By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Now that the Power Rankings have been settled and the playoff brackets certified, we’ll have plenty of time to examine the games because of this weekend’s built-in bye week to allow the Class A playoffs to keep pace with the other classifications. So today we take a look at some of the winners and losers in the new points-driven Power Ranking system.
But first a bit of house cleaning: Congratulations to Jordan Wren of Landmark Christian. The 6-1, 170-pound outfielder for the War Eagles signed with Samford this week. If you know of any other Class A athletes signing with colleges on any level, please let us know here at Class A Blog headquarters. Send the information to your humble scribe, S. Thomas Coleman, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now on to our winners and losers.
Record: 5-5, 1-5 in Region 8
Power Ranking: 13
The Tigers lost five of their last six games, including the season finale – a 31-21 decision to Pinecrest Academy, a private school in Cumming in just its third season moving into the Georgia High School Association from the Georgia Independent Schools Association. But Commerce racked up a whopping 70 points in its four non-region games against teams from higher classifications. The bulk of the points – 21 – came courtesy of a 22-7 upset over eventual Region 8AA winner Jefferson (9-1) in Week 1. The Tigers would have been well out of playoff contention under the old system. They will travel to Donaldsonville next week to face No. 4 Seminole County, the three-time Region 1 champions.
Record: 5-5, 3-3 in Region 2
Power Ranking: 10
Head coach Rich McWhorter expressed concern early in the season about his team’s lack of play-making ability and consistency. The trend continued throughout the year. The high point was a 32-26 win over Wilcox County, the eventual region champs and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. The low point was dropping the last two games of the season to resurgent Telfair County (29-21), a team Charlton hadn’t lost to since 1993, and to Irwin County (55-34), where Charlton surrendered the second-most points in school history (next to the 88-0 loss suffered at the hands of a Florida high school, Jefferson, in 1981, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website). But Charlton compiled a total of 62 points in four non-region games against schools from higher classes, including 17 points for a loss to Region 3AAAAA champ Ware County (31-0). Charlton, which finished fifth in the region and would have missed the post season under the old system, will travel to Buena Vista next week to face No. 7 Marion County.
Record: 5-5, 2-3 in Region 6-Division A
Power Ranking: 14
The Trojans lost their last four games by a combined score of 76-13 and were below .500 in the region. However, they picked up a total of 40 points by playing three non-region games against opponents from higher classifications – AAA Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe (lost 28-0), AAA Coahulla Creek (won 48-34), a new school in Dalton which was in its first season, and AA Armuchee (won 25-7). Gordon Lee would not have advanced to the post season under the old system. But their prize for claiming the 14th seed is a trip to Twin City to take on No. 3 Emanuel County Institute, a team many believe will win the public school title.
Record: 6-4, 3-3 in Region 2
Power Ranking: 21
The Trojans finished third in the region and would have advanced to the post season under the old system for the first time since 2004. Additionally, they defeated Turner County (43-24) and Charlton County (29-21), both of which made the top 16 and are in the playoffs. But Telfair was hurt by a weak non-region schedule, which included a game against Baconton Charter, a game for which Telfair County did not receive credit because the Blazers did not play a region schedule. The combined record of the Trojans’ three other non-region opponents – Wheeler County, AA Jeff Davis and AAA Southeast Bulloch – was 7-23.
Record: 4-6, 3-3 in Region 8
Power Ranking: 14
The Eagles were destroyed by the top three teams in the region – Athens Academy, Prince Avenue Christian and George Walton Academy – by a combined score of 109-12. Still, Athens Christian would have advanced to the post season under the old system anyway. However, their fourth-place finish in the region would have had them traveling to McDonough to face Region 5 winner Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, a team many believe could compete for a state title in higher classifications. Instead, the Eagles will face Walker, the No. 3 seed, in Marietta. Athens Christian was given a boost by picking up a total of 40 points in its three non-region games against teams from AAA – Banks County (won 22-7), Jackson County (lost 39-21) and Region 8AAA champ North Oconee (lost 44-0).
Our Lady of Mercy
Record: 6-4, 3-3 in Region 5
Power Ranking: 15
The Bobcats played one of the toughest schedules in Class A without playing a team from a higher classification, as five of Mercy’s opponents are in the playoffs. Their reward for making it to the post season for just the second time in the school’s 12 years of playing football is a second date with ELCA, which throttled Mercy in their first meeting on Oct. 19, 49-0. Under the old system, the Bobcats would have advanced to the playoffs and faced undefeated Athens Academy, the No. 1 seed in the Power Rankings. However, Mercy had the Spartans on the ropes in Athens back on Sept. 21, before Athens Academy scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to survive 10-7.
So, what say you, Class A heads? Who are your winners and losers in the new Class A playoff system? To refresh your memories, here are the pairings:
PUBLIC SCHOOL PAIRINGS
No. 1 Lincoln County hosts No. 16 Hancock Central
No. 2 Wilcox County hosts No. 15 Greenville
No. 3 Emanuel County Institute hosts No. 14 Gordon Lee
No. 4 Seminole County hosts No. 13 Commerce
No. 5 Dooly County hosts No. 12 Turner County
No. 6 Irwin County hosts No. 11 Trion
No. 7 Marion County host No. 10 Charlton County
No. 8 Miller County hosts No. 9 Wilkinson County
PRIVATE SCHOOL PAIRINGS
No. 1 Athens Academy hosts No. 16 Mt. Pisgah Christian
No. 2 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy hosts No. 15 Our Lady of Mercy
No. 3 Walker hosts No. 14 Athens Christian
No. 4 Brookstone hosts No. 13 First Presbyterian
No. 5 Calvary Day hosts No. 12 Landmark Christian
No. 6 Aquinas host No. 11 George Walton Academy
No. 7 Savannah Christian hosts No. 10 Holy Innocents
No. 8 Darlington hosts No. 9 Prince Avenue Christian