QB showdown: Standout signal callers Brooker, Griffin lead teams into non-region tilt

·3 min read

Sep. 9—There's never been a high school football game between Northwest Whitfield and North Murray without the same two standout quarterbacks duking it out from behind center.

The schools from neighboring counties played for the first time two seasons ago.

When the two were then super sophomores, Seth Griffin led the Mountaineers against Owen Brooker and the Bruins.

Tonight at 7:30 in Chatsworth is the third matchup in three years between Northwest and North Murray, but it's also a showdown between two stellar senior signal callers.

It's Griffin vs. Brooker III.

"We were good friends growing up," Griffin said of Brooker. "He's a great player and a great athlete. He can run the ball, and he can also throw the ball very well."

Each QB has led its team to a victory in the budding rivalry between the two schools that patrol the northern end of each respective county.

"Both have been really good games," Brooker said. "I'm looking forward to this third matchup. We split the first two."

Brooker and the Bruins got the better of North Murray 20-7 in the first matchup two seasons ago in Chatsworth.

Griffin and the Mountaineers returned the favor last year in Tunnel Hill, sliding past Northwest 31-30.

Tonight's tilt will determine not just which school takes a leg up in the new rivalry, but which of the two QBs will leave school with more wins against the other.

"They've got a lot of veteran guys on that team, and they always play hard," Griffin said. "We know it's going to be a good matchup."

Brooker and Griffin have been two of the steadiest presences in high school football in Northwest Georgia in recent years.

Brooker's been the Bruin starting quarterback for all four of his high school seasons. Griffin made some appearances at QB during his freshman year in 2019, playing behind current Georgia Bulldog wide receiver Ladd McConkey at the position, but Griffin's been the guy from his sophomore year onward.

Griffin was tabbed the Dalton Daily Citizen All-Area first team quarterback after his sophomore season, and Brooker was named the All-Area Player of the Year last season.

"He's an unbelievable football player," Brooker said of Griffin. "He's had a great career, and you know when you play him, you really have to show up and bring your A-game. He's going to make plays."

Griffin said his job doesn't change no matter how many points Brooker and the Bruins put up.

The Mountaineer offense aims to score on each possession.

"When I come out, I'm not really thinking about the other team scoring," Griffin said. "I'm just thinking about my offense. Every time we get the ball, the goal is to score."

The two are already rolling in their final seasons of high school football, too.

Griffin received statewide recognition for his performance in week 2. In a comeback, shootout win over Pickens, Griffin piled up 395 passing yards and three passing touchdowns while rushing 20 times for 178 yards and four scores.

Brooker, meanwhile, has passed for eight touchdowns and run for three more through three games.

The teams led by both stalwart quarterbacks are finding early-season success.

Brooker's Bruins are 3-0, with two convincing wins over Pepperell and Ringgold sandwiched around a thrilling, 35-31 win over Coahulla Creek in week two. North Murray opened the season with a defeat at Dalton, but Griffin has led the Mountaineers to more than 50 points in two wins since.

As the two QBs, and their squads, prepare for the looming start of region action, tonight's tilt provides another chance to build some early-season momentum.

"We're trying to win every game, whether it's non-region or region, but these close games can help you prepare for the region schedule," Brooker said. "It's good to have some under your belt."