Class A: New Public-Private Divided Top 5 Lists, Mercy’s Earwood wins No. 200

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Time for our weekly Divided Top 5s List as we head into Week 11.

But before we get to the Lists, kudos to Our Lady of Mercy head coach Mike Earwood, who earned his 200th career win on Saturday when his Bobcats hammered an overmatched squad from Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, 68-19 (attrition caused by various injuries has reduced the Mustang roster from an already thin 25-30 players down to just 17).

Earwood, whose career record is now 200-97-1, is just the 51st coach in the history of Georgia high school football to amass at least 200 wins. In 26 years as a head coach at Cartersville (1986-1995), Upson-Lee (1996), Starr’s Mill (1998-2009) – where he started the program – and now Mercy (2010-present), Earwood’s teams have claimed one state title (Cartersville, 1991) and eight region titles, and have advanced to the state playoffs 16 times. He has a record of 18-11 at Mercy and has the Bobcats within striking distance of advancing to the state playoffs for the first time in the history of the school’s 12-year old program.

In Thursday’s blog post, along with our first round playoff scenarios, we’ll try to have answers on how the two sub-divided regions in Class A – 3 and 6 – plan to determine their region champions, which could have huge ramifications in the playoff pairings under the Power Ranking system that is in place.

And now for the Lists:

PUBLIC

1. Lincoln County (7-1, 5-0 in Region 7; No. 5 overall in the AJC Top 10). The Red Devils rolled Twiggs County 49-0 behind more than 200 combined yards rushing by Mike McIntire and Jamar Norman, while Jalen Franklin had eight receptions for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Lincoln will host No. 9 Wilkinson County on Friday for the region championship.

2. Emanuel County Institute (7-1, 3-0 in Region 3-Division B; No. 2 overall). ECI virtually assured itself of the sub region crown by blasting Johnson County (6-2, 2-1) 40-0, disappointing the home crowd at Herschel Walker Field in Wrightsville. James Brown danced for 184 yards on the ground (get it? James Brown danced … maybe not) while the Bulldog defense held the Trojans to 111 yards of total offense. ECI can claim the sub region championship outright by beating winless Montgomery County (0-8, 0-3) on the road on Friday.

3. Wilcox County (6-2, 3-1 in Region 2; No. 7 overall). The Patriots won their fourth in a row, all region contests, 40-24 over AAA Swainsboro (3-5, 0-2 in Region 3AAA) last week. Makail Grace threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns, two to Jonathan Howard who had 10 catches for 193 yards. Wilcox will travel to Ocilla to face No. 8 Irwin County for the region championship on Friday.

4. Irwin County (6-2, 4-0 in Region 2; No. 8 overall). Irwin County set up this week’s showdown with Wilcox for the region championship by edging Turner County (5-4, 2-3), 27-26. Ryan Peterson’s 28-yard touchdown reception from Clay Paulk with just over a minute left was the game winner.

5. Wilkinson County (6-2, 5-0 in Region 7; No. 9 overall). The Warriors remained one of the hottest teams in Class A by claiming their fifth win in a row, 42-21 over First Presbyterian Day (5-3, 3-2). Quarterback David Whipple connected on 22-of-29 passes for 343 yards, while running for 84 yards. Almost half of his passing yardage went to his cousin, Antonio Whipple who caught eight balls for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Wilkinson will travel to Lincolnton to face for what amounts to the region championship game on Friday. Lincoln leads the series 7-1, but the two teams have split the last two meetings. Lincoln won 35-0 last season while Wilkinson won in 2010, 26-14.

Trending: Charlton County (5-3, 3-1 in Region 2) shut out Clinch County (3-5, 1-3) 21-0 last week, to keep its region championship hopes alive. Charlton will need to avoid an upset in McRae on Friday at Telfair County (5-3, 2-2) and hope Irwin beats Wilcox, to set up a title game with Irwin for the season finale in Folkston on Nov. 9 … Dooly County (6-2, 4-1 in Region 4) blasted St. Anne- Pacelli (4-4, 1-4) 47-14 to remain in a three-way tie with Brookstone and Marion County for the top spot in the region. The Bobcats need to hold off Greenville (5-3, 3-2) at home on Friday to stay in the region championship hunt … Marion County (6-2, 4-1 in Region 4) fell into a 21-0 hole at home against Brookstone last week and couldn’t climb out losing 35-28 to the Cougars. The loss kept the Eagles from clinching their third consecutive Region 4 title and forged the three-way tie with Brookstone and Dooly. Marion will try to keep pace with Brookstone and Dooly on Friday when the Eagles host Hawkinsville (3-5, 3-2) on Senior Night in Buena Vista … Miller County (8-1, 5-0 in Region 1) dominated Stewart County (0-8, 0-5) 33-6 last week to set up the region championship game on the road in Donaldsonville on Friday against defending region champ Seminole County (6-2, 4-0) … Mt. Zion (5-3, 3-1 in Region 6-Division A) pulled off one of the season’s stunners last week, 20-17 over Darlington. The Eagles will try to bring home the sub-region title with a win on Friday at Gordon Lee (5-3, 2-2).

PRIVATE

1. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (7-1, 4-0 in Region 5; No. 1 overall). The Chargers steamrolled Strong Rock (3-5, 0-4) 69-6 last week, behind a pick-six from Jevius Terry and a punt return for a touchdown by fellow defensive back DJ Curl, who added a 42-yard touchdown run on offense. ELCA visits Pace Academy (2-6, 1-3) on Friday before their annual show down for the region title with rival Landmark Christian School (6-2, 4-0) on Nov. 9 at home in McDonough.

2. Athens Academy (8-0, 5-0 in Region 8; No. 3 overall). The Spartans rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit to take a 21-20 lead in the final three minutes, and then held their breath as George Walton Academy (5-3, 2-2) missed a 45-yard field goal as time expired. Athens Academy will travel to Dacula to face Hebron Christian Academy (1-7, 0-6) on Friday.

3. Prince Avenue Christian (7-1, 3-1 in Region 8; No. 4 overall). The Wolverines were off last week and will travel to Cumming on Friday to face upset-minded Pinecrest Academy (4-3, 3-2).

4. Savannah Christian (6-2, 4-0 in Region 3-Division A; No. 6 overall). The Raiders used a 35-point second quarter to smother Jenkins County (4-4, 2-2) 42-12 as Jalen Myrick had five catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns. Savannah Christian has now won six in a row and will and will host Savannah Country Day (2-6, 1-3) Friday on Senior Night at Saunders Field.

5. Calvary Day (7-1, 3-1 in Region 3-Division A; No. 10 overall). The Cavaliers thumped Claxton 49-12 as sophomore running back Robert Heyward ran for 172 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. Calvary Day will host winless Portal (0-8, 0-4) on Friday.

Trending: Athens Christian (4-4, 3-1 in Region 8 ) kept its region title hopes alive with a 31-14 win over Pinecrest Academy, and will travel to Monroe to face George Walton Academy (5-3, 2-2) on Friday … Brookstone (6-2, 4-1 in Region 4) boosted itself into a three-way tie for tops in the region with a 35-28 win over Marion County last week, and will try to keep pace with Dooly County and Marion by defeating Central-Talbotton at home on Friday on Senior Night in Columbus … Holy Innocents (6-3, 4-1 in Region 5) won their fourth in a row, 21-14 over Pace Academy, to set up Friday’s game at Landmark (6-2, 4-0), where a win coupled with a win by Landmark over ELCA next week, could force a three-way tie for the top spot in the region … Landmark (6-2, 4-0 in Region 5) was off last week in time to rest up for two huge games to close out the regular season – Friday at home against Holy Innocents and Nov. 9 at ELCA … Walker (8-0, 5-0 in Region 6-Division B) stayed unbeaten and clinched the sub-region title as Evan Kasian scored the game winner with 38 seconds left to lift the Wolverines over Whitefield Academy 21-14 last week. Kasian, who had another touchdown run and threw a touchdown pass as well, finished with 271 yards rushing on 33 carries. Walker will try to stay perfect with a win Friday in the regular season finale at Mt. Paran Christian (2-6, 2-2) in Kennesaw, before the region play-in game on Nov. 9.

34 comments Add your comment

Go Wolverines

October 30th, 2012
2:15 pm

STC, well-said all around. Coach Earwood is a great example of a lifer-coach. Congrats to him.

I would like to add that Walker has already clinched the Region 6-B Subregion title. In fact, the Darlington loss to Mt. Zion opened the door a little wider for a possible region title for Walker.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 30th, 2012
2:40 pm

@Go Wolverines: Thanks for the tip. The post has been updated.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Swamp Lizard

October 30th, 2012
3:54 pm

REGION CHAMPS …just my take …

Region 1 – Miller Co
Region 2 – Wilcox Co
Region 3 – Sav Christian
Region 4 – Miller Co
Region 5 – ELCA
Region 6 – Walker
Region 7 – Lincoln Co
Region 8 – Athens Academy

Swamp Lizard

October 30th, 2012
4:02 pm

Congrats to Coach Earwood & win # 200 !! … hope he gets OLM in the playoffs this year. Wish him, the other coaches & players the best !!

4th and Long Gone

October 30th, 2012
6:28 pm

I don’t understand the rankings. How can the #1 public school be only #5 overall, but the #2 public school is #2 overall? Based on the overall rankings, shouldn’t Lincoln Co. be #2 in the public school rankings, between the #2 (Emanuel Co.) and #7 (Wilcox Co.) overall schools? I don’t understand …

S. Thomas Coleman

October 30th, 2012
8:28 pm

@Swamp: I think I agree with you. If Darlington’s quarterback can’t play then I’ll take Walker in 8 over Darlington and Mt. Zion. I think Savannah Christian and ECI is a toss up.

Thanks as always for reading and posting, Swamp!

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 30th, 2012
8:31 pm

@4th: The staff at Class A Blog headquarters (that would be me) withholds the right to rank the Divided Top 5 differently if need be, than the AJC Top 10. That’s the case with Lincoln County (No. 5 overall) and ECI (No. 2). Personally, I think Lincoln is better, thus they are No. 1 on the Public School list.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Walker Fan

October 30th, 2012
8:55 pm

STC…any insight on how the region crossover games will be handled in Region 6 and how the champion will be picked. in A6A Mt. Zion (although much can change here this Friday evening) is now the leader and in A6B Walker has locked up the subregion (regardless of this Friday night). How is this region going to determine its overall champion? How do other regions handle this? Anyone with knowledge please chime in.

Walker Fan

October 30th, 2012
9:02 pm

STC…Sorry…I did not read carefully above where you indicated you were going to asnwer the crossover question. Thanks for your efforts.

Really Tired

October 30th, 2012
9:18 pm

@Walker Fan: I know for a fact next friday, the two sub-region champions will play eacher so it will be Walker vs Mt.Zion/Darlington., I also believe that the 2nd seed in A6A will play the 3rd seed in A6B, while the 2nd seed in A6B will play the 3rd seed in A6A. The rest of the teams in region 6 will play the team in the other sub region who has their matching seed such as the 5th seed in A6A vs the 5th seed in A6B. This is how is has worked over the past two seasons. I’m not sure whether GHSA has changed it or not. So if the season ended today, this is how it would look……..

(6A #1) Mt. Zion vs (6B #1) Walker

(6A #2) Darlington vs (6B #3) Mt. Pisgah

(6A #3) Trion vs (6B #2) Whitefield

(6A #4) Gordon Lee vs (6B #4) Mt. Paran

(6A #5) Christian Heritage vs (6B #5) King’s Ridge

(6A #6) SACA vs (6B #6) Fellowship

Hope this helped. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 30th, 2012
9:22 pm

@Walker: No problem. I have calls into Walker, Mt. Zion and Darlington. Hope to hear back from them tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 30th, 2012
9:28 pm

@Really: Thanks for the tip. I hope to confirm this with one of the coaches tomorrow. This format is used in a lot of sub divided regions. It assures that the sub region champs make the playoffs and gives the second and third place teams in each sub region a chance to make it.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Tom Jones

October 30th, 2012
10:35 pm

you know if brookstone, marion, and dooly all win out. Brookstone wins region because we have +3 point differential. lost to dooly by four beat marion by 7. marions is -2 lost to brookstone by 7 beat dooly by 5. and dooly -1.. lost to marion by 5 beat brookstone by 4. so lets go cougars. like i said before. two turnovers inside the 10 and another two within 20 against dooly, that game should of been a win by 14 points. brookstone can make a run. lets go cougars!!!!!!!!!

Swamp Lizard

October 31st, 2012
7:17 am

@ STC … I agree with you 100% on the Region 3 Championship … Sav Christian / ECI … I was trying to get our Man TCDOG25 all fired up. ;) That should be a great game …. I think both teams will be right there til the end in Private / Public championships.

coach Dee

October 31st, 2012
7:33 am

Congrats to coach Earwood on your 200th win! Thanks for turning the Mercy program around. Great Mentor and Coach!

S. Thomas Coleman

October 31st, 2012
9:16 am

@Tom: I’ll need to check on that tie-breaking scenario. Most of the Class A regions are using the Power Ranking as the tie-breaker when everything else is even. Maybe the coaches decided on the point-margin system you explain, but most coaches like to stay away from point-margin/differential as a tie breaker because it can lead to running up the score.

I’ll try to look into it.

Thanks for reading and posting.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

football fan

October 31st, 2012
10:47 am

It is interesting to note that the 5 top Private schools opponents this week have a combined record of 9-30 with Pincrest accounting for 4 of the 9 combined wins

TCDAWG25

October 31st, 2012
12:29 pm

@Swamp Lizard it’s your opinion and a educated one at that and a SAV Christian win is not a long shot. But research the number of times ECI has lost at home since 2005/2006 season. Also these two teams have either won and or played in the last five Class A State Championships correct me if i/m wrong. Also the winner of a head to head match up of these two teams played for the State Championship that year also.

sb

October 31st, 2012
12:50 pm

Had the Lincoln County and Wilcox County coaches not whined and cried about the private schools…there would still be one poll and one playoff system. Lincoln County ran roughshot over other teams for three decades and then Sav. Christian beats them three years in a row and that was the absolute end of the world for them. Unfair advantage is all we heard. Whining and crying. Truth is Lincoln had better athletes but lost to a better SCPS team and a much better coach. Instead of taking the losses like a good sport and setting a good example for their kids, LincoIn and Wilcox County coaches act like babies and railroaded this new private/public school separation thing thru like Obamacare. know people think SCPS has a Delta jet that they fly in kids from all over the state to play on Friday nights but it simply isn’t true.

Walker Fan

October 31st, 2012
3:37 pm

@sb…I think there is a strong possibility the private schools are going to leave GHSA. Of course time will tell. With that said, given the separation of championships, the private schools begin to beg the question, what do they really being part of GHSA. I suspect they are going to head back to GISA or quite possibly form something new. I think the biggest factor keeping this from happening is the private schools that are somewhat isolated…who need to class A publics around them just to be able to play anything without driving great distances…for the Atlanta schools, GHSA offers little at this point, other than another entity seeking to control them.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 31st, 2012
4:24 pm

@sb: While I agree that I wish the publics and privates were still together in Class A, I also agree that places like Lincoln and Wilcox do have legitimate arguments. Simply put, they cannot recruit (or at least they aren’t supposed to) while a private school by its nature MUST recruit to bring in students.

Also, even though places like Lincoln, Wilcox and Clinch conceivably get every athlete in the county to attend the school, their population base is limited. For instance, the population of Lincoln County is about 8,000 and that is counting adults and senior citizens. The population of Chatham County (Savannah) is about 270K, again counting adults and seniors. You could even throw in the population of neighboring Bryan County, which is like “metro Savannah”, and add another 30K.

Like I said, I wish Class A had not been separated. However, I do get where the small public schools are coming from. To simply say they are “whiners” is not totally accurate.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 31st, 2012
4:34 pm

@Walker Fan: There are a handful of private school coaches who have entertained joining GISA, but for the vast majority of them — particularly those in metro Atlanta – they would rather not. One of the biggest reasons is that GISA schools still have the “stigma” among college recruiters of being like a “minor league” in Georgia high school football. To a student-athlete with eyes on playing in college, moving to GISA would make a school less attractive than A) the kid’s zoned public school or another nearby public school and B) another private school that remained in the GHSA.

Also, while there are some GISA schools in metro Atlanta that play football (Arlington Christian in South Fulton), most of the better football programs are in middle and south Georgia. In order for a move to the GISA to work, you would need buy-in from ALL of the metro Atlanta privates, many of which already left GISA within the last 10 years or so. That way, the schools wouldn’t have to spend so much on fuel for travel to games. Without a mass movement of metro privates to GISA, it just wouldn’t work, and I don’t think the vast majority of metro private coaches/ADs want to make that move.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

degaman

October 31st, 2012
5:28 pm

Thomas, how many high schools are there in Chatham and Bryan counties that draw students? Count them sometime. Also, how many high schools are there in Lincoln County and Wilcox counties?

Walker Fan

October 31st, 2012
5:32 pm

A mass movement is what I am suggesting. I think it is possible.

S. Thomas Coleman

October 31st, 2012
10:22 pm

@degaman: Tons of schools in Chatham-Savannah Public Schools as well as a few private schools. Only one high school in Bryan County. And only one school in Lincoln and Wilcox Counties. I see where you’re going with your point.

However, the numbers are still against Lincoln and Wilcox, even with the number of schools in Chatham-Savannah.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

S. Thomas Coleman

October 31st, 2012
10:29 pm

@Walker Fan: Sorry, but I just don’t think there are enough coaches/ADs who will want to go along, especially in metro Atlanta. Plus, most parents won’t want to go for it either because of the GISA “stigma.” I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

degaman

October 31st, 2012
11:38 pm

Thomas, for your information, there are more private schools in Savannah (8) that field football teams than there are public schools (7), plus Bryan County High. Yes, the numbers are still against Lincoln and Wilcox counties, but not as much disparity as at first glance.

Thanks for your good work!

Swamp Lizard

November 1st, 2012
8:47 am

@ TCDOG25 … 28-14 ??? OK, we’ll see how that plays out next week. I’m pulling for ya ( ECI ) !! If you seen my comments above, I do think both ( Sav Christian & ECI ) will be right there til the end with a chance to win it all. I would really like to see that one … should be a great game !!

degaman

November 1st, 2012
9:02 am

Oops, Thomas, we both forgot that the large Richmond Hill High School is in Bryan County, also. This year they have an outstanding football team, plus great teams in both girl and boy sports.

sb

November 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

Bottom line is that had SCPS not beaten Lincoln County three years in a row…none of this would have came up. Had Lincoln beat SCPS all those games…they would have not complained. Wilcox didn’t complain the year they beat SCPS in the finals. It wasn’t until Wilcox got knocked out the very next year by a private school that they started the whining and complaining. It was all fine as long as they were winning..but as soon as those two teams started losing to private schools…the complaining started. That is the bottom line. Had they kept beating the private schools..the split would have never happened. Those are the facts that nobody can argue. The whining started once they started losing to private schools.

tom jones

November 1st, 2012
10:10 pm

yes. i wasn’t aware, but evidently region 4a rules do use the point differential system. A tie has not happened in along time so they are older rules. Apparently this is the case. After hearing from one of the coaches, If you win your region is a playoff spot guaranteed?

tom jones

November 1st, 2012
10:13 pm

@swamplizard…..miller isn’t in region 4. the top teams are Dooly, Marion, Greenville, and Brookstone

tom jones

November 1st, 2012
10:19 pm

thanks for responding though Thomas

Swamp Lizard

November 2nd, 2012
7:36 am

@ tom Jones …. yea, my bad, I meant Marion. I had Miller in Region 1 winning it.