Class A Blog: ELCA is still ELCA; Say hello to Pace; Seminole keeps rolling

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Here’s a quick look at what we learned Friday night in Week 3 of the season:

Clinch is better, but ELCA is still ELCA: While Eagle’s Landing Christian’s 30-0 win at Clinch County was a better game than last season’s 47-20 win, which was way less competitive than the score indicated, 30-0 is still 30-0. The No. 1 Chargers led 16-0 at halftime and continued to wear down the Panthers, who appear to be much better than last year’s squad that went 4-6, missed the post season and had the worst record for a Clinch County team since a 4-7 season in 1985. Friday, ELCA, the defending Class A private school champion, was led by a defense that stoned Clinch County on four downs at the ELCA 1-yard line in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Dalton Etheridge threw two touchdown passes to Davis Carrandi and ran for another.

Pace is in the football business now. About 10 years ago, an administrator at Pace Academy was quoted as saying that the Knights lack of a football team was somewhat of a badge of honor in the football-crazy atmosphere of Georgia. Now, in just its sixth season, the football program at Pace IS a badge of honor. Pace steamrolled one of the most successful programs in Class A, No. 6 Athens Academy, 42-9 on Friday, essentially reversing last season’s score – a 42-7 win for the Spartans. The Knights led 21-6 at the half and were bigger, stronger, faster, and clearly better than a Spartan unit that, while still competitive, lost 13 seniors off of last year’s team that went undefeated through the regular season and finished 11-1. Junior QB Kevin Johnson and senior WR Kameron Uter, who have been at Pace since ninth grade, hooked up for three touchdowns, while sophomore RB Malik Staples, a battering ram who transferred in from Peachtree Ridge this summer, had a 37-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass and a 1-yard scoring run. It’s time to install more bleachers in the Knights’ gorgeous, yet tiny new stadium.

Aquinas wins a thriller. It what sounded like a raucous atmosphere for a regular season game, particularly so early in the season, No. 7 Aquinas (2-0) erased a 13-7 deficit and downed No. 4 George Walton Academy (1-1), 19-16 in overtime in Augusta. Irish RB Ruben Garnett took a direct snap and darted in from a yard out for the win. All-state RB Stanley Williams had 100 yards rushing in the first quarter for GWA, but suffered an injury and was ineffective after that. All is not lost for the Bulldogs. Aquinas won last year’s regular season game as well, 28-21, also in overtime, but GWA won the rematch in the first round of the state playoffs.

Tide turning in Highway 378 War? No. 3 Lincoln County lost to Washington-Wilkes (2-0), No. 9 in AA, 28-14. It was the 76th time the teams have met in the regular season. Lincoln County, which had won eight of the last 10 meetings, leads the series 37-33-6. But Washington-Wilkes, which won last season’s match up, 21-6, has now won two consecutive games in the series for the first time since 2001-2002.

No Kirkland, no problem. So far, so good for Landmark Christian (3-0) without all-state RB Jeremiah Kirkland, who transferred to Lovejoy in the off season. The War Eagles will most likely jump into the AJC/Georgia High School Football Daily Top 10 after trouncing No. 10 Wilkinson County, 37-18 on Friday in Fairburn. Landmark is making up for Kirkland’s departure by committee with sophomore quarterback Stockton McGuire, and seniors Nolan Bryant and Darius Smith. McGuire ran for 178 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns Friday, while Smith and William Higbie, also a senior, scored touchdowns on the ground as well.

Savannah Christian is back. The Raiders smothered No. 2 Prince Avenue Christian (2-1), 17-9, in Savannah. The Wolverines offense, led by a potent ground game, had piled up 98 points in the first two games of the season. Savannah Christian (1-0-1) held PAC to 128 yards rushing and just 20 yards passing. The Wolverines’ top ball carrier, Zantravious Shields, was held to just 26 yards on 11 carries.

Seminole County rolls. The No. 8 Indians moved to 2-0 and have been impressive doing so this season. Seminole County blasted Turner County (0-2) 49-0 on Friday in Ashburn, one year after edging the Rebels 34-32 last season. Last week, the Indians knocked off Early County, which was ranked in the top 10 in AA, 14-13.

Now it’s your turn, Class A heads. Until Tuesday …

44 comments Add your comment

dap01

September 7th, 2013
10:16 am

Johnson County Trojans are going to surprise people. They have many athletic weapons.

chuck

September 7th, 2013
10:41 am

I went to the Prince Ave and Savannah Christian Game. I defense is the typical Raider Defense, something I do not understand. Blitz and stunt on every play???? Go figure. Offense is still slow and uninspired, need a lot of improvement. I was shocked by the outcome. Prince is loaded with size, speed and talent. They will be a contender. Congrats to the Raiders, young and full of heart!!!

S. Thomas Coleman

September 7th, 2013
11:59 am

Dap01:

How did JoCo do Friday? I know they are a team to watch.

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 7th, 2013
12:05 pm

Chuck:

Coach Chumley believes in an aggressive D that “plays on the other side of the ball.” Always has, and it’s been a working formula for him. Looks like SCPS is back in the championship hunt.

STC

Augusta68

September 7th, 2013
12:12 pm

A few corrections regarding the Aquinas-George Walton game. Williams did not have 100 yards in the first quarter, watching the replay he had less than 50. He go injured near the end of the first half when he had about 100 yards (his replacement, Mason, did quite well in the 3rd quarter). Williams was ineffective in his return. Also, Garnett scored the game winner on a 5 yard run. George Walton had problems containing Garnett who rushed for 164 yards. George Waltons offense became non existent in the 4th quarter and OT and they go nowhere on their 4 possessions. Not quite sure about the raucous crowd either, as it was nothing like many games between two local teams are. It was an exciting game between two great teams.

dap01

September 7th, 2013
3:28 pm

JoCo 43 – Twiggs 0 – It wasn’t that close.

S. Thomas Coleman

September 7th, 2013
4:07 pm

Augusta68:

Thanks for the update.

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 7th, 2013
5:14 pm

Dap01:

Thanks for the update.

STC

lcsfan

September 7th, 2013
6:24 pm

I just wish everyone out there could witness the heart and size of Landmark’s team this year. They lost 14 seniors last year, are starting multiple freshman (some not taller than 5′5″ of so and weighing maybe 120 or less and are only fielding 40 players. But the size of their HEART and the team work in which they project on the field is unlike any I have seen in many years!!!
Last night, just prior to the first half ending, one of their prayers went down hard and had to be taken off the field. The brotherhood and immediate reaction of the team and the prayers that the boys started lifting up was unexplainable.
STC said it best earlier in the week…”traditions beats graduations and transfers”. Just wanted to add an AMEN to that statement.

CR

September 7th, 2013
9:41 pm

There is something special about this years Landmark team! They Play with such a passion and compete from start to finish! Heart is something you can’t teach but all of those young men have it! O am excited about Friday’s game already!!

Aquinas Parent

September 7th, 2013
11:00 pm

GWA/Aquinas game turned out to be a great game just like we expected. All the talk has been about Williams and how Aquinas lost their All State LB/RB. Brendan was a huge loss and can’t be replaced. Williams is a big time talent but Ruben Garnett deserves some recognition as well! We heard about GWA kicker being the #1 kicker in the state/country. Our kicker showed he was just as strong and was clutch with 2 late field goals to take the game to OT. If both teams stay healthy both teams will go far in the playoffs.

LoveFridayFootball

September 8th, 2013
1:23 am

STC: the ELCA/Clinch game was better than last year in one aspect. Clinch didn’t have the turnovers from last yr. ELCA held them I believe to under 100yds of total offense. ELCA stood tall defending their own goal line after turning the ball over on a bad snap giving Clinch a short field. ELCA also missed out on two red zone scoring opportunities of their own. The game really wasn’t that close, but with the speed that Clinch had on both sides of the ball…it sure made it seem so.

CSRA706

September 8th, 2013
4:08 am

@everyone, I told yall bout Aquinas, so now we gonna see what the pollsters think, and shout out to Stanley Williams little brother, saw him on the side line and he asked me if i knew 23 cause thats who his brother trucked last year, it was HILLARIOUS!!! very cool kid, and let him tell it he is next in line to be a great football player.

bucket

September 8th, 2013
3:17 pm

Congratulations to SCPS for earning the victory against Prince Friday night. Coach Chumley does a great job of taking your number one option away and you have to adjust accordingly. Prince didn’t do that Friday night. There were a couple of pivotal moments that Prince missed a big play on defense and SCPS made a big play on offense. Prince had way too many penalties also that killed them at critical moments. The season is far from over, however, and we will see how every team in Single A deals with adversity as the season progresses.

Swamp Lizard

September 8th, 2013
4:30 pm

@ STC ….. Hats off to Seminole Co and the way they did away with Turner Co 49-0. I guess Coach Campbell does know a little more than a Saturday Morning, Arm Chair, Class A Blogger …. Me! ;) …… they have me at about 90% right now, I want to wait after the Clinch Co game this coming Friday night to be “sold”. “IF” they beat up on Clinch, move them to the Top of your Public Top 5.

Swamp Lizard

September 8th, 2013
4:43 pm

Big wins for Aquinas, Landmark, and Sav Christian on the Private side of Class A. I wouldn’t get to down if I’m a fan of Prince Ave, Wilkinson Co, or George Walton …. still very fine football teams.

???? …. where are the Pace Academy fans? …. are they recruiting any of those too? ;) I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself! That was a mean joke from the threads ( blogs ) last week. I mean no harm.

Swamp Lizard

September 8th, 2013
4:49 pm

@ Coach Dickerson, the Clinch Co players & fans …… you are ALL first class in my eyes. I will be pulling for y’all throughout the season.

1gadawg

September 8th, 2013
6:11 pm

I was able to watch Landmark and Pace. Both teams will be very youth. Landmark plays hard with an attitude. Pace will be the surprise of “A”

1gadawg

September 8th, 2013
6:16 pm

I don’t know how the word youth ended up in my sentence. It was suppose to be good

Football Fan 123

September 8th, 2013
6:38 pm

STC, any luck talking to Coach Slade down at Pace?

Swamp Lizard

September 8th, 2013
7:24 pm

Todd’s Top 10 ( AJC ) for Class A …..
1. ELCA ….. OK, I agree, you got that one right.
2. Landmark …. from being unranked to #2 ??? I have been impressed with the body of work though.
3. Lincoln Co … you lose and stay at #3? …. beat someone and don’t live off of NAME
4. Aquinas …. impressive win over George Walton ( 19-16 )
5. Sav Christian … big win over Prince Ave ( 17-9 )
6. George Walton Academy …. tough loss to Aquinas
7. Prince Ave … tough loss to Sav Christian
8. Seminole Co … two impressive wins …. beat Clinch Co and you should be a lot higher than this.
9. Wilcox Co … loss to AAAA team … still has to prove themselves
10. Johnson Co …. I guess this was a pick out of a hat.

Teams to watch out for …..
Pace Academy … Mt Paran … the winner of Walker / Trion game this coming Friday

S. Thomas Coleman

September 8th, 2013
9:50 pm

1gadawg:

Yes, Pace is good, very good and well coached.

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

September 8th, 2013
9:53 pm

FootballFan123:

Not yet, but I hope to speak to him sometime on Monday.

STC

Walker Fan

September 8th, 2013
9:53 pm

@Swamp…I agree with many elements of your top ten and teams to watch out for so I will confine my comments to the things I disagree with.

Landmark – They are good but folks are giving them way to much love. They are not the Landmark of prior years…no way they should be number 2. I say this because when Walker went varsity against varsity a few weeks ago during the first quarter of the scrimmage with Landmark, it was a dead heat, and Walker is not as good as last year…but improving quickly

Pace – I think they should slot somewhere in around number 5 and if it were not for prior year’s history, they would already be there. I believe they are the real deal.

Trion – I think they should be somewhere around 9 or 10.

S. Thomas Coleman

September 8th, 2013
9:54 pm

Swamp:

Stay tuned for the Divided Top 5 on Tuesday!

STC

joe

September 9th, 2013
8:03 am

Pace is the reaol deal.

S. Fulton Football Fan

September 9th, 2013
8:44 am

@ Walker

Landmark – They are good but folks are giving them way to much love. They are not the Landmark of prior years…no way they should be number 2. I say this because when Walker went varsity against varsity a few weeks ago during the first quarter of the scrimmage with Landmark, it was a dead heat, and Walker is not as good as last year…but improving quickly

It’s also called a scrimmage! I was at that game and Landmark’s Head Coach Brantley is one of the smartest coaches in the state! First off, Calvary Day coaches were there scouting the game, Coach Brantley ran something completely different because he wasn’t going to show his hand. He knew it was a scrimmage, it was all about just getting these boys some playing time and getting the jitters out before the season started. Second off, Landmark didnt play that well that night because they were running something completely different, but this is why it’s called a scrimmage. It’s not at all played like a real game. Landmark started off slow on both sides of the ball, but then picked it up. Several times they forced Walker to punt the ball but since it was a scrimmage, Walker still had the ball just had to start back on their own 20. If a real game had been played and a real score was kept, Landmark would’ve have beaten Walker by double digits! Once again, Landmark didnt even play their best game. So stop being a bitter fan because your football team isn’t as strong as last year, even that team was overrated.

I enjoy watching all the South Fulton teams, they are all well coached and surprise many teams! It’s so funny to read these blogs and watch so many of the other teams complain and rant that the South Fulton teams aren’t the real deal! Yet, when they play against one, they never get the W against them…

So who’s not the real deal???

Walker Fan

September 9th, 2013
9:56 am

S. Fulton Football Fan…I was only talking about the first quarter. If you were at that game, you will recall that neither team punted (or would have had to) in the first quarter or would have needed to given the “reset to 20″ structure if punt needed…there were four sustained drives for touchdowns. Both teams had time to drive the field twice and score two touchdowns each in their 6 minute segments. Neither team was held to what would have been a punt under the scrimmage structure. After the first quarter, everything was off kilter for both teams so I am not saying anything about Q2 through Q4.. Regardless, Landmark is a fine team…I am just disagreeing with Swamp that they are the second best team right now in Class A, if for no other reason than their youth. As it currently stands, I would NOT put Walker in the top 15, probably NOT even the top 20, yet things were pretty evenly matched when it was varsity for varsity for those first twelve minutes that ended with a score of 15-14 Landmark. Even if you are right, that had the game played out for real and Landmark won by double digits, call it 20 if that feels right (even though it was 15 to 14 at the end of the one meaningful quarter), I still would not rank Landmark as number 2 in the state…probably more like 6 or 7…this was just a debate with Swamp. If you agree with Swamp that Landmark is now the number 2 best team in Class A, that is great. I promise no bitterness here at all here. That is the fun of this board…opinions. Trion is very, very good this year (better than last) and will be an enormously difficult challenge for Walker this Friday.

Class A

September 9th, 2013
10:14 am

Pace is the real deal; they have one of the best offenses in Class A lead by Denzel Franklin, Kevin Johnson, Malik Staples, and Kameron Uter. All have D1 potential; the O-Line is solid enough to score points. The defense lead by Denzel Franklin, Anthony Trinh, Deandre Byrd, Malik Staples, and Phillip Markwalter. THEY ARE THE REAL DEAL.

Swamp Lizard

September 9th, 2013
10:20 am

@ Class A …… all those boys transfer from Peachtree Ridge? ;) ……. wishing Pace the best, look good so far!

Walker Fan

September 9th, 2013
10:33 am

@Swamp…just looked at your schedule…you will have to wait until the last two games of the year to actually get your blood pumping…Pace and Landmark. Good games this coming Friday include:

Landmark vs Mt. Paran
Trion vs. Walker
GW vs HIES

What others are on your radar?

Swamp Lizard

September 9th, 2013
10:33 am

@ Walker Fan …… I think we agree 100% on the Top 10 thing …… Landmark is good, but I was questioning how they could go from unranked to #2 in the state also. I think Seminole Co should be higher, not sold on Lincoln Co at #3 at all, and at least put a team at #10 that has beaten someone …. who cares JoCo shut out two teas that will not have a winning record.

Looking forward to seeing how the Walker / Trion game goes this Friday ….. give us an update on it come Saturday morning. I’ll be honest with you, I can’t get a feel on the teams in Region 6A & 6B …… you could have a world beater come out of that Region and I don’t think anyone would know. All you can do is judge teams on who they play and how good those teams that they played are ….. just “opinions”.

Swamp Lizard

September 9th, 2013
10:41 am

@ Walker Fan …… yes, you are right I think. Looking forward to Pace & Landmark games.

Those are three very interesting games this week! I’m going with Landmark over Mt. Paran ( they are #2 in the state! ;) ) ….. I’m going to be taking Walker over Trion ( pulling for your team ) ….. and I think GW will bounce back this week over Holy Innocents, but I think it will be CLOSE.

LoveFridayFootball

September 9th, 2013
10:44 am

@Walker Fan: ELCA’s blood has been pumping strong since our preseason game. We have played (counting the scrimmage) 4 very good teams in a row! I’d be surprised if any single A team starts the season with a harder schedule. Dutchtown away.. Waco away.. Briarwood home.. Clinch away..

Swamp Lizard

September 9th, 2013
10:54 am

I think ELCA is going to need this 5 game run ( before Pace & Landmark ) to smooth out some of the issues on offense. It’s been a one man show so far ( QB Eteridge ). I’m sure Coach Gess will continue to work through those things and get them better. The positive has been the ELCA “D” ….. those boys have played lights out and look very strong.

One more thing of note: during that 5 game strech, don’t forget about Holy Innocents, very good team!

Walker Fan

September 9th, 2013
11:50 am

@Swamp…regarding 6A and 6B…no world beaters. Trion is likely the best in 6A followed by Mt. Zion Carrollton although Darlington is a potential also, and then in 6B Mt. Paran is likely the best followed by Walker. For me, Mt. Paran’s win over OLM is still the wildcard, although it now appears to validated with their win over Brookstone. None of these teams would fare well in your region.

mpceagle

September 9th, 2013
12:15 pm

Cant wait to see how the boys do in 1st road game at Landmark after a 15 penality for 115 yard night against Brookstone we were lucky to escape with the win. No way we can be that sloppy against Landmark. Im sure coach Jordan will address that!

GAHSFBFAN24

September 9th, 2013
1:06 pm

The only game ELCA needs to worry about is the one Friday night against Hapeville. Once day at a time and one game at a time. Get better every day. As @SWAMP said, the offense needs to find some consistency. Against Dutchtown they were throwing the ball at will. Against WACO it was a good balanced ball control offense. Against Briarwood Christian is was the running attack. Against Clinch Co. the offense was opportunistic with no consistent offense except for that 99 yard drive before the half. Like last year the defense sets up the offense with good field position. Special teams are better this year.

LanFan

September 9th, 2013
4:00 pm

I agree the jump was to far. So, don’t kill us on it. The boys are so young it scares me, ranking that high could be hard for them to deal with. The idea of playing that many 9th and 10th graders every down is amazing to me.

tk

September 9th, 2013
7:22 pm

South Football fan….Everyone is entitled to their opinions on the boards. However, the majority of the opinions seem to be that Lankmark’s jump to #2 may be overated. Landmark is a good team and well coached. Friday’s game will be important for both teams (Landmark & MPC). Both are young teams and have a bright future. MPC seems to be a team built on speed with the offense using a moving pocket for the QB for short throws. Difficult for the QB to go deep with rollouts. MPC was 3-7 last year but had a running back that was 3rd or 4th in the county. in rushing. I believe he is now at the Air Force Academy. MPC just could not get the ball in the endzone due to mistakes last year.. Last week games shows they still are prone to self destruct. However, if MPC can cut down on these costly mistakes and improve their ball handling, it is my opinion they will give Landmark a good game.

I wish all teams (even those south fulton teams that you mentioned in your blog) good luck. We all have our opinions but they mean nothing since the games are played on the field on not on these blogs. Good luck to all the teams and coaches. I hope the fans set good examples of sportsmanship for their teams

JT Walker

September 9th, 2013
9:35 pm

Part of the fun of this blog is looking ahead and talking about “what if” and “if only.” Of course the players and coaches should take the season one game at a time. I agree that, with the possible exception of HEIS, ELCA won’t be tested much until Pace and Landmark and their four playoff games.

S. Fulton Football Fan: Walker Fan is never bitter. A little salty sometimes, but never bitter. Walker played well against Landmark in Q1. Better than many of us thought we would. This alone does not mean Landmark is not deserving of the #2 spot. Rankings are purely subjective. What we learned from this week’s movements is that a game (win or lose) against a top ten AA team (see Landmark and Lincoln Co, respectively) is worth more than a win over a highly ranked Class A team (see Aquinas and Savannah Christian).

Swamp: You are one cool lizard. I will stop picking against your teams since you picked Walker over Trion. I only did it to provoke and it seems I failed. I like your comments about the top 10 and wonder if that #10 spot isn’t reserved to keep the public/private mix somewhat equal. My sources in Homerville tell me ELCA hasn’t lost a bit from last year’s championship team. BTW, if you know InnocentBystander, tell him I never would have taken Clinch and the points if money were riding on it.

I will take Landmark over MPCS. Williams has the speed and Allen has just enough arm to hang with the War Eagles but LCS pulls away in the 4th. LCS 31 MPCS 21

If Williams is healthy: GWA 35 HIES 21 If not: HIES 23 GWA 20

OLM 28 Mt Pisgah 20

Clinch Co 14 Seminole Co 12

Mt Zion 56 NCCS 0

private school Parent

September 10th, 2013
5:10 am

I am sorry I missed it, but can someone explain how many kids transferred into Pace? DO they not have to sit a year, by rule?

parent of aps

September 10th, 2013
9:58 am

By rule if they moved into the school zone no they don’t But Pace has upped their recruiting this year so Coach Slade Can Win

War Eagles

September 10th, 2013
3:59 pm

Just wanted to say GO WAR EAGLES!!!!!!!! Keep on playing hard with a such a young team. The sky is the limit as long as you believe and play hard.