Class A Blog: Games of the week, first-round playoff projections and “My Take” on transferring, recruiting

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!

TOP GAMES

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:

PUBLIC

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).

PRIVATE

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:

Georgia Military

Mitchell County

Pinecrest Academy

Randolph-Clay

Seminole County

Whitefield Academy

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?

17 comments Add your comment

Rebel Fan

October 25th, 2012
1:29 pm

While I certainly see your point, I disagree with the notion that a student-athlete can live in one county and be “convinced ” to attend another school. Smaller communities in rural Georgia suffer tremendously when the star athlete chooses to leave. If you want to move to better your education or give your child better opportunities, then fine. But move to that community. These kids have went up all the way through grade school, so in a way, the school system has a lot invested in these kids before they move off.

At the end of the day, I’m all for student athletes having the best opportunities possible….as long as it is done legally and ethically!

Silver Creek Dawg

October 25th, 2012
1:50 pm

I don’t live near a Class A school, but the public/private school split is fascinating to me. One question I have- is there a restriction in place to prevent teams from the same “region” meeting in the first round of the playoffs? For example, could Savannah Christian play Calvary Baptist in the first round?

S. Thomas Coleman

October 25th, 2012
2:35 pm

@Rebel Fan: I can appreciate your point. But that doesn’t change my point: why should that “star athlete” be forced to attend his/her neighborhood high school, if that high school’s program (in whatever sport the “star” participates) is deficient? That isn’t the kid’s fault, so why punish him/her?

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 25th, 2012
2:37 pm

@SilverCreek Dawg: No, there are no restrictions with the Power Rankings. Two teams could have played each other in the final week of the regular season and if their rankings dictate that they face each other again in the first round of the playoffs, so be it.

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

WCHS77

October 25th, 2012
5:16 pm

I can for sure tell you that Fellowship Christian does not recruit. That is probably the main reason our football team has beaten only one team , and it was a public school. And our coach isn’t helping either…

jocotrojan

October 25th, 2012
8:42 pm

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:

Johnson County

Coleman, were 15 in public… your math is off….

S. Thomas Coleman

October 25th, 2012
11:03 pm

@WCHS77: Sorry to hear that about Fellowship. Hopefully you guys will get another win or two before the season ends.

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

MCMBAA

October 25th, 2012
11:17 pm

First, STC, appreciate the feedback on yesterday’s blog and that does clear up a lot of my objections.

Second, I agree with you 100% on a parent/child team taking their educational career seriously and making whatever moves are necessary to get the student into a school that supports their particular talent. I lean towards supporting your position of a student attending the school of their choice no matter where they live, and what you are talking about is a voucher program. However, even disregarding the fact that the NEA would never let that happen, I’m relatively sure that the state government couldn’t successfully implement it. I’m not going to name names, but we all know the counties in Metro ATL that a mass exodus would occur in should the students be allowed to move at will. In that respect, Rebel Fan may have a good point in that if a student really wants to attend the school of their choice, find a way to move to that area.

As to the private schools, OR the public schools recruiting (as someone pointed out in another blog, there have been three cases this year of schools caught recruiting as defined by the GHSA….and they’re all public), I think the litmus test should be, is the school offering any special considerations or compensation, financial or otherwise, for the student to attend their school. If not, then the transfer should be legitimate.

Those public schools that WOULD have made the playoffs and missed because of this galactically flawed PR system in place now….. my counsel is to be careful what you wish for because you just may get it. However, that said, maybe, just maybe, the PR system will pay off in the playoffs. In prior years, some of the scores in the first three rounds have been so uneven as to question the viability of the losing teams even being there. If we get a lot of good, close games this year, we may have to admit that the PR system has SOME validity.

And finally, just to pull the opinion Hat Trick, I have to make this observation. If for no other reason, I do not support the split system for simply this….at the end of this season there will be no clear, distinct Class A champion. The respect that each of the private and public champions expect will be, at best, watered down and, at worst, non-existent and the question will always loom “who is the best single A team in GA?” And that’s my 1/5th of a dime.

BrunoBars

October 26th, 2012
7:56 am

I think what is getting lost in the argument is that Sports are “extra curricular activities” School is designed for education not sports. Magnet Programs are designed to assist exceptional students and there is legitimate testing involved to insure that students meet the requirments. One of the problems of our society is the total focus on sports above education. So are you suggesting some type of AYP for sports programs as well? With the focus on rankings what is Georgia’s rank in education?

fan

October 26th, 2012
8:51 am

Mr. Coleman….you are right on about recuriting at the public schools. I belive Whitefield’s basketball program is a prime example of recruiting key players. It would be difficult to beleive that their success was just by coaching. You can’t coach being tall.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 26th, 2012
9:26 am

@JoCoTrojan: You are correct! The post has been updated.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 26th, 2012
9:31 am

@MCMBAA: I don’t advocate a voucher system at all. To me that implies that it would be OK for the state to issue “a check” to a family that they could take and pay tuition at a private school. That’s not really something I’m in favor of. Still, I do like the idea of a student being able to attend any public school he/she likes in the state, within the parameters I laid out.

Thanks for reading and posting! Great thoughts to add to the conversation!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 26th, 2012
9:41 am

@BrunoBars: I could argue that music and the arts are “extra curricular activities,” and indeed some school systems have cut those programs to the bone. I tend to disagree with that because even though I am as uncivilized as they come when it comes to “cultural activities” (been to the High Museum once, never attended an opera as an adult and don’t have plans for that to change any time soon) I believe that music and the arts are a vital part of our American society. They contribute a great deal to making ours the greatest nation on earth.

So my point still stands. A child with talent in a sport should not be forced to attend a school with a feckless program in that sport, just as another child with talent in math, science or English should not have to languish in a school with a poor math, science or English department. In reference to the entry requirement test, that would simply be whether or not the coach believes the child would be a good fit for his/her program.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 26th, 2012
9:47 am

@fan: I guess you are accusing Whitefield Academy of recruiting? Don’t do that without proof.

Thanks for reading and posting!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

humbug

October 26th, 2012
6:03 pm

This is nothing new. In the late 40’s a boy from another county was allowed to attend our county’s class A school because he wanted to play football and his school, also a class A school, didn’t play football. It posed no problems.

Observer

October 26th, 2012
11:30 pm

Interesting point about Whitefield basketball’s team, Elca’s football team. You always like to say be careful to all that question recruiting or paying for kids to come to schools and play and I understand and agree, so to put it to rest why doesn’t the ajc with all their tremendous resources and insightful journalism do some serious investigating and not leave it up to GHSA to find the truth?

Swamp Lizard

October 29th, 2012
11:50 am

“TRANSERING &RECRUITING” ….. STC, very well said !!

I am thankful …. and make great sacrifices for my kids to attend a Private school. Both of my kids are good athletes, both are smart, and both will be better for the sacrifices “I” have made for them attending the academy they attend.