By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Another ripple effect of the New World Order of things in the Class A playoffs is the built-in bye week between the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs.
So no recap of Friday night’s games … because there were none. But we’ll soldier on with a few nuggets for everyone to chew and stew on until we preview the first round games on Tuesday. But first, a bit of non-football housecleaning:
Congrats to the baseball program at Mt. Pisgah Christian, which is sending two of its players to the next level in 2013. Last week, Kyle Jackson, a 5-11, 185-pound center fielder signed with Coastal Carolina and Adrian Celata, a 6-4, 215-pound catcher, signed with Tusculum. The senior duo looks to help the Patriots improve upon last season’s 16-8 record.
Public school “losers:” Johnson County and Mt. Zion-Carroll? Maybe, maybe not.
Last week we presented a list of public and private school “winners” and “losers” in the new point-driven, Power Ranking system for advancing to the playoffs. We did not list Johnson County nor Mt. Zion-Carroll as public school “losers” because even though the Power Ranking system wasn’t kind to them, neither would have made the playoffs under the old system either, as both lost their region play-in games in the final week of the regular season.
Johnson (7-3) fell 22-18 to Jenkins County (6-4), after failing to score a touchdown in the game’s final minute with the ball deep in War Eagle territory. The Trojans were held out of the end zone on third-and-goal from the half-yard line and on fourth-and-inches to go.
Johnson, which had defeated Jenkins 14-0 in Week 1, played the game without a total of seven starters because of a flu breakout at the school, according to head coach Don Norton. Four players were infected and sat out, but three of them started both ways while the fourth was a one-way starter.
All three of the Trojans’ losses were to teams that advanced to the playoffs. Still, Norton offered no excuses, even though his team fell just .05 of a point short of a playoff spot in the rankings.
“We knew if we won we would be in, but we didn’t get the job done,” Norton said. “We had four players out with the flu at our school, but that’s not an excuse.”
“I was in favor of the split,” said Norton, in his sixth season as head coach in Wrightsville. “We definitely got caught on the short end this time, but the system is what it is. There are a bunch of others who have gripes, too. We had a good year and we played hard, but we didn’t take care of our business.”
Mt. Zion (6-4) lost its play-in game to Mt. Paran Christian (3-7), 35-14. In the Power Rankings, the Eagles were hurt by not getting credit for wins over AAA Cross Keys (59-12) and North Cobb Christian (46-13) because both teams played non-region schedules this season. Mt. Zion finished with a Power Ranking of 24.
“We had our chance to beat Mt. Paran and we didn’t get the job done,” said Mt. Zion head coach Keith Holloway, in his first season as head coach in Carrollton. The Eagles were coming off of consecutive 0-10 seasons prior to Holloway’s arrival.
“You tell the seniors you really appreciate what they did. They played a big part in turning this program around. They will go down in history around here for that,” Holloway said. “Things didn’t end on a good note, but there were a lot of positives for us.”
And so in actuality, Jenkins should have made our public school “loser” list. The War Eagles won their play-in game, and therefore would have advanced to the playoffs under the old system. Also, three of the four teams that defeated Jenkins in the regular season made the playoffs.
If this were last year …
For nostalgia’s sake, here’s how the playoffs would have looked under the old system (higher seeds listed first):
Wilcox County-Jenkins County winner vs.
Miller County-Marion County winner
Athens Academy-Our Lady of Mercy winner vs.
Wilkinson County-Trion winner
Emanuel County Institute-Turner County winner vs.
Dooly County-Mitchell County winner
Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy-Athens Christian winner vs.
Seminole County-Hawkinsville winner vs.
Irwin County-Calvary Day winner
Lincoln County-Mt. Pisgah Christian winner vs.
Prince Avenue Christian-Holy Innocents winner
Brookstone-Terrell County winner vs.
Savannah Christian-Telfair County winner
Walker-First Presbyterian Day winner vs.
Landmark Christian-George Walton Academy winner
And as a reminder, here are the real pairings for the Round 1:
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