Courtesy: Prince Avenue Christian School
BOGART, Ga. - The HIGH 5 Sports Game of the Week returns to Prince Avenue Christian on Friday as the Wolverines host George Walton Academy. Both schools are undefeated coming into this key Region 8-A matchup at Brad Akins Stadium in Bogart.
The game features one of Georgia high school football's most tenured leaders in Bulldog's head coach Don Williams, who's coaching in his 25th season at GWA. Williams has three GISA Championships under his belt and brings a 3-0 team with a stingy defense to Prince Avenue this Friday night. The Bulldogs are only surrendering a touchdown per game after opening the season with a shutout win over Social Circle, followed by victories over Towns County and Riverside Military Academy.
Prince Avenue's Greg Vandagriff enters his second season as Wolverines (4-0) head coach and so far he's lost just one football game- a narrow 31-28 defeat to Fellowship Christian in last year's state semifinals.
"There's a lot of legacy here over the past three to four years," said Vandagriff. "Our Junior kids have never practiced after a loss... This is a big game because they're just around the corner from us and most of these kids have played together growing up. All week our (lower school) teams have been playing games against each other, so this is sort of George Walton week."
Prince Avenue has won four consecutive region titles, and despite losing six defensive starters to graduation, they remain sound on that side of the ball. Vandagriff says watch out for senior all-state linebacker Sam Wessinger and free safety Elijah Hynes to make plays and force turnovers.
Three-year starter Grant Roland continues to make big throws at quarterback for the Wolverines, often connecting with dynamic wide out Christian Parrish who received his first collegiate offer from Army on Wednesday. Roland's protection is usually solid thanks to Georgia Tech commitment Harrison Jump among others on the stout PAC offensive line.
Vandagriff, a defensive coach by trade, has taken over the play calling this season after an unexpected tragedy befell his team over the summer.
"Bruce Cobleigh was going to be my offensive coordinator."
Vandagriff hired the legendary Harrison head coach to run the spread offense back in April. For three months Cobleigh coached the Wolverines, preparing them for the season, until one day in July when he told Vandagriff he wasn't feeling well. The next day Cobleigh texted his long-time friend and told him he'd been diagnosed with stage four Pancreatic Cancer. Twenty days later Cobleigh passed away.
"I was at Campbell (HS) when he took me under his wing," Vandagriff told High 5 Sports with emotion in his voice. "When I had a coaching question I would turn to him...now it's just unbelievable you can't talk to him when you need to."
Now, when the Prince Avenue offense breaks the huddle they often shout "Break on B.C." in homage to their former leader. Vandagriff met with his team shortly after Cobleigh's death to break the news.
"I told the kids that we all know we're going to die, but it's a whole new world when someone tells you-you're going to die."
That teaching moment has strengthened the Wolverines so far this season- and has put life into perspective for Vandagriff's young men. And while Prince Avenue hasn't officially dedicated the season to Cobleigh, it seems likely that Vandagriff will hear his old friend's voice in the headsets before each-and-every play calls on Friday night, nudging him towards the perfect play.
Bill Hartman and "Super" Blaine Kummet will feature Prince Avenue's band, cheerleaders, and fans- along with interviews with both team's head coaches- during live pregame programming at 5 and 6 o'clock, and then have all the highlights and post game interviews on the "Big Show" at 11.