By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here are some key developments from Week 9 in Class A:
Landmark knows how to win. Say what you want about the No. 4 War Eagles (8-0, 4-0). Not that big. Not that fast. Too young. Yada, yada, yada. But one thing is for certain. Landmark Christian School knows winning, and it proved it again Friday night with a 17-10 homecoming win over Pace Academy (4-3, 1-2). Just as it had against Our Lady of Mercy two weeks ago, Landmark went into the fourth quarter trailing by a score, this time 14-10 after a third-quarter touchdown reception of 5-yards by the Knights’ Kameron Uter – his second of the game. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior had an 81-yarder in the second quarter. But the War Eagles put together a nine-play drive that ate up nearly all of the game’s final five minutes, and sophomore QB Stockton McGuire finished it off with a 2-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds left in regulation to keep Landmark unbeaten and on a collision course with No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in the regular season finale Nov. 8.
ELCA still kings of the hill. No. 1 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy may not be the team it was last season, which featured five NCAA Division I players. But the Chargers are still the gold standard. Led by senior QB Dalton Etheridge, one of the state’s top dual-threat signal callers, and a physical offensive line led by senior OT Beau Beasley, ELCA pulled away from Our Lady of Mercy (2-5, 2-2) in the second half for a 32-6 homecoming win Friday. Etheridge ran for three touchdowns on the night, as the Chargers stretched a 12-0 halftime lead to 32-0 in the fourth quarter. OLM junior QB Jameson Vest threw for nearly 200 yards – most of it to senior WR/DB Delfayeo Matthews – and ran for more than 50, including a 2-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to spoil the shut out. ELCA junior DE Nick Dawson, another Division I prospect, was ejected late in the game for fighting, and will not be eligible to play next week at Strong Rock Christian (2-4, 0-2).
Marion County still unbeaten. The No. 7 Eagles (7-0, 3-0) got 91 yards rushing on 25 carries by senior RB Johnny Royal, including a 2-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, and hung on for a 27-25 win over Dooly County (4-3, 3-1). Two missed extra point kicks doomed the Bobcats, who had a chance to tie the game at the end after senior QB Kereon Merrell hit senior WR Courtney Clark with a 35-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left in regulation. But the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete and the Eagles ran out the clock. The win puts Marion County in prime position to win its third Region 4 title in four seasons.
Commerce back on track. After three somewhat subpar seasons, where the Tigers finished a combined 14-19, Commerce (5-3, 3-1) looks like it has righted the ship. The Tigers fell behind 7-0 early to Athens Academy (4-3, 2-2), but scored the game’s next 28 points, 21 in the first half, en route to a 28-7 win over the Spartans on Friday.
Battle for Region 2 is set. Two of the state’s most storied programs, Clinch County and Charlton County, took care of business Friday, and set up what will amount to the Region 2 championship game next week. Clinch County (4-3, 3-0) edged Wilcox County (2-5, 1-3) 20-13, while Charlton County (5-2, 3-0) blitzed Lanier County (2-6, 1-3) 38-8. Charlton County leads the all-time series between the two south Georgia schools, 27-23-1, and has dominated of late, winning nine of the last 10 meetings, including the last two.
Battle of the Mounts. No. 9 Mount Paran Christian (6-1, 2-0) and Mount Pisgah Christian (7-0, 3-0) cruised to easy wins Friday to set up a huge game next week at Mt. Paran for the Region 6-Division B title. Mt. Paran rolled up 435 yards of offense en route to a 52-21 demolition of Fellowship Christian (4-3, 1-2). Junior QB Jake Allen led the way completing 10-of-14 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown run. Mt. Pisgah continued its best season in history thus far with a 39-7 win over Whitefield Academy (2-5, 0-4). Junior QB Aaron Winchester completed 15 of 24 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns to Junior WR Oz Dixon.