Then-Griffin High sophomore quarterback Jaquez Parks erased a nine-point deficit with a pair of touchdown passes to classmate DeVontae Freeman in the final 2:21, the game-winner coming with :57 left on a cold November night.
Of course, the Bears wouldn’t mind another shootout. Parks and Freeman are back and have a lot of new friends. Griffin proved as much at Dutchtown two weeks ago by rallying from a 16-7 halftime deficit to swat down the Bulldogs 42-16 in the season opener on a night where all six of Griffin’s touchdown were scored by sophomores.
Furthermore Griffin proved it was no fluke last week, jumping out to a 22-0 halftime lead at Northgate before settling for a 35-6 victory against the defending Region 3-AAAA champion Vikings. Three juniors and a sophomore did all the damage there.
For their efforts, Griffin was ranked No. 3 in this week’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll Monday and No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll Tuesday. They are rankings well-deserved. It wasn’t so much Griffin won both games by large margins as much it was the way the Bears dominated both opponents.
The scary part is Griffin — a team comprised mostly of sophomores and juniors this season — still has a long, long, long way to go. To put it in automotive terms for our stock-car racing enthusiasts: Griffin is still in second gear and they’re blowing the doors off the competition.
Toward that end, the Bears wouldn’t mind a defensive battle. When has Griffin ever backed down from a defensive challenge? That’s probably a good thing, because they’ll get one this week. Led by BCS-caliber senior wideout Cameron Sutton and Vanderbilt-committed cornerback Taurean Ferguson, Jonesboro brings plenty of firepower. In two games, the senior-laden team has punched rival Mount Zion-Jonesboro around for 33 points in a 33-7 season-opening victory two weeks ago and then won 34-12 last week at Westover-Albany.
That’s impressive when you consider the bus ride to Albany always takes a little starch out of the visitors britches. Of course, Griffin’s defense left the last two quarterbacks it faced battered and bruised, with the starch removed. Many more will be battered and bruised this season as Griffin’s defense grows bigger, stronger, faster, smarter and more confident with each passing week.
Don’t expect the philosophy to change at either school. Head coach Tim Floyd is back leading the Cardinals for the fourth season, while head coach Steve DeVoursney is back leading the Bears for the 12th season. Historically Griffin has long dominated Jonesboro, winning 19 in a row and 31 of the last 32 against the Cardinals dating back to 1969 and six in a row before that dating back to 1962.
Regardless of what turns and twists the home opener takes, Griffin stands ready. The Bears employ a lot of weapons in all three phases of the game. Simply put, they are a coordinator’s worst nightmare. One slip and Griffin has the ability to quickly make teams pay.
Toward that end, Jonesboro figures to be a great test to see just how far the Bears have come since their 47-43 win on that cold Nov. 11 night.
(John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News.)