By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here’s a look at some of the key developments Friday night:
Still undisputed. No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (6-1, 3-0 in Region 5) made an emphatic statement as to why many people believe it could win a state championship not only in Class A, but possibly AA and maybe even AAA, as the Chargers took apart Our Lady of Mercy (4-4, 1-3) 49-0, at the Bobcat Den in Fayetteville. ELCA stormed to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looked back. David Reynolds returned two interceptions for touchdowns, quarterback Dalton Etheridge ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and Keyante Green (committed to Purdue) ran for 182 yards and two scores. Prior to Friday, the Bobcats’ three previous losses were by a combined 12 points, including a 3-point loss at undefeated No. 3 Athens Academy.
Stunner in Region 8. Pinecrest Academy (4-2, 3-1 in Region pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, and possibly vaulted itself into the private school playoffs, by hammering George Walton Academy (5-2, 2-1) 29-10, in Cumming, according to the Walton Tribune. GWA starting quarterback Hunter Rice was held out of the first half, still nursing a shoulder injury he suffered three weeks ago. But he couldn’t help the Bulldogs rally from a 19-3 halftime deficit. Rice’s presence was probably missed more on defense, where he usually mans one of the safety spots, as the Paladins rolled up over 300 yards rushing. Quarterback Jimmy Strom and running back John Paul Metz combined for 267 yards rushing and four touchdowns for Pinecrest.
Spartans still marching, Tigers still reeling. No. 3 Athens Academy (7-0, 4-0 in Region displayed no signs of looking forward to next week’s showdown with George Walton Academy – even though the game has lost some of its luster, after GWA was upset by Pinecrest on Friday – by drilling Commerce 45-7 in Athens, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. Taylor Allen ran for two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Austin Schulte completed 8-of-10 passes for 129 yards and guided the offense to scores on seven of its eight possessions in the game. The Spartan defense held Commerce, which has not lost four straight, to less than 20 yards through the air.
Marion closer to another region title. The Eagles spotted Dooly County (5-2, 3-1 in Region 4) a 7-0 lead after a 32-yard touchdown run by Sherman Hamilton. But Marion (6-1, 4-0) Demarquez Mallard and Johnny Royal hooked up on a 20-yard touchdown pass and catch to life the Eagles to a 12-7 win at The Grove in Vienna, according to WALB-TV in Albany. The win sets up next week’s Marion-Brookstone game in Buena Vista as the battle for the region championship, which would be Marion’s third straight.
Darlington makes its statement. The Tigers (5-2, 3-0 in Region 6-Division A) won their fifth straight and walloped Gordon Lee (5-2, 2-1) 31-0 in Rome, to assume total command of the subregion. Quarterback Brad Butler ran for a 54-yard touchdown and threw a 23-yarder to David Grindstaff, while Chandler Duggan ran for two more scores. The Tiger defense held Gordon Lee to just six first downs, according to the Rome Tribune.
In other games of note, No. 6 Aquinas (5-2, 1-2 in Region 7) lost its second in a row, 42-14 to Wilkinson County (5-2, 3-0), in Irwinton … Wilcox County (5-2, 3-1 in Region 2) trounced Clinch County (3-4, 1-2) 33-7, in Homerville … Calvary Day (6-1, 2-1 in Region 3-Division A) bounced back from last week’s narrow loss to Savannah Christian and downed Jenkins County (4-3, 2-1) 48-12, in Savannah.