By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
It’s “Top 5s Tuesday” (catchy, no? Well, maybe not.). Time for us to look at our top five public and private teams as we head into Week 6.
This week we start with a bit of an explanation/disclaimer. Here at Class A Blog headquarters, we have been using the “AJC Top 10” as a basis for our divided “Top 5s.” However, this week, we plan to deviate from that in the case of Johnson County (4-0), ranked No. 10. That puts them as the fifth highest ranked public school on the AJC Top 10, which would make them the No. 5 public school in our Top 5s.
But, with all due respect to Herschel Walker, head coach Don Norton and the fine folks down in Wrightsville – where years ago a resident once told me “Son, this is God’s country.” – the Trojans don’t belong in the Top 10 or our Top 5. Though they are undefeated, their opponents’ combined record is 3-9 this season. So for that reason, we will list them among the “Trending” public school teams, which is a list of five good teams not in the Top 5.
And we have applied the same reasoning for keeping another undefeated team, Georgia Military (3-0), completely off of the private school list. No Top 5 and no “Trending” mention of the Bulldogs, based on the fact that the combined record of their opponents is 1-10.
Here are our Top 5s (and “Trending” teams) on the eve of Week 6:
1. Wilcox County (2-1, No. 4 overall). The Patriots were off last week. They will ride south to Folkston on Friday for the Region 2 opener against Charlton County (2-2), in one of the best games on Friday’s slate, regardless of classification.
2. Lincoln County (2-1, No. 6 overall). The Red Devils were off last week. Head coach Larry Campbell will go after career win number 461 Friday in Macon when Lincoln takes on First Presbyterian Day (2-1) in one of the best non-region Public vs. Private matchups of the season.
3. Emanuel County Institute (3-1, No. 7 overall). The Bulldogs got past a scrappy and improving Claxton team last week, 14-7. ECI should have an easier time on Friday when winless Portal (0-3) comes to Twin City for the Bulldogs’ third consecutive crossover game in subdivided Region 3.
4. Commerce (4-0, No. 9 overall). The Tigers jumped into the AJC Top 10 on the strength of a dramatic comeback win last week over an improving Class AA Rabun County team, 18-17. Commerce trailed 17-6 heading into the fourth quarter. Commerc e will travel south to Monroe on Friday to meet George Walton Academy (3-1, No. 8 overall) in a game that will go a long way toward determining the Region 8 champion.
5. Charlton County (2-2, unranked). The Indians were spanked on Friday by the No. 5 team in Class AA, Fitzgerald, 37-0. Not a lot of shame in that, even though Charlton did turn the ball over four times. Head coach Rich McWhorter , who is 239-52-2 in 23 seasons leading the Indians, will get that fixed when No. 4 Wilcox comes calling on Friday. The winner will have the inside track on the Region 2 championship and the guaranteed playoff spot that comes with it.
Trending (in alphabetical order): Irwin County (2-2) has to be shown some love after knocking off Wilkinson County … Johnson County (4-0) will get a better test of how good it is Friday when the Trojans host Savannah Christian (1-2), which is rebuilding after last season’s state title run … Marion County (2-1), which was held to less than 150 yards of offense in a 20-7 loss at Miller County last week, will try to get back on track Friday at Greenville (2-1) in the Region 4 opener for both teams … Miller County (3-1), after stunning Marion last week, will try not to stumble in its Region 1 opener at Mitchell County (1-3) on Friday … Wilkinson County (1-2) will travel to Milledgeville to face undefeated Georgia Military on Friday.
1. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (3-1, No. 1 overall). The Chargers were off last week and will travel north to Sandy Springs for their Region 5 opener at Holy Innocents (2-2) on Saturday. ELCA will welcome back three of their best senior players – DB/WR DJ Curl, LB/RB Keyonte Green and DL/TE Isaac Rochelle – who missed the last two games nursing injuries.
2. Prince Avenue Christian (4-0, No. 2 overall). The Wolverines dominated Glascock County last week, 48-7, as Bryce Huff ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. They will face Athens Christian (1-3) in their Region 8 opener on Friday.
3. Aquinas (3-0, No. 3 overall). The Irish blanked AA Josey, 42-0, last week, holding the Eagles to just 40 yards rushing. Brendan Douglas continued his Class A Player of the Year campaign, rumbling for 188 yards on 12 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run. Aquinas will host Twiggs County (1-2) on Friday, in the Region 7 opener for both teams.
4. Calvary Day (4-0, No. 5 overall). The Cavaliers pulled away in the second half and beat Treutlen (1-2) 27-19 last week in a Region 3 crossover game. Calvary Day will be off this week before facing Savannah Country Day (1-2) in both teams’ sub-region opener on Oct. 5.
5. George Walton Academy (3-1, No. 8 overall). The Bulldogs dispatched Warren County last week, 37-0, on the strength of three touchdown passes by Hunter Rice. The hope to have junior running back Stanley Williams, who has committed to Georgia, back in the lineup for Friday’s important Region 8 battle with Commerce. Williams sat out the second half of the win over Warren County due to an ankle injury.
Trending: Athens Academy (3-0) – which escaped with a 10-7 homecoming win over Our Lady of Mercy (3-1) last week, when Eric Williams scored on a 74-yard touchdown catch and run with less than five minutes left in regulation – will travel south to Gainesville on Friday to face Lakeview Academy (2-1, 1-1 in Region 8), in the Region 8 opener for the Spartans … Brookstone (2-1) battled back from a 14-0 fourth quarter deficit to tie AA Wesleyan at 14 last week, but lost on a 49-yard field goal as time expired. The Cougars don’t have time to sulk, as Dooly County (2-1) comes to Columbus for the Region 4 opener for both teams … First Presbyterian Day (2-1) scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to edge Pace Academy (1-3), 24-20, last week, and will host Lincoln County, No. 6 overall, on Friday … Landmark (2-2) was off last week and will host Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (2-2) in the Region 5 opener for both teams on Friday … Our Lady of Mercy (3-1) led 7-3 at Athens Academy late in the fourth quarter, after a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore linebacker Jordan Thomas, before the Spartans scored late. Mercy will try to get back on the winning track when they face Pace (1-3) in the Region 5 opener for both.