Saturday, September 30, 2017

Screven County routes Harlem; Gamecock playmakers everywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 6th:

Heritage at Grovetown
Lakeside at Greenbrier

October 13th:

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

October 20th:

Greenbrier at Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Post game interviews from North Augusta's 34-21 win over Strom Thurmond; more to come

Click here for the full game highlights, the game summary, pictures, stats and more:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

North Augusta's matchup with Strom Thurmond is the AugBball Game of theWeek; plus two key road games on the Georgia side

Follow me Friday night at the @AugBball Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages to get live updates, video highlights, and information from the Game of the Week at North Augusta High between South Carolina's 4th ranked (class 4A) Yellow Jackets and the 7th ranked (class 3A) Strom Thurmond Rebels. It will be my first visit to the South Carolina side of the border this football season.

The Yellow Jackets have won their first four games, including a 42-14 road win last Friday at White Knoll, which beat North Augusta's region rival, 5th ranked South Aiken, earlier this season. The Jackets probably sport the most exciting offense in the area, led by quarterback Landon Washington (8 TD passes and 774 yards through 4 games), running back Derius Gibson (7 rushing TDs and 494 yards), and lightning fast receiver Dejuan Bell (6 TD receptions and 329 yards), who was named player of the week two weeks ago by both WRDW and the Augusta Chronicle after catching three touchdown passes and grabbing two interceptions in a 40-14 win over Lexington.

Strom Thurmond (3-1) will try not to drop a second straight game after losing 26-17 at Emerald last Friday. The Rebels are led by running back Jaquan Edwards, who has already rushed for 8 touchdowns and 645 yards this season. Because of North Augusta's blistering start, few commentators are giving Strom Thurmond a chance. But after last season's 41-38 triple overtime thriller between the two, which the Jackets won, I think both the players and coaches would agree that anything can happen Friday!

Friday's game will not be my last at North Augusta. I plan to return when South Aiken visits on October 13 for a game that, if things play out as expected, could decide the top seed in region 4 of South Carolina's class 4A. That region and Georgia's class 6A, 4A, and 2A regions will be the focus of AugBball's football coverage the next two months. Now let's look at two key non region games on the Georgia side of the border.

Evans (6A) at Baldwin (4A)

The Knights (2-2) visit Milledgeville in a game featuring two promising teams reeling from heart breaking road losses last Friday. Evans came up short (49-48) in overtime at Washington County when the Golden Hawks blocked Evans's extra point after quarterback Damekus Taylor ran for his fourth touchdown of the evening. And Baldwin (3-1) lost 21-16 at Griffin, a top 10 ranked 5A team, when the Braves failed to stop the Bears from scoring a touchdown on their final drive of the game.

The Knights have weapons all over the field. Taylor has accounted for 16 touchdowns, 11 on the ground and 5 through the air, in the season's first four games. The junior has made a huge impact after transferring from Thomson High.

Senior Corey Watkins leads the team in total yardage, gaining 848 yards of total offense as a threat both running from scrimmage and returning kicks and punts. Watkins has found the end zone 7 times, including three times in each of the last two games.

Baldwin has benefitted greatly from the arrival of head coach Jesse Hicks, who returned to the sideline this fall for a second turn at the helm after leaving the same position in 2010. The Braves feature wide receiver Jatavious Harris, a senior who has committed to the University of Tennessee. Baldwin begins region play a week from Friday when Richmond goes to Milledgeville. And the Braves' region schedule really heats up when they face #7 Burke County and #2 Thomson back-to-back on October 20th and 27th.

Burke County (4A) at Effingham County (6A)

Click here to listen to Chris Henry broadcast the game (7:30 kickoff) on 92.9 the Soul Mine

The #7 ranked Burke County Bears will try to improve to 5-0 by doing what their region rival Thomson did during the second week of the season: getting a win at Effingham County. The Rebels overcame a 14-0 first half deficit to hand Burke County a loss in Waynesboro last season, so revenge will be on the minds of the Bears and their loyal fans, who I am certain will make the trip in large numbers.

Photo Credit: Larry Smith

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Augusta University Legends Siler and Sherrill start fast in the new professional season

Garret Siler's Fubon Braves play this week in the Super 8 tournament in Macau (China)
Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm

Two Augusta University legends, Garret Siler and Keshun Sherrill, began their 2017-18 professional seasons last week, and it's my goal to make this the first of many updates about their progress and hopefully that of the many other pros with area ties playing around the globe.

Siler, who played for the Phoenix Suns from 2010 to 2012, helped establish Augusta as a division II power by leading the Jaguars to two consecutive NCAA final four appearances. In the process he set the division II field goal percentage single season (78.9%) and career (73.5%) records. Sherrill graduated in May after becoming the all time scoring leader for both Augusta and the Peach Belt Conference. He was named an All-American three times.

Siler, the veteran of this pair, excelled in his first outing with Taiwan's Fubon Braves, averaging 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in 4 games last week in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup tournament in Malaysia. Fubon finished 2-2 in the tournament, which featured teams from 7 different countries and a host of familiar American players, from former NBA great Stephon Marbury to Augusta native Jaleel Roberts. Of course Marbury was a two-time NBA all star. Roberts played his high school ball at Evans before playing in college at UNC-Asheville.

Siler, a 7 footer, was the playoff MVP in Taiwan's Super Basketball League in 2015.

Roberts got off to a good start

Siler's debut was spoiled by another area native's team when NS Matrix, which features former Evans Knight Jaleel Roberts, topped Fubon 100-91 in the tournament's first game.

Jaleel Roberts averaged 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup.
Photo Credit: Onvisa Thewphaingarm, which provided extensive tournament coverage, reported that "Jaleel Roberts brought the home crowd to their feet after opening up the scoring on offense and pinning a shot on the backboard on defense." But it was Roberts's teammate Keith Hornsby, who played at LSU, who stole the spotlight from everyone at the tournament by scoring 47 points in that opening round win and averaging more than 40 for the week.

Sherrill has been picking up where he left off

Keshun Sherrill elevates for a three pointer

People who watched Keshun Sherrill electrify the college hoops scene the past four seasons will not be surprised to learn that the 5'8" "superman" has been the leading scorer for his new team, New Heroes Basketball of the Netherlands, in each of the team's preseason games this month. Sherrill scored 23 points in a win, and 18 and 25 in a pair of losses. The team begins its regular season schedule October 10.

As you can see in this promotional video, Sherrill is already the face of New Heroes basketball, no matter his height:

Sherrill's image still towers over Wrightsboro Road on a giant billboard down the road from Augusta University's gym. Hoops fans won't soon forget the impact he made on our town. The highlights from his final season (below) are worth watching again. They include his 33 point outburst at Wichita State that almost single handedly knocked out the nationally renowned Shockers, his march through Peach Belt Conference action on his way to league MVP status, and everything in between.

Look up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane...

The AugBball​ Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery​ Episode 2 (9-19-17)

Learn more about Will's basketball activities at his website. And of course the best way to not miss anything from AugBball is by following on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Show Topics:

1. Will's feedback about Sunday's Girls High School Senior Showcase.

Link to AugBball's report about the showcase:

Reader Question: Why are the area's girls Bball players getting more scholarships than the boys?

2. High School Football's hot teams and stories as we enter the start of region play

Question: Why is there such a big difference in the competitiveness of the Columbia/Richmond County (football) teams and the teams from the surrounding counties of Burke, McDuffie (Thomson), Jefferson, Screven, Aiken (NA and SA)?

Links to AugBball's coverage of weeks 1-5 of the high school football season:

Thomson @ Laney -
Laney @Evans -
Harlem @ Greenbrier -
Richmond @ Greenbrier -

3. College Football:

After Clemson's dominant start, should they be the #1 team and do we have a Golden State vs Cleveland situation in CFB?

#11 Georgia hosts #17 Mississippi State Saturday

4. Bonus NBA talk:

- Can Boston get past Cleveland? Can any team beat the Warriors? How well will the new combo in Houston work?

5. More bonus talk about Will's CSRA Middle School Player Development League​

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jeffcoat, Hamilton, and Williams impress at Sunday's Senior Girls Showcase

Jasmine Sanders (Aquinas) takes it to the basket at Sunday's showcase.

In the interview below, which was recorded Sunday after Will Avery's Girls Senior Showcase at the Old Columbia Middle School, Laney's Jaiden Hamilton has some fun at the expense of her friend Lexi Jeffcoat (Evans), rubbing it in that Jaiden will be seeking her second AND third consecutive state titles during her remaining two high school seasons.

Of course Hamilton was only teasing. Like Jaiden, Lexi's resume speaks for itself. After averaging 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals last season, Jeffcoat enters her senior year as one of the area's most proven players, claiming one of the five spots on GHSA expert Kyle Sandy's recently published All-Augusta Area team. Hamilton also made that list. And these two, who have played together for Avery's Georgia Sting traveling AAU team the past two summers, distinguish themselves in the classroom, too. Jeffcoat sports a 3.5 GPA, an 1150 on her (two part) SAT, and an ACT of 25. Hamilton, a junior, has earned a 3.75 GPA so far, and she looks forward to taking her SAT for the first time this fall.

Sunday's showcase, the second such event Avery has hosted for girls since school began, was loaded with good high school players. (Here is a link to coverage from last month's showcase for underclassmen)  And just like last Sunday, when Avery hosted the Fall 48 Invite for the best high school boys, the college coaches gathered in chairs at half court to evaluate the talent.

College coaches were on hand for Sunday's showcase.

According to Avery, somebody who garnered special attention from those coaches Sunday was Jhessyka Williams, Laney's long and agile senior wing who has contributed greatly to the Lady Wildcats' two recent state championships. Williams joined Hamilton and Jeffcoat on Sandy's all area list along with teammate and Alabama commit De'sha Benjamin and Grovetown's Ayanna Collins.

Other local standouts who participated, and who appear in the footage below, include the following:

Kianni Westbrook, Burke County
Amaya Moore, Westside

Rondaijah Wynn, Josey
Natalie Wilson, Greenbrier
Shania Evans, Midland Valley
Quin'De'Ja Hamilton, Burke County

Friday, September 15, 2017

Greenbrier Routes Richmond to Stay Unbeaten

Defensive end Tarael Hooks anchors a stingy Greenbrier defense.

Everything clicked for Greenbrier Friday night as the Wolfpack routed Richmond 27-6 to pick up a homecoming win and improve to 4-0 for the season.

The defense, which was featured on the front page of Friday's Augusta Chronicle, was fantastic. Greenbrier forced three first half turnovers and prevented the Musketeers from reaching the red zone until the final series of the game when Richmond finally scored to get on the board.

Greenbrier's Zach Azhar forces Mason Cobb to cough up a first half fumble Friday.

In the first half, Greenbrier's Zach Azhar forced a fumble, and Jonathan Cole and Tyler Mullins each grabbed interceptions. Coleman Fleming, Ben Thorpe, Bryce Atchison, and Tarael Hooks all tallied several tackles, but the Wolfpack's defense was a team effort. Several players combined to hold in check Richmond's running attack, which had been unstoppable in the Musketeers' first three wins.

Jonathan Cole (5) grabbed a second quarter interception.

The offense was equally impressive. Quarterback Hayden Harrison engineered two long first half touchdown drives, accounting for most of the yardage either running (32 yards and a touchdown by halftime) or passing (8 completions on 12 attempts). Star running back JQ Brown capped off the first drive with a 5 yard run around the end before Harrison reached the end zone on a 16 yard run with a second and third effort to give Greenbrier a 13-0 lead at intermission.

Quarterback Hayden Harrison completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards and ran for a touchdown.

For the game, Harrison's passing numbers were greater than in his first three contests combined. The dual threat quarterback completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards after connecting on 11 of 16 attempts for 93 yards in the Wolfpack's first three outings.

The second half featured Brown pounding away for 129 yards and running for his second and third touchdowns of the evening behind Greenbrier's stellar offensive line. In the entire game, Brown rushed for 160 yards on 32 carries. Afterwards I interviewed right tackle Eric Chatman, who leads the O-line and takes pride in the fact that Brown has now piled up 13 touchdowns and 605 yards in the season's first 4 games.

Greenbrier gained 218 yards on the ground against Richmond.

"It really depends on us to make the holes for him and get him up the field," Chatman said of the junior Brown. "That's probably what we take the most pride in, just getting him off the ball and getting him two, three yards every time because that's the hard trenches right there."

Both teams finish the non region portion of their schedule next Friday when Greenbrier (4-0) visits Cross Creek and Richmond (3-1) hosts Grovetown.

The AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery - Episode 1

The AugBball Talk Show with Chad Cook and Will Avery
Episode 1

Boys HS Bball
0:00 to 3:35
How many players from Sunday’s Fall 48 Invite are likely to be “scholarship players?”

3:35 to 10:20
Discussion several of the “Terrific Ten,” high honorable mention, and “super sophomores” from the event

Link to complete recap and highlights from the Fall 48 Invite -

10:20 to  18:20
Which high school teams will be the best based on what we saw at the Fall 48?

Girls HS Bball
18:20 to 26:13
We describe the girls hoops scene in the area. It’s red hot as last season’s senior class featured 6 D1 signees and 3 D2 signees.

26:13 to 28:20
Information given about Sunday’s unsigned senior girls showcase.

HS Football
28:20 - 31:57
Greenbrier hosts Richmond in a non region battle between 3-0 teams. We give our picks and we also briefly talk about other area games and teams.

College Football
31:57 to the end
We talk about the big Clemson-Louisville game and “the human highlight reel Lamar Jackson.” Will attended last year’s barn burner live!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Terrific Ten" top player list and more from Will Avery's Fall 48

Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills

Will Avery's Fall 48 Invite featured 48 of the very best area players from both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of the border. More than 2 out of every 3 players who were invited accepted the challenge and came to compete, so it was very difficult to choose the 10 players who I believed played the best.

  • Below I rank and show highlight videos of AugBball's "Terrific Ten" players from Sunday's games
  • Then I provide the list of players I chose to give "high honorable mention"
  • Finally, I list five "Super Sophomores," who all made a significant impact Sunday. These players have bright futures if they continue to work hard and improve, and I expect them to be difference makers this high school season.
But before showing the lists, I want to share links to media coverage and highlights from the event:

GHSA expert Kyle Sandy featured several top performers from the Georgia side of the border in this Sandy's Spiel article:

WRDW featured the event on Sunday's evening news. The segment, which includes an interview with Will Avery and clips of Tyshon Briscoe (Lakeside) and Donte Justice (Baldwin), can be viewed at this link:

Former Glenn Hills star hooper and current Georgia Southern (full academic scholarship) student Robert Drew provided more than 20 minutes of fun highlight footage from every team. Find the videos in the YouTube playlist at this link:

Finally, the @AugBball Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages are filled with highlights from the event.

Terrific Ten - Fall 48 Invite

1) Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills; 6'7" Post, CO 2018

2) Tre Gomillion, Aquinas; 6'3" Guard, CO 2018

3) Anthoney Ray, Midland Valley; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

4) Nazae Baltimore, Aiken; 6'4" Post, CO 2019

5) Donte Justice, Baldwin; 6'0" Guard, CO 2019

6) Kevin Williamson, Aiken; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

7) Eric Graham, Grovetown; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

8) Melvin Mckie, South Aiken; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

9) Calvin Mathis, Aiken; 6'4" Wing, CO 2018

10) D'Juan Griffin, Laney; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

High Honorable Mention - Fall 48 Invite

Drez McBride, Butler; 6'3" Guard, CO 2018

Donald Henley, Laney; 5'11" Guard, CO 2018

Zayveon Williams, Burke County; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

PJ Walker, Laney; 6'2" Guard, CO 2018

Nick Tolbert, Grovetown; 6'0" Guard, CO 2018

Super Sophomores - Fall 48 Invite

Dylan Cardwell, Evans; 6'8" Center, CO 2020

Tyshon Briscoe, Lakeside; 6'0" Guard, CO 2020

Christian Chambers, Evans; 6'2" Guard, CO 2020

John Whitehead, Glenn Hills; 6'5" Wing, CO 2020

Chris Williams, Aquinas; 6'5" Post, CO 2020

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Greenbrier runs away from Harlem after a big second quarter

Greenbrier's Jonathan Cole gained 63 yards returning punts in Friday's win.

Greenbrier scored 27 points between the last play of the first quarter and halftime, and in the end that margin held as the Wolfpack finished Friday's game with a 34-7 home win over Harlem in a non region matchup. JQ Brown rushed for three touchdowns and John Waters ran for another during the deciding stretch. Brown and Waters rushed for 71 and 76 yards, respectively, during the Wolfpack's dominant first half, and Brown piled up 155 yards in the game. Greenbrier improved to 3-0 for the season, and Harlem fell to 2-1.

Each of Brown's three second quarter scores were set up by big plays from teammates. On the play before Brown's first touchdown run, quarterback Hayden Harrison completed a pass on third-and-long to Jack O'Leary, who ran for extra yardage into Bulldog territory and was further helped by a 15 yard face masking penalty on Harlem. John Waters broke a long run down the left sideline and followed that with a nice pick up to set up Brown's second score. And Jonathan Cole returned a punt down the right sideline that started in Wolfpack territory and ended just short of the end zone before Brown's third score. Waters's touchdown came on fourth-and-long inside the Harlem 20 and made the score 20-0.

Greenbrier JQ Brown dragged a pair of Harlem defenders in Friday's win.

Brown was happy his teammates had a big night. "It felt good because coming into the game people were saying 'JQ's gonna get the ball.' So it felt good for me to see my teammates scoring and catching passes. That was the key to this win," said the dynamic junior rusher during the post game interview at the end of the highlight video above.

Brown's statistical output has been massive in the season's first three games. He has tallied 10 touchdowns and amassed 445 yards on 39 carries for an average of more than 11 yards per carry. Again, Brown credited his teammates for his performance: "Our line has gotten stronger. They stepped it up in the first half tonight, and that's was the key to my three touchdowns in the first half."

Harlem's own pair of dynamic rushers were held in check during the first half before coming alive the moment the third quarter began. Freshman Cameron Garnett ran for a 42 yard score on the third play of the half (right after teammate AJ Brown picked up a 22 yard first down) to narrow the margin to 27-7. The Bulldogs stopped Greenbrier on three downs deep in Wolfpack territory on the following series, but fumbled the punt to turn the ball over at midfield, the first of three opportunities the Bulldogs failed to take advantage of in the second half.

Greenbrier was the first team to hold freshman phenom Cameron Garnett to fewer than 100 yards rushing.

After Harlem came up short on two separate occasions near the Wolfpack goal line, including an apparent touchdown that was called back on a holding penalty, Greenbrier marched 83 yards for a fourth quarter score to seal the contest. Harrison did the honors on a well executed option play which fooled not only the Harlem defense, but the camera of yours truly, as you can see in the frames below.

Greenbrier hosts Richmond next Friday in another non-region matchup between unbeaten teams.

Region foe Glenn Hills will visit Harlem in a game that will be televised by WJBF's Me TV.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Area's Top Players Headline this Fall 48 Invite Update

Players: If you haven't received your invitation, ask your coach or contact me on social media: @AugBball

Will Avery's Fall 48 Invite is 5 days away. 65 players have now been invited, and 20 of the 48 spots have been claimed. In last week's update I featured the five players who registered immediately after being invited, including last season's Augusta Chronicle Player of the Year, Tre Gomillion (Aquinas), and 6'4" wing Kevin Williamson, the leader of Aiken High, which was probably the best team in the area last season.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a half dozen of the area's best players registered. When AugBball's Preseason All Area Teams are released, I expect many, or all, of these names to be on the lists. Here is a short video and a breakdown of this group of proven performers:

Timmy Sellers, Glenn Hills (CO 2018) - 6'7" Forward

Sellers was the first local player in this season's senior class to earn a scholarship offer from a division 1 college (South Carolina State). He averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds last season, but his impact far outweighed his statistical output. He was dominant, blocking shots and controlling the backboards, in many of the Spartans' most competitive games. Sellers is very athletic, he plays hard, and he seeks out contact.

Nate Dunlop, Augusta Christian (CO 2019) - 6'5" Guard/Forward

Of the area's top players, Dunlop's game probably translates the quickest to the highly competitive division 1 and 2 scholarship level. He is a pure shooter with great size for a perimeter player. His ability to create off the dribble was slightly hidden last high school season as he spent most of the possessions in the post, drifting out to the perimeter less often than he will in college. And during the travel season, he was used mainly as a spot up shooter by the EYBL's Georgia Stars. But he can absolutely do it all, which includes rebounding and getting to the free throw line. He scored 29 points per game as a sophomore and people who believe that was because he played inferior competition either haven't seen Nate play, or don't understand the nature of the competition in the South Carolina Independent Schools, or both.

Ryan Jolly, Augusta Prep (CO 2018) - 6'3" Point Guard

Jolly just returned from a visit to the Naval Academy, which has saved him a spot, should he decide to claim it, on next season's roster. Anybody who follows college basketball recruiting knows that means Ryan possesses an impressive record on the court and in the classroom. He averaged 25 points per game last season, and since I first watched him play during the preseason of his sophomore year I've thought his combination of shooting, ball handling, passing, and basketball intelligence were better than anybody's in town. Now he has grown stronger, gotten taller, and become more athletic. So he really does have the total package.

Austin Canaday, Greenbrier (CO 2018) - 6'1" Guard

In a tweet announcing Canaday's registration in the Fall 48, Will Avery called him "one of the more underrated kids in the Augusta area." I agree completely. After missing his sophomore season due to injury, Austin made a huge impact last season, averaging 14 points per game and performing his best when it mattered most. In three of Greenbrier's hard fought games that I covered against two of the best teams around, North Augusta and Lakeside, Canaday was the most impressive player on the court each time. He can shoot, he is tough, and he competes fiercely.

Richard Crawford III, Greenbrier (CO 2019) - 5'11" Point Guard

Crawford has been a leader at Greenbrier since the beginning of his freshman season. He is a very good shooter, ball handler, and defender, and, like Jolly, he plays with a lot of basketball intelligence. He averaged 14 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds as a sophomore, and he opened last season with a monster performance against Laney, scoring 25 points, including a three pointer off the dribble that tied the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. Richard played travel ball with the Georgia Stars 16u team on Nike's EYBL circuit.

Eric Graham II, Grovetown (CO 2018) - 6'2" Guard

Graham can pour in the points as well as anybody. He has a sweet stroke and deep range. He can handle it, he moves well, and he can leap better than most people realize. I've seen him single handedly keep Grovetown in games several times over the last two seasons. In his report naming Eric to last season's All Columbia County first team, Ashley Brown noted that Graham averaged 22 points per game in region contests.

Real Time Update:

Will Avery informed me that two more promising prospects have registered for Sunday's event. First, Donald Henley, who enters his senior season having helped to lead Laney to its last three region championships. Henley's quickness and physical and aggressive play terrorizes opposing guards. And he performs his best under pressure, like in last season's opening game when he answered Richard Crawford III's game tying three pointer with a buzzer beating drive and score to give his Wildcats a road win against Greenbrier:

The prospect who will be most unfamiliar to local players and fans Sunday will be Jeremiah Smith, a 6'8" junior transfer from Minnesota who now attends Grovetown. Smith recently worked out with Will Avery, and here is a sneak peek at the newest Warrior:

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Links to Friday Night's HS Football Coverage

Our local media does an incredible job keeping up with the high school football scene. (Basketball too, BTW) I followed it live from afar last night via their social media accounts. Here are some links to the post game reporting about Friday's exciting action:

- Thomson's Bubba Murray scored on the final drive to top Jefferson in a battle between two of the state's best teams: - via the The Augusta Chronicle

- Grovetown's D’Angelo Durham finished a fourth quarter comeback win over Lincoln County with his third TD of the night: - via the The Augusta Chronicle

- Burke County, after finding itself trailing WACO early in the third, eventually racked up 568 rushing yards (no misprint) on its way to a 42-17 win. - via The Augusta Chronicle

- Richmond continued its fast start with a 33-25 win over Aiken in a game that was televised on Me TV. There will be a replay Sunday at noon.

A complete wrap up of Friday's action from Nathan Palm and Zach Hughes (WJBF), including highlights, can be found here:

And Kevin Faigle, Jessica Eley (WRDW), and the crew's post game show is here:

From Thursday:

Evans and Harlem racked up blowout victories over Laney and Warren County, respectively. The games featured gaudy statistical output from Damekus Taylor (Evans), AJ Brown (Harlem), and Cameron Garnett (Harlem):

Damekus Taylor ran for 3 and threw for 3 TDs in Evans's 48-7 win over Laney. 4 full game highlights, pics, and more:

Links to Thursday's coverage:

Friday, September 1, 2017

Damekus Taylor Accounts for 6 Touchdowns in Evans's 48-7 Win Over Laney

Dedrrick Holmes is all smiles after Thursday's win.

Damekus Taylor ran for three touchdowns and threw for another three scores Thursday as his Evans Knights blistered Laney 48-7 at home to improve to 1-1 on the season. Taylor's gigantic outing continued the Thomson transfer's red hot start to the season after his three touchdowns on week one when the Knights came up short (35-23) against powerhouse North Augusta. Taylor connected in the end zone with three different receivers, Dedrrick Holmes, Breshawn Willis, and Jason Delley.

When asked after the game (see in the highlight video below) if he'd ever accounted for 6 touchdowns in a game, Taylor was all smiles while crediting his teammates for his standout performance. "I've never done that before. My line did what they had to do, and I did what I had to do," Taylor said.

Another Evans Touchdown came from running back Corey Watkins, who broke a long run to open the third quarter with a score and give the Knights a 42-7 lead. Watkins punished the Wildcats throughout the evening, making big gains rushing, receiving, and returning punts.

Like Taylor, Watkins made Thursday his second standout performance in the season's first two weeks after the speedy back accounted for 153 yards in the opener at North Augusta.