By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Well, the regular season is done.
But while the playoff field is set in nearly every other region in the state from Class AA to AAAAAA, Class A must wait until Wednesday, when all of the points have been counted, appeals have been exhausted and the Georgia High School Association officially “blesses” the public and private school playoff brackets based on the final Power Rankings. So here is a look at how many of the pivotal games went on Friday night.
Darlington 31, Mt. Pisgah 14. The Tigers (7-3, 4-1 in Region 6) rolled up more than 400 yards of offense in the romp over the Patriots (6-4, 3-2). Darlington already had a solid private school Power Ranking (No. 7) and hopes to move up, while Mt. Pisgah, which had a No. 15 Power Ranking, has to sit and wait to see if it can hang on to a playoff spot.
Trion 16, Whitefield Academy 7. The loss by the Wolfpack (6-4, 5-1 in Region 6) means they will have to wait and see if they can hang on to their No. 16 private school Power Ranking. The Bulldogs (8-2, 3-2) finished with their best regular season record since 2003, and hope to improve upon their No. 12 public school Power Ranking.
Our Lady of Mercy 48, Strong Rock 0. The Bobcats (6-4, 3-3 in Region 5) had a private school Power Ranking of No. 17 last week, but appear to have gotten what they needed to advance to the post season. Their dismantling of Strong Rock (4-6, 1-5), coupled with losses by the two teams ranked ahead of them – Mt. Pisgah and Whitefield Academy – should vault Mercy into the playoffs for just the second time in school history. Ironically, Mercy blasted Mt. Pisgah, 42-14, on Sept. 14 and dominated Whitefield in a pre-season scrimmage.
Mt. Paran Christian 35, Mt. Zion-Carroll 14. Kyle Trammell ran 24 times for 200 yards and a touchdown to help Mt. Paran (3-7, 2-3 in Region 6) end their season on a positive note. The dramatic comeback season for Mt. Zion (6-4, 4-1), which was winless last season and includes a sub-region title this year, will most likely come to an end. Mt. Zion held a public school Power Ranking of No. 15 last week.
Walker 21, Gordon Lee 0. The Wolverines (10-0, 7-0 in Region 6) finished undefeated for the first time in school history and earned their first region championship. Gordon Lee (5-5, 2-3), which had a public school Power Ranking of No. 17, must wait until the points have been tabulated to learn its post season fate.
Brookstone 30, Greenville 21. The Cougars (8-2, 6-1) won the Region 4 championship, as quarterback Duncan Fletcher accounted for four touchdowns, two throwing and two rushing, according to the Columbus Ledger. Brookstone was No. 11 in last week’s private school Power Rankings, but will now get one of the top eight seeds and host a first-round playoff game. Greenville (5-5, 3-4) was No. 16 on the public school side and will most likely slide out of post season contention.
Turner County 30, Clinch County 20. The Rebels (5-5, 3-3 in Region 2) had a public school Power Ranking of 18 while the Panthers (4-6, 2-4) were holding on at No. 14. Turner must now wait and see if the win will give it enough points to move into the top 16. Clinch will most likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
Wilcox County 21, Telfair County 0. Wilcox (8-2, 5-1 in Region 2) claimed its second consecutive region crown, its fourth in six years, and will host a first-round playoff game. Telfair (6-4, 3-3), which had a public school Power Ranking of No. 20, will miss the post season again. The Trojans last made the playoffs in 2004.
And a word about two teams that might be the best in Class A, but won’t get a chance to meet:
Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (9-1, 6-0) dismantled Landmark Christian 43-0 to win its third consecutive region championship. ELCA’s defense held the War Eagles (7-3, 5-1) to 2 yards rushing, as standout junior running back Jeremiah Kirkland was limited to 18 yards on 18 carries. The Chargers rushed for more than 300 yards as Keyonte Green and Marquis Griffin each went north of 100 yards on the ground operating out of the wildcat.
Meanwhile, Emanuel County Institute (9-1, 4-0) thrashed defending Class A champion Savannah Christian 48-14 to win the Region 3 championship.
ELCA will roll into the private school playoffs with at least a No. 2 Power Ranking. Athens Academy (10-0, 7-0), capped an undefeated regular season by downing community rival Athens Christian 27-9, and will most likely hold on to its No. 1 spot. ECI held a No. 3 public school Power Ranking, behind Lincoln County and Wilcox County, and will probably stay in that spot.
But with the public-private split, any ELCA-ECI, ELCA-Lincoln or ELCA-Wilcox battles will take place between their parents and fans on social media sites, but not on the field.