Georgia Elite Classic awards 31 invitations following Kennesaw Mountain Showcase

A showcase at Kennesaw Mountain High School was held over the weekend with players ranging from the Class of 2020-25 all competing for an opportunity to earn an invite to play in the Seventh Annual Georgia Elite Classic this December. Showcase Coordinator and recruiting expert Rusty Mansell led the evaluation process, and after an impressive showing, handed out 31 official invites.

“The turnout was great,” said Mansell. “There were some kids that really jumped out to us, and overall, you could really see how much work these kids have been putting in this offseason.”

Four of the invitations went out to members of the Class of 2020, including Therrell safety Rashad Pruitt and Cedar Grove defensive end Christopher Stinson, both of which played in the Junior Elite Classic last December. McEachern defensive end Jonathen Cross and Hillgrove tight end James Reddick received the two other invites to play in this year’s Senior Game.

Five spots were filled for this year’s Junior Game and six invites were handed out for the Sophomore Game—including Mt. Paran kicker Turner Johnson, who starred in last year’s Freshman Game.

“I was excited to see Turner perform the way he did,” said Mansell. “Last year, 44 or 45 yards was pushing it for him, but he walks up yesterday with the whole camp watching and just knocks through a 45-yarder no problem. It’s fun to watch the growth of the kids that return to Georgia Elite year to year.”

There were 10 invitations handed out to play in the Freshman Game, a result of the eye-catching talent that beginning to amass in the Class of 2023. Prince Avenue Christian quarterback Lucian Anderson and Dutchtown linebacker Dwight Johnson Jr. were among the top performers, as well as Kennesaw Mountain receiver Jailen Taylor.

“We are the only Freshman All-Star Game in the state, so you can understand the high stakes that surround it,” said Mansell. “Anderson from Prince Avenue Christian was really good. That was also the first time I’ve gotten to see Johnson play. He ran plays at linebacker, running back and whatever he could to get more reps. His father has NFL pedigree so you like what you are seeing with him at this stage of his development. He is working hard to make his own name and was an easy pick for our game. …We don’t give an MVP at these showcases, but Taylor from Kennesaw Mountain would’ve probably gotten it yesterday if we did. He was fast, caught everything thrown his way and was very tough to cover.”

Two eighth grade quarterbacks (Rome’s Reece Fountain and Hillgrove’s Chase McCravy) and one seventh grade quarterback (Houston County’s Antwann Hill Jr.)  were also invited.

“The three middle school quarterbacks definitely stood out to me yesterday,” said Mansell. “You look at the two eighth graders, the Hillgrove and the Rome kid, and you look at the seventh grader, people just couldn’t believe he was 12 years old. Antwann is actually the nephew of UGA offensive guard Trey Hill. He’s already 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds as a rising seventh grader.”

More invitations will be rewarded once the season kicks off and Mansell is already expecting a busy September and October.

“We are done with camps for the year so what I advised everyone to do yesterday is after the first three games, to cut up a minute-long hudl tape and get it to us and we’ll put out another big batch of invites in September and then we’ll do another round in October,” said Mansell. “We’ll probably invite between 100 and 200 kids at the end of September so the game tape will be very important. We’re really looking for two, three or 4-game highlights that are one or one-in-a-half minutes long. That’s really what we’ll need for the evaluation process.”

ABOUT THE CLASSIC

The seventh annual Georgia Elite Classic at McEachern High School will feature a double-header on Dec. 21 between the Seventh Grade All-Stars (4 p.m.) and the Eighth Grade All-Stars (6:30 p.m.). The five remaining contests will take place on Sunday, Dec. 22. Starting things off will be the Senior All-Stars at 10 a.m. followed at 12:30 p.m. by the academically-inspired Brain Bowl that was introduced for the first time at last year’s Classic. The Junior All-Stars will play at 3 p.m., the Freshman All-Stars are slotted for 5:30 p.m. and the Sophomore All-Stars will take the field in the 8 p.m. finale.

In addition to staging the inaugural Brain Bowl, the 2018 Georgia Elite Classic also featured a Seventh and Eighth Grade game for the first time. This dramatically grew the event, and as a result, more the 500 participants and 180 different Georgia High Schools were represented in last year’s games.

To be considered for the 2019 Georgia Elite Classic visit georgiaeliteclassic.com

KENNESAW MOUNTAIN SHOWCASE INVITEES

Class of 2020

S          Rashad Pruitt (Therrell)

TE       James Reddick (Hillgrove)

DE       Jonathen Cross (McEachern)

DE       Christopher Stinson (Cedar Grove)

Class of 2021

G         Chase Soutar   (Woodstock)

QB      Dylan Brody Lackey (Sonoraville)

QB      Deymon Fleming  Jr. (Greater Atlanta Christian)

CB       Kylan Wimbush (Sandy Creek)

CB       William Mitchell III (Parkview)

Class of 2022

OT       Jace Warren (Calhoun)

DE       Cason Henry (Walton)

DE       Andre Guth (Johns Creek)

LB       Derrell Farrar (Grayson)

S          AJ Vaccaro (Creekview)

K         Turner Johnson (Mt. Paran)

Class of 2023

DE       Treveon Campbell (Central Gwinnett)

OT       Connor Lew (Kennesaw Mountain)

QB      Lucian Anderson (Prince Avenue Christian)

TE       Evan Duke (Kennesaw Mountain)

WR      Jailen Taylor (Kennesaw Mountain)

WR      Pearce Spurlin (Walton)

LB       Armon Jackson (Newton)

RB       Tyshon Jenkins (Kennesaw Mountain)

RB       Joseph Taylor Jr. (Central Gwinnett)

Class of 2024

OL       Paul Harrington (Blessed Trinity)

OL       Parker McClendor (McEachern)

DE       Azion Stinson (McEachern)

QB      Reece Fountain (Rome)

QB      Chase McCravy (Hillgrove)

Class of 2025

QB      Antwann Hill Jr. (Houston County)

Dates set for 2019 Georgia Elite Classic; All-Star Games moved before holidays

By Graham David | gdavid@scoreatl.com

The seventh annual Georgia Elite Classic has set the dates for 2019’s All-Star game lineup at McEachern High School. Following registration and the first round of practices on Friday, Dec. 20, a double-header featuring the Seventh Grade All-Stars (4 p.m.) and the Eighth Grade All-Stars (6:30 p.m.) will be played on Dec. 21.

Sunday, Dec. 22 will stage the remaining five contests. Starting things off will be the Senior All-Stars at 10 a.m. followed at 12:30 p.m. by the academically-inspired Brain Bowl that was introduced for the first time at last year’s Classic. The Junior All-Stars will play at 3 p.m., the Freshman All-Stars are slotted for 5:30 p.m. and the Sophomore All-Stars will take the field in the 8 p.m. finale.

In addition to staging the inaugural Brain Bowl, the 2018 Georgia Elite Classic also featured a Seventh and Eighth Grade game for the first time. This dramatically grew the event, and as a result, more the 500 participants and 180 different Georgia High Schools were represented in last year’s games.

McEachern’s state-of-the-art facilities and videoboard technology have also made it possible for the Georgia Elite Classic to introduce exciting in-game features like coach’s challenges and instant replay. In fact, history was made in last year’s Eighth Grade game when American Team head coach Rusty Reed threw the challenge flag on a fumble and got the play reversed to maintain possession and complete the first successful challenge in Georgia high school football history.

The caliber of talent being showcased year after year at the Georgia Elite Classic has amounted to an ever-growing spotlight. Recruiting expert Rusty Mansell of 247Sports will once again be leading this year’s selection committee and making sure that teams are competitively matched up and that playing time is maximized for each of the participants.

For an in-depth look at the 2019 Georgia Elite Classic schedule, please head to http://georgiaeliteclassic.com/schedule/. For more information, please go to http://georgiaeliteclassic.com/ or call 404-246-7819.

Sophomores: Americans 37, Nationals 10

McEachern quarterback Carlos Del Rio threw touchdown passes in each of the first three quarters and rushed for a 38-yard touchdown in the fourth to lead the Americans. Kell kicker Colby Kerns provided the game’s first points with a made 36-yard field goal and Del Rio found Indians teammate Jahmanuel Arnold later in the opening frame for a 38-yard score to make it a 10-0 game.

The Nationals capped a 9-play scoring drive with a 32-yard Braden Ralston field goal, and quarterback Trevor Lovett (North Cobb) later found Jaquez Smith (Hapeville Charters) for a 7-yard touchdown pass to even the game 10-10 with 1:53 left in the half.

Del Rio answered with an 8-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Arnold with just 13 seconds on the clock. This was the start of the Americans’ 27 unanswered points to close out the victory. Early in the third quarter, Del Rio found Camden County receiver Shawn Hardy for a 66-yard touchdown that increased the Nationals lead to 23-10.

Del Rio added a 34-yard rushing score with 9:06 left and Damozzio Harris rushed for a 9-yard touchdown 1:20 left for the final tally. The Americans outgained the Nationals 379-to-176 and averaged 8.81 yards per play. 

Freshmen: Americans 29, Nationals 28

Walton quarterback Zak Rozsman threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Zach Johansen (North Gwinnett) with 4:40 left in the game, and found his Raiders teammate Cade Thompson on the ensuing game-winning 2-point attempt to lift the Americans past the Nationals 29-28.

Rozsman shook off a pair of first half interceptions and finished the game 16-of-23 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns—earning himself MVP honors. The Nationals opened up a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after a 2-yard run by Jamie Felix (Camden County) and would not trail until Rozsman’s 2-point attempt in the final minutes. LaShawn Lester put the Americans on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:24 left in the first half, but Parkview’s Champ Baker intercepted Rozsman and returned it 24 yards for a Nationals touchdown minutes later.

Rozsman answered with a 6-play, 70-yard scoring drive that was capped with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Kelley (Hart County) on the final play of the half, but a missed PAT kept the Americans down 14-13 at the break.

Felix took the first play of the second half 70 yards for a touchdown to increase the Nationals’ lead to 21-13, but Rozsman found Johansen with 2:01 left in the third for a 20-yard touchdown pass, and hit Thompson for the first of their two critical post-touchdown conversions to even it up 21-21.

Houston County running back Simeon Askew capped a scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter to put the Nationals up 28-21. 

The Nationals outgained the Americans 384-327 in total yardage and accounted for 261 rushing yards to the Americans’ 113. Askew led all rushers with 132 yards off his six carries, and Felix turned in an efficient 97 yards and two touchdowns off his nine carries.

Defensively, McEachern’s Latrell Bullard posted a game-high six solo tackles, five tackles for loss and two sacks. Vito Perry (Alpharetta) hauled in Rozsman’s other interception, and Nathan Vail (Harrison) recovered a fumble that was returned 52 yards to set up Lester’s first half touchdown run.   

Junior: Nationals 31, Americans 17

The Nationals built a 24-7 halftime lead and held off the Americans to take the sixth annual Junior Elite game. North Atlanta quarterback Wiley Hartley was named MVP and got the Nationals on the board with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Ricky White (Wheeler) on the second play from scrimmage.

The Americans answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Anthony (Washington-Wilkes) to tight end Beau DeBerry (Grayson) to even it 7-7, and cap off an 11-play, 70-yard drive. The Nationals regained the lead with 1:11 to go in the first quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run by Nnamdi Orjioke (Lassiter).

Denmark quarterback Ben Whitlock stepped in and tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jamontae Jean (Therrell) that grew the Nationals’ lead to 21-7,and Evan Fuller (Bremen) tacked on a 23-yard field goal before the half. Fuller also won the halftime’s kicking competition with a 45-yarder.

American kicker Ezra King (Eastside) booted a 25-yard field goal to cap a 9-play, 62-yard scoring drive early in the third quarter, but Hartley struck again with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Devin Ellison (Cherokee) to put the Nationals ahead 31-10 heading into the final frame.

Stockbridge quarterback Jevon McDonald scrambled in the game’s final points from 20 yards out to make it 31-17. The Americans outgained the Nationals 342-to-317 in total yards. McDonald finished 11-of-25 passing for 123 yards and an interception, and took four carries for 41 yards to go with his rushing score.

Hartley finished 7-of-12 passing for 161 yards and his two touchdowns. There were a combined 19 different players that registered at least one reception in the game. Brookwood offensive lineman Sean Hill also picked up 15 receiving yards for the Nationals after taking a hook and ladder following a reception by North Cobb’s Kendall Drake on a designed call.

Defensively, Michaiah Bell (Harrison) posted 3.0 tackles for loss and four solo tackles. Roland Jackson (Norcross), Patrick Dahlen (Cherokee) and KD Johnson (Thomasville) each had interceptions. Brookwood linebacker Tony Ward had a game-high six solo tackles to lead the Nationals and Peach County safety Talique Allen led the Americans with five. 

Brain Bowl: Nationals 31, Americans 21

The Nationals jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead and held off the Americans to win the Georgia Elite Classic’s first-ever Brain Bowl. Junior Alexander Wilson (Allatoona) ran in a 16-yard touchdown to give the Nationals a 7-0 lead and sophomore Tre Henry (Greater Atlanta Christian) capped off a 6-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run later in the quarter. Jack Breedlove added a 31-yard field goal in the opening minutes of the second quarter to increase the Nationals’ lead to 17-0.

The Americans answered with a 54-yard touchdown run by senior Isaiah Jackson (Frederica Academy), but Wilson rushed in his second score of the half to give the Nationals their 24-7 halftime edge.

The teams went scoreless in the third quarter until its explosive final seconds. American quarterback Robert Matthew Peters (Cairo) tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Register (Riverwood) with four seconds left. The Nationals took over at their own 30-yard line following the kickoff, and Henry took a screen pass from Matthew McCravy (Hillgrove) down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown to close the quarter. Henry finished with 109 yards from scrimmage to go with his two touchdowns and was named the MVP following the game.

In the fourth quarter, Peters completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Konata Mumpfield (Dacula) for the game’s final points. The American team outgained the Nationals 348-to-297 in total yardage, but lost three of four fumbles and the turnover margin 6-2. Westminster sophomore Connor Weselman won the halftime kicking competition with a 47-yarder. Blessed Trinity defensive lineman Grayson Gilder led all tacklers with seven and included three tackles for loss.

Senior: Nationals 26, Americans 0

The National Team racked up 202 of its 241 yards of offense on the ground and limited the Americans to just 86 total yards in a thorough 26-0 victory. Quarterback CJ Ogbonna (Wheeler) started the scoring in the opening minute of the second quarter with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Dallas (Bremen).

The American team answered with a solid drive that took them into National territory, but defensive end Justin Talley (Kell) sacked Garrison Hand (Villa Rica) on fourth down to stall the drive. Talley finished the game with 3.5 sacks and four solo tackles.

The third quarter saw the American running game take off as the trio of Marcuis Fulks (Hiram), Tavion Jackson (Campbell) and Daimar Ivey (Temple) accounted for 100 yards off a combined 12 carries in the frame. Fulks found the end zone on a 38-yard touchdown run with 1:38 left in the quarter to grow the lead to 13-0.

In the fourth quarter, Jackson added 17-yard touchdown run and Ivey capped the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown with 1:04 left. Fulks finished with 82 yards off 8 carries and was named Co-MVP with Jackson, who took his 13 carries for 78 yards.  

8th Grade: Americans 20, Nationals 6

American team running back Joshua Baker capped off an 11-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to grow a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The score held until a pivotal play in the second quarter that was eventually overturned by the first successful coach’s challenge in event history. National team quarterback Abe Stowe was sacked by Nick Persiano and was originally ruled down. American head coach Rusty Reed threw the challenge flag, however, and video review offered conclusively that the ball had come out. William Reed came up with the recovered fumble and the American team took over at the National 8-yard line. Ben Guthrie punched in a 1-yard touchdown run three plays later and the lead grew to 12-0 with 3:25 left in the half.

Future Walton quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski found Raiders teammate Hunter Teal for a 26-yard National touchdown less than two minutes later, but the failed PAT kept the deficit at 12-6. The American team took over at their own 30-yard line and closed the half with a 6-play, 70-yard drive capped off with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Guthrie to Kaleb Cost as time expired.

Defense dominated the second half as neither team threatened to score. The American team picked up just 2 yards off three total plays in the entire third quarter, but their own defensive prowess kept the National team from gaining momentum. The Nationals finished the game with just 77 total yards of offense to the American team’s 140.

7th Grade: Americans 40, Nationals 20

Da’Twon Rouse used an incredible performance to lift the American team past the Nationals 40-20 in the Georgia Elite Classic’s first-ever Seventh Grade game. Rouse—a running back and safety middle schooler in the Pebblebrook district—opened the scoring with a 43-yard touchdown run. Rouse returned to the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown run and converted the 2-point try to put the American team up 14-0 with 4:34 still left in the first quarter.

The National Team answered with Prentiss Noland touchdown passes to Debron Gatling (67 yards) and Carlos Penn (13) to tie it at 14-14 with 7:07 left in the half (Luke Hubert kicked the PATs). Rouse put the Americans back in front with a 9-yard touchdown run with 3:33 on the clock. After trading possessions, Rouse intercepted Noland at the National 40-yard line and returned it 35 yards to set up a 5-yard touchdown run with just 22 seconds left before the break. The American team’s 1-of-4 success rate on 2-point conversions kept their lead at 26-14.

A lightning delay interrupted the closing minutes of the third quarter, and Rouse added a 67-yard touchdown when the action resumed to put the Americans up 32-14 entering the fourth quarter.

CJ London added a 15-yard touchdown run and lineman Paul Harrington snuck in the 2-point try to extend the lead to 40-14. National running back Omarion Tucker provided the final points on a 7-yard run as time expired.

The National Team finished with a 26:25 to 17:35 advantage in time of possession and the American team narrowly outgained them 308-297 in total yardage. Rouse’s performance included 225 rushing yards off 12 carries to go with his five touchdown runs. Defensively, he added a game-high 12.5 total tackles (10 solo) to go with his interception. Tucker led the National team with 172 rushing yards off 26 carries.

Georgia Elite Classic adds record-breaking passer to senior game

North Paulding quarterback Ross Malmgren will participate in the Georgia Elite Classic senior game at McEachern on Dec. 28. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound prospect started every game for the Wolfpack over the last three seasons and led the program to its seventh-straight playoff appearance this past fall out of the talented Region 3-AAAAAAA.

Malmgren’s senior season concluded with more than 2,700-plus passing yards, 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions, earning him the recognition of Paulding County TD Club Player of the Year. He finished his varsity career with 7,356 passing yards and 70 touchdown passes—both of which are school and county records.

Presbyterian College, Tusculum, Valdosta State and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise are the latest programs to offer Malmgren, who is expecting to make his official announcement in January or February.

“The next couple months will probably be the most important ones for me,” said Malmgren. “I didn’t focus on the recruiting side as much during the season, so it’s picked up a lot since the season ended.”

Recruitment may have taken a backseat during his season, but years of results have set up Malmgren nicely for the culmination of his recruiting journey. In 2014, Malmgren took center stage in the first-ever Georgia Elite 8th Grade game. In the first half, he connected with Ryan Goede for a 19-yard touchdown, and found Dominick Blaylock for a 37-yard touchdown on a 4th down and 17 call. His team ended up scoring a 26-0 victory, and Malmgren teamed up with the two UGA signees (Goede, Blaylock) on a 7-on-7 all-star team the following year.

“The Elite Junior Classic game in eighth grade for sure helped me,” said Malmgren. “There were a lot of studs in that game that prepared me for joining varsity my freshman year. My freshman year, I joined a 7-on-7 team with a lot of those guys that was called Team Adidas. That really helped me too, especially with the speed of the game, and that was probably the most loaded team I’ve ever been on with Owen Pappoe and Dom [Blaylock], Goede and a bunch of guys.”

Malmgren played in the Rising Seniors All-Star Game last December and was on the winning side again (31-14). His performance included a clutch 15-yard touchdown pass with just six seconds left in the first half to Tennessee signee and Lovejoy receiver Jerrod Means.

Competing in all-star game settings has taught Malmgren the importance of taking a confidence approach to compensate for the shortage of practice time.

“All-star games can be much tougher for offense,” explained Malmgren. “For defenses, you just need to be an athlete and make plays. Offense has to have timing to function and that takes practice. You don’t have a lot of time to prepare for any all-star game, so you just have to try to get that timing worked out as fast as possible and try to be as confident as you can be going into the game.”

2018 Georgia Elite Classic Schedule
At McEachern High School

Thursday, Dec. 27
Seventh Grade Elite Classic 4 p.m.
Eighth Grade Elite Classic 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 28
Senior Elite Classic 10 a.m.
Brain Bowl Classic 12:30 p.m.
Junior Elite Classic 3 p.m.
Freshman Elite Classic 5:30 p.m.
Sophomore Elite Classic 8 p.m.