Class A: ELCA rolls, Pinecrest pulls off stunner, Darlington makes statement

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 8) 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 8) 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.

53 comments Add your comment

Go Wolverines

October 20th, 2012
9:44 am

Can 7-0 Walker at least be a game of note? They held King’s Ridge to 72 yards total offense last night.

WCHS77

October 20th, 2012
10:39 am

@Go Wolverines ….beat someone that matters and then you will get noticed. Kings Ridge doesn’t count they lost to a team that had not won a game all year..just saying.

bucket

October 20th, 2012
11:20 am

@ Go Wolverines – I was at the scrimmage between Prince and King’s Ridge and although it was a scrimmage and Prince was reeling from losing 4 starters the prior week, King’s Ridge was stout and matched Prince play for play.

class a best fan

October 20th, 2012
2:30 pm

Big win for marion county eagles over dooly county. Dominating game by Dequesman Kelley. Wow!!! Is there a better defensive tackle in the state.

jocotrojan

October 20th, 2012
4:24 pm

big matchup next week in wrightsville!!!

TCDAWG25

October 21st, 2012
12:15 am

@jocotrojan what is the big matchup next week in wrightsville.

BROOKS COUNTY 2005

October 21st, 2012
1:18 am

PUT Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy IN AA THEY WANT WIN

Swamp Lizard

October 21st, 2012
12:11 pm

@ Brooks Co 2005 … YOU might want to come watch them play before you ask them to move up to AA …. you … Brooks Co …. stand a chance now. ;)

asw

October 21st, 2012
6:12 pm

Don’t get crazy…ELCA not ready for AA, much less anything higher.

LoveFridayFootball

October 21st, 2012
8:21 pm

I’m sure IF they (ELCA) run the table and privates and publics are put back together that some rule will change that will get them out of A ball. Otherwise the crying will continue about cheating and how unfair it is to play a team that recruits. But what happens if they move up to 2A and win it next yr??? Make them move to 3A or keep moving them up til they lose??? Playing publics was fine when the privates were getting their brains beat, but now that some privates are the “bull of the woods” (top 4 in 1a finals last yr) now they all cheat and recruit. HELLO MACFLY HELLO… All schools recruit!!! Sorry…back to the topic… STC, I think it would be a great game to see ELCA play 2A or 3A’s #1..

Zone3canE

October 21st, 2012
10:14 pm

@ asw, don’t get crazy not much in differnce in AA and A. Please come watch a game ELCA is loaded with speed, size and talent.

Zone3canE

October 21st, 2012
10:15 pm

moto

October 22nd, 2012
12:14 am

Can’t believe Pinecrest beat GWA so badly. Their record, considering the teams they had previously beaten, leaves one wondering about the story behind the story. GWA’s quarterback, who missed the first half probably because GWA didn’t think he would be needed, is very good, but they also have a number of other great players. Time will tell about both teams.

moto

October 22nd, 2012
12:24 am

I think there are years when certain teams could beat the better teams in a higher classification. I can remember a couple of Buford teams a few years ago that could compete with any team at any classification. If you watched the FL vs. USC game Saturday you saw Defensive Tackle Omar Hunter highlighted several times. He’s a beast now, was a beast back at Buford. My son once had to play across from him — wasn’t pretty!! They also had a 240 lb linebacker named Pridemore who also went to Florida. But I think it may have been the team after they graduated that was even better.
I saw them win in the ‘Dome, and whenever the other team returned a kickoff they were bludgeoned at about the 10-yard line. One of the best teams I have ever seen on defense at any level.s I was at the Milton vs. Lassiter game Friday night. Saw some incredible talent on offense do some incredible things, including Milton’s big back “hurdle” the line of scrimmage, shake off two tacklers, and sprint to the end zone. But I’m amazed at how poorly many kids tackle these days, even at the highest levels.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
1:57 am

@Go Wolverines: I’ll keep an eye on Walker, but there are still, in my opinion, at least 10 private schools better than they are … so no mention in the Private School Top 5 or Trending list. But their game this week at Whitefield is for the sub region title, so it will definitely be on the list of top games.

Thanks for reading, and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
1:59 am

@Class a best fan: So are you saying Kelly outplayed Adams for Dooly County? I didn’t see the game and can’t find any reports that talk about either one of them. Just curious.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:01 am

@TCDAWG25: That would be ECI at JoCo, am I right jocotrojan?

Should be a good one!

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:07 am

@ Brooks County: I think ELCA can play with anyone in AA and would be a threat to win the title. I think you guys and Calhoun are the beasts of that classification, but ELCA could play with — and possibly beat — either of you.

It’s hard to compare but if you take your only common opponent this season, Clinch, both you and ELCA whooped the Panthers, who are waaaaaaay down this season. ELCA put up 40 in one half against them and could have scored more. The reserves and JV played the rest of the game.

Bottom line: ELCA would definitely compete for a title in AA.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:08 am

@asw: Refer to my comments to Brooks County. ELCA would most certainly be considered a title favorite in AA.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:12 am

@LoveFridayFootball: I seriously doubt that the publics and privates will get back together in Class A. It simply won’t happen. And the only thing that would possibly “make” ELCA move out of Class A would be if some sort of multiplier was factored into determining Class A teams — like the 1.5 multiplier that was once used for private schools. Even still, I don’t know if that would push ELCA into a higher classification.

Coach Queen (the AD) would have to make the call on voluntarily moving up. But he would have to consult with his other coaches (basketball, cross country, volleyball, baseball, etc.) to get their thoughts and they probably aren’t likely to want to go along with such a move.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:16 am

@moto: I think it was probably a combination of GWA’s QB being hobbled, the Bulldogs overlooking Pinecrest a bit, and Pinecrest playing very well. Ultimately, you have to give them some credit. Congrats to the Paladins.

And I agree with the premise of your second post. Buford has had a couple of teams that could have competed in the highest classification. The same was true of Washington County, back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

bucket

October 22nd, 2012
10:33 am

if it turns out to be true that the public and private schools will never return to playing eachother in the playoffs, then that is sad. There were several better options for the GHSA to take before completely splitting the teams. If they remain apart then eventually the talent level in the private schools will be diminished because the premier players won’t stay in private schools to win what amounts to a glorified GISA title. And if that happens then the real losers will be the kids who won’t have a chance to get a really good education that some of the privates can offer and they are not getting in some public school settings.

Walker Fan

October 22nd, 2012
11:16 am

Regarding Walker…there are not 10 teams better as S. Thomas Coleman mentions. After ELCA, there are bout 10-12 teams all on about the same level. There are plenty of data points this season to point to the fact that Region 6 is not so far off the other regions as many would believe…e.g. Pincrest gets pounded by a mediocre Kings Ridge but is able to whip one of the Blog darlings GWA. There are many other links that can be made. Here is why Walker is in that top group (all those playing for second behind the recruiting machine that is ELCA)

A) They have a 53 man roster with 18 seniors – depth is huge in Class A and many good teams have come up short for lack of it. This cannot be underestimated in Class A. Walker had 15 guys out this past Friday between injuries and a rash of Mononucleois and they were still a much fuller sideline than Kings Ridge.
B) They have an all-state running back in Evan Kasian with 1385 yards so far and 18 touchdowns with a 10.5 yard per carry average. Kings Ridge’s whole gameplan was to key on him and he still managed something like 175 yards this past Friday.
C) They have two division one quality lineman, one of whom has his verbal from Duke.

No, they are not ELCA, and frankly, no one is in Class A, but they are right in there with the likes of Athens Academy, Prince Avenue, OLA, etc. etc.

GAHSFBFAN24

October 22nd, 2012
1:10 pm

Walker Fan, before you start calling ELCA a “recruiting machine” you may want to get your facts straight. Your school, Walker, had 9 transfers this past year. ELCA had 8 across all sports. If anyone is a recruiting machine it is Walker. They have gone from 3-7 to undefeated in one year. That sounds fishy.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
1:18 pm

@Walker Fan: The Wolverines are having a GREAT season! Hats off to Coach East and the young men on that team. However, you just can’t ignore the weak schedule when compared to other like teams. For example:

The combined record of Walker’s opponents is 16-33. Even if you took away poor SACA (0-7), it would still be 16-26.

Now, compare that to the combined records of the opponents of 5-3 Holy Innocents (31-28), 6-2 Landmark Christian (29-28) and even 4-4 Our Lady of Mercy (32-26). Walker’s schedule simply does not match up with these other teams.

But, that’s why they play the games and Walker will have plenty of opportunity to show how worthy it is. The Wolverines will probably host a 1st round playoff game as one of the top 8 seeds in the private school playoffs. Good luck to them the rest of the way!!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

TCDAWG25

October 22nd, 2012
1:46 pm

@ S. Thomas Coleman I know what game jocotrojan was talking about just don’t think it will be a good game goooooooooooooooo Bulldogs.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

@TCDAWG25: Ahhhh, I see. A shot across the bow from Twin Cities, I gather?

Gotta love Small Town, Georgia high school football!

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Also a Walker Fan

October 22nd, 2012
5:11 pm

@S. Thomas Coleman: So you’re telling me if Walker was 4-3 with losses to Calvary Day, Athens Academy, and ELCA instead of wins over SACA, NCCS, and Fellowship they would be deserving of a mention? Maybe we should paint our field blue!

@GAHSFBFAN24: ELCA doesn’t recruit HS transfers, they recruit middle schoolers. No messy paperwork a la Buford. I don’t know where you get your numbers, but I challenge you to identify ONE transfer on this team and I bet Walker hasn’t had nine transfers that have contributed in the program’s history. Talk about getting your facts straight.

Go Chargers

October 22nd, 2012
5:30 pm

After watching ELCA man handle every team this year except WACO. I believe GHSA should cancel the rest of the season and declare ELCA State Champs! It saves us from choking in the playoffs. Everyone knows what kind of recruiting budget we have and we will continue to build our program. We take average players for Woodland, Union Grove, Eagles Landing and turn them into great class A players.

GAHSFBFAN24

October 22nd, 2012
5:44 pm

@ALSO A WALKER FAN, here is a link to an AJC article where the transfer numbers are detailed.

http://blogs.ajc.com/georgia-high-school-sports/2012/08/07/athletic-transfers-top-6000-for-2011-2012/

I’m not trying to start anything and I wish Walker the best.

GAHSFBFAN24

October 22nd, 2012
5:47 pm

At the end of the day it only matters if you are in the top 16 in the points rating and then you can prove it on the field. As history shows, anything can happen in the playoffs.

Swamp Lizard

October 22nd, 2012
5:51 pm

TO ALL NAYSAYERS …. I am sick of hearing about ELCA & “recruiting” ….. not only are they loaded this year, but they might be better next year !! They have 22 juinors on this this team …. that I have seen come up with the program …. BEFORE MIDDLE SCHOOL !!!
For FACTS on transfers …. go to Clayton News Daily ( Brian Paglia ) and see what schools have the most transfers in Clayton Co & Henry Co …. GHSFBFAN24 is right …. ELCA had 8 total all sport transfers …. TWO football players! I’m sure every school has had at least that many …. a recruiting machine ….. I think not. Quit crying and build your program like ELCA has …. by working hard & getting in the weight room.

Swamp Lizard

October 22nd, 2012
5:58 pm

WALKER ….. IF your football team is as STRONG as your schedule, you will play one playoff game and go home, that’s all anyone is saying.

With that said, I mean no ill will towards your coaches or your players that have worked hard to be undefeated to this point and wish your team the very best.

Also a Walker Fan

October 22nd, 2012
6:26 pm

@GAHSFBFAN24: No worries and thx for the link. I had not seen that before. Now I will have something to talk about with my friends from Mt. Paran! You are right- anything can happen in the playoffs. We will be happy when SOMETHING finally happens in the playoffs. I don’t think it is a secret ELCA pulls kids out of the Henry Co. Youth FB program. Maybe a growing Strong Rock program will “spread the wealth” a little and keep the GHSA from declaring ELCA State Champs half way through the season (see @Go Chargers). And maybe all those transfers explain our girls volleyball team…

Walker Fan

October 22nd, 2012
10:42 pm

Regarding Walker recruiting…I just went through the roster in detail. I am not able to identify one boy in the 10th, 11th or 12th grade who was not at Walker last year. There are two boys from the 9th grade who were not in Walker’s 8th grade last year. They are not playing at the varsity level, they are playing as part of the 5 and 1 JV. I am not sure about he nine transfers, but not one is on football team. Coach East’s biggest success this year is in getting literally scores of boys to come out for football who either have never played before in their lives, or who have not played since middle school.

Regarding Walker’s schedule…you play the games you are given. I cannot argue with the records of the opponents…they are what they are. Unless Walker is able to run the table and beat Darlington to be region champ, their seeding will be hurt by the collective record of their opponents. I am just saying that their are plenty of data points at this point creating linkage across regions that show the gap between Walker and the likes of Athens Academy, Aquinas, Holy Innocence, etc. is not so large. Frankly, excluding the possibility of recruiting, much of Class A is based on probabilities linked to how large a team’s roster is, the occasional great player, etc. These teams are much closer than you think.

Regarding ELCA Recruiting…ELCA’s recruiting is happening in the youth football scene where their coach, based on his position in the youth football organization south of Atlanta, is hand-picking the boys at a very early age and then directing them to ELCA. I do not believe they are recruiting existing high school players.

Walker Fan

October 22nd, 2012
11:02 pm

Sorry about the stupid typos in my lengthy prior post. Getting late!!!

Swamp Lizard

October 23rd, 2012
6:12 am

@ Walker Fan … PLEASE quit “reaching” …. ELCA does play in the Henry Co youth football program, but if you knew what you were talking about, you’d know that ELCA has it’s own youth program …. little kids from the school. Yes, ELCA has it’s own “feeder” program …. from K – 12th grade.
It’s so crazy how a team has built itself up from the ground to become one of the states best programs, and “others” have to reach for anything they can to pull it down …. go over to ELCA and ask AD Scott Queen & Coach Gess for a blueprint and build your own program up ….. DONT HATE !! And to say ELCA is going out to Henry Co youth football programs to get 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders to “build” the football team for state titles? WHAT? I’m sure that 4th grader on the Mustang team is going to be all state !!

S. Thomas Coleman

October 23rd, 2012
8:45 am

@ Also A Walker Fan: You said, “@S. Thomas Coleman: So you’re telling me if Walker was 4-3 with losses to Calvary Day, Athens Academy, and ELCA instead of wins over SACA, NCCS, and Fellowship they would be deserving of a mention? Maybe we should paint our field blue!”

In a word, yes! No need to paint your field though. But yes indeed, competitive losses to Calvary Day, Athens Academy and/or ELCA speak more about the quality of your team than wins over overmatched teams like SACA and North Cobb Christian. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

But the Wolverines will get a chance to prove how good they are in the playoffs.

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Walker Fan

October 23rd, 2012
8:51 am

I agree, ELCA is the best. It is so far above the rest of Class A, public or private, it is silly. They would contend all the way to Class AAA and finish in the middle of the pack in some of the 5A and 6A regions. However they do it, they are miles ahead of everyone else. They are unbeatable. No team in Class A stands a chance. OLM is in the batch of 10-12 teams bunched together after ELCA, and they were beaten senseless by ELCA this past Friday. ELCA is great. No program in the history of Class A football in GA has produced so many Division 1 quality players at one time or had so many on one team. It is always an achievement for a Class A team to have a single Division 1 caliber player, it is a stupendous achievement on the part of ELCA to have five or six…as many as a Lassiter or Lowndes or PArkview. All I know is ELCA is great. They should apply the same internal development program to other sports.

Also a Walker Fan

October 23rd, 2012
9:10 am

Slow down @Swamp Lizard. Neither of us is hating or pulling down ELCA. We both stated what you have: ELCA built its program through the local youth FB program and does not recruit current HS players. The Lizard doth protest too much, methinks.

Chris

October 23rd, 2012
9:40 am

So no one notices that ELCA gains a couple of senior football players every year? Most of them with Division I offers already on the table

Walker Fan

October 23rd, 2012
11:07 am

@ Chris…its hard to believe that happens given what Swamp Lizard told us about ELCA’s completely internal, homegrown, grow’em from little sprouts development program. Do you have any details to back that up?

Swamp Lizard

October 23rd, 2012
11:31 am

@ The Guys …. I have a son, that has gone to school there since the 4th grade. He’s a junior now. He has worked hard to get where he’s at today. Not only him, but 21 other juniors that have played football with him the past five or six years have worked hard to get where they’re at today. I have watched them grow into very good football players through HARD WORK. Those 22 juniors are not TRANSFERS … they were not RECRUITED.
It does get me upset, when I hear the comments that are being made. It was OK in 2003, 2004, 2005 … when ELCA was taking a beating by other Class A programs from across the state. Now that they are one of the best teams in the state you have to hear how you had to cheat to get there? ….. I know better, and if you had any class at all, you wouldn’t take that away from the coaches & kids that have worked hard.

Walker Fan

October 23rd, 2012
12:04 pm

@Swamp Lizard: Can you address the point made by Chris “So no one notices that ELCA gains a couple of senior football players every year? Most of them with Division I offers already on the table” Is this true or not?

Friday Football Fan

October 23rd, 2012
12:29 pm

two years ago they got Avery Walls as a senior for Union Grove ( now at Cal), last year they got a couple from Union Grove and Sandy Creek, this year Curl came from Eagles Landing HS. These are the ones I remember that caused a bit of a stir among the Henry County public schools

Swamp Lizard

October 23rd, 2012
12:45 pm

@ Walker …. Yes, we did have two players transfer in this year …. TWO.
Yes, they are very good ( “maybe” Div 1 ).

@ Friday Football Fan …. DJ Curl has been at ELCA for a long time …. your information is WRONG. One of the above players came from Eagles Landing though.

I’ll be glad to answer any questions …. honestly. ;)

Swamp Lizard

October 23rd, 2012
12:48 pm

… & yes it was true about Avery Walls now at Cal two years ago.

Swamp Lizard

October 23rd, 2012
1:05 pm

ELCA does get a transfer or two …. maybe even three from time to time every year. Great coaching and good teams will bring kids in.
Do you want to know about the kids that will probably sign this year that have been in the program for years? Do you want to talk about those 22 juniors on the team that will probably sign next year? Or what about the ones that have already signed in years past that came up in the program?
All I’m saying is, Coach Gess has worked hard to build ELCA into a Class A state power …. & not by “recruiting” Henry County’s best players. If you go back and look at the schools with transfers ( as mentioned in above blogs ) … it’s hard to throw ELCA under the bus for one or two kids coming in every year. Wouldn’t you think IF ELCA was recruiting they would be worried? As a parent that has a son of this football team, if I knew of any wrong doing, I would be LIVID !!

Walker Fan

October 23rd, 2012
1:46 pm

@Swamp Lizard…I appreciate your honesty, but at the Class A level, where one good player is unusual, that is just too much of a stacked deck…it really is just too loaded for everyone else. For example, we are just thrilled about our one that received a Duke offer this year…the only D1 offer I can recall in 5-6 years. Ugh for the rest of us poor saps playing for a chance to get pounded in the dome. Not close to a level playing field.

Go Chargers

October 23rd, 2012
3:27 pm

@ Swamp Lizard. Your top rated Junior was recruited to ELCA. He came there his freshman year and we all know who pays his tution.But you are right most of the juniors did come up through the program. Please also remember that your DC from last year admitted that boosters paid the way for Green to come there.