Senior American team downs Nationals 17-14 after deciding Trevor Thomas TD run

In the final game of the 2017 Georgia Elite Classic, the Senior American team defeated the National team 17-14. The Americans scored a touchdown on an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 5:40 and spanned the end of the third quarter and four minutes into the fourth. But it took a long run from the American quarterback for the go-ahead score.

Quarterback Trevor Thomas (Pepperell) put the Americans ahead for good with a 33-yard touchdown run, and the defense held on the Nationals’ two possessions in the fourth quarter. On the Nationals’ final possession, the team was backed up on a 10-yard sack of quarterback Garrett Bass (Woodstock) and a false-start penalty, making for a fourth-and-23 from its own 27. A 20-yard run from Bass on fourth down left the Nationals short with 42 seconds left, and the Americans ran out the clock from there.

The Americans struck on the first play from scrimmage, as quarterback J.T. Rice (Thomasville) hit wide receiver Julius Cobbs (Warner Robins) for a 70-yard touchdown to give the team a 7-0 lead.

The Nationals tied the game at 7-7 in the second quarter after Trevon Wofford (Cedartown) found Steven Peterson (Harrison) for a 26-yard touchdown just a minute into the period (the Senior game featured 13-minute quarters). They then took the lead 14-7 after Jalyn Shelton (Ridgeland) rushed 6 yards for a touchdown with 4:11 left in the half. The Americans drive on the next possession was thwarted by a Wesley Wells (Lumpkin County) interception near midfield, and the halftime score remained 14-7 in favor of the National team.

The National team hit a 34-yard field goal at the 5:06 mark of the third quarter to make it 14-10, setting up its game-winning touchdown.

Thomas, who was named the game’s MVP, rushed for 106 yards for the Americans with a touchdown, and Rice was 7-of-11 passing for 142 yards and his scoring pass on the first play. Cobbs finished with 94 yards receiving.

Wofford led the Nationals in rushing with 55 yards and was 4-of-6 passing for 34 yards and a score. Peterson led his team in receiving with four catches for 50 yards and his score.

Junior Americans hold off Nationals for 31-19 win behind Williams’ MVP performance

The Junior Americans took the third game of the day with a 31-19 win over the Nationals, as quarterback Bryson Williams (Arabia Mountain) led his team to victory with touchdown passes to Buchi Nwaubi (Lassiter) and Lawrence Shadd (Harrison) on his way to MVP honors.

The American team took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after a 54-yard field goal by Hayden Hairston (Milton) and a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jacob Camp.

The Nationals got on the board with a 35-yard Jack Breedlove (Maynard Jackson) field goal, his first of two in the game. But with 4:08 left in the half, Williams hit Nwaubi for a 10-yard touchdown pass to take a commanding 17-3 lead at halftime.

The Nationals made it a 17-10 game in the third quarter after a highlight-reel, juggling catch by Christian Sims (Norcross) on a Bo Lawson pass (Dooly County). Sims (Norcross) was wide open over the middle and tipped the ball into the air several times while still on the run before hauling it in and striding to the end zone. But Williams hit Shadd for a 9-yard touchdown to push the American lead to 24-10.

A 37-yard field goal by Breedlove gave the Nationals 13 points with 4:52 left in the third quarter, and the Nationals would mount a comeback try in the fourth quarter. Keyon Brooks’ (Kennesaw Mountain) touchdown drew the Nationals to within five points, after a failed 2-point conversion, with 7:54 left in the game. But the American team mounted a drive to answer that score, and Nate Hope (Johns Creek) rushed for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 31-19 with 4:04 to play.

The Nationals final drive took them inside the 10 on a first-and-goal with just over a minute to play, but a Zach Calzada (Lanier) touchdown pass was negated after he was penalized for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage. A Calzada scramble on fourth down with 48 seconds left came up short of the end zone, and the Americans took over on downs and ran out the clock for the 12-point win.

Williams finished 10-of-16 for 167 yards and two touchdowns to go with 27 yards rushing. Calzada finished with 229 yards passing on 23 completions in 33 attempts. Sims had a game-high 115 yards receiving on four receptions, and the Nationals’ Ridge Polk (Cambridge) had 10 receptions for 73 yards. Shadd led the Americans with 68 yards receiving. Justin Talley (Kell) had two sacks for the Nationals.

Nationals jump out to big lead, finish strong for win in Sophomores game

The Nationals defeated the Americans 38-35 in the Georgia Elite Classic Sophomore game. The Nationals jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter to take control of the game early. The Americans stormed back at the end of the first half and early in the second, but the Nationals hung on thanks to second-half touchdowns by Jordan Simmons (Jordan Simmons) and Dexter Williams (Mt. de Sales).

The first quarter was a rough one for the the Americans, as they fumbled on three consecutive possessions to start the game and the Nationals capitalized each time. Kobe Pryor (Cedartown) rushed in from 3 yards and 49 yards in the first frame, and Bryson Irby (Alexander) had a 39-yard TD rush as well.

The American team clawed back into the game to trail by just three points in the third quarter after an 18-yard run by Eli Kohl (Brookwood). But Simmons broke off a 49-yard run to give the Nationals a 31-21 lead at the 4:53 mark of the quarter that they would take into the final period.

The fourth quarter saw Deondre Jackson (Stephenson) score from 4 yards out to bring the Americans to within three points again at 31-28. The Nationals answered with a 1-yard Williams keeper to push the lead back to 10 points with 2:31 left. The Americans made it interesting with 1:16 left with a halfback pass for a score. Jackson took a pitch from Griffin Brewster (Darlington) and threw a strike to Kobe Stewart (Marietta) to once again make it a field-goal deficit. But the Nationals were able to bleed the clock nearly all the way down and the game ended with the Americans in possession of the ball on their end of the field.

Pryor was named the game’s MVP as he rushed for 93 yards on 12 carries. Simmons added 75 yards on seven carries, and Irby had 67 on six attempts. The game was dominated by the run, as the Nationals rushed for 287 yards to the Americans’ 269. Williams also rushed for 50 yards from the QB position and passed for 81 (5-of-8). Brock Travelstead (North Paulding) hit a 39-yard field goal in the second quarter.

For the Americans, Donovan Anthony (Washington-Wilkes) led his team with 49 rushing yards, Zaire Thornton (Grady) rushed for 46 yards and Mecose Todd (Villa Rica) had 39. Jackson had 35 yards to go with three TD runs and scoring pass. Brewster passed for 143 yards on 9-of-17 passing, with a long of 40. DJ Hart (Norcross) had 86 of those receiving yards on four catches.

Vandagriff, Brown lead Nationals over Americans in Freshman game

In the first game of the 2017 Georgia Elite Classic at Cantrell Stadium at McEachern, the National freshman team defeated the American freshman team 31-21. 

Aalah Brown, a wide receiver from Valdosta, was the star for the Nationals with two touchdowns. The first came on a 42-yard strike from quarterback Brock Vandagriff (Prince Avenue) with 5:09 left in the first quarter. Brown’s second touchdown, which came at the 13:52 mark of the third quarter, was a result of an observation from the coaching staff.

“The coaches saw them fighting on the bubble (screen),” said Brown. “So they told me to fake like I was going to block and then go on a deep route.”

And that’s exactly what he did. Quarterback Trevor Lovett (North Cobb) released a perfect pass that found Brown wide open at the 20-yard line, and he trotted in. Crucial adjustments led to a defensive touchdown as well for the Nationals. This time, however, it wasn’t a coach who noticed something but a defensive back who saw a receiver line up his feet in a particular way.

“They were doing a hitch [route] the whole time so I was used to him being in a certain stance,” said Lowndes DB Jaheim James. “But I noticed that (the receiver’s) foot was turned a little bit differently than it would be.”

That little bit of information was all James needed, and as soon as the pass was released, he broke on the ball, intercepted it and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.

“So I read it really quick and broke on the ball and I caught it,” James said. “When he was getting the ball on the play, he would turn his foot really quick. But when he wasn’t, he wouldn’t and [the route] would be really straight. He had it really turned and I was really prepared for it.”

The American team was led by Carlos Del Rio (McEachern) who scored on a 1-yard run which was confirmed by the first-ever replay conducted in a high school football game. Del Rio lunged to the left side of the line and looked like he might have crossed the goal line. After replay on the video board, the play stood to pull the game to 7-7 with 8:28 left in the first quarter. Del Rio also completed a pass to Devin Smith (Metter) for a 70-yard touchdown. Caden Long (Roswell) found Julian Nixon (Centennial) with less than two minutes left in the game to pull the Americans to the final tally, 31-21. 

For the Nationals, Vandagriff finished the game 6-for-11 passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Lovett was 6-for-8 passing for 163 yards and one touchdown. Jamal Haynes (Grayson) caught five passes for 99 yards and one touchdown. Brown finished with two receptions for 81 yards and two scores.

Some of the players in the Georgia Elite Classic are used to this atmosphere, but for the freshmen, this is a new experience which will stay with them for a lifetime.

“This was my first Classic like this, and it is a good experience,” Brown said. “I got to meet people from all over the state. I am used to schools and kids from South Georgia but to meet these kids from North Georgia schools and other teams, I made a lot of friends, especially from my team. Over the last two days we came together like a real team.” 

Get ready, set, go: Four Elite games highlight big All-Star day at McEachern

By Seth Ellerbee

Pictured: Chaz Chambliss – Freshman LB Carrollton

There will be talent everywhere.

The fifth annual Georgia Elite Classic will be held Thursday at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium and will feature eight teams, two from each high school grade level, taking on each other in the what has become the largest one day of high school football all-star games in the country.

The 2017 edition of the event features nearly 400 players from across Georgia and introduces several new rules to the full day lineup, including coach’s challenges via instant replay technology.

Here is the breakdown:

Each team will have an opportunity to challenge one play per half, which will be displayed on McEachern’s huge and impressive video board. There will be at least two cameras on every play and if the coach decides to challenge, he must throw the red flag and let the lead official know he is challenging the play.

The white hat will then watch the replay on the board and make a decision. The game is using NFL rules and if the play is overturned, no timeout will be taken away. However, if the play is not overturned, the team that challenged the play will be charged one timeout.

Some other changes will also impact the Classic. Because of the large number of prospects in this year’s games, the quarters have been extended from 12 to 15 minutes to allow more players the opportunity to get on the field. Also, there will be a two-minute warning at the end of each half and NFL rules will be used for timing as well as a 40-second clock.

The halftime show has also been altered to include a kicking competition held among the four kickers in each of the games as well as the snappers. A live emcee will announce the results of the contest from the field. The participants will warm up from the 25-yard line and then will face sudden-death elimination, with each kick increasing in five-yards increments.

Other all-star game specific rules: On defense, only tackles and ends may rush. The middle and outside linebackers may not rush and must stay 2-yards off the line of scrimmage. Punters may not be rushed either.

All missed field goals, regardless of where the ball is blown dead, will be placed on the 30-yard line. Punts are not live and will be downed at the spot of the catch or where the ball is ruled dead.

Kickoffs will be from the 35-yard line and if the ball crosses the goal line, it will be ruled dead and be spotted at the 30-yard line.

The games are scheduled to be webcast live on, and the National Federation High School Network. Score Atlanta’s Craig Sager Jr. will be heading up the social-media driven webcast and expect a few surprise guests sitting in with him.

Tickets are $10 at the gate. There will be a live GameTracker and the games can be followed on Twitter at @GAEliteClassic. The game program can also be downloaded at

Thursday’s Georgia Elite Schedule at McEachern High School
10 a.m.: Freshman Game
12:30 a.m.: Sophomore Game
3 p.m.: Junior Game
5:30 p.m.: Senior Game

Fifth annual Georgia Elite Classic will test-run challenges, use of instant replay

By Craig Sager II

A historic test-run of the use of instant replay and coaches’ challenges at the high school level will take place at this year’s Georgia Elite Classic on Dec. 28 at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium. The annual all-star showcase will introduce several other new rules to its record-setting four-game lineup, but none bigger or more interesting than giving each head coach the opportunity to challenge calls on the field for the first time.

This is how it will work.

Each team will have a chance to challenge one play per half, which will be shown on the video board at McEachern. There will be at least two cameras on every play, and the head coaches will be given red flags to throw and also vocally have to let the white hat know they are challenging the play before the start of the next one. The white hat will watch the replay on the video board and make his decision. The game is using NFL rules, so if the play is overturned, no timeout will be taken away. If the play is not overturned, the team that challenged will lose a timeout.

Instant replay and the coaches’ challenges has brought “what ifs” and heated debates into the high school football world ever since the NFL introduced them in 1999. College initiated its own version in 2006, but Georgia high school football still seems a long way from instituting an instant replay equipment standard that could work with the 400-plus programs across the Peach State. Nonetheless, featuring the technology for the first time at the Georgia Elite Classic will put it to the test in a big way. Not only is this the largest all-star game in the country this year with over 400 prospects, but more than 170 different Georgia high schools will have players represented in this year’s event to experience the test run first hand.

With so many prospects, the classic has felt the need to expand each quarter from 12 to 15 minutes so players get more snaps and exposure. There will also be a two-minute warning before each half for the first time. The halftimes of each game have been revamped this year as well, and there will be a 15-minute break and kicking competition held among the four kickers in each game. Each team’s long snapper will participate in the competition and snap to a holder, and a live emcee will announce the contest from the field. Each kicker will get a warmup kick from the 25-yard line, and then it will be sudden-death elimination from then on, with each kick increasing in 5-yard increments.

In-game field goals have their own set of rules. The defensive alignment for all field goals and extra points must be 4-3.

Here are some of the other all-star game specific rules: On defense, only tackles and ends may rush, and the middle linebacker and outside linebacker must be 2 yards off the line of scrimmage and may not rush. The defense may not rush the punter either.

All missed field goals, regardless of where the ball is blown dead, will be placed on the 30-yard line. Punts will be downed at the spot of the catch or the place where it is ruled dead.

On kickoffs, the ball will be kicked off from the 35-yard line. Kickoffs that cross the goal line are dead, and the ball will automatically be spotted on the 30-yard line.

Tickets to the Georgia Elite Classic can be purchased online for $8 HERE and will be available for $10 at the gates on game day. All games will be streamed on the NFHS Network.

Thursday, Dec. 28

Freshman Game – 10 a.m.
Sophomore Game – 12:30 p.m.
Junior Game – 3 p.m.
Senior Game – 5:30 p.m.

Georgia Elite Classic primed for enormous fifth year

photo credit courtesy of Dawgnation

When the Georgia Elite Classic launched five years ago, it set out on a mission to showcase the same combination of on-the-field and off-the-field talent that draws college coaches from around the country to recruit from the state of Georgia each year. The inaugural Classic featured a star-studded junior game and built a foundation that encouraged continuous growth in the years since. A sophomore game was added for the first time in 2015, and last year’s event put three different recruiting classes on display by adding a senior game for the first time. This year will give the state’s top freshmen a chance to join the spotlight, and with more games, prospects, coaches and recruiting experts coming together than ever before, the 2017 Georgia Elite Classic is primed for a historic five-year anniversary celebration.

The three-day event begins on Dec. 26 when more than 400 prospects, representing over 170 different Georgia high schools, will check in and get ready for the first of their three practices before game day. Team bonding activities like a fun-filled night at Stars and Strikes on Dec. 27 and accommodations provided at the Galleria Marriott across from SunTrust Park will give players time to connect off the field. The first of the four games scheduled for Dec. 28 at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium will kick off at 10 a.m. with the freshmen and will conclude with the seniors at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to introducing the first-ever four-game lineup, new leadership was added to the Georgia Elite Classic team this past year. I.J. Rosenberg, the president of Score Atlanta, one of the organizers of the Corky Kell Classic and creator of the Georgia Elite Classic, brought on veteran coaches Tripp Allen of Brookwood and Jeff Carlberg of North Gwinnett to lead the selection process with guidance from recruiting expert Rusty Mansell of 247Sports. With 54 years of combined coaching experience in Georgia high school football between them, Allen (26 years) and Carlberg (28) as well as the eight head coaches in this year’s four games are some of the state’s best.

Walton’s Daniel Brunner and North Gwinnett’s Bill Stewart will coach the senior games, while North Cobb’s Shane Queen and Stockbridge’s Kevin Whitley will lead the junior game. Jackson’s Dary Myricks and Milton’s Adam Clack will coach the sophomores while Fitzgerald’s Tucker Pruitt and Villa Rica’s Rico Zachery coach the freshmen.

Five-star wide receivers and UGA commits Dominick Blaylock (Walton) and Jadon Haselwood (Cedar Grove), the only two U.S. Army All-Americans in Georgia right now for the 2019 class. headline the junior game while Norcross kicker Jake Camarda, also going to play for the Bulldogs and one of the top high school kickers in the nation, will play in the senior game. The sophomore game will have defensive end Arik Gilbert from Marietta, who has a chance to be the top prospect nationally in the 2020 class and when asked about the freshmen game, Mansell said, “Both teams will be filled with a ridiculous number of players who will play in both the SEC and ACC.’’

Tickets can purchased online for $8 HERE and will be available for $10 at the gates on game day. All games will be streamed on the NFHS Network. For more information. Go to


Thursday, Dec. 28

Freshmen Game 10 a.m.

Sophomore Game 12:30 p.m.

Junior Game 3 p.m.

Senior Game 5:30 p.m.

Georgia Elite Classic picks head coaches for December All-Star showdowns at McEachern

The Georgia Elite Classic locked down its head coaches for the four games on Dec. 28 at McEachern High School. The Senior Game will be coached by Daniel Brunner from Walton and Bill Stewart from North Gwinnett. The Bulldogs have clinched Region 6 in Class AAAAAAA while the Raiders are undefeated at 9-0 and can lock down Region 4 in Class AAAAAAA with a win Friday night over Woodstock. Brunner and Stewart, both in their first year as head coaches at their respective schools, opened the season against each other at the Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic with Walton winning 31-28 in a game that could have gone either way. Both teams have been undefeated since their meeting at Georgia State Stadium. The Junior Game will be led by Shane McQueen of North Cobb and Stockbridge’s Kevin Whitley. The Tigers are undefeated at 9-0 and have won their fourth straight region title while the Warriors are 5-4 and still have a shot at the playoffs. The Sophomore Game will be coached by Jackson’s Dary Myricks and Adam Clack from Milton. The Eagles will make the Class AAAAAAA playoffs and are 7-2 while the Red Devils clinched a spot in the Class AAA playoffs. The freshman game will feature Tucker Pruitt from Fitzgerald and Villa Rica’s Rico Zachery. In Class AAAAA, the Wildcats finished their season at 5-5 in one of the toughest regions in the state while the Purple Hurricanes are still fighting for a playoff spot and region title at Class AA. To be considered for the games, click here. Another way to get into the games is to sign up the Elite Showcase, which will be held Dec. 17 at McEachern High School. A group of players form the Showcase will be chosen to play in the games. To sign up for the Showcase, click here. For more info on the Georgia Elite Classic, go to or call Graham David ( at Score Atlanta at 404-256-1572 or Rusty Mansel of 247Sports at

Elite Classic gets nation’s No. 1 QB from 2021

Buford quarterback Aaron McLaughlin has committed to play in the Freshman Game in the Georgia Elite Classic on Dec. 28 at McEachern High School. Already starting as a freshman for a 3-1 Buford team ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAA, McLaughlin stands 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 220 pounds and is considered by most recruiting services to be the top pro-style QB in the class of 2021. In four games, including his high school debut in the Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic, he has completed 45 of 87 passes for 497 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He has two rushing touchdowns. Joining McLaughlin for the Freshman Game will be Brookwood quarterback Caleb Ellard and teammates Zach Dyer and Caleb Ellard, both receivers. Brookwood will send tackle Sean Hill and running back Eli Knight for the Sophomore Game and tight end/linebacker Ennio Zambino, linebacker Anthony Gorney and quarterback Justin Fombie for the Junior Game. Click here if you would like to be considered for the four games, which will include a senior matchup. The Georgia Elite Classic will be based at McEachern, while the players will stay two nights at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest, across from the Braves’ SunTrust Park.


Photo courtesy of 247Sports

5-star Blaylock commits to playing in Georgia Elite Classic

Three of the top Junior players in the state have committed to play in December’s Georgia Elite Classic, including one who will wear a Georgia Bulldogs jersey in 2019 and two with multiple major college offers.  Walton receiver Dominick Blaylock and North Gwinnett defensive backs D.J. Turner II and Warren Burrell will play in the Elite Junior game on Dec. 28 at McEachern High School, which will also include an eighth-grade B2C All-Star game and matchups for freshmen, sophomores and seniors. Blaylock has committed to play for head coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs while Turner and Burrell both have an offer from Nick Saban and the University of Alabama. Also, quarterbacks Jake Smith from Blessed Trinity and Austin Kirksey from Walton have confirmed they will participate in the Junior Game as well as Walton running back Malik Adams and teammate Luke Payne, one of the top long snapping prospects in the country. Brookwood starting center Aidan Perkins will be in the Sophomore game and linebacker/running back James Wood from Jeff Davis High has said he will play in the Freshman game. Also, the Classic is excited to announce its first five head coaches for the games, which include Tucker Pruitt (Fitzgerald), Rico Zackery (Villa Rica), Adam Clack (Milton), Daniel Brunner (Walton) and Kevin Whitley (Stockbridge). A committee of coaches is picking the players for this year’s games and the Elite executive group running the event will include longtime coaches Tripp Allen from Brookwood and Jeff Carlberg from North Gwinnett. The committee is also getting strong direction from recruiting expert Rusty Mansell of 247 Sports. Click Here if you would like to be considered for the game.