Moultrie Observer

Local Sports

December 2, 2013

Norcross could be better than 2012 state championship team

MOULTRIE — Many of the Norcross players who hurt Colquitt County the most in the Blue Devils 41-27 state semifinal victory last season have graduated.

That includes Alvin Kamara, who rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 74 more and another score. He is now at Alabama.

And efficient quarterback Joseph Wilber, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 211 yards and two scores, also is gone.

That would be good new for the Packers as they prepare to meet the Blue Devils in the semifinals for the second year in a row on Friday in Norcross, except that the replacements for those players are as good or better.

And there are several other new names on the roster to go with those returning  that will make unseating the defending Class AAAAAA state champions extremely difficult.

Norcross lost two of its first three games this season — falling to Booker T. Washington of Miami, Fla., and North Gwinnett — but has run off 10 straight victories since then.

And if that doesn’t give the Blue Devils a little confidence heading into Friday’s game, the fact that they have defeated the Packers three straight times — including scrimmage victories last season and in August of this year — should help.

Packers coach Rush Propst was matter-of-fact in his assessment of Friday’s matchup: “They are more talented that we are. They are the most talented team we’ve faced since I’ve been here.”

And while that is certainly not meant to be taken as the Packers have no chance, the point is well-made. There are some outstanding athletes who will be wearing the blue-and-silver on Friday.

And several are newcomers to the Norcross program, including starting quarterback A.J. Bush, who has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 Bush, who transferred to Norcross from Milton this school year, has a strong arm and Propst said he completed  fourth-and-11 and fourth-and-nine passes in the August scrimmage.

He also is the Blue Devils second-leading rusher with more than 600 yards on the ground.

“If he gets comfortable, we’ll get beat,” Propst said.

Kamara, an All-State selection last year, has been replaced by Josh Boyd, who transferred from South Gwinnett.

 All he has done since changing schools is rush for more than 1,300 yards and score 13 touchdowns.

The receiving corps already had the outstanding Myles Autry returning from the state championship team and he finds himself surrounded by other fine pass-catchers, all coached by former Packer Reggie Stancil. The leading receiver is Clinton Lynch, who Packer fans will remember from last year.

Also a target for Bush is 6-foot-3, 215-pound Christopher Herndon, who did not catch a pass against the Packers last year.

All of the above, plus offensive lineman Ryan Northrup, have committed to play at the college level next season.

Bush appears headed to Kansas State; Boyd to Appalachian State.

And the list of college prospects on the defensive side of the ball is just as long. Propst is especially impressed with cornerbacks Ridwan Issahaku and Malcolm Galloway.

Propst said the Packers receivers had difficulty breaking free from the pair and getting into their pass routes in the Blue Devils 28-14 scrimmage victory in August.

Norcross also has an outstanding safety in Jordan Noil.

The Packers also must find a way to defeat the Blue Devils in the box, where Tennessee-bound linebacker Kevin Mouhon roams.

Linebackers Jaquan Frazier and Warren McWilliams also are stellar.

And the front line is dominated by All-State defensive end Lorenzo Carter, rated at the No. 1 prospect in Georgia, regardless of position.

He has been credited with 35 tackles for loss this season.

“People I’ve talked to say this is the best defense Norcross has ever had,” Propst said.

Since losing to North Gwinnett 37-17 in the third game of the season, Norcross has given up just 75 points in its last 10 games.

Colquitt County will counter with a rejuvenated offense.

The Packers have scored 135 points in their three playoff games, averaging 45 points a game.

Colquitt will try to find a way to shake loose junior running back Sihiem King, who has rushed for 1,392 yards, which ranks fourth all-time for the Packers.

King has scored 18 touchdowns this season.

Senior Tim Sanders has been a welcomed addition to the offensive arsenal in recent weeks and give the Packers bigger back to pound defenses with.

Sophomore Kiel Pollard had seven catches last week and leads the team with 44 catches for 773 yards and seven touchdowns. King and Javonta Woods each have 34 pass receptions. Todd Boyd, who had five catches against Dacula, now has 33 for the season.

Although he twice had to leave the game last with injuries and threw three interceptions last Friday, quarterback Daniel Mobley threw for 255 yards, his highest total this season and second-most in his career.

Mobley now has thrown for 2,391 yards, which ranks him second on the Packers all-time single-season yardage list.

He also now has 3,751 career yards, which ranks No. 4. His 29 career touchdown passes tie him with Clif Henry for third on the Packers all-time list.

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