Johns Creek Gladiators: Photo Courtesy Rosemary Maye
Johns Creek, Ga - The High 5 Sports Game of the Week heads to The Coliseum in Johns Creek for a rivalry game between the Northview Titans and the Johns Creek Gladiators. Both teams sport 3-1 records and look to gain early control of Region 7-AAAAAA with a victory on Friday night.
Johns Creek opened its doors in 2009, drawing students from nearby Chattahoochee High School and Northview High School. According to Johns Creek Athletic Director Jason Holcombe, The Hooch rivalry might be a little more heated for the students, but the desire to beat Northview is every bit as intense.
"Our largest crowds for football have come against Northview," Holcombe said. "So there will be lots of people in the stands for this one."
Johns Creek has had a revival of sorts since hiring Matt Helmerich to lead their football program. Helmerich replaced Matt Kemper who took over as the head coach at Roswell after winning the first region title in Johns Creek history. Helmerich was coaching at the legendary St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Florida when Holcombe tabbed him to take over the Gladiators.
Team building became job one, and Helmerich began using his national connections to immerse his team in out-of-state 7-on-7 tournaments, rafting adventures and video game competitions. He also scheduled games with traditional national powerhouse programs like fourth-ranked St. Johns College High School in Washington, D.C.
The Gladiators opened their season with a home victory over South Carolina's Fairfield Central before busing up to the nation's capital to take on the Cadets. St. Johns shut out Johns Creek 49-0, but the Gladiators still managed to learn a lot about themselves, as well as our country, visiting the monuments at night and experiencing a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
"Matt brought in lots of new ideas." Holcombe told High 5 Sports."He really brought some excitement back into the program and he wants to do anything he can to put the team in the limelight."
Two years ago, Helmerich inherited a team that graduated 31 seniors, and had no returning starters on defense. Johns Creek finished 3-7 and missed the playoffs in 2017, but the foundations for success were being built.
Helmerich brings with him an understanding of the national recruiting landscape, and he's been able to help secure scholarships for at least six of his players on the 2018 squad. Last year, only one player received a scholarship to play at the next level.
Second year head coach James Thomson is also in the midst of a makeover at Northview. The Titans have already won more games than they did all of last season and feature a high-powered offense that averages over 37 points per game.
The Golden Hand Trophy is up for grabs in this classic North Fulton rivalry game. Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame broadcaster Bill Hartman will have highlights and post game interviews from Northview versus Johns Creek live on the Big Show Friday night at 11pm.