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Sprayberry sets focus on future matchups

09/27/2015, 12:00pm EDT
By Carlton D. White

YellowJackets look to extend streak this week against Riverwood

Sprayberry sets focus on future matchups
by Carlton D. White
September 27, 2015 12:16 AM |
From his time as a Sprayberry player in the 1980s, coach Billy Shackelford knows the perils of getting caught up in a winning streak. 
<Br>Special photo by Cecil Copeland
From his time as a Sprayberry player in the 1980s, coach Billy Shackelford knows the perils of getting caught up in a winning streak. 
Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Sprayberry hasn’t seen this kind of success in a long time.

Off to its best five-game start since 1989, the Yellow Jackets are 4-1 and tied with Riverwood atop the Region 7AAAAA (B) standings following a convincing 37-7 win against North Atlanta on Friday.

Sprayberry held the Warriors to 9 first-half rushing yards and led 20-0 at halftime. The Yellow Jackets didn’t turn the ball over, and the defense totaled an interception and two fumble recoveries.

London Roberson played under center for injured quarterback Andrew Pereira and rushed 12 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns. Roberson scored touchdowns in each of the first three quarters as the Yellow Jackets staked a 34-0 margin entering the fourth.

The last time Sprayberry started 4-1 was during coach Billy Shackelford’s senior season, so he knows about what his team is going through. That year, the Yellow Jackets won four straight to begin the year before losing to Pope.

One thing Shackelford doesn’t want his team to believe in is its own hype, which is something his coach, the late John Paty, tried to instill in him back then.

“The older I get, the less I remember,” Shackelford said. “I know coach Paty had us worry about the next opponent, and that’s what I want these kids to do. You plan to be successful and you want to win every game each season, but, ultimately, you just go out there and battle on that day.

“When you get caught up in your record, you lose sight of your target, which is getting better each and every game. What I do remember about (the 1989 start), was enjoying it. Winning is fun, and you take time to enjoy it, but I assure you, it’s day-by-day and you keep your focus on your next opponent. You enjoy it, and then put it behind you.”

One team that has enjoyed putting its opponents in the rearview mirror is Mount Paran Christian, which is off to a 5-0 start.

Following a tough 35-19 win over previously undefeated Pinecrest Academy, in which senior running back Taylor Trammell had 27 carries for 340 yards and three touchdowns, the Eagles stretched their undefeated streak to 19 games, dating back to the first game of last year’s 14-0 state championship season.

Mount Paran’s winning streak is currently the second-longest in county history, behind Marietta’s 21 in the 1965 and ’66 seasons. The streak has continued largely because of Trammell, who has already rushed for more than 1,000 yards and crossed the goal line 18 times.

“I’ve had a few parents and some kids bring (the streak) up, but we, as a staff, haven’t brought up any kind of a streak to our players,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “It would be nice to break it, though, for this senior class.”

Entering its second bye week, Mount Paran won’t be able to add to its streak until Oct. 9, when it visits Walker for its first Region 6A (A) game.

“We want to relax this week and be ready for Walker,” Jordan said, “but the fact that we lost a great senior class and we’re able to continue to play well says a lot about our kids and the coaching staff at the midway point of the season. So far, so good. I mean, the kids are working hard each week, and the fact that we’ve won 19 in a row is a testament to that hard work.”

Walker (3-2) picked up its third win, and won consecutive games for the first time since the start of the 2013 season, after beating St. Francis 21-14. The Wolverines have already eclipsed their win total from a season ago, but they are entering a tough slate of subregion games over the next four weeks against opponents with a combined record of 16-4.

Hillgrove, in winning its Region 4AAAAAA opener against Marietta, saw one of its team records fall. John Devine put his name in the record book with a 64-yard punt in the Hawks’ 40-21 win, breaking the previous school record of 54 set by Butch Chastain against Creekview in 2007.

Jackets continue their strong start

09/27/2015, 11:45am EDT
By Zac Diodati

Sprayberry knocks off North Atlanta 37-7

Jackets continue their strong start
by Zac Diodati
MDJ Sports Correspondent
September 26, 2015 01:33 AM 
Pressed into duty after an injury to starter Andrew Pereira, backup QB London Roberson (7) prospered for Sprayberry, rushing for three touchdowns.
<BR>Special photo by Cecil Copeland
Pressed into duty after an injury to starter Andrew Pereira, backup QB London Roberson (7) prospered for Sprayberry, rushing for three touchdowns. 
Special photo by Cecil Copeland
MARIETTA — Sprayberry held North Atlanta to just 9 yards rushing in the first half, took a 20-0 lead into halftime and cruised to a 37-7 victory Friday night at Jim Frazier Stadium. 

With the win, the Yellow Jackets improved to 4-1 — their best five-game start since 1989, when current coach Billy Shackelford was a senior under his late mentor, John Paty.

On the field after the game, Shackelford warned his players that the team’s schedule will continue to get tougher, beginning with next week’s homecoming game against Riverwood

“The first time you settle down and relax as a player or as a coach, you set yourself up for a big uppercut,” Shackelford said. “We’re going to enjoy this success, because it’s hard to come by, but we’ve got to focus on the next game, and what we can improve.”

Sprayberry needed no improvement in turnover margin Friday. The Yellow Jackets didn’t turn the ball over, and their defense recorded one interception and two recovered fumbles.

One of those fumbles was recovered in the end zone after North Atlanta quarterback Jack Ferguson was sacked while trying to hide the ball on an extended play fake. Sprayberry’s Brandon Felix pounced on the loose ball in the end zone, extending his team’s lead to 27-0. 

Sprayberry quarterback London Roberson, in place of injured starter Andrew Pereira, led the Yellow Jackets in rushing with 95 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. The junior also was 3-of-5 passing for 26 yards. 

Roberson opened the scoring when he dove across the goal line on a 1-yard keeper to finish a 13-play, 79-yard drive, putting the Yellow Jackets ahead 7-0 with 6 seconds left in the first quarter. 

Tailback Trey Sermon struck next, running in from 3 yards out to extend the lead to 13-0 with 9:55 left until halftime. The score was part of a 20-carry, 71-yard night for Sermon.

Jake Pickett added a 39-yard field goal for a 37-0 Sprayberry lead in the fourth quarter, but the shutout was spoiled by a 4-yard touchdown run from North Atlanta’s Julious Washington with just 1:52 left to play.

Washington’s trip across the goal line was part of his 13 carries for 48 yards. 

“(The win) was a blend of team effort,” Shackelford said. “Our defense played physical, our special teams gave us a short field all night and our offense did enough. We’ve got some issues we need to work on, and we’ve got to eliminate some of those negative plays that give us some long situations.”

Yellow Jackets roll to best start since 1989

09/19/2015, 10:45am EDT
By Mason Wittner

Sprayberry takes down the North Springs Spartans 33-7

Yellow Jackets roll to best start since 1989
by Mason Wittner 
MDJ Sports Correspondent 
September 19, 2015 01:48 AM 
SANDY SPRINGS — Sprayberry’s offense scored the first 27 points to put the game out of reach early and rolled over North Springs for a 33-7 victory in the Region 7AAAAA (B) opener on Friday.

Trey Sermon accounted for 139 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets, who at 3-1, are off to their best start since beginning the 1989 season 4-0.

Not all the news was good for Sprayberry. At the end of the first half, quarterback Andrew Pereira took a hit along the sidelines while releasing the ball. He remained on the ground for an extended period of time before being carted off the field on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital with what appeared to be a head injury. 

“On the sidelines, (Pereira) got his head hit, and any time there is any kind of a head hit, you have to take precautions,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “He was very responsive on the sidelines and we’re going to go check on him and make sure he’s doing OK.”

The Yellow Jackets pulled away early in the second quarter with two one-play drives. 

On the first play of the quarter, Sermon took the handoff and went 89 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown to give Sprayberry a 20-0 lead. 

Following an interception, Sprayberry scored on its next offensive as Pereira connected with Dreshun Miller in the back corner of the end zone. Sprayberry led 27-0 with 11:26 left to play in the first half.

The Spartans answered on the ensuing drive as quarterback Rees Viersen threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Josh Vinson to cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 27-7 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.

London Roberson provided Sprayberry’s final score of the night when he connected with Jontae Williams for a 52-yard touchdown pass.

“We had a really exciting first half and our guys flew around, especially in the first quarter,” Shackelford said. “I wasn’t particularly impressed at how we didn’t keep our foot on the pedal and that’s something we have to get better at. But I’m very proud of our team tonight. Defensively we brought a lot of pressure to the quarterback and contained their explosive athletes, and offensively we were able to do a few good things as well.”

Sprayberry jumped out in front on their first drive as Pereira hit Brandon McBryde for a 28-yard touchdown to put the Yellow Jackets up 6-0 with 7:41 remaining in the opening quarter.

Sermon scored from 12 yards out on Sprayberry’s second drive of the night to extend their lead to 13-0 with 2:57 left in the first quarter.

The YellowJackets will officially begin practice for the 2015-16 season at 12:01 AM on August 1st. All are welcome to attend!

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