Marietta quarterback Harrison stands behind a blocker as he eyes his receiver against North Cobb two weeks ago. Bailey’s ascent up the state’s record books has been one of the positive moments of the 2019 season, as has the versatility of Bailey’s Mount Paran Christian counterpart, Niko Vangarelli (below).

Last week, Marietta's Harrison Bailey became the fifth quarterback in state history to throw for 10,000 yards in a career.

The Tennessee commit will likely move into fourth all-time this week when the Blue Devils travel to Kennesaw Mountain to close the regular season. It will leave him behind a Who's Who of the position as it comes to Georgia high school football -- Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson and Jake Fromm.

Bailey already owns nearly every Cobb County passing record, and he will set marks that are going to be hard to reach going forward. Eventually, somebody will, but we will be able to look back and say "remember when..."

Up to now, the 6-foot-4, 217-pound four-star prospect has given Marietta fans plenty of memories. The Blue Devils and Bailey know they have at least two more games to play. If things go right, it could stretch to six, but that won't be the case for many of the players who could see their football careers end Friday as the regular season comes to a close.

On any team, there are the players who are really good, but, for whatever reason, don't get a chance to play in college. It won't be surprising that, for many of them, it will be hard to take that jersey off for the last time. 

Many of those players are names we may never have heard of or written about, but for every Bailey, Arik Gilbert, Jamil Burroughs, Javon Baker, Myles Murphy and Victor Pless -- some of the players who will continue their careers at Power Five schools -- they have 10 or 15 unsung teammates who pushed them along the way and helped to get them there.

Those are the real players who need to be commended. They are the glue, and they are the ones who make the others look good.

Over the next few weeks, every player's season will eventually come to a close. In the end, only eight teams across the state will get to smile and say they won their last game in December as state champions.

I don't know if any Cobb County teams will make it that far this year, but I am grateful that I've had the opportunity to watch this year's seniors grow up and become young men. And there have been more than a few who have become some of my favorites.

Mount Paran Christian quarterback Niko Vangarelli is one.

The 6-2, 220-pound dual-threat has been Mr. Everything for the Eagles this season. Through eight games, he has run for 1,258 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he has thrown for 1,209 yards and nine touchdowns.

Vangarelli joins a small club of county quarterbacks over the last decade -- Walker's Joseph Vose (2017), South Cobb's Kylil Carter (2014), McEachern's Ty Clemons (2013), Pope's Holland Frost (2010) and Hillgrove's Gage Henry (2010) -- who have run and thrown for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.

Of course, there is a difference between Vangarelli and most of those others. The Princeton commit also starts on defense and, for good measure, has added 28 tackles, a sack and an interception.

A couple years ago, when Justin Fields was starring at Harrison, David Roberts was just beginning to get a sense of what he could be. Now, as a senior, he has run for 825 yards and eight touchdowns on only 88 carries.

Roberts is one good game away from his second 1,000-yard rushing season, and he will go over 2,500 yards for his career at the same time. The 5-11, 200-pounder has a number of offers from FCS programs, and wherever he decides to go, that program is going to get a steal.

Over the last decade, it seems like Cobb County has been at the forefront of redefining what it means to be a high school kicker. It was not that long ago when coaches were just trying to find out if there was someone on the roster who could make an extra point.

Former Sprayberry standout Rodrigo Blankenship is forcing everyone to "respect the specs" at Georgia, and he will soon be in the NFL. Marietta's Ian Shannon, who went on to punt at Auburn, may have had the strongest leg I've ever seen. Following in their footsteps is current Allatoona kicker Jude Kelley.

Kelley is considered one of the top, if not the top, kicking prospect in the country by the recruiting services. This season, he is 13-of-15 on field goals and has made all 29 of his extra points. He set an Allatoona record at the beginning of the year with a 54-yard field goal, and he is the county's leading punter, averaging 47.5 yards an attempt.

With at least two games to play and hopefully more, Kelley is three field goals away from equaling Shannon's county record of 16 set in 2013. 

I'm going to miss seeing what Hillgrove quarterback Matthew McCravy does each week. In a region that saw Kennesaw Mountain's Jarrett Guest head to Coastal Carolina last year, Bailey to Tennessee this year and McEachern's Carlos Del Rio-Wilson to Florida next year, McCravy has found ways to outplay all of them at one time or another.

Pebblebrook's Quincy Miller has put up 24.5 sacks and more than 220 tackles over the last two seasons. He is going to wreak havoc in the Sun Belt Conference for former Lassiter coach Chip Lindsey at Troy.

There's also Walton's K.D. Stokes, Lassiter's Jack Ferguson, Walker's Jake Tasman, Pope's Will Zegers, Allatoona's Asante Das, North Cobb Christian's Ryan Pruitt and Sprayberry's Marlon Krakue, and the list goes on and on and on.

You seniors have helped make Cobb County football what it is. It has been a pleasure to cover you during your time in school, and I wish you luck in your future endeavors. 

And for the fans of Cobb County high school football, we say thank you.

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John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at or on Twitter @jbednarowski


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