Category Archives: Predictions

Sandy’s Spiel Super Sleepers (Update 1/6/15)

 

Class AAAAAA

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2015-16: Harrison: (7-7, 2-3)
2014-15: Harrison: (10-17, 4-10) 

The Hoyas have played well and are right in the thick of things in Region 4, battling for a top four seed heading into the region tournament. DJ Rowe was expected to be a big piece of the puzzle this year at the guard position, but he is no longer with the program. Juniors Juwan Owens and Tate Coston have played exceptionally well in his absence. In Tuesday’s 61-59 overtime win over North Cobb, Owens finished with 23 points. The heart and soul of the Hoyas however is senior forward Austin York. The big man has manufactured buckets inside and has shown touch from the perimeter. He posted 15 points and 11 rebounds in the win. The Hoyas have the bulk of their region schedule ahead including two meetings with No. 6 McEachern. Harrison should be in-line to capture a state playoff berth, but if they aren’t able to, expect them to play the role of spoiler down the stretch.

Class AAAAA

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2015-16: Houston County: (5-7, 0-1)
2014-15: Houston County: (10-16, 0-7)

Houston County has played a challenging non-region schedule to get ready for 2016. The Bears have seen 5-star forward Khavon Moore and Westside-Macon three times this season and took 1-of-3. A 55-50 overtime loss to 1A-Private No. 8 Whitefield Academy early in the season was a promising sign that the Bears have enough talent to stick with anyone. Their best win of the season came against 9-3 Dublin, 88-77. The Bears have a balanced attack which is spearheaded by DL Hall, Jaylon Golds and Amari Colbert. Kolbey Singleton, Marquis Traylor, Javion Johnson and Zion Johnson also get the lion’s share of minutes. In Region 2B, the Bears are stuck with No.10 Warner Robins, Jones County and Northside-Warner Robins. They will need to play good ball to get into the postseason, but they have more than enough talent to get the job done.

Class AAAA

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2015-16: Stephens County: (12-4, 1-0)
2014-15: Stephens County: (8-19, 3-7) 

At 12-4, the Indians are off to the best start of any Super Sleeper and have already surpassed last year’s win total. Stephens County won the Apple Classic in Walhalla, South Carolina and will enter region play with good momentum even after a 68-58 loss to Hart County. Nunu Walker, DeUndra Singleton and Ty Nails have played well for the young team that features just three seniors. Walker is a junior guard, while Singleton is a 6-foot-7, 240-pound sophomore and Nails a 6-foot-4 freshman. Stephens County’s best wins have come against 10-4 Madison County, 69-66 and 8-7 Jackson County, 50-46. Region 8 is wide open this year with Madison County, North Hall, White County, Buford and Monroe Area all contenders.

Class AAA

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2015-16: Pepperell: (8-5, 3-0)
2014-15: Pepperell: (11-15, 5-5) 

In teeny-tiny Region 5, the Dragons are emerging as a front-runner to capture a top two seed. In 5B, Rockmart (2-10) and Cedartown (3-7) don’t look like challengers. In 5A, lies No. 8 Callaway (5-3), Central-Carrollton (7-5) and Haralson County (0-14). Malech Wilson, Austin Strickland and Thomas Eddy have led the charge. Coach Skip Matherly sports eight seniors and six sophomores on their roster, giving them a blend of experience and youth. Currently the Dragons are on a six-game winning streak entering the heart of region play. Key tilts on Jan. 15 and Feb. 2 against Callaway will determine how legit Pepperell really is.

 Class AA

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2015-16: Social Circle: (6-8, 0-2)
2014-15: Social Circle: (8-14, 4-8) 

Only two teams, Riverside Military (6-5) and Washington-Wilkes (7-5), are above .500 in Region 8. The Redskins are in last place in the region at 0-2, but have plenty of time to catch the three leaders that sit at 2-1. Junior Deion Head continues to be one of the best players in the region. He is averaging 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 3.7 steals per game. One area for improvement in order to take his game to the next level would be his three-point shooting. He is an unfathomable 2-of-46 from beyond the arc, good for a miniscule 4%. The Redskins shoot just 21% from deep and will need to find some perimeter threats if they want to make the playoffs. Freshman Nick DeBoer is the team’s best shooter at 36% from three. He is averaging 9.4 points per game. Senior Zae Jackson adds 8.9 while sophomore Antonio Dorsey is posting 7.6 points and 8.0 rebounds on average. Senior Tommy Johnson leads the team in rebounding at 8.1 to go along with his 6.9 points per game.

Class A

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2015-16: Pinecrest Academy: (7-7, 1-4)
2014-15: Pinecrest Academy: (10-15, 4-8)

Balance has helped the Paladins get off to a steady start. Three players average double figures with two others scoring over 7 points per night. Seniors Zayne Rice and Adam Rocko have been consistent scorers. Rice averages 12.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals while Rocko goes for 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Junior John Crone pitches in 10.3 points per game. Seniors Santi Villar and Matt Howell both average over 7 a night. 1A-Private is wide open this season, but Region 6B looks too tight for the Paladins to bust into the playoffs. No. 2 St. Francis and No. 8 Whitefield Academy are among the seven teams ahead of the last-place Paladins in 6B.

Sandy’s Spiel Super Sleepers

There is no hiding it. My favorite time of year, basketball season, is finally here. To get ready for the season, I have narrowed down a few teams that I would classify as Super Sleepers. Not just sleepers, but teams that haven’t eclipsed the .500 mark in a few years and are finally ready to do so.

Class AAAAAA

allIn the most competitive classification in the state, the perennial powers remain the same, but Harrison (10-17, 4-10) may be in line to capture its first winning season since 2011-12 and fight for a playoff seed out of Region 4. Hillgrove has lost a ton via graduation and transfers from last year’s 23-6 team and are expected to take a step back while 21-8 McEachern could be the favorite to win the region. North Cobb and Kennesaw Mountain both made it as the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, but nothing is set in stone for 2015-16. Harrison proved last season that they can play with some tough competition, losing to 5A semifinalist Cedar Shoals 54-53, beating Hillgrove 51-41, beating McEachern 69-61 and losing to 4A runner-up Carrollton 54-47. Seniors Austin York and DJ Rowe give coach Clay Crump a nice one-two punch and solid leadership on the floor. Junior guard Tate Coston is also expected to make a big impact on the Hoyas. They will face some good tests throughout the season (Sequoyah, Berkmar, Houston County) and should be a tough out once region tournament play comes along.

Class AAAAA

1428092996_houston_county_bearsHouston County (10-16, 0-7) plays in the difficult Region 2B with the likes of No. 7 Warner Robins and No. 9 Jones County, but coach Stephen Walls has a nice group back that is in search of its first winning season in over five years. The Bears actually snuck into the playoffs after a winless regular season in region play and fell to LaGrange 60-41.Strong guard play will carry the Bears. Leading scorer junior Amari Colbert averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game as a talented do-everything guard. Senior forward Javion Johnson is an elite leaper and chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds a night last season. Jaylon Golds pitched in 10 points and 5 assists as a junior and brings quickness to the Bear backcourt. Marquis Traylor from Missouri brings over some size and athleticism inside. As a junior he averaged 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds while showing off his hops, blocking 1.3 shots per game.

Class AAAA

imgresThough they haven’t enjoyed a winning record since 2012-13, Stephens County (8-19, 3-7) could find themselves playing meaningful basketball into the months of January and February. After a slow start to the season, the Indians under coach Chad Bridges began to play better and will try to carry that momentum over to 2015-16. Junior guard Nunu Walker is a talented scorer. Senior Tay Jones will play another big role along with sophomore Deandre Singleton, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound center. The Indians played Region 8 opponents hard, losing to Johnson-Gainesville (29-1) 54-46 in overtime and to Monroe Area (18-12) 47-45. With the graduation of some key pieces along the region, Region 8 should be a dog fight for the top four seeds.

Class AAA

imgresIt has been a while since Pepperell (11-15, 5-5) has been over .500, but that still didn’t stop the Dragons from making an appearance in the state tournament, sneaking in as a No. 4 seed. Coach Skip Matherly returns seniors Thomas Eddy, Austin Strickland and Rickey Campbell along with sophomore Malech Wilson, giving the Dragons some nice experience. They will need to replace high-scorer DeSean Ware, but Pepperell won’t be the only team in Region 5 losing talent. Rockmart and Callaway have lost some important players as well.

Class AA

homelogoSocial Circle (8-14, 4-8) has slowly begun to improve under head coach Ken Aldridge. He took over a 1-22 program after the 2012-13 season and improved to 3-23 before finishing 8-14 last season. The Redskins narrowly missed out on a playoff berth, but proved they could play with the competition. No. 3 seed Union County (17-12, 8-4) struggled with the up and coming Skins, actually splitting the series with Social Circle taking game one 49-48, before the Panthers won game two 68-67. Junior guard Deion Head is a big time player and averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 assists last year.

Class A

Trapped in thelarge_text158141_80739 devastatingly tough Region 6, Pinecrest Academy (10-15, 4-8) still stands a chance of reaching the elusive .500 mark. Ryan McCarthy and John Crone are a duo of highly experienced juniors that give coach Jay Lynch solid options. The playoffs aren’t likely in the cards, but expect the Paladins to be very competitive.

The Great Debate: Georgia vs. Alabama

Tyler Andrews (@TylerAndrews92)
Kyle Sandy (@KyleSandy355)


UGA Run vs. Bama D

A: I think we can both agree that the game will be won and lost in the trenches with the front sevens of each team trying to stop the opposing team’s running game. Nick Chubb is great and all, but has he faced a defense like Alabama’s? The answer is no. Sorry, but the Tide is a little better than Vanderbilt, who is the best team the Dawgs have played all season…seriously.

Alabama might not have the vaunted defense it once had, but it is still pretty darn good. Through four games this year the Crimson Tide has allowed just 56.8 yards per game on the ground – that’s a miniscule 2.0 yards per carry! Alabama hasn’t given up over 120 yards per game on the ground over a season since Nick Saban’s first year in 2007.

The best defense UGA faced last year was that of the lowly Florida Gators. As a team the Bulldogs rushed for 141 yards on 32 carries; that’s not going to cut it against Alabama. And do I need to remind Georgia fans of how that game turned out? Florida won 38-20 and gashed the pups’ defense for 418 yards with two slightly above average running backs. What is Derrick Henry and a healthy Kenyan Drake going to do?

G: When you think of SEC football you think of ground and pound offenses and hard-nosed defenses. This matchup displays power against power. Georgia has Nick Chubb who has managed to run for 100 yards in 12 straight games. He can beat you in physicality, speed, and even as a receiver. And don’t forget about the change of pace back in Sony Michel who may be Georgia’s most dangerous player on offense. Together they have combined for 822 rushing yards, 185 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in four games. The physicality of Georgia’s offensive line coupled with their two-headed monster in the backfield is something that cannot be stopped. A defense can only hope it can be maintained, especially when this isn’t one of Saban’s of old. And never forget about Keith Marshall.

 

Bama Run vs. UGA D

A: That “devastating” Bulldog defense people in Athens are trying to sell you on doesn’t even measure up to Bama. The Tide have played two ranked teams in current No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 3 Ole Miss. In those games the Badgers rushed for 40 yards on 21 carries while the Rebels gained 92 on 32 totes.

Georgia allowed 174 yards on 39 carries to South Carolina and even Vandy eclipsed the 100-yard mark. Henry rushed for 990 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. In his last healthy season in 2013, Drake gained 694 yards on 7.5 yards per carry. So far this season the duo has combined for 637 yards and nine scores. Last year UGA allowed 166.8 yards per game on the ground and heading into Saturday they have given up twice as much as Alabama has with 107.3. Good luck wrapping up the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Henry. By the way, last time these two teams met, in the 2012 SEC Championship, the Tide rolled for 350 yards rushing.

G: The days of Georgia having an underperforming defense are no longer thanks to the leadership of second-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Last year the team showed glimpses of greatness and this year has been all about sustaining that greatness. The Dawgs have given up only three rushing touchdowns all season and runners are averaging only 3.1 yards/attempt against a team that has had the opportunity to play a ton of second and third-string players in their blowout wins. On the opposing side, Alabama’s Derrick Henry is a great back. Henry is averaging 6.3 yards/carry and has eight rushing touchdowns. But, when Alabama faces a good defense like Georgia and they are in a third-and-long situation with a below-average quarterback, their running game cannot bail them out. I look for Georgia’s defense to set the tone early against the run and force Alabama to beat them through the air, which is something I don’t believe the Tide can do. I also expect a breakout game from middle linebacker Jake Ganus.

 

QB Comparison

A: With Alabama loading the box on defense, Greyson Lambert will be forced to beat the Tide. The bullets haven’t started flying against Lambert yet and he has never seen a defense quite like Alabama. He started 0-for-7 against Vanderbilt and was yanked for Brice Ramsey. The South Carolina game was an aberration, an outlier, a fluke. I have a sneaky suspicious the real Greyson Lambert who was a turnover machine at Virginia will rear his ugly head in this big game. Jake Coker has proven he can be competent against good competition, going 15-of-21 against Wisconsin for 213 yards and a touchdown. He threw for three touchdowns and ran in a score against Ole Miss, but was marred by two interceptions. The rumor on campus however was that Coker was running a 102 degree fever all day.

G: Both UGA and Alabama entered the season with quarterback questions. Since Week 2, the schools have gone in completely different directions. Alabama switched starting quarterbacks before their game against Ole Miss and it turned out to haunt them. Georgia questioned whether Greyson Lambert could lead them after two below-average performances. His 24-of-25, 330-yard performance against South Carolina erased that doubt. Not only would I give the edge to the quarterback that is hot right now in Lambert, but I also give the edge to the team that has their guy and not a circus with two cowboys.

 

History

A: They say history repeats itself. If that’s true, it’s not a good sign for Georgia. We all remember the SEC Championship and of course, how can we forget the “Blackout” gimmick UGA used in 2008? That one really worked well between the bushes. The Dawgs entered the half down 31-0 and limped to a 41-30 loss. Overall, Bama has taken the series 37-24-3. Since 1960, the Crimson Tide has gone 14-7 against UGA. Oh and by the way, Alabama has 15 National Championships to Georgia’s one.

G: Since 2008, the last time these two played in the regular season, their stories have been vastly different. Alabama has won three national titles and three SEC titles. Georgia has lost twice in the SEC title game and had a 6-7 season. The last time these two played in the 2012 SEC title game, Georgia came within four yards of winning and going to the National Championship. When they were blown out at home in 2008 in the blackout game it was much of the same misery felt by all Dawgs fans. But, that’s why I am confident in their task this weekend. Georgia is due for a big win. Georgia is due for a good performance against Alabama. A good team like Georgia who always recruits well and is always hovering in the top ten is due to finally breakthrough and play up to their potential against a big-time opponent.

 

Coaching Comparison

A: When it comes to the sidelines, I’ll take Nick Saban, his four national championships, Lane Kiffin and Kirby Smart over Mark Richt’s goose egg in the cabinet, Brian Schottenheimer and Jeremy Pruitt. Just look at Richt’s debacle against Georgia Tech. He inexplicably pooch kicked with 18 seconds left up three. Then he left fans aghast with his decision to call a timeout with 4 seconds left and the play clock at 3 seconds when Georgia Tech was lining up for the tying kick. Instead of a 58-yarder, Harrison Butker attempted a 53-yarder and the rest is history.

G: It’s hard to say a coach that has won four titles is not as good as one that has yet to win one or even play for one as a head coach, but I am going to say that anyway. In his 15th season, Richt has already compiled 140 wins, a .745 winning percentage and nine 10-win seasons. He won a national title as offensive coordinator at Florida State. But, most importantly he is the ultimate players coach. His good deeds, devotion to faith, and loyalty to his players has to pay off some day. I see him as a Bowden or an Osborne who just takes longer to win that first title. Richt has proven that he is great and nobody can take that away from him.

Home Field Advantage?

 A: In terms of hitting the road against UGA, there isn’t much to worry about. Since ’07, Bama has nine wins on the road against ranked teams. Included in that is wins at Death Valley (LSU) three times, Sanford Stadium (UGA), Ole Miss, Arkansas, Beaver Stadium (Penn State), The Swamp (Florida) and Kyle Field (Texas A&M).

G: The wounds of 2008 are still fresh in the minds and hearts of UGA. Nobody in recent memory has done what Alabama did to the Dawgs on their home field. Not only is redemption on the minds of the UGA faithful, but their 35-year title drought is too. UGA is 74-15 at home under Richt and I would bet on that even facing a team like Alabama.

Prediction

A: 31-21
G: 38-28

*UPDATE*

Alabama won 38-10.
UGA QB’s combined to go 11-of-31 for 106 yards and 3 INTs.
Jake Coker: 11-of-16, 190 yards and 1 TD.
Derrick Henry: 26 carries 148 yards 1 TD (Long of 30).
Nick Chubb: 20 carries 146 yards 1 TD (Long of 83).

Sandy’s Spiel’s Super Sleepers (Football)

Every year in every sport there is that one team that comes out of nowhere to surprise people. In the NBA it was our Atlanta Hawks. Last year in the MLB it was the Kansas City Royals. But who are some potential sleepers for this upcoming high school football season? It’s not as easy to predict with stats and info not being readily available for every school, but taking a stab in the dark can still be fun. I’ll try to run down some teams who I think have a chance to surprise people this year, picking a team from each classification. Also, I’ll try to avoid notoriously strong programs that just had a down year.

Class AAAAAA

North_Paulding_Logo_smallA team that took its lumps after moving up to 6A is North Paulding (4-7). The Wolfpack won a record 11 games in 2013 in their final season at the 5A level, but found out that playing with the “big boys” was a whole other animal. Scott Jones is a strong coach with experience coaching at the highest classification after a 10-year run at Kennesaw Mountain. The Wolfpack return an experienced group ready to take the next step. Senior quarterback Kyle Banks (MTSU) threw for 3,498 yards and 32 touchdowns in his first year starting last season. His two favorite targets also return with seniors D.J. Owens (67 receptions, 1,157 yards, 12 TD’s) and NC State-commit, tight end Dylan Autenrieth (468 yards), back to make big plays. Another reason I like North Paulding is the fact that linebacker Javier Williams returns after totaling 97 tackles. A big loss however is William Craig, who has transfered to Buford after notching over 100 tackles in 2014.

Class AAAAA

9856363Paulding County (5-5) took a momentous step forward last season and coach Scott Hamilton has the team believing a playoff berth is within their grasp.The Patriots recorded their first winning season since 2003 and have nearly everybody returning on offense. Senior Bailey Johnson and junior Marquis Tre’von Lewis split time at quarterback last year and combined for 2,069 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Lewis added 500 yards rushing and 10 scores as well. Caleb Sailor returns to the backfield after a broken collarbone ended his season after four games. He and Dondre Ledford will see the bulk of the carries. Ledford did most of his damage at receiver in 2014, catching 42 balls for 413 yards, but the top option will remain Antonio Gandy-Golden, who comes off a 54-catch, 891-yard season.

Class AAAA

Under head coach Sean Gray, Southeast Whitfield (6-5) captured its first winning season since 1986. Screen-Shot-2012-07-26-at-5.42.32-PM1That is 28 years! The Raiders return their top running back Tyler Brown along with dual-threat quarterback Will Swantic. Linebacker/running back Devin Fields brings back a two-way talent that could help spark the Raiders back into the playoffs. Pickens County should fall back to the pack with the graduation of Shannon Brooks (Minnesota) and Northwest Whitfield loses star quarterback Caleb Shiflett which gives reason to believe that Southeast Whitfield could find itself in the playoff picture again.


Class AAA

Coaching is critical in high school football and one of the best in the business to never win a state title brings his 20 years of head coaching experience to the Dawson County Tigers (2-8). DTigerSid Maxwell has compiled a 128-83 record and has only suffered five losing seasons as a head coach – three coming in his first three seasons at Sequoyah back in the mid-90’s. Maxwell runs a Wing-T offense and spent his first 15 years coaching at Sequoyah before moving to Lambert for five years to coach his son. He took off last season, but Dawson County should see success under the strong leader.

Class AA

Wesleyan 1247866013_wesleyan_wolves(6-5) was extremely young last year and started freshman Banks Ramsey at quarterback. The Wolves’ top two running backs return along with top receiver, junior Harrison Cook. Drew Aspinwall led the team in tackles as a junior at linebacker with 99 stops. Jordan Mack is a Virginia-commit and plays both offense and defense for the Wolves. Coach Franklin Pridgen’s group played teams tough last season. They lost to quarterfinal participants Pace Academy 23-17 in overtime, Lovett 30-24 and Heard County 28-21. These young pups look to become full-grown wolves this season with some bite.

Class A

Stratford Academy imgres(6-5) and its dominant rushing attack (293.6 yards per game) can steam roll opponents. Dual sport standout Quintez Cephus controls the offense from under center while senior O’Showen Williams is coming off a 1,060-yard, 21-touchdown season. The Eagles lost close games to strong programs Aquinas 28-27 and to Lincoln County 21-20.

Sandy’s Spiel’s NCAA Football Preseason Top 25

Preseason Top 25

  1. TCU (12-1)
  2. Ohio State (14-1)
  3. USC (9-4)
  4. Oregon (13-2)
  5. Baylor (11-2)
  6. Alabama (12-2)
  7. Florida State (13-1)
  8. LSU (8-5)
  9. Stanford (8-5)
  10. Michigan State (11-2)
  11. Auburn (8-5)
  12. Wisconsin (11-3)
  13. Georgia (10-3)
  14. Oklahoma (8-5)
  15. Ole Miss (9-4)
  16. UCLA (10-3)
  17. Clemson (10-3)
  18. Virginia Tech (7-6)
  19. Notre Dame (8-5)
  20. Utah (9-4)
  21. Oklahoma State (7-6)
  22. Georgia Tech (11-3)
  23. Miami (FL) (6-7)
  24. Boise State (12-2)
  25. Louisville (9-4)