Class A Blog: ELCA-Clinch, GWA-Aquinas, PAC-Savannah Christian headline big games in season’s third week

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Here is a six-pack of big games in just the third week of the regular season:

No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (1-0) at Clinch County (1-1). This will be a great early season barometer for both teams. Last season ELCA thumped the Panthers 47-20 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. The Chargers led by five touchdowns at the half. That game was two years removed from an epic battle between the two in the 2010 state quarterfinals, which was won by Clinch County, the eventual Class A state champs, 34-27. Now comes the rubber match between the two. ELCA, the defending Class A private school champion, is coming off a 27-7 win over Alabama private school power Briarwood Christian last week and is led by senior dual-threat quarterback Dalton Etheridge. Clinch County looks like it might be back on course after one of its worst seasons ever last year. The Panthers competed well two weeks ago in a 26-14 loss to Class AA No. 5 Brooks County, and downed Mitchell County last week, 22-14.
Last year:  ELCA 47, Clinch County 20

No. 2 Prince Avenue Christian (2-0) at Savannah Christian (0-0-1). PAC established itself as one of the elite Class A programs last season, marching to the Class A private school title game before running into ELCA. Head coach Mark Farriba, who was 31-8 in his final three seasons as the Wolverines’ head coach, left to return to his hometown of Macon to coach Stratford Academy of the Georgia Independent Schools Association. But Jeff Herron, architect of one of the state’s top programs, Camden County, has stepped in to lead a talented group of returning players, led by LB Christian Payne. North Oconee transfer RB Zantravious Shields has added another weapon to PAC’s arsenal. Meanwhile Savannah Christian is looking to return to its championship form of 2011 through its defense, which is led by linebackers Ahmad Johnson, JaVon Green and Nick Bateman, along with DB Wade Benton.
Last year:  PAC 28, Savannah Christian 12

No. 3 Lincoln County (1-0) at No. 9 Washington-Wilkes (1-0). It’s the 76th edition of the Highway 378 War. Lincoln County leads the series 37-32-6 and has dominated recently winning eight of the last 10 matchups. But the Tigers won last year’s game 21-6, their first victory in the series since 2006.
Last year: Washington-Wilkes 21, Lincoln County 6

No. 4 George Walton Academy (1-0) at No. 7 Aquinas (1-0). In one of the biggest early-season games in any classification, GWA is considered one of the top challengers to a repeat by ELCA. The Bulldogs are led by preseason all-state RB Stanley Williams, who has committed to Kentucky. Aquinas does not appear to be suffering a letdown after the departure of all-state LB/RB Brendan Douglas (now at UGA) and former head coach Matt LaZotte.
Last year:  Aquinas 28, GWA 21 (OT)

No. 10 Wilkinson County (0-1) at Landmark Christian (2-0). The Warriors will look to bounce back from a 41-32 loss to rival Wilcox County last week, a game in which they outgained the Patriots 303-242, most of it coming from RB Shaq Underwood (17 carries for 142 yards). Despite the transfer of all-state RB Jeremiah Kirkland (Lovejoy) and a young lineup, Landmark Christian is looking to go 3-0. The War Eagles are led this season by LB Williams Higbie, DB/RB Nolan Bryant, RB Darius Smith, all seniors, and sophomore QB Stockton McGuire.
Last year:  Wilkinson County 41, Landmark 10

Charlton County (1-0) at Ware County (0-1). Charlton County is another longtime power looking to get back on track after a subpar (5-6) season in 2012. The Indians will look to avenge a 31-0 thrashing at the hands of Ware County last season. The Gators went on to advance to the Class AAAAA title game.
Last year:  Ware County 31, Charlton County 0


And here’s three more for good measure:

No. 6 Athens Academy (1-0) at Pace Academy (1-0)
Last year:  Athens Academy 42, Pace 7

No. 8 Seminole County (1-0) at Turner County (0-1)
Last year:  Seminole County 34, Turner County 32

Dooly County (0-1) at Americus-Sumter (0-1)
Last year:  Dooly County 21, Americus-Sumter 12

Now it’s your turn. Until Saturday …

32 comments Add your comment

southside fan

September 5th, 2013
1:07 pm

to STC: I just realized your son had the 100 yard kick return in last weeks game for OLM. I heard it was a great effort by him. Best of luck to your son and the rest of OLM team for the rest of the season. Now I understand how you have such an insight and understanding to Class A football .
Keep up the good work !

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
2:29 pm

Southside Fan:

Thanks for the kinds words on my son! But I’ve always been a fan of Class A. Did several pieces on Landmark years ago when Bill Thorn (who started the program) was their coach. And I did one of the first pieces on ELCA when they moved over from the GISA. Their best player was a kid who played TE, I believe. He ended up signing a D1 scholarship, I forget where.

Thanks for reading and posting.

STC

1gadawg

September 5th, 2013
2:46 pm

The ELCA tight end was Alec Huber. He went to Purdue. Clinch and Elca will be a lot closer than last year. A tougher team at home.

james

September 5th, 2013
3:35 pm

Ware is 0-1, not 1-0, they got thrashed by Coffee last week.. And why isn’t anyone talking about the Irwin County- Fitzgerald game?

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
3:55 pm

1gadawg:

Thanks for refreshing my memory! He was a good kid. Guess he’s a grown man now!

And I agree with your ELCA-Clinch County assessment. Should be a pretty good game down there in Homerville.

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
4:14 pm

James:

Thanks for catching the typo. It’s been fixed.

And to be honest with you, unless Irwin has really improved and Fitzgerald is way down, I don’t think the game will be that close. It hardly ever is. Fitzgerald won last season 31-0.

In fact, Fitzgerald has won the last 13 over Irwin. Over the last 10 meetings Irwin has lost to Fitz by a combined score of 344-95 and has been shut out four times.

STC

JT Walker

September 5th, 2013
4:16 pm

Hello, all. Sorry I missed responding to some of the previous posts. Here are some “catch up thoughts:”

The Pace chatter was amazing. I hope STC is right and there is not a fire at the source of all that smoke. I bet Swamp is happy ELCA is not the target of all the recruiting allegations this year.

STC: Great to meet you Friday. I was sitting with the MP people but secretly pulling for OLM. In addition to the kick return, #2 had a TD saving tackle on MP’s first possesion that I had a front row seat for. I hope he has a great senior season!

Speaking of MP, I spoke to one of their coaches today and they had a bug go through the football team that reduced their numbers to where they didn’t feel they could field a JV team Wednesday. Hopefully, we will get to reschedule for later in the season.

Anyone have a take on Trion? I know they are in region 6 and not worthy of much attention, but I got their roster today and they have over 70 kids on the team.

I didn’t do very well last week, but here goes again:

George Walton 35 Aquinas 24
PAC 21 Sav Christian 22
Lincoln Co. 17 Wash-Wilkes 21
Wilkinson Co 31 Landmark 14
Clinch Co 21 ELCA 20

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
7:29 pm

JT Walker:

Great meeting you as well, and tanks for the shout out and well wishes to my son!

And thanks for your picks as well. I see you have Clinch in a close one over ELCA. That would be the upset of the year so far! I’m sure Swamp and ELCA will beg to differ with you :)

STC

ajc class A fan

September 5th, 2013
7:54 pm

I really enjoy this blog. read it all the time but have never posted. I am a Landmark/Fairburn fan. I was not at the game last year when Landmark went to Wilkerson and got destroyed. I think or hope Landmark is better and Wilkerson is coming to Landmark for their opening home game. Landmark has won two tough games a very long way from home and can’t wait to play before the student body. Last year Wilkerson got Kirkland, who is awesome but a lot of fans think the speed of Smith and the pounding running of Bryant is to much for Wilkerson to take for 4 quarters. A high scoring game but Landmark wins at home. BTW winners are ELCA, SAV. Christian, GWA, Lincoln Co. and with a long shot Pace over Athens Academy. Oh Lord.

JT Walker

September 5th, 2013
8:35 pm

class A fan: I like your pick of Pace over Athens Academy. If Pace is truly on the rise, Region 5 will be a beast this year. I hope Landmark is as good as you and many others say. Walker played them well during our scrimmage.

STC: I will keep picking against Swamp until he rises to the bait. I really didn’t think Toledo was going to beat Florida but I do think Clinch will give ELCA a game in Homerville.

Eagles1

September 5th, 2013
9:19 pm

Ok here’s my picks:
George Walton 38 Aquinas 14
Savannah Christian 21 PAC 10
Lincoln County 35 Washington Wilkes 7
Wilkinson 21 Landmark 14
ELCA 42 Clinch County 14

Sorry but I have to add MPCS. 28 Brookstone 10 :)

JSP

September 5th, 2013
9:46 pm

I’m very interested in seeing how teams like Mt. Paran and Pace look this coming week. For me, their wins were one of the biggest shockers of the week. Paran started 0-4 last year, and they could very easily be at least 3-1. Don’t know if they’re ready to take down Landmark. Pace on the other hand looked good last week against Whitefield and have got Athens Academy. In my honest opinion, I feel Athens is overrated. I went to their playoff game last year against Pisgah, and they did not look like the number 1 team in the state. New season though. You never know. Should be interesting.

aj

September 5th, 2013
10:00 pm

Enter your comments here

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
10:02 pm

ajc class A fan:

Thanks for checking in. That’s a great home opener for Landmark. Kudos to Coach Brantley and his staff for putting together a very good non-region schedule and for continuing their winning ways. I guess it’s true that tradition never graduates … or transfers!

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
10:02 pm

JT Walker:

I’m sure Swamp will be checking in at some point :)

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 5th, 2013
10:06 pm

JSP:

I tend to agree with your assessment of Athens Academy. They lost a ton of talent and just as importantly, senior leadership. But tradition never graduates and Coach Gunn and his staff do as good a job of any staff in Georgia. Teams always have to play well in order to beat AA. Like you said, it should be an interesting game.

STC

ajc class A fan

September 5th, 2013
10:16 pm

JT- Region 5 is a beast. ELCA could win championships in a few classifications. The walker scrimmage was great. Walker is well coached. They worked on things that showed they did not care about winning a scrimmage but worked on the season ahead. Landmark did the same, except show Bryant at running back. Walker could go deep, depending on the draw they get. Loved the QB for Walker. Gutsy kid. Elca wins clas A, AA, AAA….

CSRA706

September 6th, 2013
3:18 am

Everyone is really counting Aquinas out against GWA, they are gonna surprise alot of folks, i just hope that they get that no. 2 spot in the polls come next week. Also, Lincoln Co. doesn’t have a prayer against Washington-Wilkes, look for them to be the team to beat in AA for the next few years

bucket

September 6th, 2013
8:19 am

@ ajc A fan – easy now on the bold predictions. ELCA is in my opinion the class of Class A football right now for sure and the season will reveal how much ground the rest of Single A has made up on them. ELCA might even be a force in AA, but I think Buford might have something to say if they stepped into AAA.

As for this weekend’s games, I wish I could be in about 5 different locations! Homerville, Augusta, Fairburn, Washington, Savannah, and Mableton are going to be rocking tonight with HUGE games!

Eagles1

September 6th, 2013
11:30 am

ELCA easily handled a class 4A traditional power from Alabama. I am not saying they could beat Buford, but they certainly would complete well in AA and AAA. STC would know better than me, but I believe the had 4 or 5 players from last years team get D1 scholarships and they have 2-3 that might get one this year.

ARdawg

September 6th, 2013
11:40 am

Unless Clinch is much farther along than it appears, an upset is unlikely but, it won’t be an easy win for ECLA

WhoCares

September 6th, 2013
1:37 pm

@CSRA706 – typical Augustan! …glorifying the Drunk Catholics (who have won absolutely no kind of championship ever!) and downgrading LC, one of the most successful high school football programs in America!

1gadawg

September 6th, 2013
2:11 pm

I’m sure Swamp has already left for the game. Too far to go for me tonight. ELCA still needs to work on their offense not as impressive as the number of points scored but they have the talent to overcome adversity. I still think Clinch is out for revenge and ELCA wins in a tight one. I’ll just watch it on line. Pace and Landmark will be tough this year.

Innocent Bystander

September 6th, 2013
8:58 pm

@ JT Walker……I would LOVE to be your Bookie !!! ELCA 30 – Clinch 0 !!!

Innocent Bystander

September 6th, 2013
8:59 pm

Not quite a tight one ! Revenge is a HORRIBLE game plan !

btexpress

September 6th, 2013
9:33 pm

Enter your comments here

btexpress

September 6th, 2013
9:34 pm

Anybody know if Landmark or Pace won tonight?

Waide Swain

September 6th, 2013
9:40 pm

Pace won 42-10 or 42-9

Johnny Vegas

September 6th, 2013
9:45 pm

Just a little FYI – Aquinas beat GWA in overtime – 19-16! GO IRISH!

Savannah Blogger

September 6th, 2013
9:58 pm

Savannah christian looked good tonight taking care of business againt PAC. However, #63 for PAC (right tackle) is a beast!

CSRA706

September 6th, 2013
10:00 pm

@whocares, stop living in the past,what have you done for me lately, but the games turned out just like i said

CR

September 7th, 2013
12:12 am

Btexpress Landmark Did Win 38 17 Played A Wonderful Game!!! They are young but talented. They play with so much heart and are very well coached!!