Join us tonight for Week 12 of our GPB Sports Football Friday in Georgia 2022 schedule and the regular season finale as the North Gwinnett Bulldogs (7-2, 5-0) take on the Norcross Blue Devils (7-2 , 5-0) for the GHSA Region 7-7A Championship at Norcross Stadium in Gwinnett County.
Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with “Recruiting 2022,” including “Top Prospects to Watch,” followed by Game of the Week at 7:30 p.m.
Norcross is seeking its first regional championship since last winning in 2020 en route to a 13-1 record and a state playoff semifinal. North Gwinnett is chasing its first region title since last winning in 2019, which was the last of three straight starting in the Bulldogs’ 2017 state championship season in Bill Stewart’s first season as head coach. .
The Blue Devils have won seven regional crowns in their 68-year history, including six under head coach Keith Maloof. The Bulldogs have won eight regional championships in their 61-year history, all in the past 14 seasons dating back to 2009 and three under Coach Stewart.
Both teams enter the game on impressive winning streaks. Norcross has won seven straight since the season started 0-2 and won those seven games by averaging 38 points. North Gwinnett have won five in a row since their deceptive 48-21 scoreline at home to the then No.1. 9 Parkview on GPB on September 9 starting the season 2-2. The Bulldogs have won their five games in the winning streak by an average of 30.6 points.
These teams have a history. It will be the 27th all-time meeting between the two since 1972 with Norcross leading the series 15-11 despite North Gwinnett winning the last three. They haven’t played the past two seasons after meeting every season from 2003 to 2019, including the Blue Devils’ 31-14 win over the Bulldogs in the 2013 state championship game.
That state title was one of two for Coach Maloof who is 214-94 in 27 seasons as a head coach and is tied for ninth in career wins with Ed Dudley among the active state coaches. Maloof is 192-83 in 24 seasons with Norcross and trails legendary Parkview coach Cecil Flowe by just five wins as Gwinnett County’s all-time leader.
He may be part of the state’s “first family” of coaches. His late father George won 168 games and the 1968 state championship in St. Pius. His brother Kevin won 175 games with his greatest success at Dacula. His son Tyler is a freshman head coach at Lanier. Overall, the Maloof family is 561-287-13 with three state titles. I had the honor of being part of the Georgia High School Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Coach George Maloof (the player), Keith and Kevin accepting the honor on behalf of their father.
So that’s the preview of the game. It should be fun. Now here is an overview of the best prospects to watch out for.
Norcross Blue Devils
Lucie Lawson – 6-4, 240, Senior – Consensus 4-Star and 247 Sports No. 2 TE – Committed to Georgia on 31 other offers, including Alabama. He has 111 career catches for 1,271 yards and 16 total touchdowns. He’ll be in Athens tomorrow for the big game against Tennessee and has been committed to Georgia since January, but some comments to 247 Sports this week raised some eyebrows. Luckie said, “I would say Georgia is in the lead, but Alabama has a real empty TE room and that’s what I’m taking into consideration.” Luckie was in Bama two weekends ago for the Mississippi State game and said he was considering returning for the Iron Bowl. He made official visits to Georgia and Alabama.
Nakai Pool — 6-1, 202, Senior — 247 Sports 3-Star WR — Committed to Mississippi State on 19 other deals, including Louisville and Michigan State. He was the first commit WR for the Bulldogs in their 2023 class. He is a great WR and can make tough catches in traffic. Poole has 77 career receptions for over 1,300 yards and 18 TDs. And like I said earlier, he’s a physical WR, so strong enough to use him at RB, which the Blue Devils have done this season, scoring 4 ground TDs.
Zion Taylor – 5-11, 192, Senior – 247 Sports 3-Star WR – Committed to Georgia Tech on 21 other deals, including Utah, Wake Forest, Pitt and Duke. Despite the coaching change, Taylor looks solid with the Yellow Jackets. He’s a guy who can take over. Taylor committed to the Jackets in June after taking his OV. Taylor had 36 catches for 589 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season with Norcross after being traded from Parkview. He has 99 catches in his career for over 1,500 yards and 13 TDs.
Royal Tywan – 6-1, 180, Senior CB – Committed to North Dakota State on 3 other deals, including Pitt
Diviner Hunter – 6-0, 175, Senior SAF – Committed to Tennessee Tech on 6 other deals, including Jackson State and Eastern Michigan
Jackson Bussey – 6-3, 233, Junior Edge – 4 offers including Georgia Tech
miada jones – 6-2, 287, Senior OL – 11 offers including Stetson, Morgan State and Alabama State
Sha’Kwan McKnight – 5-9, 275, Senior DT – 9 Offers including Morehouse, Reinhardt, Berry
Jonathan Mathis – 5-11, 180, Senior LB – Offered by Stetson and Morehouse.
North Gwinnett Bulldogs
Kayden McDonald – 6-3, 337, Senior – 4-star DL committed to Ohio State on Monday. Chose the Buckeyes over his other four finalists Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida and Clemson. McDonald’s is ranked by Rivals as the No. 8 DL in the country. He will join former North Gwinnett CB star Jordan Hancock in Columbus. He is the Bulldogs’ leading tackler and also leads the team in the TFL and QB sacks. He also rushed for 6 TDs and North Gwinnett will use him extensively in short range and red zone situations. It’s a fun watch.
Grant Godfrey – 6-3, 215, Senior – 247 Sports 4-star and No. 27 LB in the country – Committed to Kentucky more than 27 other offers, including Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Ole Miss, South Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Kansas State. Grant’s relationship with the DC Wildcats Brad White is said to have played a significant role in his commitment to Kentucky. His father Randall was an All-SEC LB in Georgia and played 12 seasons in the NFL and his brother RJ is a freshman forward with the Clemson basketball team.
Tyler Walton – 6-5, 230, Senior – 247 Sports 3-Star Edge Rusher – Committed to Wake Forest on 10 other offers, including Boston College, Duke, Vandy, West Virginia and Memphis. We didn’t see him again in September because he was injured – one of many players missing for that game with Parkview. But he’s healthy now and that’s one of the main reasons the Bulldogs have won five games in a row. Despite missing a lot of time due to injury, Walton has 32 total tackles with 3 QB sacks and 9 TFLs.
Jayden Brock – 6-4, 210, Junior DE – Offered by Vanderbilt and receiving interest from Wake Forest – He currently supports Walton. Brock has 15 total tackles, 6 TFLs, 5 QB dispatches and 4 PBUs, most of which came when Walton was injured. Big upside and should be a major player for North Gwinnett in his senior season.
ethan washington – Senior QB – Enlisted in the military within the last two weeks. Unfortunately, he was unable to play for the Bulldogs this season due to a season-ending knee injury in the spring. But his skills should be ideal for the Black Knights, and we wish him the best at West Point.
Top Dawgs in College Football Playoff Top Five – Few programs in the country can boast of having an alumnus in each of the Top Five schools in the Premier CFP Rankings, but North Gwinnett does:
- CB Warren Burrell #1 Tennessee
- CB Jordan Hancock #2 Ohio State
- OL Warren Ericson #3 Georgia
- LB Barrett Carter #4 Clemson
- CB DJ Turner #5 Michigan
So it all starts with the Gabby Award-winning, Emmy-nominated 2022 Recruiting at 7 p.m., followed by Georgia Football Fridays as the Westlake Lions host the Crisp County Cougars at 7:30 p.m. Join Wayne Gandy , Jon Nelson, Hannah Goodin, Niki Noto Palmer and I for the call.
And remember, when it’s over, it’s not over! Stick around for the GPB Sports Postgame Show for all the big scores and interviews with the state’s top coaches. Besides, it’s Bracketology Night. This means Jon and Hannah will fill out the playoff grids and get you ready for the playoffs which begin next Friday night.
Now if you somehow miss it live, don’t worry, we’re replaying the entirety. Football Fridays in Georgia at the end of our live broadcast on GPB. You can also watch live on the GPB Sports app or on our Twitter or Facebook page wherever you are or watch it on demand anytime at GPB.org.
Enjoy your Football Friday in Georgia!