The Newnan Times-Herald


Matthews, Skalski play for conference titles Saturday

  • By Doug Gorman
  • |
  • Nov. 29, 2017 - 10:48 PM

Saturday afternoon, much of the college football world will turn its attention to conference championship games, including the Auburn Tigers and their rematch against the University of Georgia for the SEC title at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Another one of the marquee games pits top-ranked and defending national champion Clemson against the University of Miami for the ACC title in Charlotte.

Both games have a Coweta County connection, as senior Tray Matthews plays in the defensive backfield for Auburn, while sophomore James Skalski plays linebacker for Clemson.

Here is a look at how several college football players from Coweta County, including Matthews and Skalski have done this season for their teams:

DB Tray Matthews, Newnan, Auburn — Matthews is coming off a huge performance last week in his team’s 26-14 victory over top-ranked Alabama in the regular-season finale. The former Newnan Cougar finished last week’s game against the Crimson Tide with seven tackles. Matthews heads into the postseason with 45 tackles for the Tigers. Matthews and his Auburn teammates are ranked second in the college football playoff poll. In the regular-season meeting between the two schools earlier this month, Auburn beat Georgia 40-17. Kickoff for the rematch is 4 p.m. on CBS.

LB James Skalski, Northgate, Clemson — The former Northgate football player closed out the regular season with three tackles in his team’s 34-10 victory over rival South Carolina last week to improve to 11-1. The victory secured Clemson’s No. 1 ranking in the latest playoff poll. Skalski enters the ACC title game with 31 tackles for the season. Clemson faces a Miami team that is also 11-1. Miami’s first loss was last week when it fell 24-14 to Pittsburgh.

DE Tonarius Portress, Newnan, Kennesaw State — Portress had one tackle last week in the Owls’ historic 28-17 win over Samford in the FCS College Football Playoffs. It was the Owls’ first playoff victory in school history. Portress has 25 tackles for Kennesaw. Kennesaw improved to 11-1 and has won 11 in a row. This week they travel to Jacksonville State for a second-round game. Jacksonville State is coming off a first-round bye after finishing 10-1 in the regular season. The Gamecocks’ roster includes former Northgate linebacker Ryan Fagerstrom. The redshirt junior enters the contest with nine tackles. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

P Sean Smith, East Coweta, Memphis — A week ago, Smith and his Tiger teammates rolled past East Carolina 70-13 to close out the regular season with a 10-1 record. Smith punted just one time in the game for 48 yards. For the season, Smith has punted 20 times for an average of 40.2 yards. Saturday, Memphis plays Central Florida for the American Athletic Conference title. Kickoff is at noon on ABC.

CB J.K. Britt, Newnan, North Carolina — Britt and his Tar Heel teammates closed out the regular season with a 33-21 loss to North Carolina State to finish the year with a 3-9 record. Britt had eight tackles against the Wolfpack and finished the season with 53.