By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here’s the AJC.com Class A Blog Divided Top 5 after Week 7 of the season (overall AJC/Georgia High School Football Daily ranking in parenthesis). As everyone has played at least five games, here is the link to the GHSA/MaxPreps Power Ranking site: http://www.ghsa.net/2013-ghsa-power-ratings-class-a-football. We provide a list of the top 16 teams, public and private, below as well.
This week’s “Coackspeak” features Mt. Pisgah Christian’s Mike Forester, whose Patriots are 5-0.
1. Seminole County (3) (5-0, 1-0). Seminole County stayed unblemished this season with a 48-8 win over Terrell County (1-1, 3-3) in its Region 1 opener on Friday. Seminole County will visit winless Stewart County (0-5 0-2) in Lumpkin on Friday.
2. Irwin County (5) (4-0-1, 1-0). Irwin County won its Region 2 opener last week, 49-19 over Telfair County (3-3, 0-2). Irwin will face a big test on Friday when Clinch County (2-3, 1-0) visits Ocilla.
3. Johnson County (6) (5-0). The Trojans took last week off and will kick off their Region 3-Division B schedule Friday against Montgomery County (1-5, 0-1) in Wrightsville.
4. Marion County (8) (5-0, 2-0). The Eagles knocked off winless Schley County last week, 21-6. Undefeated St. Anne-Pacelli (5-0, 2-0) comes to Buena Vista on Friday for one of the top games of the weekend.
5. Emanuel County Institute (10) (4-2, 1-0). ECI dominated Wheeler County (1-4, 0-1) 69-27 last week. The Bulldogs will travel to Soperton on Friday to take on Treutlen (3-2, 2-0) for the early lead in Region 3-Division B.
Another half dozen to watch: Charlton County (4-2, 2-0), Clinch County (2-3, 1-0), Commerce (4-2, 2-0), Dooly County (3-2, 2-0), No. 9 Lincoln County (3-1, 2-0), Mitchell County (3-3, 2-0)
POWER RANKINGS (Top 16 only)
1. Seminole County
2. Irwin County
3. Charlton County
4. Marion County
5. Johnson County
7. Dooly County
8. Clinch County
9. Emanuel County Institute
9. Hancock Central
11. Gordon Lee
15. Turner County
16. Lincoln County
1. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (1) (4-0, 1-0). The Chargers too the week off and resume their Region 5 schedule Friday at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (1-5, 0-2).
2. Aquinas (2) (5-0, 1-0). The Irish blanked Hancock Central (3-2, 1-1) 24-0 last week. In perhaps the top game of the weekend, Aquinas will travel to Lincolnton to take on No. 9 Lincoln County (3-1, 2-0).
3. Prince Avenue Christian (7) (5-1, 2-0). The Wolverines dominated Athens Academy (3-2, 1-1) 41-7 last week. PAC will vusit Commerce (4-2, 2-0) on Friday in an early battle for first place in Region 8.
4. Landmark Christian (4) (6-0, 2-0). The War Eagles rallied to knock off Our Lady of Mercy (1-4, 1-1) 17-13 last week. Landmark will travel down to Locust Grove to face Strong Rock (2-3, 0-1) on Friday.
5. Mt. Paran Christian (NR) (4-1, 1-0). The Eagles dominated King’s Ridge (2-3, 1-1) last week and will continue Region 6-Division B play this week in Mableton at Whitefield Academy (2-3, 0-2).
Another half dozen to watch: Christian Heritage (5-1, 2-0), Darlington (4-1, 1-0), George Walton Academy (4-2, 1-1), Mt. Pisgah Christian (5-0, 1-0), St. Anne-Pacelli (5-0, 1-0), Savannah Christian (2-2-1, 0-1).
POWER RANKINGS (Top 16 only)
1. Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy
3. Landmark Christian
4. Mt. Pisgah
6. Christian Heritage
7. Mt. Paran
8. Calvary Day
9. Savannah Christian
10. Fellowship Christian
11. St. Anne-Pacelli
12. Whitefield Academy
13. George Walton Academy
14. Prince Avenue Christian
15. Pace Academy
16. Holy Innocents
Coachspeak: Mt. Pisgah’s Mike Forester
The seeds of Mt. Pisgah’s 5-0 start to this season were planted at the end of last season when they snuck into the private school playoffs with the No. 16 seed, and then traveled to Athens and gave No. 1-seeded Athens Academy all it could handle, before succumbing 17-13.
“That gave our kids a taste of what it feels like to play in the big time and it motivated them over the summer,” says Mt. Pisgah head coach Mike Forester, in his first season as head coach after serving as the Patriot’s defense coordinator. “It created a hunger in our kids. That game is a big reason for where we are today.”
Mt. Pisgah is 5-0 for the first time since the Alpharetta-based school joined the Georgia High School Association in 2006. The Patriots have done it in a variety of ways, the mark of a good team. They’ve blasted lesser opponents like Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, 48-14 in the season opener, and found a way to win games in crunch time, as they did when the climbed out of a 16-0 halftime hole and beat Our Lady of Mercy, 17-16 on a 21-yard field goal by Chase Clark with no time left on the clock.
Last week, the Patriots dominated defending Region 6 champion Walker 47-0. Last season, Mt. Pisgah lost to the Wolverines 35-6.
Along with the boost of confidence that came with the near-win in the playoffs, Forester said his coaching staff has played a key role in the team’s success, namely his coordinators Benny Crane and Caleb Perry.
“A lot of the credit has to go to those guys,” Forester said. “Coach Crane has come in a done a great job of simplifying things for our kids defensively and getting them prepared to play every week.
“Coach Perry came in last year and brought this offense and the kids have taken to it,” Forester said of the shotgun spread the Patriots employ. “Our kids are familiar with it and things are clicking for them.”
Pulling the trigger on offense is junior quarterback Aaron Winchester (6-foot-3, 175), who Forester said had his best game of the season last week against Walker when he completed 10 of 13 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
“He really worked hard over the summer, put on about 15 pounds,” Forester said. “He’s really comfortable with our offense. He knows where everyone is supposed to be. He’s not that vocal leader. He’s more of the kind who will go out and show you with his play that you better follow his lead.
Defensively, the Patriots are giving up less than 10 points per game. Leading the charge are DL Shinggi Chigwere (6-2, 260) and LB Nick Piccapietra (6-0, 205), both juniors, and senior FS Jacob Delk (6-2, 180).
Forester said his team needs to continue to strive for perfect execution on offense, while continuing to fine tune techniques on defense. What possibly lies ahead is a showdown with Mt. Paran Christian on Oct. 25 in Kennesaw, and a possible region championship game, most likely against Darlington.
But Forester said he and his staff are stressing the one-game-at-a-time philosophy.
“That’s our mindset as a coaching staff and the kids have been buying into it,” Forester said. “They want to come out, work hard in practice , compete and do well each week.”
What say you, Class A Blog heads? Until Thursday …