By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Week 1 is in the books. It’s just Week 1, so it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. So for now, we’ll go the “Jeopardy” route and pose everything as a question.
Road to private school title still goes through Savannah? Defending Class A champion Savannah Christian, the pre-season No. 1 team in Class A, is rebuilding this season after losing 15 seniors, including standout running back Will Austin and two players now playing at Division I schools – linebacker/safety Nardo Govan, at Georgia Southern, and defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown, at Louisville. The Raiders’ youth showed a bit Friday night in a 21-20 loss to Jenkins, a Class AAAAA school that is 26-26 over the last five seasons. (Note: The Raiders probably shouldn’t have been ranked that high to begin the season.)
But Calvary Day looks primed to pick up the flag for Savannah. The Cavaliers, who have most of their starters back from a 10-2 season in 2011, battled back from a 21-0 deficit on the road at Landmark Christian Friday, to win 28-21. Quarterback Jake Clemons, who had 26 touchdowns last season, passed for one score and ran for two in the win for the Cavs, who avenged a second-round playoff loss to the War Eagles. Landmark Christian, which reached the finals last season, was ranked No. 4 in the pre-season poll.
Or possibly through Augusta? Aquinas, which finished 9-4 and reached the quarterfinals last season, dominated Class AA East Laurens 33-13 on the strength of 145 yards rushing and three touchdowns by all-state running back Brendan Douglas.
Or maybe Athens? Two metro Athens teams got off to fast starts Friday. Athens Academy dominated Glascock County, 41-6. The Spartans finished 7-4 last season. Meanwhile Prince Avenue Christian, which reached the state semi-finals last season, beat St. Francis 48-20. Senior running back Carl Mattox had 10 rushes for 142 yards and two rushing touchdowns, including one for 54 yards for the Wolverines, and quarterback Zack Graham was 4-for-6 passing for 55 yard and two scores. The PAC defense held St. Francis to less than 100 yards.
And what about ELCA? The Chargers began 2012 like they did 2011, with a loss to a big time opponent. ELCA fell 24-19 to Class AAA Washington County when a last second pass fell short. The Chargers were ranked No. 2 in the pre-season poll. Last season they lost their season opener to Alabama power Briarwood Christian.
Lanier County headed for the post season? The Bulldogs were an overtime loss to Bacon County in the season finale from making the post season in 2011. But Lanier has one of the top players in all of Class A, quarterback Jovan Smith. The senior led the way to a 19-8 win over Class AA Atkinson County on Friday. Smith rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Clinch County heading for a down year? The 2012 season didn’t start well for the Panthers, who were dominated by Class AA Brooks County 43-3 on Friday. Clinch’s only points came on a 40-yard field goal by Joost Smits on the game’s final play.
Where are all the other public school title contenders? Waiting for Friday. Lincoln County (No. 3 in the pre-season poll), Wilcox County (No. 5), Wilkinson County (No. 6) and Charlton County (No. 7) will all begin their seasons Aug. 31. Wilcox and Wilkinson will face each other in the biggest Class A game of the week.
Email S. Thomas Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.