will have their eighth win.

After an improbably come-from-behind win over Eagle’s Landing last week, Locust Grove will need some of that magic when it heads to seventh-ranked Stockbridge. Its winner takes all in this contest.

Locust Grove recovered a fumble in the end zone as Eagle’s Landing was running out the clock in the closing seconds.

Stockbridge enters the game in first place with a 3-0 record in the subregion with the Wildcats in second at 2-1.

The Tigers move a step closer to win the first region championship with a victory over Locust Grove.

Griffin awaits the loser of the Dutchtown-Woodland contest. The Bulldogs failed at their shot against the Bears with a second-half collapse. Woodland didn’t play Griffin during the regular season, but will have their shot next week in the region play-in game.

Mount Zion and Forest Park have struggled under first-year coaches as they try to rebuild the programs. Neither team has won in eight games, but that will all change after tonight.

Look for Bulldogs coach Ervin Starr to get his high school coaching victory.

Friday Night Stars: Week 10
The Henry Daily Herald, 10/30/12
Here are some of the top high school football performances from last week:

Malik Bryan, Stockbridge: The junior running back had 155 yards rushing on 21 carries as the Tigers defeated Woodland. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry in the subregion win.

Derrick Craine, Union Grove: The senior running back rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the Wolverines’ win against Mundy’s Mill.

Bradley Dewberry, Eagle’s Landing: The junior quarterback passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 25 passing, rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns and had two interceptions on defense in the Golden Eagles’ loss to Locust Grove.

Justin Drake, Locust Grove: The wide receiver had eight catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Eagle’s Landing. He had touchdown receptions of 3, 22, and 9 yards.

Trent Earl, Stockbridge: The senior quarterback passed for 172 yards on 11 of 15 passes in the Tigers win over Woodland.

Maetron Thomas, Stockbridge: The junior had four carries for 77 yards and three receptions for 50 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Woodland.

Garrett Wallace, Locust Grove: The senior running back rushed for 145 yards on 18 carries in a come-from-behind win over Eagle’s Landing. He averaged eight yards per carry in the subregion win.

Keenan Wise, Locust Grove: The senior quarterback rushed for 111 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown in a win over Eagle’s Landing. He also passed for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the come-from-behind subregion win.

Player of the Week Watch: Week 10
10/30/12, The Henry Daily Herald
Each week the Henry Daily Herald will track the progress of potential high school football player of the year candidates throughout the season.
Here is an updated ranking of who’s in the running based on last week’s performances:
1T. Derrick Craine, Union Grove: The senior running back rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the Wolverines’ 35-13 victory over Mundy’s Mill in a crucial Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A game. On the season, Craine had rushed for 1,213 yards and 15 touchdowns on 161 carries.

1T. Donovahn Jones, Dutchtown: The senior quarterback and the Bulldogs were off last Friday. Dutchtown returns to action this week against Woodland. On the season, Jones is 79-for-115 passing (68.7 percent) for 1,342 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions and has rushed for 575 yards and five touchdowns on 78 carries.

3. Keenan Wise, Locust Grove: The senior quarterback completed 17 of 27 passes for 224 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in the Wildcats’ 35-34 victory over Eagle’s Landing. On the season, Wise is 73-for-150 passing (48.7 percent) for 1,143 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 674 yards and nine touchdowns on 105 carries.

4. Dalton Etheridge, ELCA: The junior quarterback rushed for two touchdowns, including a 47-yard scoring run, in the Chargers’ 69-6 victory over Strong Rock Christian. On the season, Etheridge has passed for 11 touchdowns and rushed for 11 touchdowns for the No. 1-ranked team in Class A.

5. Cortez McDowell, Locust Grove: The junior wide receiver had one catch for seven yards and rushed for 30 yards on five carries in the Wildcats’ win over Eagle’s Landing. On the season, McDowell has 30 catches for 608 yards and eight touchdowns, has rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries and has two interceptions on defense.

PREP ROUNDUP: Locust Grove Stuns Eagles Landing in Unlikely Fashion
10/27/12, The Henry Daily Herald
Locust Grove defeated Eagle’s Landing 35-34 in arguably one of the strangest finishes of the season Friday night.

The Golden Eagles appeared headed for victory, grabbing a late advantage when Bradley Dewberry’s touchdown run with 1:23 to go gave them a 34-29 lead. Dewberry then appeared to seal the game by intercepting a Keenan Wise pass with 12 seconds to go.

Eagle’s Landing then ran one play from its 1-yard line for a 1-yard gain. Locust Grove (6-2, 2-1 in Region 4-AAAA, Division A) burned its last timeout, and then, as Dewberry went to take a knee, Locust Grove’s Tyler Rapes and Lucas Hughes punched the ball loose and into the hands of teammate Zach Mitchell who fell into the end zone for the score.

Dewberry finished the game 17 of 25 passing with 339 yards to go along with 128 yards rushing. He had a hand in five touchdowns — three through the air and two on the ground. Dewberry also snagged two interceptions on defense.

Warren Wright had seven catches, 159 yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Eagles (1- in the loss.

PAGLIA: Locust Grove Says It's For Real
By Brian Paglia, The Henry Daily Herald

Locust Grove football coach Clint Satterfield knew his team was the underdog. Everybody was saying it, he told his team.

They had been saying it ever since the school opened in 2009.

It became fact after consecutive 2-8 seasons.

It was still fact even as Locust Grove won three games this season. Then four.

But now what will they say after the Wildcats’ dramatic 40-37 comeback victory over Dutchtown last Friday? What will they say as Locust Grove stands at 5-1 overall, 1-0 in Region 4-AAAA and holds a crucial tie-breaker over Dutchtown should both lose — or win — against Stockbridge?

Forget what they say, Locust Grove.

You said it all Friday night. That you were no longer the “new school.” The punching bag. The bottom dweller of the region.

With that Dutchtown win, you proclaimed your presence as a playoff contender.

So maybe it took awhile to make the statement.

For a quarter and a half, Dutchtown looked exactly like the sure playoff contender it had after four straight wins. The Bulldogs did everything right. They scored on their first possession, promptly recovered an onside kick and then scored again.

Dutchtown’s methodical run game was unstoppable. Locust Grove didn’t have a chance against Malik Barkley, Donovahn Jones and Will Smith. That’s how the Bulldogs built a 31-0 lead in the second quarter.

This sports photographer put the lens cap on his camera, slung it over his shoulder and headed back to the office.

Game over.

Then Locust Grove found its voice again. The same one it had on that game-winning drive to beat county rival Ola on Sept. 7 in a 35-28 win. The same one that helped the Wildcats overcome fumbles and poor execution to escape with a 19-12 win at North Clayton on Sept. 28.

It started slow but spoke volumes.

Like many comebacks, this one needed a stroke of good fortune.

With the tip of a pass, right into the hands of Locust Grove receiver Cortez McDowell, the Wildcats were off.

They scored 14 points right before halftime, like a well-timed teaser before intermission. They scored the first 18 points in the second half to take a 32-31 lead.

By now the refrain has been repeated enough to have been memorized by local high school football fans. The comeback featured dazzling performances from both Locust Grove quarterback Keenan Wise, who finished with five total touchdowns, and McDowell, who caught all three of Wise’s passing scores.

But don’t forget Justin Drake, who played with a torn labrum and sparked the Wildcats with a big catch coming out of halftime. Or Locust Grove’s defense, which forced the dynamic Jones to fumble that set up a touchdown and somehow found a way to hold Dutchtown when it mattered.

Indeed, don’t forget about Locust Grove. Like it or not, Wildcats, it says here you won’t be underdogs the next two weeks in games against Woodland (1-4) and Eagle’s Landing (0-6).

What will they say when the Wildcats are 7-1?

Don’t worry. If you’re missing that underdog feeling, it will return Nov. 2 against No. 8-ranked Stockbridge (5-1).

Then you can have your say again.


Player of the Year Watch: Week 7
October 9, 2011
The Henry Daily Herald 

Each week the Henry Daily Herald will track the progress of potential high school football player of the year candidates throughout the season.

Here is an updated ranking of who’s in the running based on last week’s performances:

1. Donovahn Jones, Dutchtown: Jones rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and threw for 123 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-16 passing in the Bulldogs’ 40-37 loss at Locust Grove. On the season, the senior quarterback, who is committed to Missouri, has 11 total touchdowns — six passing, five rushing.

2. Keenan Wise, Locust Grove: Wise rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and threw for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 9-for-19 passing in a compelling 40-37 victory over Dutchtown. Over his last five games, Wise is 43-of-80 passing (53.8 percent) for 798 yards and eight touchdowns and has rushed for 383 yards and seven touchdowns.

3. Keyante Green, ELCA: Green and the Chargers were off last week following their 42-3 victory over Holy Innoncents’ on Sept. 29. Green rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries in that game. On the season, he’s rushed for 359 yards and eight touchdowns for the No. 1-ranked team in Class A despite missing two-and-a-half games with an injury.

4. Cortez McDowell, Locust Grove: McDowell had 165 yards receiving and three touchdowns on seven catches in the Wildcats’ thrilling comeback win over Dutchtown. Locust Grove trailed 31-0 at one point in the second quarter, but rallied for the win. For the season, the junior wide receiver and safety has caught 28 passes for 577 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for three more.

5. Trenton Earl, Stockbridge: Earl, a senior quarterback, was a steady hand in the Tigers’ 31-7 victory at Eagle’s Landing in their Region 4-AAAA opener. Earl passed for 64 yards and rushed for 50 more to help No. 8-ranked Stockbridge win its fifth straight game.

Out: Josh Shockley, ELCA

Locust Grove Rallies For Late Win Over Dutchtown

The Henry Daily Herald

By Gabriel Stovall

LOCUST GROVE — Locust Grove’s Keenan Wise scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap what coach Clint Satterfield called the greatest comeback in school history as the Wildcats outlasted Dutchtown 40-37 in a Region 4-AAAA Division A showdown at home.

After Wise’s scoring plunge, Dutchtown star quarterback Donovahn Jones led the Bulldogs on a potential game-tying drive, ripping off runs of 30, 11 and 8 yards. Jones appeared to score the game-winning touchdown on a 7-yard scamper, but it was called back on a holding penalty.

Ryan Kangiser’s 32-yard field goal sailed wide left, and touched off a raucous celebration from the Wildcat faithful.

“This is the biggest win in school history,” Satterfield said. “Anybody that gave us a chance after the way we got down was laughing at us, but this team has been through a lot — lost a teammate. I keep telling people we won’t quit.”

Midway through the first half, it would seem as if Satterfield’s bunch had every reason to chalk this one up as a learning experience.

It took Dutchtown less than two minutes to score the game’s first points when Malik Barkley punctuated a four-play, 60-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring run through the heart of the Locust Grove defense.

Six plays after recovering an onside kick, Barkley found the end zone again on a 2-yard plunge that put the Bulldogs up 14-0 with 8:34 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs’ defense stifled Locust Grove’s dynamic duo of Wise and wide receiver Cortez McDowell for most of the first half. And after Devin Randolph sacked Wise to end a Wildcats’ drive, Jones and company went back to work. The Bulldogs climaxed a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a 25-yard scoring strike from Jones to Cameron Johnson to extend Dutchtown’s lead to 21-0 as the first quarter ended.

By the halfway mark of the second quarter, Dutchtown added a 24-yard field goal by Kangiser and a 4-yard touchdown run by Will Smith to make it 31-0 before Locust Grove even had a chance to respond.

But once they did, the floodgates opened.

The comeback began when Wise shot a pass intended for McDowell over the middle of the field. It was tipped by a Dutchtown linebacker before falling into McDowell’s hands. The junior receiver outran the defense to a 65-yard touchdown with 3:35 left before the half.

Dutchtown gift-wrapped Locust Grove’s next score, when Jones fumbled on the Bulldogs’ second play of the ensuing drive. And five plays later, Wise hit McDowell again — this time on a 7-yard scoring strike to cut the Dutchtown lead to 31-14 going into the half.

It was then that Satterfield said his team began to believe.

“When we got the touchdown and then scored again after the fumble, we knew we had a chance,” Satterfield said. “We had some momentum going into the half and it just kind of carried into the third quarter.”

Specifically, the second play of the third quarter.

The Wildcats got the ball to begin the second half and Wise immediately took to the air, hitting Justin Drake — who Satterfield said played with a torn labrum — for 16 yards on the first play of the third quarter. That’s when Wise found McDowell again — on a 54-yard touchdown that cut Dutchtown’s lead to 11.

Dutchtown seemed forced to punt on its next drive, but coach Jason Galt rolled the dice and called for a fumbleroosky fake punt on fourth-and-26 from his own 35. It failed, and on the next play, McDowell found Wise once again for a 40-yard touchdown, cutting Dutchtown’s lead to 31-26 midway through the third quarter.

The Wildcats took their first lead after holding the Bulldogs to three-and-out. They capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive with Warren Gilbert’s 1-yard score.

After being outscored 32-0, Jones put the Bulldogs on his back and gave them the lead again on an 11-yard touchdown run.

“Number 7 [Jones] is a special, special player,” Satterfield said. “He’s like a man among boys out there. But I don’t want to take anything away from my team and how we played to win it.”

The Bulldogs, who amassed 253 yards rushing in the first half, were held to less than 100 total yards in the second, thanks to some second-half Locust Grove adjustments on the defensive line.

And after Wise was held to 86 yards passing in the first half, the Locust Grove quarterback erupted for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the second.

With the win, Locust Grove improves to 5-1 while Dutchtown drops to 4-2. And Satterfield said he hoped going forward to be able to win less dramatically.

“We’ve got Woodland next week and a bye and two more games,” Satterfield said. “In order to come back like we did tonight, you have to play well in all three phases of the game. Hopefully, we can do that going forward — without spotting the other team 31 points.”

Friday Night Stars: Week 4
September 18, 2012
The Henry Daily Herald
Several football players in the Southern Crescent had standout performances for their teams. Here is a list of some of the top performances from last week’s games:

Javon Brandon, Stockbridge: The junior had four tackles and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown in a win over Columbia. He also averaged 41.6 yards on punt returns, including returns of 30, 45 and 50 yards.

Trae Bonner, Luella: The junior running back had 79 yards rushing on 15 carries, and scored the team’s lone touchdown in a loss to Dutchtown. He also had two pass receptions in the non-region game.

Davis Carrandi, ELCA: The junior wide receiver had five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in the top-ranked Chargers win over Hapeville Charter.

Darian Creed, Dutchtown: The tight end/defensive end was productive on both sides of the ball. On offense, he had two receptions for 90 yards, and on defense he had seven tackles. He also had a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass deflection.

Bradley Dewberry, Eagle’s Landing: The senior quarterback completed 14 of 26 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Upson-Lee. He also had five carries for 75 yards.

Trenton Earl, Stockbridge: The senior quarterback was perfect on three pass attempts for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He had touchdown throws of 14 and 50 yards in a win over Columbia.

Dalton Etheridge, ELCA: The junior quarterback accounted for seven touchdowns in the top-ranked Chargers’ win at Hapeville Charter. He had four passing touchdowns and three rushing scores in the non-region win. For the game, he amassed 303 yards of total offense, 128 of it on the ground on 13 carries.

Jaylon Harris, Luella: The junior played both running back and the Wildcat quarterback position. He rushed for 73 yards on nine carries. As a quarterback, he completed all three of his pass attempts for 28 yards.

Corey Holloway, Eagle’s Landing: The running back rushed for 171 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown in a loss to Upson-Lee last week.

Donovahn Jones, Dutchtown: The senior quarterback completed 8 of 10 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ win over Luella. The Missouri commitment also had 45 yards rushing on 10 carries in the non-region win.

Cortez McDowell, Locust Grove: He had two receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. He completed one pass for 21 yards, in addition to two carries for 22 yards and a touchdowns.

Steve Osondu, Luella: The junior outside linebacker led the team with nine tackles, including a team-high five solo tackles in a loss to Dutchdown. He also had two tackles for losses.

Devin Randolph, Dutchtown: The junior linebacker had 12 tackles, including nine solo stops. He also had a sack and three tackles for losses in a win over Luella.

Will Smith, Dutchtown: The senior running back did most of the heavy lifting in the Bulldogs’ non-region win over Luella with three rushing touchdowns. He also had 143 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Bill Teknipp, Eagle’s Landing: The senior tight end had three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown against Upson-Lee.

Garrett Wallace, Locust Grove: The running back had 14 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, and he also had two receptions for 29 yards.

Keenan Wise, Locust Grove: The quarterback had 11 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown for an 8.4 yard per carry average. He also completed 6 of 11 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Morrow. In addition, he had two receptions for 35 yards.

Locust Grove still gets ‘inspiration’ from Jones
By Brian Paglia, The Henry Daily Herald

What if dozens of high school football players find a higher calling at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp?

What if an Atlanta Falcons tight end delivers a special video message and pays for dozens of young men to see NFL football in person for the first time in their life?

What if a community doesn’t worry about blame or retribution but healing and perseverance?

Is it enough?

Clint Satterfield doesn’t know. Locust Grove’s football coach has mulled that question ever since offensive lineman Forest Jones passed out at a voluntary workout and died over a week later last year.

 “Can you find anything positive?” Satterfield said.

It’s been one year and one day since that excruciating moment in Locust Grove history, one that still holds such impact over Wildcats players and coaches.

Jones was 16, strong and smart, but he got too hot that July 25 Monday last year and collapsed on the way to the locker room. Jones was in the hospital and unresponsive for over a week until he finally passed. Doctors believed he may have had a heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Locust Grove believed it could rally around the tragedy and do something magical on the field in tribute to Jones. It couldn’t. The Wildcats went 2-8 for the second straight season.

 “We tried to play for him,” senior Nathan Hensley said.

Perhaps the record says Locust Grove failed in honoring Jones.

Throw out the record then.

Instead, consider how Locust Grove players began to end every breakdown after a drill or huddle with a resounding, ‘Forest!’ and still do.

Remember how Atlanta Falcons tight end Michael Palmer, a star at Parkview and Clemson, sent Locust Grove a personal video message encouraging the team and community and an invitation to attend a Falcons home exhibition game.

Remember how Satterfield began to award ‘The Jug’ — Jones was notorious for his water-filled jugs he'd bring to practices — every week to one player.

Hensley was the first one, and he did as instructed by Satterfield — he carried around the jug all week and filled it with something meaningful. Hensley chose something he knew Jones would appreciate. To this day he's kept it a secret.

"I can't tell," he said at a recent Locust Grove practice.

Part of the appeal for Satterfield in coming to Locust Grove four years ago to be the school’s first head football coach was the allure of creating a program from scratch. The rituals of practice and Friday nights would be his to choose.

He didn't want to have to create this one.

But he did, and it’s one of the many small things that gives Satterfield hope that Jones’ passing won’t be an empty memory at Locust Grove.

 “[Jones’ death] is going to be here,” Satterfield said. “It was a tragedy, but the good has been the inspiration. I think about it everytime I walk in the building.”

Now, Locust Grove seems to have a team that could make a statement on the field. Jones would have been a senior, maybe even a starter. More importantly, he would have been about to graduate, ready to plunge into that next step of life whether it involved football or not.

Instead, his jersey number is lifted by wings on a sign near the far endzone, fixed into the ground by two metal poles so that it’s an inspiration for as long as Locust Grove High School stands.

ROAD TO KICKOFF: Locust Grove's Wise feels equipped to make school history
By Brian Paglia, The Henry Daily Herald

Clint Satterfield has spent hours this summer deep in research. The Locust Grove football coach has scrolled through video after video of the latest college football offensive innovations on his office computer, looking for plays that could equip Keenan Wise with the tools to help make school history.

That’s what seems to be on the rising senior quarterback’s shoulders this season.

“I think we have a chance to shock a lot of people,” Wise said.

That would mean the fourth-year program taking a big step forward after consecutive 2-8 seasons.

But there are plenty of reasons for optimism — a roster filled with experience, a manageable schedule, a returning starter at quarterback and a coach willing to stretch the bounds of his offensive preferences to suit his quarterback’s skills.

Indeed, Satterfield has preferred the triple-option offense in his time as head coach at Jonesboro and Locust Grove. It suited those schools, where the quarterback talent was unpredictable.

But Satterfield knows what he has in Wise.

 “He’s a dual threat,” Satterfield said.

Two years ago, Wise was only a part-time threat. He started at wide receiver as a sophomore, then made the transition to quarterback before last season.

That meant learning all the intricate details of the triple-option, which made for a bewildering offseason for Wise.

 “It was a lot to learn and take in over one summer,” Wise said. “I had to know where guys were going to be. There were a lot of long practices.”

Wise showed promise last season, even if it didn’t materialize in the win column. He passed for 1,010 yards, rushed for 1,100 yards, scored 11 touchdowns and started to turn a corner the final three weeks of the season.

Through the first seven games, Locust Grove averaged 10.8 points.

Over their final three games, the Wildcats averaged 21.3 points.

Wise started to become dangerous on the field.

 “My reads were getting easier,” he said, “and we started spreading out more.”

Those final three games inspired Satterfield’s offseason research. He believes Wise could be poised for a breakout season if given the proper offense.

So he’s poured over video footage of Utah State and Louisiana Tech, college programs known for their offensive creativity out of the spread offense. He’s studied Georgia Southern and Navy, two traditional triple-option teams who have experimented with more spread formations in recent years.

He’s looked everywhere he could to give Wise what he needs to make the Wildcats a team to be reckoned with.

 “We’re expecting real big things from him,” Satterfield said. “He’s the key. He’s going to have a lot of reads. As his play goes, so will our offense.”

Two to watch at Locust Grove 


By Kipp Adams,

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. -- Locust Grove has only been in existence for three years now, but head coach Clint Satterfield already has a couple of athletes who could help put the program on the map: Quarterback Keenan Wiseand 2014 athlete Cortez McDowell.

Wise, at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, is a dual-threat passer who already has coaches, including Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, intrigued.

“Keenan is a versatile quarterback with tremendous speed and good arm strength,” Satterfield said. “Once he adds weight he is going to be another big-time player.”

Wise has high goals, with hopes of following in the footsteps of former SEC quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. The coaching staff has him in the weight room and also working on his footwork and mechanics, and he thinks it is going to pay off.

“Last year we did not have the best season, but I just tried to do my best to make plays,” Wise said. “Right now I run the ball a lot, but I would like to sit in the pocket and throw more in a pro-style offense to get ready for the next level. I would like to have a chance to play in the SEC because it is close to home, but really I just want to play football.”

A varsity starter as a freshman and sophomore, McDowell has made close to 150 tackles and has also had several key plays at wide receiver and in the return game. Satterfield feels McDowell, now pushing 6-foot-0 and 200 pounds, could grow into an Alec Ogletree-type talent in the next four years.

“I think Cortez has a lot of upside,” Satterfield said. “He is 15 years old right now, so down the road he could develop into an outside linebacker or he could be a big safety. He is able to use his size and speed to tackle through the ball carrier.”

McDowell would like to hear from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Oregon, programs he believes have great coaching staffs that treat their players well. Like his coach, McDowell sees himself as a big safety or possibly an outside linebacker at the next level.


'13 QB is one to watch from Georgia 

January 25th, 2012

By Jamie Newberg,

Keenan Wise (Locust Grove, Ga./Locust Grove) is a multi-talented quarterback prospect from the Peach State that you will be hearing a lot about in the 2013 class. Wise, 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, can beat you with his arm and legs.

“He’s got that All-American, Chris Leak look to him,” said Clint Satterfield, Locust Grove’s coach. “Keenan can really throw and has a great arm. That’s his strength. But he can run it, too. He’s a spread guy much like Robert Griffin. We ran the triple option and tried to get away from that this season. As a coach, you hope to get one like this at some point. He’s that special.”

At this time Wise doesn’t have any scholarship offers. But a few schools have noticed him already and that will likely change the spring, going into the May evaluation period.

“We are a relatively new school,” Satterfield said. “We are three years old and coming off a 2-8 season. What people have to realize is that we don’t have much around him and he does the things he does against teams like Sandy Creek and Henry County.

“Mississippi State is the one big school that is recruiting him, and I know Dan Mullen is coming by this week. Then, you have a bunch of smaller schools on him at this point. The word has to get out.”

It will, and Wise will emerge as one of the top quarterback prospects from the state of Georgia next season.

Locust Grove Believes It's Time To Take The Next Step
The Henry Daily Herald
By Darryl Maxie, 8/19/11
Locust Grove reminds Clint Satterfield of Macon County, where he began his coaching career in 1993 working with the defensive line under C.B. Cornett, where the Bulldogs went four years without losing a regular-season game, where the community of Montezuma was united behind its team.

Satterfield's new digs at Locust Grove are a little too new to have all those things just yet. The community unity thing seems to be there, even for a program that has played two varsity seasons — one against other fledgling schools, the other against established teams. All that other stuff, he believes, can come when they grow up.

That’s what this season is about for the Wildcats. Even before the team suffered the excruciating tragedy of Forest Jones' death by heatstroke, and the dedicating of the season to him, the Wildcats were focusing on taking the next step.

Building a program from scratch “intrigued” Satterfield, who had just gotten through leading Jonesboro to its only playoff victory in school history in 2008 before deciding, “I wanted to do something different.”

That brought him to Locust Grove, which had the small-town feel and the big-time challenge all rolled into one. And as the Wildcats embark upon their third varsity season, Satterfield believes it's time for the program to grow up a little bit.

“Everything's new, everything's got my stamp on it and it has been fun,” Satterfield said Tuesday. “But eventually, you can't call yourselves new. Building time is over. It's time to establish ourselves as a program.”

So it might sound like the Wildcats are shooting for the moon when Satterfield says he'd like to see them compete for Region 4-AAA's fourth playoff berth — especially after a 2-8 season and in a region that includes defending state champion Sandy Creek, loaded Henry County, Eastside and Stockbridge.

Satterfield doesn’t mind that at all. “I think the future looks bright,” he said. “I know what it takes, but it takes a while to get there. Last year, when we scrimmaged Ola, Ola could've picked the score against us. This year, we were competitive with them and they beat us only 10-7. There's improvement. . . . Turning the corner's not going to be easy — it'll take some upsets — but I’m not going to sell us short.”

To avoid coming up short against long odds, the Wildcats will need solid seasons out of receiver Cortez McDowell, fullback Garrett Wallace and Arlanzo Simpson, a trio of sophomores, and junior quarterback Keenan Wise. McDowell was an honorable mention All-Southern Crescent selecti on last season as a freshman

“We’re going to bank on a lot of young players,” Satterfield said, “but they've been battle-tested and started as freshmen. Cortez had a big pick-six (an interception returned for a touchdown) against Sandy Creek.”

Hunter Mitchum has a dependable leg and will handle most of the kicking duties, giving the Wildcats an advantage in the battle of field position.

The Wildcats don't have much depth, but for Satterfield it’s a quality vs. quantity thing.

“I’ve got a group of young men, about 50, and you very rarely have people missing practice, very rarely hear them complaining and that’s really helped me through the hard times,” Satterfield said. “Their character is the No. 1 thing.”

Character could help them improve on last year's 2-8 mark.

“We were picked to finish last and we finished ahead of Drew and Eagle's Landing,” Satterfield said. “If we can pick up an extra win it will be progress. I said when I came here that by the fourth year, I really want to try to get in the playoffs. Of course, we're going to try this year, but this is the third season.”

Wildcats at a glance

2010: 2-8

Coach: Clint Satterfield (9-11 at Locust Grove, 21-31 overall)

Returning offensive starters: 7

Moving the ball: The Wildcats will run their flexbone/Wing-T, which resembles a lot of the same things that Georgia Tech and the service academies do with their offenses. They will count on Slater Eckert and Cortez McDowell on offense, and return a good chunk of their line with Patrick Hicks, Deion Coleman and Lucas Hughes anchoring things.

Returning defensive starters: 6

Making the stops: Locust Grove comes out in a 3-5-3 stack, which means it better have some linebackers who can play. Satterfield believes in that unit, with Donavan George, Demetrius Rogers and Blayne Christian leading the way. Eckert will play on both sides of the ball, as an outside linebacker here. McDowell will see action at safety

It will be a good year if: They can double last year's win total. Two of those games are against Class AAAAA's Tift County and Coffee, and once the bills are paid with those games, there will be eight left

Playoff chances: Murky. They need to walk before they can run, but next season, they might be ready to get in the starting blocks against playoff contenders.

Locust Grove Gets First Region Win
The Henry Daily Herald
By Bob Jones, September 2010

The prize was victory No. 1 for the 2010 season, and a 1-1 record in Regin 4-AAA play for the victor.

The Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles and the Locust Grove Wildcats battled each other and the rain and lightning storm which delayed the game for one hour during the first quarter and also battled their own mistakes.

And it was the Locust Grove Wildcats (1-3, 1-1 in 4-AAA) who finally emerged victorious with the school's first-ever regional win, a 30-14 over the Golden Eagles (0-4, 0-2).

Although no one asked for a demonstration, it seemed as if the teams were showing why they each had failed to achieve that first victory of the season. Both teams suffered 10 penalties, lost two fumbles and had trouble with their punting game.

However, it was Locust Grove who managed to overcome its mistakes better than did Eagle's Landing.

The game opened with Eagle's Landing losing nine yards on three plays and lining up to punt. The punt snap sailed over Tyler Teknipp's head into the end zone, and Teknipp alertly kicked the ball over the back line for a Locust Grove safety. The Wildcats took the kickoff in for six on a Slater Eckert-to-Mickey Wise 16-yard touchdown pass for a 9-0 Locust Grove when the referees waved the teams off the field for the lightning storm.

The Golden Eagles came out of the one-hour rain delay with energy and A.J. Hardy ran through holes in the Wildcat defense. Teknipp then bolted in from 19 yards out on a quarterback keeper and the score read 9-6 after a blocked extra-point attempt.

The Wildcats then overcame a mistake in their punting game. After a negative four-yard punt by Hunter Mitcham, the defense stopped Eagle's Landing. A long Wildcat drive resulted in a 1-yard TD dive by Eckert and the score was 15-6 at intermission.

Locust Grove's Shane Holmes took the short second half kickoff 22 yards to the Eagles 40, and Donterrius Johnson scampered 28 yards for six. Teknipp tossed a two-point conversion pass to Jarion Ponder and it was 23-6. Locust Grove penalties boosted the Eagles deep into Locust Grove territory and, on his third dive of the series, Teknipp dove over for the second Eagles touchdown of the night.

Locust Grove lost a fumble on its first play of the ensuing drive, but Eagle’s Landing allowed a sack and committed two penalties, stopping its hopes to make a game of it.

Backup quarterback Keenan Wise scored the clincher on a 30-yard run late in the fourth quarter. An interception by Wildcat Dusty McCulley ended the flickering hopes of another touchdown for the Golden Eagles in the final minute.

Hardy was a workhorse for the Golden Eagles, carrying 18 times for 108 yards. Eagle's Landing was guilty of 10 penalties for 86 yards, and allowed five sacks. Shawayne Lawrence led the Golden Eagles defense with eight tackles.

Locust Grove had a balanced rushing attack, with Wise (5 carries for 66 yards), Johnson (8 for 65), Eckert (9 for 36), and Tyler Rapes (11 for 45) contributing. Brandon Johnson, Cortez McDowell, and Donavon George each had five tackles for the Wildcat defense. The Wildcats committed 10 penalties for 110 yards.


The Henry Daily Herald
August 12th, 2010
By Brian Paglia

Locust Grove football coach Clint Satterfield once had to explain his team’s flexbone offense to new players and their parents. When they asked Satterfield to describe the flexbone, he would cite Army and Navy as examples of college programs that use the option-oriented rushing attack. But that didn’t help.

“People just couldn’t relate,” Satterfield said. “They thought it was a lower brand of football.”

Now, Satterfield no longer has that problem. He just points to Georgia Tech — to their ACC title, to their Orange Bowl appearance, to their top-15 ranking, to their top wide receiver a first-round NFL draft pick — and players understand.

“To be honest with you,” Satterfield said, “I think Georgia Tech has helped us with the popularity of the offense.”

When Johnson brought the offense to Georgia Tech in 2008, it was chastised as “a high school offense.” Skepticism surrounding the flexbone has quieted since, and its popularity has increased. In the Southern Crescent, almost half of the football teams will run the flexbone, or some variation.

“All football is more copy-cat than anything else,” said Locust Grove offensive coordinator Edmund Coley, who played at Georgia Southern under Johnson. “Before somebody tries something new, they usually have to see it work at some level.

“Five years ago, people were saying Urban Meyer’s offense would never work in the SEC. And then three years ago, they were saying Georgia Tech’s offense would never work in a big-time conference.”

When Satterfield left Jonesboro to be Locust Grove’s first head coach in school history, he knew the caliber of athlete from the school’s rural community would vary during the program’s infancy. He needed an offense that could get the most out of his roster’s talent. He picked the flexbone.

It’s an offense that doesn’t require massive offensive linemen or gun-slinging quarterbacks to succeed. The flexbone aims to use time management and mastery of the offense to even the playing field with more talented teams.

The flexbone — a formation defined by a fullback, two slotbacks and two wide receivers — revolves around a quarterback’s decision-making. The quarterback reads the defense and then has three choices: Hand off the ball, take it himself or pitch it.

“The beauty of it is that it’s really simple,” Coley said, “but extremely detailed. Instead of trying to impose what we do against the defense, we pretty much take what a defense gives us.”

Satterfield said the flexbone is the perfect offense for the identity he wants to create at Locust Grove.

“I’ve always been a defensive guy,” Satterfield said, “so I think I was looking for an offense to complement the defense. Give your defense a breather, don’t turn the ball over, ball control, clock’s running and keep moving the sticks.”

For a first-year school, Locust Grove ran the flexbone with great success. The Wildcats went 7-3 in a non-varsity schedule, averaged 221 rushing yards per game and nearly five yards per carry. Six different players rushed for a touchdown.

Returning to run the offense is quarterback Slater Eckert (1,063 yards of offense, 14 TDs), and he’ll have the choice of handing the ball off to Jacob Ashe (376 rushing, four TDs) or pitching to Ray Dotson (334 rushing, three TDs) and Taylor Rapes. They’ll run behind an offensive line anchored by Jared Cobb and Gerald Clark.

Satterfield said the offense is even better now. It may be, but the Wildcats’ schedule might not allow them to showcase their improvements. Six of their first seven games are against Tift County, Coffee County, Eastside, Jackson, Henry County and Sandy Creek, a grueling opening stretch to get acquainted with varsity competition.

So, Satterfield is preaching patience to the community.

“Hopefully, the community here is realistic about Locust Grove,” Satterfield said. “They have to understand that the program’s going to be built. We’re looking to get better each year and two or three years down the road looking to play into late November.”

Georgia High School Football Daily
AJC Sports
October 14th, 2009
Daily List
Top 10 upsets
These are the most improbable results from last week's games, according to the Maxwell Ratings:
*Locust Grove 13, Grovetown 12
*Oconee County 27, Stephens County 21
*Aquinas 21, North Paulding 20
*Vidalia 27, Dublin 23
*Villa Rica 30, Banneker 19
*Windsor Forest 27, Bradwell Institute 25
*Beach 14, Johnson, Savannah 0
*Turner County 42, Telfair County 28
*Hawkinsville 31, Dooly County 24
*Dacula 9, Parkview 6 
Georgia High School Football Daily Spotlight: Scouting 2009's New Teams in Town

AJC Sports

October 7th, 2009
There are 12 new schools playing football this season. GHSF Daily ranks how they’ve fared (the teams’ records reflect only games considered varsity contests).

1.  Grovetown (5-2): The Augusta-area school in Columbia County has seven seniors and 20 juniors with varsity or junior varsity experience, most of them from Harlem High. Among them is Seth Hill, who is looking for his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. Grovetown has beaten more established schools in Pacelli and Allatoona. The Warriors even took on Buford but lost 51-0. They play Northside of Warner Robins on Oct. 17. Rodney Holder, who has been an assistant at Greenbrier, is Grovetown’s head coach.
2. Lambert (3-0): Lambert, which took all of its students from South Forsyth, has beaten news schools River Ridge (24-7), Johns Creek (42-7) and Locust Grove (17-3). Lambert is coached by Sid Maxwell, who helped build Sequoyah from scratch in the 1990s. Lambert has ninth- through 11th-graders and an enrollment of 1,350, so it should be ready to compete against a region schedule in 2010. Maxwell had 137 players out for spring practice. The Maxwell Ratings rank Lambert as stronger than Grovetown.
3. Mountain View (2-0): Many would predict Mountain View to be the new school most likely to succeed. It is cut from the districts of Collins Hill, Mill Creek and Dacula and figures to have the support of a fairly affluent and football-hungry constituency. It has victories against Archer (29-22) and Johns Creek (48-27). Mountain View’s coach is Tim Hardy, a former quarterback and assistant coach at Wheaton College.
4. Archer (0-1): Archer hasn’t won a game, but it played Mountain View closer than Johns Creek, and there’s a logical order of who has beaten whom that would suggest Archer is ahead of most new programs. Remember that Archer is getting about 40 percent of its students from Grayson, the No. 1 team in Class AAAAA. Archer’s head coach is former Mill Creek assistant Andy Dyer.
5. Johns Creek (2-2): The new school in north Fulton County has beaten Langston Hughes twice (24-12, 23-15) and lost to Lambert (42-7) and Mountain View (47-27). Its coach is Mike Cloy, who was 107-88-1 in 19 seasons at Centennial (1997-2004) and North Springs (1980-90). He started the Centennial program. Johns Creek has about 1,100 students but is built for 1,850. It takes from Chattahoochee and Northview.
6. Langston Hughes (1-5): The Panthers have only one victory (26-6 over Arabia Mountain) but have lost to Grovetown twice and even dared play powerful Brooks County of Class AA. That was a 61-12 road loss. But comparative scores indicate that Hughes is a little ahead of the teams below it. Hughes is drawing from Creekside and Westlake, which should ensure a wealth of talent through the years, as those districts have produces scores of college players. The coach is Willie Cannon, a former Creekside assistant.
7. Locust Grove (3-2): Locust Grove is coming off a 27-6 victory against North Murray in which a freshman, Blayne Christian, returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown. Locust Grove is a Henry County school that took from Ola and Luella. It already has 11th-graders so could be ready for region play next year. The coach, Clint Satterfield, was 12-20 in three seasons at Jonesboro, his alma mater, which was winless the season before he arrived.
8. Drew (1-2): Drew got its first victory last week, 20-6 over Arabia Mountain. The Titans have lost to Marion County (21-0) and Locust Grove (20-13). Drew is a Clayton County school that takes mostly from Riverdale and Mount Zion. Its coach is Jarrett Laws, who led Mount Zion to the Class AAAA quarterfinals last season.
9. Arabia Mountain (1-3): Arabia Mountain is DeKalb County’s newest school and will get students from much of DeKalb, perhaps mostly from M.L. King and Lithonia. New DeKalb schools have done pretty well in recent years, with M.L. King being the shining example. Arabia Mountain’s lone victory was against Walnut Grove (29-13). Its coach is Christopher Beal, formerly an assistant at Johnson of Savannah.
10. Walnut Grove (1-3): The Warriors got their victory against River Ridge (56-0) last month. Walnut Grove is Walton County’s third high school and draws from Monroe Area and Loganville. Its coach is Harris Rainbow, a former head coach at Worth County and Riverwood.
11. North Murray (1-1): This is Murray County’s second high school. There are only ninth- and 10th-graders, and enrollment is about 750, making it smaller than most of the new schools. North Murray got its victory against River Ridge (34-6). North Murray’s coach is Larry Cornelius, who had been an assistant at Murray County.
12. River Ridge (0-3): The new school in Cherokee County has only ninth graders, so it was projected to have the weakest team out of the gate. It got its students from Woodstock and Sequoyah, schools that have been ranked this season, so there’s reason for optimism. The coach is Robert Praucht, formerly the head coach of Pine Ridge in Florida.
Wildcats hold back Titans
By Brian Paglia
The Daily Herald

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The familiar peripheral activities of Friday night football could be found everywhere around Locust Grove High last night. There were tables selling snowcones and barbecue. There was a vendor selling school apparel offering hats, visors, shirts and jackets.

There were cheerleaders throwing balled-up t-shirts into the home stands.

It was Locust Grove's first occasion to play at home for the first-year program, and by all accounts, the evening was a success on and off the field. A significant crowd packed the stands and the Wildcats hung on for a 20-13 victory over Drew, another first-year program from Clayton County.

Locust Grove didn't seal the victory until Ryan Brooks intercepted his second pass of the night on the Wildcats' own 21-yard line with 1:03 left in the game. From there, quarterback Slater Eckert knelt twice to run out the clock.

"It was a good feeling," Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield said. "These kids have been working hard, and it's good to see them rewarded. That's what is the best part of it all. You saw the atmosphere. These people want to win, so that was good to get rewarded for all the hard work they've been doing."

In a night of firsts, Locust Grove (2-0) unveiled its flexbone offense to the home crowd with impressive success. Moving methodically, the Wildcats amassed 207 rushing yards, led by Chris Marie (17 carries, 90 yards) and Ray Dotson (6 carries, 62 yards). It is an all-hands-on-deck system, as six players got carries.

But the Wildcats also mixed in the pass effectively. Eckert was 7-for-10 passing for 143 yards. Four of his completions went for over 25 yards. Brooks had five receptions for 103 yards.

And the Wildcats struck quickly. On its first possession, Locust Grove moved 70 yards in eight plays, punctuated by a 35-yard touchdown run by Dotson. Locust Grove led 6-0 after a missed extra point.

"We're methodical, disciplined," Satterfield said. "Trying to make the other team make a mistake. That's the flexbone. That's why all the (military) academies have been running it for years."

As for any first-year team, there were as many signs of inexperience as there were signs of promise for both teams. Locust Grove had 350 totals yards of offense, but also had two fumbles, one of which Drew defensive lineman Jarnor Jones returned for a touchdown to tie the game at 6, and several penalties.

"I thought we moved the ball well, but we had too many mistakes," Satterfield said.

Same could be said for Drew. The Titans struggled offensively for the first three quarters, plagued by several dropped passes and penalties.

But they came alive in the fourth quarter, especially on a 13-play, 80-yard drive to cut Locust Grove's lead down to a touchdown. Quarterback Barry Mayes was 5-for-6 for 55 yards on the drive, connecting with wideout Briant Burke on an 11-yard touchdown.

But it was too little too late.

"They might have felt the pressure," Drew assistant head coach James Davis said. "With time winding down, things start speeding up. Just time ran out on us."
Game of the week: Drew at Locust Grove
By Brian Paglia
The Daily-Herald

Friday, September 11, 2009

Locust Grove and Drew high schools are two counties apart in strikingly different landscapes. Charles R. Drew High sits next to a hospital and the bustle of Clayton County. Locust Grove sits virtually alone, surrounded by the bucolic tranquility of Henry County.

But as both schools meet tonight at Locust Grove at 7:30 p.m., they find themselves confronting similiar challenges and encouragements in the first year of building a high school football program.

They are playing non-region schedules, competing against other first-year programs or junior varsity teams. They are playing with rosters primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores, providing coaches with frustrating moments of mistakes, but also moments to see young players grow and develop.

"Each week is an adventure," Locust Grove coach Clint Satterfield said.

"It's sort of bittersweet," Drew assistant head coach James Davis said. "Yes, we lose, but we see so much, because it's all about looking at the future. ...You have to be patient at this moment right now, and we are."

According to coaches, the development of the program ebbs and flows from week to week, sometimes day to day, even play to play. The biggest challenge is managing the emotions and expectations of freshmen and sophomores.

"The guys are young," Davis said, "so we have a lot of young mistakes, but they're working hard. They're trying to be the best they can be, and that's all we can ask of them.

"Of course it's like a wave. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes you're up. Sometimes you're down. They get it some days; some days they don't get it. It's a lot of teaching and learning going on right now."

Drew and Locust Grove began their programs on different notes. Drew lost 21-0 to Marion County, a fourth-year program in Buena Vista. But the Titans quickly responded by defeating Forest Park's JV team 48-0 last Wednesday.

It was a big moment. Playing on its practice field, Drew had its first chance to play in front of a home crowd.

"It was awesome to see how the community came out," Davis said. "Man, it was packed. It was nice to see so many people."

Locust Grove won its first game in school history, defeating another first-year program in Arabia Mountain 14-6.

"That's something they can't ever take away from you," Satterfield said. "Won the first game in school history, so it was a monumental win."

But there is also the matter of two coaching staffs all too familiar with each other. Just a year ago, Drew head coach Jarrett Laws was at Mt. Zion along with other members of his current staff. Satterfield was coaching Jonesboro along with several members of his Locust Grove staff.

In two games coaching against each other, Satterfield and Laws are tied. Laws won't be attending the game tonight due to a family emergency. But the storyline seems to add to the intrigue for two growing programs.

"It'll be fun to play against Laws," Satterfield said. "It's kind of ironic that both of us left from being about six miles to each others. ...That just makes it interesting when you're playing somebody you know and somebody you have respect for."

Last Modified on July 30, 2014