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Georgia high school football: An early look at the 2021 season - OFFICIAL
Georgia high school football: An early look at the 2021 season
The schedules are out for Georgia high school football's fall 2021 season. It's a slate that features important in- and out-of-state matchups, and puts some individuals on a big stage.

Here's an early look at some of the big matchups ahead this fall.

August
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will once again serve as a host for the Corky Kell Classic.
File photo by Cecil Copeland
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will once again serve as a host for the Corky Kell Classic.

The Corky Kell Classic is due to return to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta after a year away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now in its 30th year, the kickoff event features 11 games across four days at five sites on opening weekend. The event culminates with five games at the home of the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday.

Included:

Cherokee (Canton) vs. Mays (Atlanta) at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 18, at West Forsyth. It will open the 2021 Georgia football season.

• Returning Class 6A semifinalist Westlake (Atlanta) faces Archer (Lawrenceville) at Dacula on Aug. 19. And Lowndes (Valdosta), a 7A semifinalist a year ago, will play Walton (Marietta) on Aug. 21 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Collins Hill (Suwanee), runner-up a year ago in 7A, opens its season again Brookwood (Snellville) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 21.

North Gwinnett (Suwanee) heads to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 21 after going 9-4 a season ago to play host to Hoover (Ala.), the out-of-state power when went 11-2 last season and reached Alabama's 7A semifinals.

Buford, winner of two straight championships, including the 2020 title in 6A, opens its season at North Cobb (Kennesaw) on Aug. 20.

Elsewhere in the opening week, Callaway (Hogansville), the defending Class AA champ, will hit the road to visit Opelika (Ala.) on Aug. 20. And Prince Avenue Christian (Athens) will face Calvary Day (Savannah) that same day in a matchup of 1A Private semifinalists from a year ago. Prince Avenue Christian is the defending champion.

The out-of-state flavor continues in Week 2 with Brookwood paying a visit to American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), the defending champion in Florida's 5A division, on Aug. 28. (Collins Hill will also travel to American Heritage, on Sept 3.)

Also in Week 2:

Irwin County (Ocilla), the 1A Public champ, faces Fitzgerald.

Bainbridge was a 4A semifinalist last season. It will face 5A semifinalist Coffee (Douglas).

September
Warner Robins won last season's 5A championship.
File photo by Cecil Copeland
Warner Robins won last season's 5A championship.
Buford's tough early schedule will continue with out-of-state matchups against Myers Park (Charlotte, N.C.) and Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.). The game against Myers Park, a semifinalists in North Carolina's 4AA last year, is Sept. 10. The following week, they'll play Chaminade-Madonna, which was runner-up in Florida's 3A in 2020.

Milton, a quarterfinalist in 7A last season, has an out-of-state contest against St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.), the reigning 6A champion in Pennsylvania. That game is on Sept. 11.

Wesleyan (Norcross) and Prince Avenue Christian have a rematch of their semifinal game from last season on Sept. 17.

On Sept. 24, defending 5A champ Warner Robins plays 6A runner-up Lee County (Leesburg). Also that day, defending 3A champ Pierce County (Blackshear) faces off with Fitzgerald.

October
Grayson is the defending champ in 7A.
File photo by Cecil Copeland
Grayson is the defending champ in 7A.

Marist (Atlanta) won last season's 4A title, and gets a big challenge when it plays Florida's 4A runner-up Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.) on Oct. 8.

The defending 7A champion Grayson (Loganville) plays Parkview (Lilburn), a team that reached the quarterfinals on Oct. 15.

Warner Robins and Coffee meet on Oct. 29. That day will also feature Irwin County and Clinch County (Homerville) in a matchup of 1A Public semifinals from a season ago.

November and December

The regular season in Georgia concludes on Nov. 5. From there, the playoffs begin on Nov. 12 and 13. Championship games are slated for Dec. 9 through Dec. 11.
2020 OFFICIAL High School Football Junior All-America Team - OFFICIAL
2020 MaxPreps High School Football Junior All-America Team
Each year since 2006, MaxPreps has recognized the nation's top high school football players. Past members of the MaxPreps Junior All-America Team include Jadeveon Clowney (2009), Jameis Winston (2010), Derrick Henry (2011), Deshaun Watson (2012), Kyler Murray (2013), Nick Bosa (2014), Najee Harris (2015), Trevor Lawrence (2016), Kayvon Thibodeaux (2017) and D.J. Uiagalelei (2018).

National Junior of the Year selection Travis Hunter of Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) headlines the 2020 MaxPreps High School Football Junior All-America Team. The five-star Florida State commit finished had with 137 receptions for 1,746 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Eagles while recording 51 tackles and eight interceptions on defense.

He led Collins Hill to its first state title game appearance and is a rare athlete who could be a five-star recruit either at cornerback or wide receiver.

Selections are based on team success, individual production and local, regional state honors from the recently completed season. Potential at the college and professional level is not a primary consideration.
Graphic by Ryan Escobar
First Team Offense

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 180
Led the Chaps to a 6A Division 1 state title and No. 3 spot in the final MaxPreps Top 25 rankings. Accounted for over 4,000 yards of total offense (3,495 passing, 583 rushing) and 50 touchdowns.

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 170
MaxPreps Oklahoma Player of the Year rushed for 1,744 yards and 25 touchdowns for the three-time defending 6A-II champs. Added 57 receptions for 727 yards and 10 scores.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 205
Rushed for 2,155 yards and 30 touchdowns in 11 games.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 195
Oklahoma commit was selected on the Class 3A first team by the Missouri Football Coaches Association.

Height: 5-8 | Weight: 170
Led largest classification in Alabama with 18 total touchdowns and racked up more than 1,600 total yards for the No. 6 team in the country.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 210
The top-rated tight end in his class on 247Sports composite rankings had nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns for the AAA runners-up.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 315
Dominated opposing lineman playing against the best competition.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 265
The top-rated offensive lineman from Texas in his class dominated this season.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 285
Has landed over 35 FBS offers and excels in pass and run blocking.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 300
Helped Explorers to an 8-0 record and 8A Tri-County championship in 2020, a season after helping St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to a 7A state title as a sophomore.

Height: 6-6 | Weight: 315
Clemson commit did not allow a sack during his junior year.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 165
Junior Player of the Year hauled in 137 receptions for 1,746 yards and 24 touchdowns while recording 51 tackles and eight interceptions on defense.

Height: 5-10 | Weight: 145
One of the strongest legs in the country already has offers from Florida, LSU and Tennessee.

First Team Defense

DL Jeremiah Alexander, Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.)
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 235
Former Alabama pledge racked up 116 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and nine sacks for the back-to-back 7A champs.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 225
Played a major role on defense for the 5A state champs, finishing with a team-high 15.5 sacks.
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 255
Four-star defensive tackle had 17 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2020.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 240
Has been a standout on the defensive line for the last two years playing against the state's best competition.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 230
Oklahoma commit was a monster during his junior year and has some of the game's most impressive tape.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195
Does it all at a high level from the linebacker position. Helped the Rockets to a Top 25 finish and back-to-back 6A championships.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200
One of the most underrated prospects finished with 140 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions for the ninth-ranked team in the country.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 180
As good as any defensive back in the country, regardless of class.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170
Recent Ohio State commit made a big-time impact on both sides of the ball.

DB Kamari Wilson, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195
Ascenders went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country and Wilson stood out on defense every week.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 190
Bounced back in 2020 and shutdown opposing wide receivers all year after missing sophomore campaign with a torn ACL.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 180
Five-star recruit hauled in 52 receptions for 902 yards and 10 touchdowns while recording four interceptions on defense.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 170
Finished eighth in the nation averaging 45.2 yards per punt and also connected on 10-of-15 field goals.

Second Team Offense

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195
Top-rated 2022 prospect led the Dragons to first state title game appearance since 2011. Finished with 2,442 yards passing and 28 touchdowns in eight games.

Height: 5-11 | Weight: 195
MaxPreps Tennessee Player of the Year rushed for 2,010 yards and 24 touchdowns in nine games.

Height: 5-9 | Weight: 175
MaxPreps Arkansas Player of the Year put up video game numbers for the 5A champs. Rushed for 1,925 yards and 23 touchdowns averaging 10.2 yards per carry to go with 80 receptions for 1,068 yards and nine scores.

WR Cody Hagen, Corner Canyon (Draper, Utah)
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175
Three-star wide receiver had a touchdown in all 14 games this year and finished with 55 receptions for 1,184 yards and 18 scores for the 6A champs.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 185
Oklahoma commit hauled in 61 receptions for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns for the runner-up in 6A-I. 

TE RJ Maryland, Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 210
Had nearly 800 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns averaging over 24 yards per catch for the No. 15 team in the nation.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 295
Clemson commit is one of the most physical and athletic offensive lineman in the game.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 315
Eagles have had some great offensive lineman come through their program and Dewberry continues that legacy.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 255
Dominated on both sides of the ball. He's also a standout pitcher in baseball.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 315
LSU commit helped the Saints to an undefeated season and 5A state title.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 305
One of the best all-around offensive lineman in the country has already landed 30 FBS offers.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 220
The 2018 Freshman of the Year accounted for over 4,700 yards of total offense (3,128 passing, 1,581 rushing) and 71 touchdowns.

Height: 6-0 | Weight: 175
Helped Cougars to first state championship game appearance since 1960. Connected on 16-of-19 field goals as a junior.

Second Team Defense

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250
Made an impact on defense and helped Trojans to first state title since 2015 and a No. 12 spot in the MaxPreps Top 25.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 300
Top-rated defensive tackle in the Class of 2022 dominated in the trenches during his junior year.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 325
Raiders won their first state title since 2002 and Alexander was a standout player for the No. 8 team in the country.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 215
Expect the Power 5 offers to start coming for "Deuce" after a strong junior season. He racked up 13.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss playing against Arizona's best competition.

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 200
Top-rated outside linebacker dominated on both sides of the ball.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 220
Selected to the Ohio All-State first team after registering 61 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. The Ohio State commit added 594 yards rushing and six touchdowns on offense.

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 215
Can line up anywhere on defense and play at a high level. The Ohio State pledge checks in as the third-rated outside linebacker in the Class of 2022 on 247Sports.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190
Eighth-rated prospect in the Class of 2022 can lock down any wide receiver in the country.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 200
Played a major role on defense for the No. 4 team and three-time defending 6A state champs.

Height: 6-1 | Weight: 170
Quarterbacks rarely looked his direction during his junior season and he also shined on offense in 2020.

Height: 6-5 | Weight: 220
Ohio State commit was named the MaxPreps Kansas Player of the Year after a strong junior season.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195
Magic happens when he gets his hands on the ball. The five-star prospect impacts the game at high level in all three phases.

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 180
Averaged better than 41 yards per punt and connected on 15-of-17 field goals. Was a first team selection on the Georgia All-State team as a kicker.
Extending the Season: No Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy, but three fantastic finishes - OFFICIAL
Extending the Season: No Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy, but three fantastic finishes
Video: Sierra Canyon wins at buzzer
Trailblazers advance to state in dramatic fashion.

The lights at Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, have never shined so bright for a high school event.
 
In each of the past two seasons, the star-studded boys basketball team from Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) played against hometown Sheldon (Sacramento). The energy and excitement was palpable for the games that capped the CIF's 12-game state basketball championships.

The Trailblazers brought an entourage that included former NBA players and Hollywood celebrities, who sat courtside for all to see.

They are high school basketball's version of the Showtime Lakers.

The hometown fans walked away disappointed each of the past two seasons as the flashy visitors showed more than just a little glitz — Sierra Canyon won each game handily, 76-52 and 75-62. But Huskies were hopeful that with a strong cast returning, including Marcus Bagley, younger brother of Kings' star Marvin Bagley, they would return in 2020 to flip those results.

The Huskies and Trailblazers appeared on a collision course before the coronavirus pandemic struck the country full force last week.

Sierra Canyon, featuring 5-star prospects in Ziaire Williams, Brandon Boston Jr. and Amari Bailey, plus the sons of LeBron James (Bronny James) and Dwyane Wade (Zaire Wade), captured its third straight Southern California regional title in the most dramatic way possible.
This buzzer beater by Ziaire Williams against Etiwanda would turn out to be the last shot of the season for Sierra Canyon.
Photo by Louis Lopez
This buzzer beater by Ziaire Williams against Etiwanda would turn out to be the last shot of the season for Sierra Canyon.
The Trailblazers pulled off a 63-61 stunner over Etiwanda as Williams, a McDonald's All-American, finished off a 13-0 run to close the game with a fade-away, 17-foot swish at the buzzer to set off a wild celebration.

"It was truly surreal," Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier said a week after the shot. "How magical was it for us to just fight all the way back from that seemingly endless hole? And then to win it on that shot by Ziaire. Truly surreal."

Sheldon's path to the Northern California finals was similarly unlikely — perhaps even more so.

One week before the finals, the plug was pulled on the Huskies' season after a student in Sheldon's district was quarantined as a precaution for coronavirus.

Two days of public outcry and political pressure led to top-seeded Sheldon being reinstated, but the Huskies found themselves down eight late on the road in the semifinals against a very determined Dublin squad.

Yet, they fought back to win 65-64, powered by Bagley's 27 points that included an improbable go-ahead shot with 17.5 seconds remaining.

"I'm proud of all of our guys, our team," Bagley told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee. "I'm happy. We've been resilient all year. Learned a lot about our team. We're built for this. That's why this game meant so much."

That win vaulted Sheldon in the semifinals against another team built on great resolve, the Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland) Dragons. Winners of 18 straight games after a 5-7 start, O'Dowd looked capable of derailing the Sierra Canyon-Sheldon trilogy.

The Dragons had one the top freshman in the country, 6-foot-8 14-year-old forward Jalen Lewis, one of the state's top juniors in Marsalis Roberson and Cal signee Monty Bowser, as well as their own motivation.

It was five years ago that Ivan Rabb sank a game-winning free throw with less than a second to play to shock Mater Dei (Santa Ana) in the state final. A book "Dragon Hoops," was supposed to be released on the anniversary of that game, and O'Dowd was bent on repeating the feat.

It would have been a tall order, but O'Dowd was at the top of its game after a decisive 13-point road win over second seed Archbishop Mitty in the NorCal semifinals.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is our last game," O'Dowd coach Lou Richie said after the game. "Tomorrow is not promised."

Turned out, Richie called it.

The morning of the delayed O'Dowd-Sheldon NorCal finals on March 12, CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti canceled that game and the weekend's 2020 state championship games.

"While we understand this decision is disappointing, we strongly believe that the opportunity to compete in this event does not outweigh our obligation to place the health and safety of our member schools and school communities above all else," he said.

No Sheldon-Sierra Canyon trilogy. No O'Dowd epilogue. No Trailblazers' three-peat.

All three coaches lamented the disappointment — how thrilling it would have been to watch all those talented athletes under the simmering spotlight.

But each coach recognized the bigger picture — health and safety. They also found silver linings in ending on a high note.

Sheldon coach Joey Rollings focused on how his team inspired a community to keep them in the tournament, and how the Huskies reciprocated with a likewise effort, without practicing for three days.

"My kids never quit," Rollings told the Bee's Davidson. "We got to go out on an exciting note. We wish we could play another game, but we can't control that. Our kids seem to understand. They're disappointed, but kids are resilient." 

Richie had a similar message for his Dragons, who featured seven seniors.

"A lot of the kids were very upset," Richie said. "They're hurt. Disappointed. I tried to convey that they had a great season. It's disappointing it ended that way, but don't let things you can't control get you down. Besides that, when we focus on our last game, it couldn't have gone any better. If we played like that in the NorCal or state finals, we definitely would have had a shot."

Teams took their best shot at Sierra Canyon all season, Chevalier said. The Trailblazers had a giant "X" on their back from Day One.

Despite that target they finished 30-4, No. 15 in the final MaxPreps national rankings and won section and regional titles.

"It's always great to win your last game and the way we did was amazing," Chevalier said. "We would have loved to be able and play that last game to try to three-peat as state champion. But sometimes life takes priority over sport. We want our country and this world to be safe.

"All that said, going 30-4 this season, starting in China and going all over the U.S. with a big target on our back is a great testament to who we are as a team. I'm super proud of how they reacted to all they had to deal with, and then to play our best basketball at the end of the season was very special. It is a very special group."
Preseason OFFICIAL Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 20 Sierra Canyon - OFFICIAL
Preseason MaxPreps Top 25 high school basketball rankings: Players to watch, storylines for No. 20 Sierra Canyon
With California expecting to begin its high school basketball season March 12, most states will be wrapping it up by the time No. 20 Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) tips off. And while that might present scheduling difficulties, the spotlight will only shine brighter on a program with plenty of national appeal and starpower.

The Trailblazers field a deep and talented roster led by top 50 prospects Amari Bailey, Bronny James and transfer Chance Westry. Much of the Sierra Canyon hype focuses on the son of four-time NBA champion LeBron James and how Bronny's game develops entering his sophomore season.

Other key members of the Trailblazers rotation include 7-foot-3 center Harold Yu and scrappy forward Shy Odom along with incoming transfers Max Allen and Ryan Grande.

Sierra Canyon was ranked No. 15 and favored to win its third straight CIF Open Division crown at the close of the 2019-20 season. The 30-4 Trailblazers had advanced to the state title game before COVID-19 ended the season.
Guard Bronny James
File photo by Catalina Fragoso
Guard Bronny James
Players to watch

Height: 6-8 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 213 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-4 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 3 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-1 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: NR | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-2 | Class: Sophomore (2023)
National rank: 30 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-6 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 192 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 6-4 | Class: Junior (2022)
National rank: 27 | Status: Uncommitted

Height: 7-3 | Class: Senior (2021)
National rank: 181 | Status: Uncommitted
Guard Amari Bailey
File photo by David Steutel
Guard Amari Bailey

High school basketball: Sierra Canyon junior Amari Bailey scores 35 in 70-54 win over short-handed Windward - OFFICIAL
High school basketball: Sierra Canyon junior Amari Bailey scores 35 in 70-54 win over short-handed Windward
Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) extended its league win streak to 58 games Tuesday night, defeating Windward (Los Angeles) 70-54 in a battle of short-handed California powers. Multiple scratches put a damper on the anticipated conference battle as Chance Westry and Shy Odom joined an injured Bronny James on the bench while Windward was without star duo Dylan Andrews and Kijani Wright.

UCLA commit Amari Bailey made up for the missing pieces in a big way, finishing with a game-high 35 in the lopsided victory that saw eight player suit up for Sierra Canyon (6-0).

The five-star junior helped the Trailblazers overcome a slow start, scoring the first 14 points of the contest for Sierra Canyon, including all nine first-quarter points for his side.
Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon
Photo by Nick Koza
Amari Bailey, Sierra Canyon
After trailing by one heading to the second quarter, Sierra Canyon methodically stretched out its advantage with a 17-4 second quarter and 24-15 third quarter to lead 50-29 heading into the final frame.

Sierra Canyon returns to action on Friday night as they travel to Crossroads (Santa Monica).

Windward (7-3), which was paced by a team-high 21 points from Brandon Richard, faces Brentwood School (Los Angeles) on Friday.
Brandon Richard, Windward
Photo by Nick Koza
Brandon Richard, Windward
Sierra Canyon's Bronny James motions to his teammates on the court.
Photo by Nick Koza
Sierra Canyon's Bronny James motions to his teammates on the court.