Join us tonight for week 15 of our GPB Sports 2022 Football Fridays in Georgia Schedule and Quarterfinals of the GHSA Class 7A Playoffs when sixth placed Walton Raiders (10-2) meet third placed Carrollton Trojans (12-0) at Grisham Stadium in Carrollton.
Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Recruiting 2022, including the Top Prospects to Watch, followed by the Game of the Week at 7:30 a.m.
The winner of that game will advance to the state semifinals and play away next Friday night against the winner of North Gwinnett in the No. 2 Quarterfinals in Colquitt County and be just two wins away from a state championship.
Walton pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent state playoff history as the Raiders defeated No. 1 and three-time defending champion Buford 42-35 in the second round. It ended Wolves’ 22-game winning streak and was the program’s earliest playoff elimination since 1999.
Walton have had six straight wins since we last saw them at GPB and a resounding 33-6 loss to North Cobb that cost the Raiders a chance to win the Region 5-7A Championship. Walton finished 4-1 in regional play and is No. 2 in the playoffs. Walton blew out his last four regular-season opponents, defeating South Forsyth 35-21 in the first round of the playoffs before a stunning win last Friday night .
The Raiders are 6-1 this season, their only loss being a 44-41 loss to Mill Creek in the season-opening Corky Kell Classic at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Walton is 3-2 against top 10 teams.
This is the second straight season the Raiders have reached the quarterfinals after a nine-year drought and the sixth time in program history. Walton is targeting his second straight semifinal appearance and fifth all-time. A win would also give the Raiders their seventh 11-win season in program history.
As a 4-0 Region 2-7A Champion, Carrollton is a No. 1 seed, Region Champions for the third time in four years and 32nd time in program history. The Trojans are 7-0 at home and have won 15 straight games at Grisham Stadium since a quarter-final loss to Valdosta in 2020.
The Trojans have won three straight games since we last saw them at GPB as they beat No.7 Westlake 28-19 for the region’s title. Carrollton made it through the first two rounds of the playoffs, defeating Lowndes 38-14 in the first round and Marietta 47-14 in the second round. Overall, the Trojans have won 20 of their last 21 games, with their only defeat being a 2021 semi-final defeat at Buford.
This is the fourth top 10 team Carrollton has played this season, winning the top three, and the Trojans have beaten their 12 opponents by an average of 30 points per game.
This is the seventh straight quarterfinal appearance for the Carrollton program and 38th all-time with a record of 24-13 in this round of the playoffs. The Trojans are aiming for their second consecutive semi-final appearance and 25th in program history. Carrollton has won seven state championships, but none since 1998, and that was the only one in the last 47 seasons.
At 12-0, the Trojans are still in the mix for their first perfect season since the 1961 state champions’ 13-0 under legendary coach Charlie Grisham, the only undefeated season in program history.
So this is the game preview. Now here’s a look at the top prospects to watch.
Walton Raiders – Head Coach Daniel Brunner 52-21 in his sixth season. The list includes two 4-star, one 3-star, and a total of 11 players either engaged or with scholarship offers.
Wendell Gregory – 6-3, 220, juniors. 4-Star and On3 Recruitment #4 LB. 22 deals including South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisville. He has made game day visits to watch the Gamecocks play this season. Gregory plays Rover for the Raiders and is a converted WR. He has 34 tackles this season with 3 TFL, 4 QB sacks and 2 INT. Might eventually evolve into a next-level edge rusher.
Ashton Woods – 6-3, 210, juniors. 4-Star and On3 Recruitment #28 LB. 21 offerings including Tennessee, Wake Forest and North Carolina. He has visited North Carolina and Georgia on game days this season, where his brother Dom Blaylock is healthy and is back playing for the Bulldogs. Comes from football family and will be fourth to play power 5 football. Woods leads the Raiders with 114 tackles and 75 solo tackles, plus 10 TFL, 5 QB sacks, 1 INT and 6 PBU. Brunner says he’ll be shocked if he’s not signed before next season. Doesn’t like all the recruiting hype, just wants to see a movie of his recruiting visits. Coach Brunner says he keeps telling him you can’t knock people out in training. Hard. Playing with a broken right hand which will require surgery at the end of the season.
Jeremy Hecklinski – 6-1, 175, juniors. On3 recruits 3-star QB. Four offerings including UCF and Wake Forest. Not to be too much of an exaggeration, but his game cut into Patrick Mahomes’ form. Does crazy arm angle throws and keeps games alive with Bugs Bunny scrambles. Game Day visit to Winston-Salem last weekend for Wake’s victory over Syracuse. Completed 64% of his passes for 3,324 yards, 35 TD and 10 INT. He also has 4 Rushing TD. Hecklinski already has the Raiders single season TD passing and passing yards records. Says he wants his recruitment to be over by next April.
Ayden Jackson- 5-11, 175, senior WR. 14 offerings including Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State. Spectacular talent who can brighten up the game and double at the cornerback position. Brunner says Ayden is as influential for the Raiders as Travis Hunter was for Collins Hill last season. Was hampered by an ankle injury midseason, including the last time we saw Walton on GPB and his loss to North Cobb, but has 30 catches for 732 yards, a team lead of 24.4 yards per catch and 9 TD.
Philip Eichelzer – 6-3, 265, Older IOL. Game center for the Raiders. Committed to Princeton on 15 other deals including Tulane and Army. They call him Filthy Phil.
Matthew Traynor – 6-2, 190, Senior SAF. Committed to Richmond over 12 other offerings, including Army and Navy. Former Sequoyah QB with 111 tackles, 10 TFL and team-leading 12 PBU.
Ma Kari Bodiford – 6-0, 207, junior RB. Offered by UMass. Absolutely underestimated. Beast to tackle. 1,474 yards rushing and 22 total TD. Brunner expects his recruitment to pick up in the spring.
Hunter Teal – 6-2, 225, youth TE. Offered by Florida A&M and Eastern Kentucky. As sure as a pass catcher as you’ll discover, perhaps only his size/speed is holding him back from recruiting. Team lead of 47 receptions for 932 yards.
Will Fitzpatrick – 6-6, 280, senior OT – 6 offers including Stetson, Valparaiso and UT-Martin. Perhaps most improved on Raiders OL. Waited his turn and it paid off.
Ryan Anderson – 6-0, 215, senior DT. Committed to Washington & Lee. 24 tackles, 6 TFL and 3 QB sacks.
Quin Bannon – 6-2, 211, senior DL. Offered by Rhodes College (Brunner’s alma mater). The move from OLB to DE was a turning point for him. 54 tackles with team-leading 6 QB sacks. Like Bannon, Brunner was a DE. Brunner played at Roswell before becoming a two-time All-Conference player at Rhodes.
Carollton Trojans – Head Coach Joey King 24-2 in his second season. 91-6 in his seventh season overall, including five seasons at Cartersville, where he won two state championships and coached QB Trevor Lawrence. The Carrollton roster has one 4-star, two 3-star and a total of six players who are either committed or have scholarship offers. A little deceptive because the Trojans also have one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the nation, and that’s…
JuJu Lewis – 6-1, 175, freshman phenom QB. 22 deals including Georgia, Alabama and Clemson. Has attended many game days this season and was in South Carolina last weekend when the Gamecocks shocked Tennessee. He was in at least three games in Georgia, including the Bulldogs’ win over the Vols. He has also made game day visits to Clemson, Texas, Auburn and Florida. Lewis has completed almost 67 percent of his passes for 3,006 yards, 37 TD and 10 INT.
Caleb Odom – 6-5, 205, Jr. On3 Recruiting 4-Star and #6 TE. 23 bids including Ole Miss, Vandy and Tennessee. Odom has also been on the road a lot this season, visiting Georgia, Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Vandy on game days. 46 catches for team-leading 717 yards and 10 TD. Counts as TE but plays WR in Trojans offense. King says he’s still raw but has a big catch radius, great jerks and body control. Also star basketball player for the Trojans who moved to Carrollton from Villa Rica.
Takare Lipscomb – 5-11, 175, senior. 247 Sport 3 Star WR. Committed to the State of Arkansas over 10 other offers including Pitt. 39 catches for 677 yards. Team lead 17.4 yards per reception and 7 TD. King says Takare is “Mr. Consistent” and can play multiple WR positions. Runs the “disinterested WR room” that King says has no divas and is willing to block for each other.
Bryce Hicks – 5-11, 175, junior RB. Four offerings including Coastal Carolina, Liberty and Eastern Michigan. Stole the show when we saw the Trojans here on GPB a month ago and picked up the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Player of the Game award in Carrollton’s 28-19 Region Championship win at No. 7 Westlake. King says Bryce is probably the Trojans’ best player, undersized but a huge talent, and he keeps telling the Power 5 coaches, “You’re crazy if you don’t recruit him.” 1,250 yards rushing. Leading receiver with 49 catches and 24 total TD.
Kelvin Hill – 5-10, 165, Youth CB. Offered by Georgia Southern. Coach King calls him their “Dawg” on defense. #2 on team with 51 tackles plus 10 TFL. Leads the team with 5 INTs, one of which he turned into a pick six, 7 PBU and a blocked kick.
Jace Ward – 6-3, 233, senior. 247 Sport 3 Star LB. Committed to Jackson State through offers from Fort Valley State and UT Martin. Only played 5 games due to injury, but back in the starting XI. 14 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 1.5 QBS
So it all starts with the twice Gabby Award-winning and Emmy-nominated Recruiting 2022 pm, followed by the Football Fridays in Georgia Game of the week when the Carrollton Trojans host the Walton Raiders in the Quarterfinals of the GHSA 7A Playoffs at 7:30pm. Join Wayne Gandy, Jon Nelson, Hannah Goodin, Niki Noto Palmer and me.
And remember, when it’s over, it’s not over yet! Stay tuned to the GPB Sports Postgame Show for all the big second round playoff results and interviews with the top coaches in the state. Also, Bracketology goes on. That means Jon will fill in the playoff brackets and set you up for the semifinals next Friday night.
If you somehow miss it live, don’t worry, we’ll redo the whole thing Football Fridays in Georgia at the end of our live show on GPB. You can also follow it live on the GPB Sports App or our Twitter or Facebook page wherever you are, or watch it anytime on GPB.org.
Enjoy your football Friday in Georgia!