FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: RJ McDaniel off to historic passing start for Locust Grove

Locust Grove quarterback RJ McDaniel is off to a historic start throwing the ball this season. (Photo: Ben Ennis)

LOCUST GROVE — Locust Grove High quarterback RJ McDaniel has wasted no time putting up big numbers this season.

Through five games, McDaniel leads the county in passing yards with 1,210 and in passing touchdowns with 15. According to Georgia High School Football Daily, McDaniel ranks second in the state in passing yards, trailing only Marietta’s Harrison Bailey who has thrown for 1,368 thus far.

McDaniel is coming off a 350-yard performance last week against Ola. He threw for a school-record 429 yards against state-ranked Warner Robins earlier in the season. McDaniel now holds Locust Grove single-game records in completions, yards and touchdown passes.

He has done so while distributing the ball evenly among his receivers. Christian Da-Silva leads the county in receiving yards with 435, while Billy Ward (314) and CJ Senter (213) each rank in the top 10. Ward is tops in the county in touchdowns with eight.

The senior signal-caller has been named the Henry Herald’s Offensive Player of the Week twice in just five weeks.

“RJ deserves any accolade he receives. He has been a tireless worker and a pleasure to coach, I am happy for him,” Locust Grove head coach Clint Satterfield said.

ELCA offense back on track

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy saw its 37-game winning streak snapped by Pace Academy on Aug. 24 in Week 2. The Chargers scored 16 points in the loss, their lowest total since a 33-3 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian on Sept. 4, 2015.

ELCA wasted no time starting a new winning streak behind bounce-back performances from the offense. In wins over Heritage-Conyers and Holy Innocents’, the Chargers scored a combined 104 points.

As always, ELCA’s success has started with the run game. The Chargers rushed for 205 yards against Heritage ans 296 yards against Holy Innocents’. Keaton Mitchell has been at the forefront of that production with a county-high 10 rushing touchdowns.

Yet, it’s been ELCA’s ability to create chunk plays in the passing game that has made the difference. Senior quarterback Brayden Rush hasn’t thrown it much, but is still among the county leaders with 551 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns.

Wide receivers Devon Dorsey and Justin Robinson have done a fine job replacing the production that graduated with Sean Queen. Robinson (273 yards, 4 TDs) and Dorsey (266 yards, 3 TDs) are among the top 10 in Henry County in receiving yards and touchdowns.

Dutchtown moves into Georgia Sports Writers Association Poll for first time

It took five weeks, but the unbeaten Dutchtown Bulldogs entered the top 10 in Class AAAAA of the GSWA weekly poll this week at No. 9.

While undefeated, the Bulldogs have gone relatively under the radar so far this season. All they have done through five games is outscore their opponents 157-23, including two defensive shutouts in Weeks 1 and 2.

The team’s veteran defense was expected to dominate this season and has done just that. Kevon Glenn, William Anderson, Trimarcus Cheeks and Ja’Shaun Poke give head coach Clifford Fedd playmakers at every level of the defense. Fedd’s reputation as a strong defensive mind has proven true — Dutchtown has held opponents to 12.4 points per game in Fedd’s first 16 games in charge.

The domination of the defense has allowed the offense to come along at its own pace. Sophomore quarterback Arendez Fedd has overseen two straight 40-point outbursts against Ola and Union Grove in consecutive weeks. Players such as Christopher Coneway, Nate McCollum and Javorri Mack have each made big plays in the first half of the season.

Region 4-AAAAA beginning to take shape

Speaking of Dutchtown, the Bulldogs are one of three teams from Region 4 that are ranked in the top 10 in Class AAAAA. Dutchtown is ranked ninth, while Stockbridge and Jones County are ranked third and fourth, respectively.

Those three teams will play each other later in the season in contests that will ultimately decide the final standings. Dutchtown plays Jones County on Oct. 5 and Stockbridge on Oct. 19. Stockbridge and Jones County will tangle in the season finale on Nov. 2. Jones County has the scheduling advantage on paper, as they will host both Stockbridge and Dutchtown.

Stockbridge, Jones County and Dutchtown, which are all 2-0 in region play thus far, figure to be playoff teams, leaving only one spot for the remaining five teams. Woodland and Locust Grove are currently tied for that final playoff spot with 1-1 records, while Eagle’s Landing, Ola and Union Grove each sit at 0-2.

Light slate in Week 6

Fall break will provide eight of the 11 county programs a chance to rest up before the most crucial part of the season. Stockbridge is the only public team in action this week, on the road against Columbia. ELCA and Strong Rock Christian will host Trinity Christian and Our Lady of Mercy, respectively, in Region 5 A-Private action.

The only other time five or less county teams will be in action will come in Week 9 when just four programs will take the field.

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