By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
There are several big games with post season ramifications on tap in Week 10. We highlight some of them and project some first-round playoff scenarios based on the updated Power Rankings.
Also, for fun, we look at what the first round would look like under the old system. And finally, I give “My Take” on the whole “transfer/recruiting” issue, which is a key reason many people believe splitting the public and private schools is a good idea. Here we go!
Walker (7-0, 4-0) at Whitefield Academy (5-2, 4-0 in Region 6-Division B ). This one will decide the sub region champion in Region 6. It will also break the 5-5 tie in the all-time series between the two Cobb County private schools. Whitefield won last season, 38-13. Walker is one of only two teams (No. 3 Athens Academy) still undefeated in Class A.
No. 8 Irwin County (5-2, 3-0 in Region 2) at Turner County (5-2, 2-2). In an attempt to claim its first region title since 1998, Irwin begins the first leg of a three-game gauntlet to close out the season. Irwin hosts No. 7 Wilcox County (5-2, 3-1) next week and visits Charlton County (4-3, 2-1) for the season finale on Nov. 9. Turner sits precariously at No. 16 in the current Public School Power Rankings.
Pinecrest Academy (4-2, 3-1 in Region 8 ) at Athens Christian (3-4, 2-1). Fresh off of one of the biggest upsets of the season in any classification – 29-10 over George Walton Academy – Pinecrest looks to continue its charge for a playoff spot. The Paladins are three spots out of the post season at No. 19 in the Power Rankings this week. Athens Christian , sitting at No. 13, needs the win to stay in the top 16.
No. 2 Emanuel County Institute (6-1, 2-0 in Region 3-Division B ) at Johnson County (6-1, 2-0). This is another game that will decide a sub region champion. ECI is virtually assured a spot in the public school playoffs with a No. 3 Power Ranking, but Johnson County still has work to do. The Trojans are in spot No. 15.
Marion County (6-1, 4-0 in Region 4) at Brookstone (5-2, 3-1). The Eagles will look to wrap up their third straight Region 4 title in front of the home crowd in Buena Vista. However, a win by Brookstone could forge a three-way tie, with Dooly County, for first in the region.
George Walton Academy (5-2, 2-1 in Region 8 ) at No. 3 Athens Academy (7-0, 4-0). A win by the Spartans would all but assure them their second region championship in the last three seasons, and their seventh in the last 12 years. GWA looks to get back on track after last week’s disappointing loss to Pinecrest.
FIRST ROUND PLAYOFFF MATCHUPS
Here are the projected first round playoff games, based on the current Power Rankings:
No. 16 Turner County at No. 1 Lincoln County
No. 15 Johnson County at No. 2 Marion County
No. 14 Clinch County at No. 3 Emanuel County Institute
No. 13 Claxton at No. 4 Wilcox County
No. 12 Commerce at No. 5 Charlton County
No. 11 Greenville at No. 6 Irwin County
No. 10 Gordon Lee at No. 7 Miller County
No. 9 Wilkinson County at No. 8 Dooly County
Observations: Wilkinson is a very dangerous No. 9 seed and so is Miller at No. 7 … Seminole County, a region champion last year is on the outside looking in at this point (No. 17).
No. 16 Our Lady of Mercy at No. 1 Athens Academy
No. 15 Christian Heritage at No. 2 Darlington
No. 14 Brookstone at No. 3 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy
No. 13 Athens Christian at No. 4 Savannah Christian
No. 12 George Walton Academy at No. 5 Prince Avenue Christian
No. 11 Landmark Christian at No. 6 Holy Innocents
No. 10 Walker at No. 7 Aquinas
No. 9 Calvary Day at No. 8 First Presbyterian Day
Observations: It still hasn’t happened in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, but could Mercy pull off a No. 16 over No. 1 upset over Athens Academy in Round 1? The Spartans held on for a 10-7 win in Athens back on Sept. 21 … We’ll get a preview of the No. 12-No. 5 and No. 11-No. 6 matchups over the next couple of weeks. Landmark hosts Holy Innocents next week (Nov. 2) and GWA hosts Prince Avenue in the regular season finale on Nov. 9 … Christian Heritage, a 26-year old school in Dalton, would make the playoffs in its first season of competition in the Georgia High School Association.
The playoff pairings would remain the same if these projected region champions take care of business:
Region 1, Miller County; Region 2, Wilcox County; Region 3, Emanuel County Institute; Region 4, Marion County; Region 5, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy; Region 6, Darlington; Region 7, Lincoln County; Region 8, Athens Academy.
AND IF THIS WERE LAST YEAR …
Just for conversation, here’s how the first round would look if the playoffs began this weekend under the old format (top four in each region). In Region 3 we project Emanuel County Institute, Savannah Christian, Calvary Day and Johnson County as the top four. In Region 6 we project Darlington, Walker, Whitefield Academy and Gordon Lee as the top four.
Region 1 vs. Region 4
R1 No. 4 Greenville at R4 No. 1 Marion County
R1 No. 3 Mitchell County at R4 No. 2 Dooly County
R1 No. 2 Seminole County hosts R4 No. 3 Brookstone
R1 No. 1 Miller County hosts R4 No. 4 Greenville
Region 2 vs. Region 3
R2 No. 4 Turner County at R3 No. 1 Emanuel County Institute
R2 No. 3 Irwin County at R3 No. 2 Savannah Christian
R2 No. 2 Charlton County hosts R3 No. 3 Calvary Day
R2 No. 1 Wilcox County hosts R3 No. 4 Johnson County
Region 5 vs. Region 8
R5 No. 4 Our Lady of Mercy at R8 No. 1 Athens Academy
R4 No. 3 Holy Innocents at R8 No. 2 Prince Avenue Christian
R4 No. 2 Landmark Christian School hosts R8 No. 3 Pinecrest Academy
R4 No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy hosts R8 No. 4 George Walton Academy
Region 6 vs. Region 7
R6 No. 4 Gordon Lee at R7 No. 1 Lincoln County
R6 No. 3 Whitefield Academy at R7 No. 2 Wilkinson County
R6 No. 2 Walker hosts R7 No. 3 Aquinas
R6 No. 1 Darlington hosts R7 No. 4 Georgia Military
Observations: These teams that currently are not in the top 16 of the public or private Power Rankings would make the playoffs under the old format:
MY TAKE ON “TRANSFER/RECRUITING”
The message boards, the blogosphere and the Twitter world have always been filled with discussions and accusations about high school athletes being “recruited” or transferring to another school for sports. And it looks like the Georgia High School Association is getting more serious about paying attention to and punishing those schools and individuals it deems crossed the line.
So bare with me a moment as I give “My Take” on the topic:
I believe that any student should be allowed to attend any public school in Georgia — even if the child lives in another school district zone — as long as that student is in good academic standing, has a clean discipline record and can provide his/her own transportation, and also as long as the school has slots available and is not overcrowded.
We all pay state taxes, a portion of which goes toward the Georgia Department of Education. If your zoned public school is not a good fit for your child, in whatever aspect you feel is important, your child should be able to attend another public school in the state … and yes, even if it is for athletics.
Students who are gifted in non-athletic pursuits – music, the arts, math, science, etc. – are able to attend magnet schools in many instances, and this is a good thing. If a child has a gift, as parents and as a society, we should do all we can to help nurture and develop that gift, which will help that child grow into a highly productive member of society. This is something from which we would all benefit. So if a child has a gift and a passion for a particular sport, why should he or she not be able to attend a school where that gift and passion will be appreciated and developed.
I don’t think a child who loves music should be forced to attend a school that has a subpar or non-existent music program. The same goes for a gifted math or science student. He or she should not be shackled to their neighborhood school if that school has underperforming math or science departments run by disinterested or uninspired department chairs. By the same token, a child who loves volleyball should not be forced to attend a school with a poor program and inadequate coaching staff, simply because that child happens to live in that school zone.
As for private schools “recruiting” student athletes, I don’t think that should be allowed. However, once a parent inquires about having his/her child attend a private school and makes the first contact, the private school should be able to do everything within its power to convince the parent to have his/her child attend the school. Financial aid should be need-based only.
And that’s “My Take.”
OK, there’s a lot here on which to opine (games of the week, theoretical playoff pairings, transferring and recruiting), so have at it. What say you, Class A heads?