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.

Expanded lineup, new wave of features awaits ever-growing Georgia Elite Classic

The 2018 Georgia Elite Classic will showcase a seven-game, two-day all-star lineup that will be played at McEachern High School Dec. 27-28. There will be games exclusive to each grade 7-12 and a Brain Bowl—comprised of highly academically-qualified players from the Class of 2019-21 to round out the seven.

When the Georgia Elite Classic launched six years ago, it set out on a mission to shine a spotlight on 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.

New features were introduced to the games last year, including a halftime kicking contest, instant replay, coaching challenges and the use of 15-minute quarters. The result was an unprecedented look at Georgia’s top stars. This year, NFL’s timing rules will be used and there will be a two-minute warning near the end of each half. The head coach for each team will also be allowed one challenge per half, and the instant replay will have access to three separate camera angles on one of the biggest high school videoboards in the country.

The rosters for this year’s games have been split and are available at GeorgiaEliteClassic.com  with the intent to make the opposing sides as balanced and competitive as possible. Already, more than 620 players and over 200 different Georgia High Schools will be represented in this year’s all-star marathon as well as 60 coaches for the high schoolers and another 20 for the two middle school games. The games will be available on web at GeorgiaEliteClassic.com and there will also be a Gametracker with live stats.

The senior game will have 6-foot-6, 295-pound Ridgeland offensive tackle Frederick Norman Jr. starring in the trenches. Denmark’s Ben Whitlock and Mt. Paran’s Niko Vangarelli will quarterback against a secondary in the junior game that features Peach County cornerback Daelan Smith and safeties Kobe Towns and Talique Allen.

McEachern starting quarterback Carlos Del Rio headlines the sophomore game and Blessed Trinity’s Banks Atkins will be under center for the freshman game.  

Blessed Trinity junior defensive lineman Grayson Gilder and Parkview senior linebacker Zach Hamilton are among the Brain Bowl participants.

2018 Georgia Elite Classic Schedule

At McEachern

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.

Junior Elite Classic Showcase Headlines Busy Offseason

Photo By: Natalie Pierce, The Play Book


Football season is right around the corner as team camps, individual workouts and more have all begun. The Junior Elite Classic Showcase highlights some of the best camps around the state as all players are invited to see how they stack up against some of the Georgia’s best. Measurements and testing kick off the event before players are divided into groups for their specific position drills.

Three showcases are held in April starting on the 10th in Warner Robins, the 17th at Walton High School and the 24th at Devaul Henderson Park in Richmond Hill. The showcases are spread throughout the spring and across the state giving each location the proper exposure. Gwinnett County’s event will be held on May 1 with the location still to be determined and on Dec. 27 it will be Cobb County’s time to shine again as McEachern holds the final showcase of the year.

Turnouts were in the hundreds for each event last year as players put on performances that were taped and sent off to college scouts across the south. Countless attendees have used the Junior Elite Showcases as a springboard for their college careers.

From D-I to D-III, all levels of talent have hit the gridiron as National Preps coordinates the on-field activities. The Junior Elite Classic review committee as well as recruiting services from around the Southeast have their eyes locked on the performances of rising freshmen through the Class of 2017. Over 160 colleges and coaches will receive the results after completion of each showcase.


Tested will be:

40 yard dash: 2 attempts

5-10-5 Agility Shuttle: 2 attempts

Broad Jump: 2 attempts

Position specific drills

7 on 7’s

1 on 1’s

Registration is $60 and can be completed online at http://georgiaeliteclassic.com/showcase/. Rain or shine, the show must go on no matter the conditions, just like in actual football games, testing the mental strength of athletes when faced against adverse conditions.

If you think that you or someone you know has what it takes to make it to the next level, tell them to come test their skills and see if they really are Elite.

Sophomore Elite Classic: Americans 38, Nationals 3

Photo courtesy of Jeff Martin

The stars aligned at Walter Cantrell Stadium at McEachern High School for the first ever Sophomore all-star game a part of the Georgia Junior Sophomore Elite Classic. The American Team led by head coach Kevin Whitley (Stockbridge) met the National Team guided by Mark Fleetwood (Peachtree Ridge). With scouts littered across the stadium, the Peach State’s best sophomores put on a show, but it was the American Team shining the brightest to secure a dominant 38-3 victory.

The Americans outgained the Nationals 419 to 86 in total yardage and led from the opening drive. Buford’s Anthony Grant was named the Offensive MVP thanks to some tough running and big-play drives. He bulldozed his way to 165 yards on 22 carries and scored on a 1-yard run to open the game at the 7:35 mark of the first quarter. Less than four minutes later, Christopher Rodriguez of Ola plowed in an 8-yard run in which National defenders were draped all over him.

Up 14-0 entering the second quarter, the Americans were in control. The National Team added a 28-yard field goal from Norcross’ Jake Camarda. The American Team quickly answered back using a 5-play, 79-yard drive capped by Rodriguez’s second score of the day. He finished with 46 yards on nine carries and the two touchdowns.

Linebacker Zakoby McClain of Valdosta garnered Defensive MVP honors as a key cog of the American defense. He finished with a team-high six tackles, four solo and two for loss. The Wildcat also forced and recovered a fumble. It was one of three forced fumbles on the day created by the hard-hitting defense. Freshman Nolan Smith of Calvary Day scored on a fumble recovery from 30 yards out to make it 28-3 before Mitchell Fineran of Brunswick connected on a 47-yard field goal to give the American Team a commanding 31-3 lead at the half.

Woodstock quarterback Garrett Bass hit Centennial’s Blane Mason on a 14-yard touchdown pass to finish the scoring with 7:53 remaining in the third. Bass rotated in with North Gwinnett’s Cade Fortin. Bass finished 5-of-8 for 91 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Fortin, who started, went 4-of-10 with 82 yards and an interception.

The National Team was under duress all game long, passing for just 50 yards and being sacked seven times. JJ Peterson (Colquitt County) and Dar’Jarri Coleman (South Atlanta) both corralled two sacks apiece. While Kierron Smith (Fitzgerald) and Nolan Smith both tallied one.

The Nationals were led on offense by Taylor County’s Lyn J Dixon. The shifty back finished with 50 yards on 10 rushes. Defensively, freshman JD Bertrand of Blessed Trinity led all defenders with eight total tackles and an interception that was returned for 38 yards.

Showcase standouts strengthen Georgia Junior Sophomore Elite Classic

Six juniors earned roster spots in the 2015 Georgia Junior Elite Classic after attending Sunday’s Elite Classic Showcase at McEachern High School, none bigger than Mountain View offensive tackle Jonathan Stewart. Stewart, who stands 6-foot-8, 291 pounds will suit up for the Junior American team on Dec. 29 as the event kicks off its third edition of the junior all star game . Three-star receiver Corey Reed will represent Mays on the American team and brings his 6-foot-2 frame and athleticism to a talented American offense.

The National Junior team added four defensive players over the weekend that stood out at the showcase. Buford cornerback K.J. Anderson was picked up and Central Gwinnett defensive tackle Emmanuel McNeil was added to the National team’s star-studded front. Linebackers Jeffery Burley (Jackson) and Jacob Gregory (Centennial) were also invited with Gregory providing long snapper experience to the National team as well.

There were a total of 13 sophomores selected from the showcase to play in inaugural Elite Sophomore game on Dec. 29, including Woodstock quarterback Garrett Bass. The 6-foot-2 Wolverine will quarterback the American team with North Gwinnett’s Cade Fortin. The sophomore American Team also added two offensive lineman. Jackson’s George Ball is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound guard and Arabia Mountain’s Angelo Miller will likely take the majority of his snaps at tackle with his 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame. Ola’s Christopher Rodriquez was added to serve as the American running back and he is coming off an outstanding sophomore season that saw him rush for 1,479 yards off 178 carries (8.3 yards per carry). The 6-foot-1, 191-pound sophomore has the physicality to play both sides of the football and scored 18 touchdowns this past season. Centennial wide receiver Blane Mason is joining the American team and he will start what could be a very busy offseason with recruiting interest continuing to gain steam. Metter’s Shamel Johnson (CB), Lamar County’s Sean Smith (DE), Fitzgerald’s Kierron Smith (DT) and Manchester’s Jontavious Ferguson (LB) will bolster an already deep American defense.

The Sophomore National team added cornerbacks Tre Douglas and Myles Sims. Douglas was a member of ELCA’s state championship team this year and Sims saw action in 6A quarterfinalist Westlake’s secondary this season. Mundy’s Mill center Corey Freeman and Walton offensive tackle Matthew Hall were added to boost an offensive line responsible for protecting Peachtree Ridge quarterback Fred Payton and Taylor County quarterback Gunnar Watson.

Double-header takes competition to new heights



By: Craig Sager


The third installment of the annual junior all-star game will feature a sophomore game for the first time. The newly-named Georgia Junior Sophomore Elite Classic will feature the best sophomores in the state squaring off before the juniors take the field in the backend of the double-header. In just two years, the classic has presented two thrilling games and incredible individual performances. Last year’s classic was dominated by North Gwinnett’s K.J. Hancock, who hauled in nine catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Hancock was a late addition to the classic that ended up winning the game’s overall MVP and is set to sign at Miami (Ohio) this February.

While the individual performances are always exciting to see, watching players from all over the state and from each of the classifications come together is a true representation of the excellence of Georgia High School Football. Blessed Trinity’s Conor Davis quarterbacked the South team with his four-touchdown performance and 20-of-26 passing for 357 yards last year. Davis hit Marion County’s Lorenzo Smothers on a crossing route that resulted in a one-handed touchdown grab that went viral around the football community. Two minutes later, the South team was on the board again as Davis connected with McEachern transfer Tyler Simmons, who then pitched back to Sam Jackson on the hook and ladder for a 55-yard touchdown. Davis also hit Colquitt County star Kiel Pollard for a 7-yard touchdown.

This all-star game boasts the top defensive talent as well and Roswell’s Marcelino Ball stole the spotlight last year. Ball turned in 10 tackles to lead the North team and included one tackle for the loss, while earning the Defensive MVP.


This year’s double-header will provide plenty of star-power in both matchups. In the sophomore game, the future of some of Georgia’s best programs take the stage, including six freshman phenoms that will join the action.

In the junior game, some of the state’s biggest names are set to star in this year’s game. Mill Creek center Tyler Fannin anchors the American team offensive line and will have quarterbacks Bailey Hockman (McEachern) and Baron Radcliff (Norcross) to snap to. Out wide, Northside-Warner Robins star Tobias Oliver will get looks at receiver, which will be a change of pace after quarterbacking the run-heavy Eagles offense.

On the National Team, Grayson’s Chase Brice and Griffin’s Tylan Morton will quarterback the offense. Glynn Academy’s electrifying quarterback and UGA-commit Deejay Dallas (ATH) will be able to take snaps at wide receiver and running back to showcase his coveted skillset. Roswell’s Sheldon Evans, who has rushed for over 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns this season will also lead the backfield. Defensively, Archer five-star safety Isaiah Pryor will team up with Roswell’s four-star junior LeAnthony Williams to challenge the American Team’s passing attack.

Second Classic Ready to Kickoff with State’s Top Talent

By Brian Jones
Photo courtesy of Rob Saye

The 2014 high school football season has come to an end with seven teams winning GHSA state titles at the Georgia Dome two short weeks ago. Before the state title defenses begin and a new class of seniors takes the Georgia gridiron next season, the 2014 football action will conclude at McEachern High School with the second annual Elite Junior Classic.
The second installment of the all-star game will let the biggest stars from the Class of 2016 go head-to-head and give us a glimpse into the season to come. There will be a North and a South team that have been split up by the region the player comes from. Regions 1-4 are placed on the South team and any player that plays on a team that belongs to Regions 5-8 will be on the North Squad.

The North team will be led by Norcross head coach Keith Maloof who has won the Class AAAAA state title two of the last the last three years. Maloof has won 150 games in his career and he comes from a rich tradition of coaching in his family. His father, George Maloof, won a state title at St. Pius, and his brother, Kevin Maloof was the head coach at Dacula from 1991-2010.
Maloof will have a very experienced coaching staff working with him. Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis leads the North assistant coaches. Other coaches on the staff include Ron Gartrell (Stephenson), Terry Crowder (Creekview) and Derek Cook (Kell).
In the North trenches will be Archer’s Kobe Smith, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle committed to N.C. State, will line up in the North trenches. The South Team’s defensive line will be manned by McEachern’s Julian Rochester, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state. Rochester, a 6-foot-5.5, 280-pound defensive tackle will represent McEachern with his Indians’ teammate, running back Sam Jackson.
On the South team, Colquitt County wide receiver Kiel Pollard comes off a dramatic 28-24 victory over Archer in the Class AAAAAA state championship. Pollard hauled in seven receptions for 59 yards in the victory.
Defensive back Marquez Callaway has jumped into the top 5 Peach State prospects for the Class of 2016 on several recruiting boards and will represent Warner Robins on the South Team. West Hall standout Tyquan Statham will take snaps at defensive back for the North Team and will face South Team quarterback Logan Byrd and a deep group of receivers. Byrd is a 6-foot-3 signal caller from Veterans and is committed to Virginia Tech.
Collins Hill defensive end Tomon Fox and Upson-Lee offensive tackle David Marshall skyrocketed in the recruiting ranks this past season and like all the competing players in the Elite Junior Classic, can continue climbing the ranks with a strong showing Monday, Dec. 29
Ware County’s Franklin Stephens is the South’s head coach. Stephens has won two state titles at Tucker and led Lamar County to a state title appearance in 2013.  Like Maloof, Stephens will have a very talented coaching staff working with him. Lee County head coach Dean Fabrizio will be the offensive coordinator while Spalding head coach Nick Davis will be the defensive coordinator. Other notable coaches on the roster are Tom Fallaw (Cairo) and Welton Coffee (Camden County).

With this being the second even Elite Junior Classic, many may think that this is just an all-star game for the best juniors in the state. That’s one of the reasons for the event, but this is also a way for fans to get a look ahead at the 2015 season.
Having Rochester in the Classic will give the state a chance to watch its No. 1 prospect line up against the best competition. Early commits like Byrd (Virginia Tech) give fans of their future schools a chance to see them play before they arrive on campus.
The event also gives the players a chance to learn from some of the best coaches in the state with Maloof and Stephens. Both coaches have built winning programs and mentored all-state selections and future college stars.
The Elite Junior Classic is also a way to celebrate Georgia high school football and our newest class of leaders. The players participating in the Elite Junior Classic have already become leaders on their teams and will continue to be looked up to next season as they try to get to the Georgia Dome in December. The coaches and players are all competitors and bragging rights will be on the line for the North and the South but this is a game that celebrates the talent in our backyard. When a player dresses out for the Elite Junior Classic it is more than another football game. It is a unique opportunity to step on the field and compete in the spotlight with the biggest names in the state. Lastly, it is an opportunity for each player to represent his school and community in the Peach State’s newest postseason tradition.