Drive for the GHSA State Title: Roswell at Alpharetta Preview

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - This week’s Drive for the GHSA State Title matchup is between Alpharetta and Roswell, who will face off on Peachtree TV at 8 PM this Friday in Alpharetta with a region championship at stake. Roswell is 8-1 and is currently on a five-game win streak, and their defense is only allowing 6.6 points in that span. Alpharetta is 7-2, and their offense has been rolling all season. Alpharetta has already put up a 70-point game this season and had 442 yards of total offense in their last game against Blessed Trinity.

It starts with Ben Guthrie for Alpharetta, who has been on fire this season coming into the region championship game. He is 3rd in the state in passing yards with 2,624. Last game, he threw for four touchdowns. Alpharetta Coach Jason Kervin talked about the difference in his quarterback this season.

“He trusts his playmakers, the play calls, and understands the game. He is under complete control in the run game. Guthrie is a coach’s dream. If there is a 5 ‘11 quarterback that has ever made it, he will make it,” said Kervin. “You can quote me on that. He has too many intangibles. He can throw into coverage and anticipate windows. When things break down, he can extend the play. I think in modern-day football, you have to have a guy who can extend the play, and he can do that. He is the fastest player on our team. If we went out and ran 100 sprints right now, he would win 100 of them. He is faster and more athletic than you think. I told one of our kids the other day before the game started hey, we get to watch Guthrie play tonight. That is how I feel. I just love watching him play.”

The Roswell offense has also been an explosive unit this season. KJ Smith has stepped up big for Roswell in his first year as the starter. Smith has thrown for 1,573 yards and 22 touchdowns. Nykahi Davenport has rushed 1,170 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Roswell Coach Chris Prewett talked about what both players have brought to the offense this season and their impact.

“As a coach, you preach to the quarterback to always prepare like you could be the guy. You could be the guy that has to go in and win us the game. Whatever your role is, make sure that you are ready for it,” said Prewett. “KJ totally bought into that last year and was prepared and ready. We had an injury last year with Robbie, which allowed KJ to come in and play. KJ almost brought us back from a 21-point deficit and won the game. Then next week, he ended up playing and starting and did well with his first start. Nykahi Davenport and Synkwan Smith are almost up to 1,500 yards rushing by themselves. Nykahi is averaging 11 yards a carry, so he is doing really well and continuing to run the ball well. We feel comfortable if he needs a break putting Synkwan back there, who is averaging 7-8 yards a carry. They have been really good out of the backfield. They both can catch the ball well, and they have excellent hands.Roswell’s defense vs. Alpharetta’s offensive line is an intriguing matchup in this game. The Roswell defense has been playing connected and together. They pride themselves on chaos and showing a myriad of looks to the offense.

“The goal for us has been to create chaos in the backfield as much as humanly possible. Create a lot of tackles for loss, sacks, and negative plays. During that Sprayberry game, I think we went over 60 tackles for loss on the year, which was a human number for us. We are up to 20-25 sacks on the year,” said Prewett. “That is what we really hone in on: making negative plays and limiting the big plays. I think we are playing together and we are playing as one. It shows that we had a more consistent focus in the past couple of weeks.”

Alpharetta’s offensive line is also nothing to snuff at. The offensive line has been dominant this season and has excellent depth. They have three D1 commits and are very physical at the point of attack. Coach Kervin talked about their dominant play last game against Blessed Trinity.

“At the end of the day, when you can end up with more rushing yards than Blessed Trinity, that is a feather in your cap. I think the most thing I was proud of is we got the ball on the 2-yard line on a pivotal drive,” said Kervin. “It was 21-7, and we went 98 yards to put the game out of reach. We did it with the run game. That is how we got out from being backed up. At the end of the game, they punted it back to us with about 4 minutes left, and we were able to get to or three first downs running the ball, and we didn’t give it back to them.”

The story of the game will be which defense can hold up the most because both of these teams have dynamic offenses that have been unstoppable all season. Chase Morrison has nine sacks on the season, is a very disruptive player, and is relentless in his pursuit. Coach Prewett talked about how his defense has played lately and Morrison’s impact.

“He has been an incredible player this year for us. Chase started as a freshman two years ago, and we told him after seeing him play a little bit that the potential is limitless for him,” said Prewett. “He has worked at a different level than I think he has in the past, and it is showing this year. Chase’s get-off is next level, and he plays with a really good effort that jumps off the tape. He’s technically sound and does a lot of good stuff for us. We try to move him around a little bit and put him in some good spots. Ultimately, Chase has worked his butt off and has done a really good job this year.”

On the Alpharetta defense, keep your eye on Wiliam Reed III, who leads them in tackles and sacks. Last game against Blessed Trinity, he was second on the team in tackles with seven. His impact could also be vital in this game. Coach Kervin talked about what his defense needs to do in this one.

“They have to do their job. I don’t think you can load up on them. If you load up on them, their playmakers are too good, and they will make plays. If you play too soft, their running game is too good,” said Kervin. “If you send pressure, you better get there. If you don’t send pressure, you better be able to cover. You have to be able to get there with a three-man or four-man rush and not give him extra time. When the quarterback has extra time back there, he is a problem. They are solid at receiver on both sides. We have to do what we do, and if we get an opportunity to make a turnover or takeaway, we have to get it. We have to get them off the field on 3rd down.”Roswell is 6-2 all-time vs. Alpharetta. Alpharetta won their matchup in 2020 35-21.