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 …