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August 31, 2004ATLANTA- They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing.
With the high school football season kicking off all over the nation, teams and blue-chip prospects in Georgia were already making waves - especially in the Stephenson-Southwest Dekalb rivalry on Friday and then Mays and Douglass put on a show on Saturday at Lakewood Stadium.
Stephenson is usually one of the top teams in the Peach State, but this is a rebuilding year for the Jaguars as they have a very young team. However, when one of your underclassmen is a freak player like Marcus Ball it doesn't hurt.
People have been talking about Ball since last August before he even stepped on the field as a sophomore. He had a stellar junior campaign and drew rave reviews from his performance at the Atlanta NIKE camp.
Ball could very well be the top running back in the state right now and is probably the second best linebacker in Georgia behind LaGrange's Tray Blackmon. Honestly, Ball is ahead of Blackmon physically, but Blackmon plays with such ferocious and tenacity it's hard to put anyone over Blackmon at this point.
Simply put, Ball could be the best player in the nation at running back or outside linebacker for the class of 2006. He would easily be a Rivals 100 member as a junior (if underclassmen were eligible) and he is going to garner serious consideration as the nation's top player next year.
In the game against Southwest Deklab, Ball only carried the ball twice. On defense Southwest Dekalb showed Ball how much they respect him as they ran away from him virtually all night. It seemed to work well as Southwest Dekalb prevailed 14-13.
Southwest Dekalb quarterback Eric Ward is a good field general, but unfortunately the passing game wasn't in the plans for the Panthers as Ward completed his only pass for 22 yards. On the other end of that pass is tight end/defensive end Michael Hall. He showed out all night long at both positions and claims offers from Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Tennessee.
In the Saturday afternoon game Douglass squeaked out a 14-7 win. Defensive end Roderick Battle looked absolutely great all game long. It seemed as though he had pitched a tent and was camping out in the backfield all game, whether it was stuffing the running back or pressuring the quarterback.
From the other defensive end, a bigger, but not quite as fast Brandon Sesay also dominated, however, at times Mays was able to use their quicker backs to get outside on occasion. Overall though, Sesay is already a tremendous player and has a great upside.
Douglass running back James Davis was under severe pressure from the Mays defensive line the entire game. The Douglass offensive line got beat most of the day and did a good job limiting Davis to 63 yards on 20 carries.
Wide receivers Greg Smith and Jarvis Smith, both of Douglass, had two totally different types of days. Jarvis was involved in a small skirmish with a Mays player and both he was sidelined for the remainder of the game by his coach. Greg, on the other hand had a very nice game, catching several key passes for nice yardage. He has good size and speed and already boasts several scholarship offers.
Mays athlete Ramon McElrathbey played most of the game with an ankle injury, but he did score Mays lone touchdown. He plays quarterback for Mays and actually throws a pretty good ball, but his college future is in the secondary. He played some safety in the game and managed to make several tackles in the game even on an injured leg.