Princeton defeated Penn on the last day of the 2018 FCS regular season to complete a perfect 10-0 season and hoist the Ivy League champion trophy for the first time as outright champions since 1995.
In the game in New Jersey, two former Walton Raiders were lined up against each other with defensive back Christian Sullivan on the winning side and running back Karekin Brooks on the losing end of the rivalry.
The two players from Marietta follow a trend of East Cobb players taking the field on Ivy League rosters. Eight players from Cobb County are set to play on Ivy League teams in the 2019 season.
“Cobb County is one of the best school districts in the nation, and they also play some of the best football in the nation. I don’t think Cobb gets the respect it deserves as far as talent in Georgia,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “There’s Ivy League kids from just about every school that are getting opportunities.”
According to U.S. News, Walton is the No. 4 school in Georgia, and Cobb County is the 11th best school district in Georgia, per Niche.
Because of the academic rigor and success the student athletes go through in high school, the Ivy League is attracted to students from Walton and Cobb County, Brunner said.
Ivy League recruiters first make sure that the athletes have the academics to get into their school before even looking at their athletic product. If the students can get past the test of academia, then the talent will show off itself.
“The academic setting that has been set across Cobb has set those kids up for success,” Brunner said. “The Ivys will get kids that maybe Georgia is going after, but they want that Ivy League education. They send kids to the NFL all the time.”
These eight aren’t just succeeding in the classroom, but also on the gridiron.
At Penn, Brooks set the Penn single season rushing record in 2018 with 898 to earn a spot on the All-Ivy League 2nd Team. For the Crimson, Wheeler’s Bennett Bay had 17 tackles in just seven games for his sophomore campaign. In his third year at Harvard, Walton’s Joey Goodman totaled 29 tackles at linebacker.
Cobb County has also sent two linemen in Pope’s Matt Jones to Harvard and Walker’s Hunter Nourzad to Cornell. McEachern’s Devin Hart will be a sophomore at Columbia and Walton’s Ryan Roegge at Dartmouth rounds out the group.
Roegge and Brooks were also named preseason first and second team All-Ivy League by The College Football Network.
And with the two Raiders having success in the current climate of America’s most prestigious academic conference, it’s Walton who has set the precedent for student athletes to come.
“For us at Walton it’s kind of our niche,” Brunner said. “Schools know to come see us. Academically, we’re the best in the state. Athletically, we just won the Director’s Cup which means we’re the top athletic school in the state of Georgia.”