By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here’s what went down in Week 10.
Mt. Zion pulls off a stunner over Darlington. How unlikely was the Eagles’ 20-17 win over the Tigers? Many respectable websites had the score backwards. But it’s true. Mt. Zion (5-3, 3-1) trailed 10-0 early, but rallied to take a 14-10 lead after Nathan Bernhardt scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Tristan Puckett at the end of the half, according to the Times-Georgian. After Darlington regained the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard run by Chandler Duggan, Mt. Zion recovered a fumble deep in Tiger territory late in the fourth quarter. Bernhardt scored from one-yard out to put the Eagles back on top, and then grabbed an interception with a little over 2 minutes remaining to preserve the win. New head coach Keith Holloway, a career assistant in west Georgia schools like Alexander, Central-Carrollton and Bowdon, has the Eagles in position to win Region 6-Division A with a win at Gordon Lee (5-3, 2-2) next week. Mt. Zion is in search of its first region championship since 1996. The Eagles should make a dramatic rise in the public school Power Rankings as well, where they currently sit at No. 26. Mt. Zion last made the playoffs in 2005.
Walker keeps winning. The Wolverines (9-0, 5-0) clinched the Region 6-Division B title with a 21-14 win over Cobb County rival Whitefield Academy (5-1, 4-1). Evan Kasian scored on a 12-yard run with 38 seconds left to provide the margin of victory, and finished with 268 yards rushing on 38 carries, according to the AJC’s Chip Saye. Walker is primed to claim its first region title in the program’s 12 years of existence, and its second playoff appearance.
Athens Academy stays perfect, too. The Spartans (8-0, 5-0 in Region 8 ) trailed 20-7 at halftime but rallied to a 21-20 win over George Walton Academy in Athens. Athens Academy’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half quarterback Austin Schulte threw a touchdown pass and ran for another to lead the comeback, according to the Athens Banner Herald. Then in the game’s closing seconds, GWA kicker Cole Fisher narrowly missed a potential game-winning 45-yard field goal. Fisher had already made good on field goals from 24 and 45 yards in the second quarter. It was the second loss in a row for the Bulldogs, who were upset last week by Pinecrest Academy.
So does Irwin County. No. 8 Irwin County (6-2, 4-0 in Region 2) edged Turner County (5-4, 2-3) 27-26 in Ashburn, and moved another step closer to its first region title since 1998. Meanwhile, the Rebels, who were 5-1 at one point, lost their third game in a row and may fall out of the top 16 of the public school Power Rankings this week.
Athens Christian coming on strong. The Eagles knocked off last week’s upset darlings, Pinecrest Academy, 31-14. The win over Pinecrest (4-3, 2-2 in Region 8 ), which had beaten George Walton Academy a week ago, was a convincing one as Athens Christian (4-4, 3-1) rolled up 452 yards of total offense, according to the Athens Banner Herald. The Eagles will most likely move up a little from their No. 13 spot in the private school Power Rankings, while the Paladins, who currently sit at No. 19, chances of making the playoffs took a major hit.
Emanuel County Institute rolls on. The Bulldogs (7-1, 3-0 in Region 3-Division B), ranked No. 2 with a No. 3 public school Power Ranking, dominated Johnson County (6-2, 2-1) 40-0 in Wrightsville. ECI claimed the sub region championship with the win, while the Trojans’ hope they will hang on to their No. 15 spot in the Power Ranking.
Brookstone throws Region 4 into a tizzy. The Cougars (6-2, 4-1 in Region 4) forced a three-way for first place in the region by holding off Marion County (6-2, 4-1), 35-28 in Buena Vista. Brookstone jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead – after a 5-yard touchdown run by Duncan Fletcher and a 71-yarder by Madison McCluskey – and never relinquished the lead, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Now Brookstone, Dooly County and Marion County all hold a share of the top spot in the region, as they have gone 1-1 against each other: Brookstone over Marion, Marion over Dooly, and Dooly over Brookstone.