Over the course of the regular recreational league football season, comments were made about the depth of talent that the 8th graders possess. This depth of talent was able to take many of our local players all the way to Naples, FL and the FBU (Football University) Championship Tournament.
The Gwinnett Football League held two open tryouts for the 2017 GFL 8th Grade Football team. Star players from all over Gwinnett as well as a few players from Rabun County made up the team. The team had 40 players with 34 making the trip to Naples. The coaches were selected based off of their reputations within the league.
The team started their season off on December 2nd and ended with the tournament in Naples from December 17, 2017 to December 21, 2017. When asked what helped the boys win, Coach Ken Burge of Buford said, “These boys bought into the team concept. They cared more about the team concept versus focusing on their individual stats.”
Of the 40 players selected, Buford has a whopping 10 players on this elite team and North Gwinnett contributes two players to the team. The Buford players are Dylan Lesko, Jackson Gaspard, Jackson Favors, Sho Mitchell, Griffin Scroggs, River Wilson, Malik Spencer, Eli Parks, Victor Venn, and Aubrey Smith. Zach Johansen and Daniel Martin from North Gwinnett were also selected for the team.
In Naples, the team’s first opponent was from Dallas, TX. GFL won 40 – 32. In the semi final game, GFL outscored Maryland 19-9 sending them to the Championship game against Dade County, FL. In the Championship game, Dade County lost to GFL with GFL scoring 37 and Dade only 6. This talented group of young gentlemen brought the FBU 8th grade Championship trophy back to Gwinnett. The MVP of the Championship game was #16 Alexander Diggs from Brookwood. Peachtree Ridge QB Chad Mascoe (#1) was recognized as the 2017 National Middle School Player of the Year.
With the off the field training and hard work combined with natural talent, great coaching, and a positive team oriented mentality, one will see these kids take front and center under those Friday night lights. The class of 2022 looks very promising indeed.