The “Battle of the Big Chicken” on Aug. 30 features a doubleheader with the Walton Raiders facing the Hillgrove Hawks and the McEachern Indians playing the Lassiter Trojans. All four programs were in the state playoffs last season in the GHSA’s highest classification.
In the opening match-up, the Raiders will play the Hawks for the first time in school history.
Walton star defensive back D.J. Smith also makes plays running and catching the ball on offense. Smith has offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. Walton quarterback Price Wilson saw action last season after the starter, Parker McLeod, injured his ankle. Wilson committed to Louisiana Tech during the offseason. Defensively, Walton linebacker Dreyon Williams leads one of the fastest units in the state.
Hillgrove is paced by head coach Phillip Ironside’s son, Elijah, the team’s starting quarterback. The younger Ironside started as a sophomore in 2011, but had to sit the majority of last season after a preseason shoulder injury.
Ironside has one of the deepest receiving corps in the state to work with, as four receivers return that scored at least one touchdown in 2012. At running back, Richardre Bagley returns after missing last season with a leg injury. Ironside believes Bagley is the guy who will get this team going.
On defense, 6-foot-2, 225-pound hybrid linebacker Bradley Chubb lead the Hawks. Chubb is committed to N.C. State.
McEachern went undefeated last season in a region that sent North Cobb to the state semifinals. Indians head coach Kyle Hockman has quarterback Ty Clemons and junior running back Taj Griffin as the playmakers who can spark the offense.
The mobile quarterback and the lighting quick Griffin routinely hit the 250-yard rushing mark as an underclassman last season. Griffin, who has posted a 4.35 time in the 40-yard dash, recently impressed the UGA coaching staff by volunteering to run the 40 at Dawg Night. Griffin walked right up to the line and proceeded to post a 4.40 without warming up. Clemons is being recruited as an athlete, and holds offers from Kentucky, Buffalo, Georgia Southern, Louisville and Massachusetts. Griffin has offers from Georgia, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn and Clemson. Defensively, Henry Famurewa is a 6-foot-2, 231-pound defensive end who is committed to Louisville.
Lassiter was Georgia’s No. 1-ranked team heading into the postseason in 2012, and has a strong cast returning. The challenge will be stopping the Indians’ ultra-fast offense. Protecting the perimeter for the Trojans is Arkansas commit Chris Murphy. The shutdown corner is one of the best in the state and will get a chance to showcase his complete skill set against the speed of McEachern.
Lassiter’s last two quarterbacks have landed in the Southeastern Conference: Hutson Mason (UGA) and Eddie Printz (Missouri). In 2013, the spotlight will be on quarterback Will Anderson, who transferred in after spending his junior year at Wesleyan High School. Anderson will have running back Lane Jackman and receiver Blake Wilson to continue Lassiter’s tradition of explosive offenses