Week 8 can also be perceived as a sort of measuring stick for teams with the majority of the programs having played at least five games of a 10-game regular season. It’s also a good time to check in on members of the Marietta Daily Journal Dynamite Dozen to see how their seasons are going:
Mike Rogers has been as good as advertised. The Campbell running back and safety has been a key piece to the puzzle for the Spartans, who have challenged Region 4AAAAAA opponents all season. Campbell has two region losses by less than three points, and the Spartans recently held their own versus second-ranked McEachern before taking a 49-35 setback.
A big reason for that has been Rogers, who committed to Central Florida in August. He is second in the county in rushing with 966 yards, 15 touchdowns, and he is averaging 10.3 yards each time he carries the ball. He is also standing out on the defensive side of the ball with 54 tackles, three inteceptions and a sack.
Walton defensive back D.J. Smith isn’t among the county leaders in tackles, nor does he have an interception. But then again, he’s not supposed to.
Smith, who can play both cornerback and safety, has 36 tackles, but hasn’t gotten his hands on a interception yet because quarterbacks try not to throw the ball in his area.
Smith has scholarship offers from more than 20 Division I schools, including Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, Nebraska, Miami, Arkansas and Mississippi. He’s known as a shutdown corner and a hard-hitting safety and his exploits have helped the Raiders get in position to reach the postseason for the fourth straight year.
Cameron Albright had a breakout season for North Cobb last year and seemed to be everywhere on the field at once, playing key roles as a wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist on special teams. He continues to show off his play-making abilities for the Warriors every time he’s near the football.
Albright committed to North Carolina over the summer, and his play so far this year shows that the Tar Heels will be getting a talented player. He has 37 tackles and has helped the Warriors to a 4-1 record and undefeated mark in region play.
Tyler Queen continues to impress after his stellar sophomore campaign helped lead North Cobb to the state semifinals a year ago.
A dual threat with his arm and legs, Queen’s been impressive inside the pocket, having completed 49 of 92 passes for 820 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception. Last year’s Class AAAAAA all-state first-team quarterback hasn’t run nearly as much this season. So far, Queen has 23 carries for 153 yards and four touchdowns.
n Justin Wade is the leader of an Allatoona defense that has recorded three shutouts this season and has the 5-1 Buccaneers poised to earn their second region championship in three years. A senior linebacker, Wade leads Allatoona with 62 tackles and two sacks.
Kell is on the verge of its second undefeated regular season in four years, and the play of Taylor Henkle has been a big part of that. The senior defensive back, who earned second-team all-state honors a year ago, has two interceptions for the 6-0 Longhorns and is among the team leaders with 52 tackles.
Henkle has even shown his versatility on offense where he has a 22-yard touchdown pass, as well as nine receptions for 119 yards and a score as a wide receiver.
Taj Griffin has been somewhat of a quiet featured back for second-ranked McEachern. Because of quarterback Ty Clemons’ exploits as a runner and a passer, Griffin, who also has battled through some injuries, hasn’t had the huge season to this point that others may have imagined.
However, the fleet-footed junior is fifth in the county in rushing with 629 yards, five touchdowns, and Griffin is averaging 10.5 yards per carry.
Sam Wood is a big, strong Lassiter offensive lineman who has helped Trojans quarterback Will Anderson stay upright and throw for more than 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Max Kemper is another offensive lineman who is on the radar of several schools. A junior, he anchor’s Pope’s offensive line and has received interest from Miami, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Central Florida, Wake Forest and North Carolina. Although the Greyhounds are
2-4, Kemper has seen the offense improve over the last few weeks, posting two out of three wins.
Tyrell Tomlin has carried over his strong performances from last year into this season. The Marietta linebacker has 28 tackles and an interception in a little more than three games. Tomlin, who is commited to North Carolina was injured in the first half against McEachern and sat out the following game versus Pebblebrook.
Much like Walton’s D.J. Smith, Allen Artis isn’t seeing a lot of balls thrown in his direction each week. Wheeler’s senior defensive back, who missed the first week of the season, had 33 tackles heading into last week’s game against Roswell.
Artis committed to North Carolina over the summer.
Another defensive back, Lassiter’s Chris Murphy, is facing the same issue that Smith and Artis are having — quarterbacks aren’t throwing in his direction. However, this isn’t something that’s new to Murphy, who only had two interceptions last year. The Arkansas commitment has 16 tackles this season.
Elijah Staley was having a terrific season under center for Wheeler before being dismissed from the team prior to last week’s loss to Roswell.
At the time of his dismissal, Staley, who committed to Mississippi State for basketball and football, led county passers with 1,072 yards on 72 completions. He also had 10 touchdowns to go with five interceptions.