Top 5 Public, Private Schools; Campbell sandbagging; Tech needs Grace

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Heading into Week 3 (which is the second game for most teams) here’s our Top Fives, public and private, along with a quick look at top-ranked Lincoln County and “My Take” on why Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson needs get down to South Georgia on the double.

Top Fives
Not a whole lot of movement in our Top Fives this week, but more teams moved onto our “Trending” list. Feel free to let us know if we’re spot on, way off, or somewhere in between:

1. Lincoln County
(1-0 … No. 1 overall … beat McCormick, S.C. for the 20th consecutive time last week, 24-0 … hosts Washington-Wilkes, which moved up to Class AA, on Friday);

2. Wilcox County (1-0 … No. 2 overall … beat Wilkinson County, 41-38, in a thriller in Rochelle last week … hosts a tough Monroe team from Class AAAA on Friday);

3. Wilkinson County (0-1 … No. 4 overall … lost in the final minutes to Wilcox last week … hosts Landmark Christian on Friday);

4. Charlton County (1-0 … No. 5 overall … beat AAA Brantley County last week, 20-0 … hosts AAAAA Ware County on Friday);

5. Emanuel County Institute (1-0 … No. 8 overall … off last week … travels to Washington County, 2-0, No. 8 in AAA on Friday).

(1-0 … unranked … beat AA Jefferson last week, 22-7 … at AAA East Jackson on Friday);

Clinch County (1-1 … unranked … beat Mitchell County 36-20 last week … at No. 3 Eagle’s Landing Christian on Friday);

Greenville (1-0 … unranked … beat AAAA Albany, 20-18, last week … at AA Manchester on Friday);

Miller County (1-0 … unranked … beat Schley County, 32-26 in OT last week … hosts AA Early County on Friday).

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy
(1-0 … No. 3 overall … beat Briarwood Christian of Birmingham last week, 32-7, one of the top teams in Alabama’s second largest classification … hosts Clinch on Friday);

2. Aquinas (1-0 … No. 6 overall … off last week … at George Walton Academy on Friday);

3. Calvary Day (2-0 … No. 7 overall … beat AA Bryan County 28-17 last week … at Montgomery County on Friday);

4. Landmark Christian (1-1 … No. 9 overall … beat Athens Christian 31-7 last week … at No. 4 Wilkinson County on Friday);

5. Savannah Christian (0-1 … No. 10 overall … off last week, at Prince Avenue Christian on Friday).

TRENDING: Athens Academy (1-0 … unranked … off last week, hosts Pace Academy on Friday);

George Walton Academy (1-0 … unranked … beat First Presbyterian Day 41-38 last week … hosts No. 6 Aquinas on Friday);

FPD (0-1 … unranked … lost to George Walton 41-38 last week … hosts AAA Pike County on Friday);

Holy Innocents (2-0 … unranked … beat AA Wesleyan 10-9 last week after trailing 9-0 … at AAAAA Riverwood on Friday);

Prince Avenue Christian (2-0 … unranked … beat St. Francis 48-20 last week, hosts Savannah Christian on Friday).

Campbell “sandbagging” again?
At the beginning of last season, Lincoln County head coach Larry Campbell downplayed how good he thought his club would be based on the fact that he didn’t have an established quarterback. Denzel Gunby (now at Savannah State) won the job and led the Red Devils to a 12-1 season, before they fell to eventual state champ Savannah Christian, 22-14, in the quarterfinals.

Campbell could be at it again. Prior to last week’s win over McCormick, S.C. (24-0), Campbell said of his team, currently ranked No. 1, “Rankings don’t mean anything. Most of the people making those rankings have never seen us play anyway.”

Campbell said he will be breaking in another new quarterback this season, Ben Turner, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. But the junior appears to be ready, completing 18-of-25 passes for 247 yards and two TDs in last week’s opener. And even though the Lincoln defense lost four starters off of last year’s team, this year’s version held McCormick to just 65 yards of total offense and just three first downs.

My Take: Tech’s Johnson should visit Wilcox County, see Makail Grace
From time to time this season, I’ll ask that you indulge me a few moments to impart a sentence or two of thought provoking commentary … or perhaps mindless drivel. So here’s the first installment of “My Take”.

My Take is that Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson should gas up “The Wreck” and head down to Wilcox County to sell his program on Patriot quarterback Makail Grace (6-3, 180), and possibly receiver Jonathan Howard (6-4, 180).

Currently, according to Wilcox head coach Mark Ledford, the recruiting talk is beginning to heat up around, Grace, who is also an all-state caliber safety and guard on the basketball team. Louisville, Ledford said, “really likes” both Grace and Howard.

Judging by Tech’s inability to throw the ball effectively when it needs to (nice effort, but no cigar Monday at Virginia Tech), I think Johnson should consider beating Louisville’s Charlie Strong to the punch and extend an offer to Grace and Howard.

In his first year at quarterback as a junior last season, Grace threw for over 2,700 yards, 35 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Howard, also a defensive back, hauled in 38 passes for 837 yards and eight touchdowns (he returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns as well).

In last week’s win over No. 4 Wilkinson County, Grace threw for 407 yards on 19-of-27 passing, with four touchdowns and ran for 75 yards on 18 carries, including the game-winning touchdown in the final minute.

Now, I’m sure the Tech recruiting brain trust has several competent quarterbacks on its big board. But if Grace is not on it, he should be. And if he is, a scholarship offer should be forthcoming. At least give the kid a chance to say he doesn’t want to run the triple option.

That’s “My Take.” What say you?

12 comments Add your comment

Max Sizemore

September 4th, 2012
7:08 pm

You’re doing a fine job Thomas, but the rankings might be easier to read if each team began its listing flush left, allowing a vertical read on the schools.

S. Thomas Coleman

September 4th, 2012
8:46 pm

@Max: Ask and ye shall receive! Thanks for the suggestion and for reading!

S. Thomas Coleman


September 4th, 2012
8:54 pm

SCPS has two (2) D1 players that being recruited by Big 10 and ACC schools…Myrick and Reese… they run the same office as Tech, but they are now where to be found. However, you do see Wake, Duke, FSU and VTech around at practice…..interesting Paul Johnson…looks south

S. Thomas Coleman

September 4th, 2012
9:15 pm

@Chuck: Agreed, although I think Jalen Myrick has committed to Minnesota and I don’t think Paul Johnson is one of those coaches who likes to try to “flip” players once they have committed.

Tech has a pretty good history of recruiting south Georgia — Joe Burns and Shawn Jones come to mind — and there are several players on the roster this season from the area. Let’s see if Tech goes back to the south Georgia well again.

S. Thomas Coleman

S. Thomas Coleman

September 4th, 2012
9:34 pm

Class A Fans,

So we can all stay on the same page, here are some responses to posts on previous blogs:

@jad: ELCA by 3 TDs over Clinch? That’s pretty steep! ELCA’s good and Clinch may be a bit down, but they’re still Clinch. A margin that wide would be a shock. I’ll try to check in this week with Coach Gess at ELCA and Coach Dickerson at Clinch.

@Tank: Thanks for the tip on the McKee brothers at Greenville, and I agree that the Patriots will definitely been in the mix for one of the 16 public school playoff spots, possibly one of the top eight seeds.

@Swamp Lizard: I agree that Holy Innocents is definitely Top 10 worthy, which is why I have them as “Trending” in the Top 5 privates … Yes, Charlton, Wilcox and Lincoln are definite public title favorites, but don’t forget about Wilkinson and ECI. They will have a say as well … And thanks for the love on the Top Fives!

@moto: Thanks for the love on the Top Fives and the reporting! God willing, we’ll keep it coming!

S. Thomas Coleman


September 5th, 2012
12:07 am

Jevius Terry, Bryson Durden, DJ Curl and Marquis Griffin from ELCA….BEST secondary in Class A. S. Thomas Coleman check’em out. Google, Youtube you won’t be disappointed, 4 BIG TIME PLAYMAKERS!

Swamp Lizard

September 5th, 2012
8:22 am

Big Games !!! ….. this week holds a lot of big games for the Top 10 in Class A. Here’s a run down of the games this week in Class A …….
AA Washington-Wilkes @ #1 Lincoln Co
AAAA Monroe @ #2 Wilcox Co
Clinch Co @ #3 ELCA
#9 Landmark Christian @ #4 Wilkinson Co
AAAAA Ware Co @ #5 Charlton Co
#6 Aquinas @ George Walton Academy
#7 Calvary Day @ Montgomery Co
#8 ECI @ #8 AAA Washington Co
#10 Savannah Christian @ Prince Ave Christian

Give us your takes & predictions on these big games !!

Max Sizemore

September 5th, 2012
7:21 pm

MUCH better, Thomas. Thanks.


September 5th, 2012
10:04 pm

Thomas, I am sticking by my prediction on the Cllinch/ ELCA game. Clinch is way down this year! They beat a Mitchell County team last week that had several turnovers. Mitchell put up 20 points on Clinch. I thnk ELCA will score much more than that.

S. Thomas Coleman

September 6th, 2012
4:10 am

@Zone: I’ll see them this week, although I hear DJ won’t be playing due to injury. Nice pick ups getting Terry to come over from Woodland and Griffin from Eagle’s Landing. I think this is the Chargers’ year.

S. Thomas Coleman

S. Thomas Coleman

September 6th, 2012
4:11 am

@Swamp: Thanks for stealing my thunder!! Look for previews of several of these games in the next blog update by noon on Thursday. And I’ll be covering Clinch-ELCA on Friday night.

S. Thomas Coleman

S. Thomas Coleman

September 6th, 2012
4:15 am

@jad: We’ll see. I understand that ELCA will be without DJ Curl, Isaac Rochelle and Keyonte Green on Friday. I haven’t heard back from Coach Gess yet to confirm. Mitchell County usually has at least a few athletes that can cause problems. Not sure how the game went for Clinch last week, but I’ll see them first hand on Friday at ELCA.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting!!

S. Thomas Coleman