Posted: Thursday, October 10th 2013 at 4:37pm
Football notebook: Gaudlock, Sosebee soaring for GHS; Little playing big for Trojans
By Morgan Lee Editor
Gainesville's JD Sosebee, right, wraps up a tackle against Buford earlier this season. / photo: David Weikel
GAINESVILLE -- Judging by the results on the field so far it’s hard to believe Gainesville football had legitimate concerns entering the 2013 season.
Yet Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller says he and his staff spent the summer worrying about at least two issues: wide receiver and defense.
Miller and his staff aren’t losing much sleep these days, however, thanks in no small part to the play of two standouts.
Jay Gaudlock has developed into the team’s leading receiver, while JD Sosebee is leading the team in tackles, the duo allying with teammates on each side of the ball to help Gainesville on a domineering start to the Region 8-AAAAA campaign – the Red Elephants have outscored region foes 216-19.
A converted running back, Gaudlock moved to receiver full time only in the spring, as Gainesville coaches looked for someone to take over from graduated standout Caleb Hayman.
“We saw glimpses of what he was capable of in the spring,” Miller said of Gaudlock. “Really, he’s a great athlete, and we had to find a way to get him on the field more.”
Through six games Gaudlock has 45 catches for 696 yards and eight touchdowns.
“He just has a way of getting open,” Miller said. “He’s not as big as Caleb was, but he brings a quickness to that spot that we haven’t had -- I don’t mean speed but quickness. He can get through tight spots and get to the ball. He’s kind of like a (Denver Broncos receiver) Wes Welker for us.”
It also helps that Gaudlock has played with quarterback Deshaun Watson since the start of pee-wee football.
“They just have an understanding, and he can get Deshaun’s attention,” Miller said.
Sosebee has certainly gotten plenty of attention – but for totally different reasons.
“I’ve seen him hit some people this season and just think to myself I wouldn’t want to get hit like that,” Miller said of the junior inside linebacker. “We knew we had two good inside linebackers coming into the season, but he was lesser-known that (senior) Devan (Stringer), and he’s earned his way into the limelight.”
One of the most physically-imposing players on a unit that utilizes speed and tackling en masse, Sosebee has developed into a stalwart, excelling as a run-stuffer, as evidenced by his 75 tackles -- 12.5 per game. The Red Elephants defense has feasted on 8-AAAAA opponents so far, allowing just over 4 points per game.
“He’s just gotten better every game, and is really playing well for us right now,” Miller said of Sosebee.
ZAC LITTLE SPARKING NORTH HALL GROUND GAME: Last season Little showed flashes of his ability when he rushed for 551 yards and 7 touchdowns on 75 carries in 14 games. This season Little has stepped into a starring role and shined bright indeed, rushing for a team-high 641 yards.
The senior has carried the ball 60 times for seven scores -- both good enough for second on the team -- but, perhaps most impressively is averaging 10.6 yards per carry. And that’s through five games, almost a third less than the amount of contests the Trojans played in 2012.
Talk about elevating your game.
Entering the season, North Hall knew it had a stellar offensive line and starting quarterback in Andrew Smith. What they were looking for was who would take the lead from a talented stable of running backs.
Who could replace two 1,000-plus yard rushers in graduated standouts TJ Tate and Kevin Christmas?
And it’s not like Little is taking the bulk of the carries in a one-back system. In fact, North Hall’s wishbone attack has been even more potent so far this season than last, averaging 417 rushing yards per contest. In 2012, North Hall finished at 333 yards per game.
In other words, Little is a star on a team that knows exactly what it’s doing on offense -- a scary thought for the remaining Region 7-AAA defenses on the schedule.
JACKSON McDONALD HITTING STRIDE: There are plenty of reasons for Flowery Branch's rebound and four-game win streak -- stellar defensive play and a dominant offensive line chief among them.
But it's also clear that Falcons quarterback Jackson McDonald is hitting his stride.
McDonald has been putting together an impressive campaign, rolling up 1,281 yards (431 yards rushing, 850 yards passing) and 16 TDs (8 passing, 8 rushing), and while he has not played a full contest since early in the season -- with several games being decided early -- it is clear that he is comfortable with his role.
McDonald completed six of the seven passes he attempted in last week's 42-20 win over Apalachee -- which was 42-0 in the second quarter. That bodes well for a Falcons team that will face opponents with winning records and progressively more talented squads in its last three games of the regular season -- including a visit from Clarke Central on Oct. 25 and a trip to Gainesville on Nov. 8.
BUFORD DEFENSE PLAYING ON ANOTHER LEVEL: As anyone that has seen Buford play defense can tell you, the Wolves are scary good. They are fast, big, physical and can roll two or three players in at each position with little to no drop off.
The numbers, however, are downright scary.
The Wolves are allowing just 4.2 points per game and have allowed three TDs in five games -- two of those from Class AAAAA No. 5 Gainesville. Opponents are managing a miniscule 1.8 yards per rush against Buford, while the Wolves are allowing just 128 yards and 3.8 first downs per game. Meanwhile, the Wolves have allowed just seven third down conversions all season.
It's enough to put the fright in any opposing offensive coordinator.
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