Friday Night Lights checks out Aaron Sterling, et al, in Atlanta

Nice to catch up with former Alabama receiver Toderick Malone

ATLANTA – Tucker High is good at football. The Tigers are ranked ninth in class 6A in Georgia. Their junior class is loaded, as much or more than any in the state. Mundy’s Mill is not very good at football. That’s why they lost 34-14 at chilly Adams Stadium Friday night. In the fourth quarter it was 61 degrees. Fall has fell in the ATL. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: We’ll go with Tucker senior and former Bama commit Aaron Sterling. The 6-1, 260-pounder told the AJC web site SEC Country that he bailed on the Tide because “it didn’t feel like home.” This was shortly after a trip to South Carolina (more on their coach later). Still, Sterling is a guy who can get to the quarterback.

“Aaron’s done a good job, man,” said Tucker Coach Bryan Lamar. “He’s done a good job against the run and the pass. He’s athletic, doing good with his technique, still learning, and still growing.”

Sterling had several quarterback hurries Friday. South Carolina is a major contender here. Sterling played at Stephenson High before transferring a few months ago.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Tucker running back Samuel Bryant (5-9, 185) is committed to Kennesaw State. He runs with a good burst. His teammate, safety Eugene Brown (6-0, 190) is West Virginia bound.

For Mundy’s Mill, safety Kimani Donaldson (6-0, 170) is headed for Liberty, and has a nose for the ball. Shining on a 95-yard kick return for six was Casey Grigley (6-2, 170).

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Tucker offensive tackle Dylan Wonnum is 6-5, 275 and part of quite a class of 2018 on his team. “Dylan’s doing a good job run blocking and pass blocking. He’s a physical guy,” said Lamar.

Other Tucker juniors who shone were: receiver Josh Vann (5-11, 175, 48-yard TD catch), tight end-linebacker Antonio Showers (6-2, 230, left in the first half with a limp but flashed early), safety Jalen Jefferson (5-11, 185), corner Garet McKinney (5-10, 170, had a pick) and dynamic running back/kick returner Taurean Taylor, who at 5-9, 175 scored on an 88-yard catch and a 50-yard draw play. He can fly.

For the other Tigers, running back Nat McKissick (5-10, 170) scored on a 50-yard dash to pay dirt.

SUPER SOPHS: Mundy’s Mill receiver Nick Manson (6-2, 183) is a Kevin Norwood-type possession guy with great hands. He had 5 catches for 35 yards. Thanks to Tigers Coach Dwayne Davis for the heads up.

For Tucker, Florida and Tennessee both like defensive end Derrick Mclendon (6-4, 225), while Travon Ford is a future great at quarterback and/or free safety. Running back David Davis (5-9, 160) is one to watch, too.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM BURGERS: When I played for Stone Mountain at Adams Stadium, we did not get to sample the burgers. Let me tell you, they’re good, moist and tasty, but the folks at Kenley’s Catering don’t stop there. They have smoked turkey legs (ran out), and very tender and juicy barbecued chicken wings, which I indulged in at the half. They melt in your mouth. Good stuff!

HOW ‘BOUT THAT COUNTRY COOKING: No trip to Tucker, Ga is complete without dining at long-time tradition Matthews Cafeteria. In some ways it’s like Northport’s City Café, but you walk through a line and pick your food out here. A favorite is fried chicken, but I can also vouch for the meatloaf, green beans, creamed corn, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and sweet tea. They feed the Tucker team every Friday. Go there, but be prepared to stand in line.

CRIMSON CONNECTION: Tucker’s Offensive Coordinator is former Bama receiver Toderick Malone. It was good to catch up with him, and reminisce about his big role in Bama’s comeback win over Georgia in 1994 at Bryant-Denny.

“It was something special,” Malone said of the Tide’s 29-28 win 22 years ago on Oct 1. “I show the players the tape a lot. I say, ‘This is how you do it!’ I made some great plays in the game (two touchdown catches). Jay Barker, he’s my quarterback.

“I started off having a bad game. I dropped a couple of balls. My mom came to the fence and grabbed me, and she said, ‘You need to do this, and this and this!’  I ended up having a good game. I loved it.”

Reminded that his victim on those Barker scoring strikes was then- Georgia safety and current South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp, Malone’s grin grew even bigger. “I beat him all day long, and we always talk about that too,” Malone reminisced.  “Every time he comes to Tucker to recruit, he says, ‘Man, I was getting death threats because of you!’”

I will say this: no one at that game will ever forget it Pre-expansion, it was the loudest I’d heard Bryant-Denny.

NEXT UP: Rockdale County’s Bulldogs visit the Comets of South Gwinnett, and the home team features junior pass-rusher extraordinaire Justin Mascoll. Many schools at the next level like this guy.


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