Practices this summer have been well attended, drawing several dozen to several hundred. To put this in perspective, most high schools usually have between none and a dozen watching any given practice.
Fans, parents and the community in general are eager to see what Bears’ second-year offensive coordinator Justin Rogers is cooking up. And make no mistake: He’s cooking up a potful.
His no-huddle, two-deep offense can be the stuff of legend before it’s through.
First consider the modern day school record for points in a season was set in 2009 when the offense — not including defensive or special teams scores — averaged 37.5 ppg. Then consider this year’s unit has 10 guys back — the 11th is back, but has been switched to defense — and it’s easy to see how Griffin, which is heading to Newnan at 7:30 p.m. Friday night for a preseason scrimmage, can easily push for the school record this season.
Consider it an advanced showing of sorts.
How good is Griffin’s offense? The team averaged 22 ppg last season as it went 9-3.
But stats are deceiving. The team averaged 10.8 ppg in the first five games as it battle through injuries and waited for the starters to emerge and the team etched out a 3-2 record. The next six games saw injuries fade, starters emerge and the team averaged 35.1 ppg as it reeled off a six-game win streak heading into the second round of the state playoffs against eventual state champion Tucker.
Simply put, 35.1 ppg isn’t that far from 37.5 ppg.
And while it’s exciting to thing of having 10 starters back, it’s even more exciting to realize the team is two deep in every skilled position with quality backups.
If this was a band the lead singer would be starting quarterback Jaquez Parks, a junior. As a sophomore he only won his first six full games and guided the team to a 6-1 record, the lone loss coming to eventual state champion Tucker. His backup is sophomore Anforne' Stroud, who only went out and won the first three games he played in last year and then rallied his team to within a point of eventual subregion champ Alcovy.
Then there are the running backs. Devontae Freeman led the team in rushing last season and is a true weapon on catches out of the backfield as he proved with a pair of game-winning touchdown receptions in the final 2:21 against Jonesboro in the opening round of the state playoffs. He’ll be back for his junior year. His backup is Justin Goddard, who only had 100-plus yard games in the preseason scrimmage and season opener last year before injuries proved costly.
It should be noted here Parks and Stroud also led the team in rushing at times last season. Neither has a problem with tucking the ball and running if everyone else is covered or defenses key on the running backs too much.
Then there are the receivers.
What a group it is.
It begins with 6-foot-2, 180-pound Darquavious Mangham, who was a Max Prep Freshman All-American last year, lining up at the X receiver. Rogers is just as high, if not higher, on his Z receiver, 6-foot-6, 200-pound Christian Owen, who didn’t play last year as a freshman. Lining up in the Y receiver slot is Trey Willis, while Moses Mayes gets the nod at the H slot.
The backups — Keyston Fuller at X, Travis Mayes at Z, Jordan Colbert at Y and Montico Dodson at H — are every bit as capable of helping the offense carve up opposing defenses.
So, by night’s end Friday, you too, may be singing the rest of the song made immortal by Emerson, Lake and Palmer so long ago:
“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside
There behind a glass stands a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass, move along, move along
Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
Greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth.”
(John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News.)