Roswell to Contend for State Championship after Semi-Final Victory

Score by Qtr..

by Ty Simons

28-0 Defeat of Westlake in Semi-Finals Sends Hornets to the Georgia Dome

ATLANTA–A convincing shutout win over Westlake High School on Friday put the Roswell Hornets in the Georgia Dome to compete for the state championship for the second season in a row.

Last week’s semi-final game marked the third time this season that the defense has kept an opponent scoreless. On offense, the Hornets kept up a consistent effort, with a single touchdown scored in each quarter.

The early game saw these two teams deadlocked in a defensive battle until late in the first period, when Westlake caught a lucky break and recovered its own punt at the Roswell 26-yard line.  Four plays later however, an interception by Sam DiRoberto just shy of the goal line dashed the Lions’ hopes of capitalizing on the Roswell mistake.  After taking possession at the 18-yard line, Jayden Comma, Sheldon Evans, and Malik Willis engineered an 82-yard scoring drive down the field, with Willis running it into the endzone from six yards out for a 7-0 lead.


Westlake’s second chance at a score came in the next quarter. After a penalty and a couple of backfield tackles by Max Boyd and Justin Ellis pushed the team back dozens of yards from the first-down marker, the Lions picked up 30 yards in their biggest play of the night to put the team within three yards of a fourth down conversion. As has been the case throughout the season however, Roswell made another defensive statement at a critical moment by forcing a turnover on downs and extinguishing Westlake’s momentum. Now on offense, the Hornets took to the air, with a pair of receptions to Kentrell Barber for a total of 19 yards, and a beautiful 33-yard catch courtesy of Christian Ford. Evans capped the drive with a quick three-yard trip to the endzone for Roswell’s second touchdown of the evening.

In the third quarter, Willis and Comma connected on a 46-yard pass play to pick up another touchdown and extend the Hornet lead to 21-0. Xavier McKinney led defensive efforts with a pair of interceptions in the last minutes of the quarter, but Roswell was unable to convert either into a scoring drive. The Hornets ran into trouble in their last offensive series of the quarter, when the Lions picked up a fumble near their own endzone and raced the other way. Before the defender could cross the goal line however, Christian Ford caught up to him and made a touchdown-saving tackle at the Roswell five-yard line. The Hornet defense once again rose up, and stuffed the Lion offense for zero yards on the next three plays.  A fourth-down field goal attempt was then blocked to keep Westlake off the board.

After taking over on offense in their next series, Roswell put together a long and steady drive to the endzone, featuring a 22-yard run from Willis, a 19-yard reception by Barber, and a scoring 11-yard catch by Tyneil Hopper. Westlake had one more chance to score before the game would end, but an interception by Cade Gonzales with about 5 minutes left effectively ensured a shutout victory for Roswell.              

The Hornets are set to take on Grayson High School on Saturday at 8pm. The Loganville school, like Roswell, is considered to have one of the best high school football programs in the country.

With 42-21 Win over North Cobb, Hornets to Head to State Semi-Finals

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North Cobb0014721

by Ty Simons


ROSWELL–In the last home game of the postseason, the Roswell Hornets defeated North Cobb High School, 42-21.

While Roswell built up a three touchdown lead in the first half of the game, North Cobb came within striking distance of the Hornets in the third quarter, narrowing Roswell’s lead to seven points. Roswell finished strong, though, scoring as many touchdowns in the fourth quarter as they had in the rest of the game combined.

With Friday’s win, Roswell advances to the semi-final round of the playoffs, where they will play Atlanta’s Westlake High School, who currently hold an 10-3 record. If the Hornets can succeed in that game, they will go on to the Georgia Dome to face off against either Grayson or Mill Creek, the highest and second-highest ranked high school football teams in the state, respectively.

Against North Cobb, the Hornets’ six touchdowns were evenly split between rushing and passing. Quarterback Malik Willis held onto the ball to account for two touchdowns; he ran for a game total of 130 yards. Running back Sheldon Evans covered 166 yards in the game with one touchdown, the 63rd of his outstanding career. Corey Reed, Christian Ford, and Jayden Comma each made a touchdown reception. As usual, defensive back Xavier McKinney played a key role on defense, intercepting a pass early in the fourth quarter that kicked off the Hornets’ late-game breakaway from North Cobb. In a game with plenty of backfield tackles, linebacker Justin Ellis stood out especially with four quarterback sacks. 

The Hornets started the game off by taking a two-touchdown lead over the Warriors. LeAnthony Williams intercepted a pass late in the first quarter and, building on that, Reed made a 13-yard reception and stiff-armed past the North Cobb defender for the night’s first touchdown. Sam DiRoberto recovered a fumble on North Cobb’s next drive, allowing Comma to make the easy catch for the touchdown from the 10-yard line.

Willis finished Roswell’s opening drive of the second quarter with a 24-yard quarterback keep for the touchdown. North Cobb stayed scoreless by the halftime whistle, and Roswell held the Warriors to negative rushing yardage in the first half. In the third quarter, North Cobb made up for their 21-point deficit by scoring two touchdowns in quick succession. With about four minutes remaining in the quarter, North Cobb covered 82 yards in a single passing play for a touchdown. The team’s next seven points came after a Roswell fumble in the closing seconds of the quarter. The Warriors took the field at the Roswell 17-yard line, allowing for a quick and easy touchdown.

Now with only a fragile lead, Roswell appeared demoralized going into the final quarter. The Warriors forced a Roswell punt in the Hornets’ first offensive series. A couple of plays later, McKinney picked off a pass that appeared to slowly restore the team’s confidence. The Hornets held North Cobb to three-and-out on the next defensive drive. Evans took over from there on offense. In five carries, he covered 53 yards for a touchdown. On the next drive, Christian Ford covered 51 yards in a single play for a 21-point lead.

North Cobb made a final push to recover, scoring another touchdown and then recovering their onside kick. The Warriors would not give up without a fight, slowly but steadily making their way up the field. Roswell defense stiffened however, and denied the team a fourth-down conversion at the 21-yard line. From there, Malik Willis finished the game with a 72-yard run for one last Roswell touchdown, ensuring victory.

Varsity Schedule and Results

* Region 4-AAAAAAA Game

08/12/2016 Langston Hughes (preseason) 37 - 7 W
08/19/2016 @ Buford 24 - 7 W
09/02/2016 Central Gwinnett 31 - 6 W
09/09/2016 Colquitt County 34 - 3 W
09/23/2016 @ Archer 47 - 0. W
09/30/2016 @ Milton 17 - 0. W
10/07/2016 Lassiter* 45 - 14 W
10/14/2016 @ Walton* 55 - 10 W
10/21/2016 @ Etowah* 17 - 14 W
10/28/2016 Woodstock* 59 - 7 W
11/04/2016 Cherokee* 20 - 14 W
11/11/2016 Pebblebrook (Playoffs Round 1) 45 - 7 W
11/18/2016 Peachtree Ridge (Playoffs Round 2) 29 - 12 W
11/25/2016 North Cobb (Playoffs Round 3) 42 - 21 W
12/02/2016 @ Westlake (Playoffs semi-final) 28 - 0. W
12/10/2016 Grayson (State Championship) 8:00 PM
2016 RHS Touchdown Club