Class A Private School Final: ELCA 33, PAC 0

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Upsets make for great drama, great books and movies. But the stark truth is this: 99.9 percent of the time, Goliath wins.

Such was the case Friday afternoon in the Georgia Dome, as Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (12-1) finally lived up to the championship level hype that has surrounded the program for the better part of four years. The Chargers dominated an over-matched but feisty team from Prince Avenue Christian (11-2), 33-0, to claim Georgia’s first ever Class A private school football championship.

Each year since the current group of seniors was in ninth grade, when a handful of them were starters or played significant minutes, ELCA inched closer and closer to a title. They lost in the second round as freshmen at Lincoln County, lost in the quarterfinals as sophomores to eventual champion Clinch County, and though they were favored to win it all last season, the Chargers were upset in the semifinals by rival Landmark Christian.

But this season, ELCA left no doubt.

“I think it was God’s plan,” said standout senior running back/linebacker Keyante Green. “I feel like we were meant to lose those times so that we could be focused on winning today.”

And it did take some focus early. After ELCA forced a three-and-out on PAC’s first possession, the Chargers made it look easy, marching 46 yards in just four plays, as Green stiff armed two Wolverine defenders on his way to a 23-yard touchdown run to give ELCA an early 7-0 lead.

But then PAC found a chink in the Charger armor, particularly over left tackle. The Wolverine wing-T offense, which had been averaging over 300 yards rushing, focused on traps to that side of the line and went on a 12-play drive that ate up most of the first quarter. But they were forced to punt and ELCA began another drive.

However, this time the PAC defense held on fourth-and-10 from their 22-yard line and the offense took over on downs. On their ensuing drive, it appeared as if the Wolverines were about to go three-and-out again. But head coach Mark Farriba made the gutsy call of calling for a fake punt on fourth-and-three from the PAC 27 yard line. Carl Mattox took the short snap and raced 42 yards, and an unsportsmanlike penalty on the tackle moved the ball to the ELCA 20.

But the drive stalled on the Charger 13, and ELCA began another march late in the second quarter. The Chargers moved the ball down to the PAC 9, but on first and goal a big hit by linebacker Christian Payne jarred the ball loose from Marquis Griffin, and Tyler Parrish recovered it to hold the margin at 7-0 at halftime.

“I told them to just relax,” said head coach Jonathan Gess, for whom the game was probably a bit less stressful than the previous 48 hours of his real life. He and his wife Dee welcomed their first child into the world on Wednesday.

“We were dominating the game in every area,” Gess said. “I told them to stay calm, stay focused. We’ll get the ball in the second half and we’ll go down and score.”

And that’s what they did, one play after Jevious Terry’s 30-yard return of a short second-half kickoff spotted the ball at the PAC 24, D.J. Curl sprinted into the end zone to begin the 20-point third quarter that put the game away.”

“It’s pretty surreal,” said Curl, a senior. “When we were up on that stage getting the trophy, I thought back over the prior four years. All the blood, sweat and tears. It all paid off. It was all worth it.”

PAC       0 0 0 0           0
ELCA    7 0 20 6      33

ELCA – Keyante Green 23 run (Cole Dellinger kick)

ELCA – D.J. Curl 22 run (Dellinger kick)

ELCA – Brad Moore 14 run (Dellinger kick)

ELCA – Green 13 run (kick failed)

ELCA – Dalton Etheridge 1 run (kick failed)

40 comments Add your comment

sportsnut

December 14th, 2012
6:43 pm

Congratulations ELCA from Clayton County and Lovejoy high school. Very well done.

S. Thomas Coleman

December 14th, 2012
6:55 pm

@Class A Fans:

First, congrats to ELCA and to PAC for the great seasons they had!

We’ve got a TON of material under the “LatestNews” heading on the high school sports page. So to check out the Public School Scouting Report, the Public School Preview (great stuff from Dooly head coach Jimmy Hughes), and a feature on “The Split”, click on the word “MORE” at the bottom of the “LatestNews” heading.

Also, I’ll have a fresh football blog tomorrow morning.

As always, thanks for reading and posting!!

S. Thomas Coleman

December 14th, 2012
6:57 pm

@Class A Fans:

How could I forget to mention that you can read all of those pieces, except for the new blog, by picking up a copy of the AJC at your local 5-and-Dime!

S. Thomas Coleman

HSF

December 14th, 2012
7:32 pm

It was ELCA’S year. They were the class of ‘A’ Private or Public this year. It was their year; next year I think we’ll find several teams very close…

Witness

December 14th, 2012
8:13 pm

GO CHARGERS !!!!! Congratulations on a fabulous year of football “STATE CHAMPIONS” sounds great !!! The team did a great job today in the DOME and it was even better to see them stand on the stage and state this was also made possible through their belief in GOD !!! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL ELCA NATION !!!!

nourstuff

December 14th, 2012
8:41 pm

Congratulations to ELCA, they fielded a superior team and played well today.

That Dude Says...

December 14th, 2012
9:32 pm

Congratulations to ELCA. I’m from Fayette Co and a Sandy Creek product. I was pulling you guys. Just like I’ll be pulling for Lovejoy in AAAAAA and my Patriots in AAAA tomorrow. Southside stand up!!!!

bucket

December 14th, 2012
10:15 pm

Congratulations to ELCA on their state championship today. The 1st half was alot of fun, but the depth of ELCA was overwhelming in the 2nd half.

George P Burdell

December 14th, 2012
11:01 pm

Congrats to ELCA- Nobody recruits better!!!

LoveFridayFootball

December 14th, 2012
11:11 pm

Thanks, George!

Innocent Bystander

December 15th, 2012
12:08 am

@ George P………That’s what every team we kicked in the teeth says ! Thanks !

Monolithicdawg

December 15th, 2012
12:44 am

Congrats to PAC. This was a great season, regardless, especially when no one thought y’all could get there. Again, great season!

MCMBAA

December 15th, 2012
1:29 am

Congratulations to ELCA, proud of you guys! I know the work you put into this and it’s absolutely and well deserved.

I also want to say congratulations to PAC on their exceptional season. You guys have the heart of a lion and an indominatable spirit!

Mighty Hornet

December 15th, 2012
8:20 am

Congratulations ELCA – it’s good to see that all your hard work has paid off!!!! Swamp Lizzard – you knew ELCA was the team to beat all along!!!!! From the Mighty Hornet’s wife…… GO ELCA!!! What an awesome win yesterday!!!!! That #70 has really got a great future ahead of him!!!!!

George P Burdell

December 15th, 2012
8:38 am

@IB You tell me how a single A school has over a dozen D-1 prospects? My son was offered a scholarship ON THE FIELD after playing ELCA in middle school. I speak from experience, not from sour grapes.

Swamp Lizard

December 15th, 2012
9:08 am

@ Mighty Hornet … Thank you for sharing in our joy! You know I’m proud of that # 70 !! ;)

Swamp Lizard

December 15th, 2012
9:18 am

@ George P Burdell … over a dozen? Last count I had was TWO … If it is a dozen, I sure hope my kid is one.

ECI Dawg

December 15th, 2012
9:31 am

@George P Burdell, go back to your trailer park and stop making up this junk. Congratulate these kids on their hard work and a job well done. Go ECI!

liberalefty

December 15th, 2012
10:04 am

i wish the public schools werent afraid of playing the private schools…seriously, 2 class “A” champs?…lol

LanFan

December 15th, 2012
10:47 am

Lets discuss all that other junk sometime next week. For now congrats to the players and the parents. All involved should be proud and savor experience.

DEE1

December 15th, 2012
10:47 am

Congrats to a great team and a good group of football players!

J.T. Walker

December 15th, 2012
11:22 am

Congrats to ELCA on a great season and the State Championship!

LanFan

December 15th, 2012
2:02 pm

@TSC didn’t see your otherstuff under latest news did I miss it or am I looking in the wrong place.

Rico

December 15th, 2012
2:19 pm

@George P … Things change my friend. Of course there is recruiting!! At every school at every level. Maybe next time you will ate the offer. :-)

gafootball

December 15th, 2012
5:02 pm

ELCA does recruit for football a couple of my friends left my school to go to elca, they recruit mostly skilled positions

Innocent Bystander

December 15th, 2012
6:50 pm

@ Liberalefty……….ELCA vs ECI = GAME OF THE YEAR……….NEITHER TEAM IS SCARED ! GUARANTEED !!!!

LoveFridayFootball

December 15th, 2012
7:20 pm

IB… I was at the ECI game today, I don’t think ELCA vs ECI would end up a game of the yr game. Yes, they ran away with that game but I saw a lot of holes. They played a team that had ALL DAY to throw the ball and couldn’t hit wide open receivers. I don’t think if we played them it would even be close…

TomDawg

December 15th, 2012
11:01 pm

@LoveFridayFootball…. I promise, ELCA couldn’t stop that ECI rushing attack no better than Dooly could. And you’re right, it probably wouldn’t be close.

LoveFridayFootball

December 15th, 2012
11:53 pm

TD… ELCA is not Dooly! And ECI would not run outside… Well, they would three times then punt! Idk if ECI even scores on ELCA’s D!!! And am I the only one that saw Doolys QB have ALL the time in the world standing in the pocket?!?! ELCA scores at Will!!!

Zone3canE

December 16th, 2012
2:23 am

@gafootball: Who do you play for?

Innocent Bystander

December 16th, 2012
8:59 am

@ TomDawg…………I didn’tsee the ECI/Dooley game, I was just saying we are the 2 top teams in 1A hands down. That being said, believe me, ECI wouldn’t make it out of that one. No way on earth ECI runs on us, and they sure won’t throw it on us. The ELCA D is like no other, and the Offense is DEADLY ! I guess the world will never know about this hypothetical game, but ELCA does !

TomDawg

December 16th, 2012
1:27 pm

@AllPrivateSchoolBigMouths… Ask Montravius Adams if ECI can run the ball. The game plan was to run right at him and that other 325lb tackle, and thats exactly what happened. Rochell and Green are good, but they would get trucked too. James Brown is twice the running back Green is. And you want to talk about defense. Wilcox County Johnathan Howard and Makail Grace two more D1 recruits found out about ECI’s D, real quick. Who cares if the qb has time to throw, if the receiver is worried about getting hit (hard) he ain’t gonna catch many. Swamp Lizard, i respect what you say and i respect ELCA, it’s these other big mouths on here who don’t know a football from a ping pong ball .

LoveFridayFootball

December 16th, 2012
4:04 pm

Ha!!! We love playing teams that are bigger than us… Their tongues hang out that much faster! We have an open date next yr I’m sure we can set up a home and home!
We have 11 guys that swarm to the ball on D.. And more than just ONE playmaker on Off.. It really is to bad we’ll never know….. I guess we can thank the powers that be for that. As far as big mouths, I call it like I see it…and what I saw live Saturday would play to ELCA’s strength! Oh btw, bigmouth, I never said ONE of our players was better than ONE of yours..but our TEAM is!!!

prove it

December 16th, 2012
4:27 pm

Enter your comments here

Innocent Bystander

December 16th, 2012
8:27 pm

@ TomDawg……..We get it. If we pat you on the back & tell you how awesome you are like Swamp did earlier, you’ll respect us too. I’ve heard your big mouth flappin on here since before the playoffs & all that’s came out of it is how great ECI is and how bad evey one else is. I know, you did say we would pound Savannah, and we did. My ties to Savannah said you guys couldn’t play 4 qtrs with us & honestly that’s no surprise to anybody. You can name every player on your team and say they’re D-1 or how great they are, but that means nothing. OUR DEFENSE HAS NO WEAKNESS !!! OUR OFFENSE IS A MACHINE !!! We beat ECI 9 out of 10. ALL DAY LONG ! Get on the horn with your coach and ask about a home & home ! It would be the worst decision ECI ever made !

TomDawg

December 16th, 2012
11:42 pm

@LoveFridayFootball…. Did you really say “Ha” to me. You sound like a straight up wuss. Look, ya’ll only scored 7 points in the first half Friday. We would have had our usual 20-25 points by then and you would’ve never caught up. And Mr. Innocent Bystander…. I never said we had any D1 players. But we got about 50 of the most hard nose, hit you in the mouth,knock you on your butt football players you’ll ever play against. All they do is shut up D1 players. As far as playing you guys, i wish it could have been this year so we could have played your best team. We all know next year you’ll be without Green and Rochell, so you’ll be just another team. We on the other hand will be right back in the thick of things as usual and going back to the dome. And don’t try and recruit James Brown, he’s a dawg for life.

Innocent Bystander

December 17th, 2012
8:17 am

@ TomDawg…………Swamp Lizard wouldn’t like your recruiting crack at the end Tommy ! You keep living in your dream world where you think you can score more than 10 points on ELCA’s D. I saw your game with Wilcox Co. You don’t have a kid in Rochelle that can turn the corner on us !!!!!!!!! For that matter, your D couldn’t come close to stopping us either. Keep talking & dreaming !

Swamp Lizard

December 17th, 2012
8:29 am

@ TomDawg …. I will not agrue with you if ELCA could beat ECI or not … we have our own opinions about that. I will tell you this though, ELCA might be a better team next year …. I do know that. We have 22 juniors on this team …. 22 FOOTBALL PLAYERS coming back. Not to mention the freshmen & sophomores that played this year and others that will be stepping up their game. ELCA will be pre-season #1 !!

Innocent Bystander

December 17th, 2012
9:09 am

@ Swamp……….AMEN !!!!!!! You are so diplomatic !

S. Thomas Coleman

December 17th, 2012
1:11 pm

I just posted the final football blog of 2012. It’s on the front of the blog page.

As for the ECI-ELCA debate, it would be a GREAT game! It would not be a blowout by either side, in my opinion.

Dooly’s quarterback is an athlete playing the position. His best sport is basketball. He had some opportunities in the passing game that he missed on, and I think ELCA could exploit that. On the other hand, ECI’s ground attack is probably better than anything ELCA faced this season, including Washington County. Once ECI found its groove with Purcell and Brown as the two main ball carriers, they’ve been hard to stop, and with an offensive line that has one senior.

Bottom line, ECI-ELCA would have been a toss up. If either of them has an open date in 2013, perhaps they can make it happen. It sure would be fun!

Thanks for reading and posting, and make sure you go check out the new and final football blog for 2012.

S. Thomas Coleman