By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
It’s time for us to look at a handful of big games in Week 2, which is actually Opening Week for a great number of teams. But first, as of course it’s never to early to talk about the playoffs, let’s examine something pretty interesting in Class A.
Last season, of the 32 teams to advance to the post season, 19 were public schools and 13 were private schools. Public: Bacon County, Bowdon, Bremen, Calhoun County, Charlton County, Clinch County, Commerce, Dooly County, Emanuel County Institute, Greenville, Johnson County, Lincoln County, Marion County, Miller County, Mitchell County, Seminole County, Washington-Wilkes, Wilcox County and Wilkinson County.
Private: Aquinas, Athens Academy, Brookstone, Calvary Day, Darlington, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, First Presbyterian Day, George Walton Academy, Holy Innocents, Landmark Christian Academy, Mt. Paran Christian, Prince Avenue Christian and Savannah Christian.
This year when the public and private schools split to hold separate playoffs, there will be 16 on each side with just four rounds instead of five. That means, for the private schools, there are three “open” slots for the 2012 playoffs. As for the public schools, four of last year’s playoff teams (Bacon, Bowdon, Bremen and Washington-Wilkes) moved into Class AA after realignment, which means there is one seat not taken at the post season table.
So here’s the question: What teams do you think will step up to grab one of those spots? On the private school side, will Mt. Pisgah, The Walker School, Strong Rock or Our Lady of Mercy make the tournament? On the public school side, will Irwin County, Lanier County or Warren County have what it takes? Or do you think one of last year’s teams will stumble and leave yet another spot open? What say you?
And now, on to some Week 2 match ups.
No. 4 Wilkinson County at No. 2 Wilcox County. It’s the season opener for both squads, both of which are hoping to make deep runs in the playoffs. Wilcox was undefeated (11-0) last season before it ran into upstart Aquinas in the second round. Wilkinson exited in the second round as well, at the hands of Seminole County. Wilcox head coach Mark Ledford said his young Patriot club will rely heavily on the duo of quarterback Mikail Grace and receiver Jonathan Howard. Both could end up as a package deal at Louisville.
Mitchell County at Clinch County. Clinch will be looking to right the Panther ship, after getting throttled last week by Class AA Brooks County, 43-3. Mitchell will be looking for revenge after getting bounced out of the playoffs in the first round last season by Clinch (20-19).
First Presbyterian Day at George Walton Academy. This is a big time opener for both teams, who are poised to make deep runs in the playoffs. The game could even be a precursor to a post season contest down the road. FPD, located in Macon, advanced to the playoffs last season in just the school’s second year competing in the Georgia High School Association, after being in the Georgia Independent Schools Association since 1970. George Walton, located in Monroe, has made the playoffs each of the two seasons it has been in the GHSA, since making the jump from the GISA in 2010. This will be the first time the teams have met since joining the GHSA. FPD won the last meeting, 10-0, in 2009 and the Vikings lead the overall series 10-4. The Bulldogs are the beneficiaries of one of the state’s best transfers, as junior running back/defensive back Stanley Williams, formerly of Apalachee, will suit up this fall. Williams has offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson and South Carolina, to name a few.
Other games of note include: ELCA at Briarwood Christian of Birmingham (2011 Class AAAAA semi finalist in Alabama) … Mt. Paran Christian at Our Lady of Mercy … Wesleyan (Class AA) at Holy Innocents … Jefferson (Class AA) at Commerce.
And one more thing … The word on the street is that Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy may forfeit all of its games this season for a lack of players. The Warriors allegedly have just 14 on their roster at this point.
You can email S. Thomas Coleman at email@example.com.