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:
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).
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.