Class A Blog: Notes from Friday night’s semifinals

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Here are a few nuggets from Friday night’s semifinals:

In a great indication of parity in Class A, three of the four semifinal games were decided by one point: Aquinas 17, Mt. Pisgah 16; Calvary Day 35, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 34; and Charlton County 34, Irwin County 33. Marion County blew out Hawkinsville in the other public school semifinal, 40-7.

Three of the four finalists will be in their first state title game: Aquinas, Calvary Day and Marion County.

The regions left standing are Region 2 (Charlton County), Region 3 (Calvary Day), Region 4 (Marion County) and Region 7 (Aquinas).  Regions 5 and 6, considered by many to be the most competitive in Class A during the regular season, have been shut out of the finals.

Traditionalist may hate it, but the one-back or no-back spread offense has become the new wing-T when it comes to evening the playing field. For years, teams that were short on size and talent employed the wing-T because its use of cut blocking, angle blocking and misdirection helped negate the size/talent advantage of opponents. Now teams are using their athletes to spread the field, both horizontally and vertically, and while the wing-T is primarily a running offense, the spread can do damage running and throwing. Calvary Day’s effective use of the spread helped it pull the upset over defending private school champion ELCA, as quarterback Michael Peterson was 18-of-30 for 256 yards and four touchdowns (and two interceptions), while running back Robert Heyward gained 122 yards on 24 carries, including the game winning 1-yard touchdown in overtime.

The old idiom, “It’s hard to beat a good team twice in one season,” had not really been true lately in the playoffs. But it was the case on Friday night. Marion County avenged a 14-10 loss to Hawkinsville back on Nov. 1, while Charlton County got even with Irwin County for a 29-26 loss in the regular season finale on Nov. 8.

Irwin County kicker Eric Contreras figured prominently in both games. In the win on Nov. 8, he booted a 33-yard field goal with :03 seconds left to give Irwin County the win. Friday night, after a 3-yard touchdown run by Antuane Merritt made the score 34-33 with :04 seconds left in regulation, Contreras’ extra point attempt to tie the score was blocked.

The public school final will be a matchup of “Old vs. New” powerhouses. Charlton County is one of the state’s most successful programs. The school has been playing football since the 1940’s but did not become a state power until head coach Rich McWhorter arrived from the Midwest in 1990. Since then Charlton County has gone 251-60-2 with eight of the school’s 21 region titles and all four of its state championships, the most recent being a “threepeat” in Class AA from 2004-2006. Marion County, located in Buena Vista, near Columbus, just started its football program in 2006. The Eagles went 21-20 in the first four seasons with one playoff appearance. Since Mike Swaney came up from Florida to take over the program in 2010, Marion County is 42-7 with three region titles.

54 comments Add your comment

TomDawg

December 7th, 2013
10:40 am

Keep Region 3 going Calvary Day. Bring it home next week. The SEC of class A.

Tiger Patpaw

December 7th, 2013
11:19 am

Parity is part of the ambiance of Class A football. If you look at the final regular season standings over the last few years, the short term transformation of programs toward playoff competitive is apparent. Also, consider the number of closely bunched teams who were on the playoff bubble this and last year. Existing and upstart quality coaches and the proliferation of college capable athletes will only encourage spirited growth in the future. Class A has a storied past and a bright future with new blood arrivals hungry to reach for respect and old guard tradition striving to maintain.

Sam Roney

December 7th, 2013
1:20 pm

Want to say at least two things..Last night’s Aquinas win over Mt. Pisgah was a thriller to the very end,
and wanted to say that the Pisgah fans & players were very much first class, even in a very emotional
losing effort. Aquinas showed a lot of poise with their soph quarterback leading the last 15 play drive in
a driving rainstorm, complete with heavy wind gusts, and scoring with only 19 seconds remaining to get
the win. Very classy folks at Pisgah. Good program. They will be back next season.

Hoping I’d see something on here from the Swamp Lizard. He was obsessed with telling us how lowly Reg. 7 was, and how Aquinas had gone 12-0 with a very listless schedule, and how some of us
over here knew nothing about football and constantly berating those of us who took up for the Irish &
Reg. 7. Well, Swamp Liz, we are now 13-0, and headed for the dome to face what is obviously a good Calvary team from Savannah. Meanwhile, you, and the “pundits” who wrote all of us from Reg. 7 and Reg. 3 off, while touting nothing but Reg. 5 & 6 headlines, are left waiting till next season. We
will be at the dome with a nice sandwich with a heaping of CROW topped with vinegar barbecue sauce, all just for you. Will have it packed in a container for you in the Aquinas section.

Remember, in addition to Aquinas statements, I told you yesterday on here that I thought Calvary
might give your ELCA team a good game and maybe win. Most of m,y predictions happened. What happened to yours? Where’s Clinch Cty.? ELCA? Of course, you picked Mt. Paran and Mt. Pisgah
over us? How’s those predictions go?

Actually, I’m only funning you with what I’m saying. But, you took it all to an obsession level with
everything you said toward myself and CSRA. Gotta hand it to CSRA as some of his predictions were beyond what I was even thinking, but he never waivered. Meanwhile, you kept up your obsessed drivel through it all…So, enjoy your crow! It’ll be over there waiting in case you come to
OUR finals with Calvary. The ones we played in Reg. 6 were very good programs. I’m sure 5 has good ones too. But, you probably crossed the line with what you repeatedly said about Reg. 7, and
probably Reg. 3 also. I’m sure we’ll now hear all the alibis possible, the ELCA guy’s broken leg, etc.
We had a top player injured some also, and probably not 100% against Pisgah(even at that he still
got 103 yards). Also, remember your most famous prediction, that myself and CSRA would be long
gone from here a week ago, and repeated this week? How’d that do for you? Reminds me of Obama,
in that ” you can have your prediction, and keep it, period”. Enjoy. Dangerous game predicting about
who is the SEC of class A isn’t it? Doesn’t appear to be Reg. 5. Probably not 6 either. Looks like it is either Reg. 7 or Reg. 3.

GABDOGGY

December 7th, 2013
1:37 pm

I was at the ELCA, Calvary game. Very good game. Calvary game out and smashed ELCA right in the mouth with a 14 to zip lead in the first quarter. Calvary is a well coached team. Lot of their players went both ways and were exhausted by the second quarter but they have HEART! I said it earlier in the season the way to beat ELCA was through the air and that’s exactly what they did then gave the ball to their back who began to have his way with ELCA. I was very surprised that ELCA after their turn over on the Calvary 5 yard line allowed the clock to just run out with over two minutes to play. I thought they could have called a time out as it was third down with 1:53 left. No way I wouldnt have used my time outs to get the ball back. Also ELCA coach should have went wide on the last play of the game. Great GAME FOR Calvary at team with heart.

CSRA706

December 7th, 2013
2:06 pm

Thanks Mr. Rooney, great post as we are the last ones standing, I try and make my predictions as for what happens on the field, I knew that we were going to be a good team this year by two things that happened last year, a close loss to Lincoln Co. at home when we knew we should have won and pretty much out played them, but it helped them realize how good they could be, that first round playoff loss to George Walton, we beat them in overtime earlier in the year and our boys where way to over confident and got embarrassed at home (clips can be seen on Stanley Williams highlights) but that right there where the two program changing games games that got us here, and that tune up in the scrimmage game against Washington Wilkes was crucial and got our boys focused that’s why you see all year that our boys never waiver when faced with adversity, just can’t wait till Friday!!!!

TomDawg

December 7th, 2013
2:15 pm

One loss and the Lizard has suddenly forgot how to work a computer. “Come on man” get your head out your a## and show a little class. Remember you are from south Georgia in case you forgot.

CSRA706

December 7th, 2013
2:27 pm

As far as ELCA goes, I said that the quarter back was gonna be there biggest issue, but all you heard was how good the back up was and the rest of the team is stout and the D is best in the class, that’s prolly made you guys look arrogant, You don’t lose your best player and most important offensive weapon and think it’s business as usual, more importantly he was the leader on the field, and if ever played sports then you know that is the most important factor in football, now you look at when lost your leader, playoffs, when you are playing the best of the best, so it was no surprise the outcome, struggle early but like a true champion got back in it, now my hat goes off to the coach going for the win instead of the tie, yeah they were a deeper team but that don’t matter in the end like that since it’s all heart and the longer an underdog stays in the game the more they believe they could win, so to me he had to make that call he just didn’t have his number one guy back there when it mattered, so to all players heading to the dome be prepared to seize the moment, opportunity will knock just make sure you are already on the porch!!!!!

ELCA fan

December 7th, 2013
2:49 pm

Congrats to both teams. If I get off in time Friday i will come and see a very good game. Will not pick a winner but think it will be a very close game maybe overtime.

ELCA fan

December 7th, 2013
2:53 pm

All four teams showed the heart of champions. That will carry all the young men far in life.

LUVIT

December 7th, 2013
3:55 pm

@CSRA706..I’m a Cavs fan so the result was great but disagree with your take on going for 2…A. ELCA out scored Cavs 27-14 in the second half not because of talent or heart but depth & B. QB had little to no luck running the read option draw most of his yards were scrambles…Regardless, all the talk of one school or region having all the talent can no stop and we can go to the dome and cheer our teams on!! Good luck, safe travels and may there be no injuries…

GABDOGGY

December 7th, 2013
5:39 pm

ELCA coach did a good job in going for two. That was a lot of pressure on the kicker to tie it up again the kicker had missed one earlier in the game plus Calvary guys were sucking air. I would have ran wide though but a very good game! Hats off to Calvary they play with a lot of heart

GoTigers

December 7th, 2013
7:28 pm

T Ppaw. with all your eloquent expression of opinions, too bad Darlington will be in AA next year. But, with Calhoun gone from an extremely weak 7-AA, Darlington should dominate the region in FB, and Gordon-Lee will dominate in most other sports. BB may be a toss up.

Davis

December 7th, 2013
8:14 pm

The writer needs to do his homework. Mike Swaney from Marion is not from Florida, he’s from Taylor County Georgia.

Aquinas41

December 7th, 2013
10:35 pm

I agree Sam. Mt. pisgah was a class act. Our game at the Dome will be tough on Friday and will be exciting. It was great to have so many of our fans at the game and a heck of a game it was my friends! Very proud of our team and coaches.

S. Thomas Coleman

December 8th, 2013
1:17 am

Davis:

I confused Coach Swaney with another head coach at another program. The post has been corrected.

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

December 8th, 2013
1:19 am

Tiger Patpaw:

Very well said!

STC

S. Thomas Coleman

December 8th, 2013
1:30 am

Sam:

Congrats to Coach Leonard and his team! They’ve done an outstanding job all season, no doubt.

But the numbers are what they are. Regions 5 and 6 were more competitive top to bottom. That’s just a fact. However, Aquinas and Calvary Day appear to be the best teams at the end of the day, although losing arguably the best overall player in Class A as ELCA did was a major factor.

But this argument takes away from the efforts of the players and coaches at Aquinas, Calvary Day, Charlton County and Marion County, so I’ll end it here. Hats off to all four finalists!

STC

Bill

December 8th, 2013
7:25 am

Congratz & good luck to Charlton County! I work only 15 miles from Folkston & am glad to see they’re back in the finals.

Tiger Patpaw

December 8th, 2013
8:39 am

@ GoTigers

Thanks for the kind comment, but my posted opinions are more measured than eloquent. I’ve seen the carnage for inconsiderate statements and inaccurate facts and, since I don’t see contests in person other than my grandson’s, I fear that my research is incomplete. Besides, the use of spell check provides formidable assistance.

As for dominating Region 7-AA, certainly the fact that Calhoun moves on along with neighborhood rival Pepperell, will impact our chances. But the graduation of 15 seniors from a 47 man roster may prove to be insurmountable. Three of 5 juniors and one of 11 sophomores are returning starters, a few others played significant roles, but the rest did mop-up duty. Ten freshmen will come from a 1-6 middle school squad.

I’m not proclaiming gloom & doom, ‘cause I know the nature of Coach Atha’s program will lead to all stepping next man up. Furthermore, the predominantly local nature of the region should provide some heated Friday Football.

Swamp Lizard

December 8th, 2013
11:22 am

@ TomDawg …. My head hasn’t been up my @$$ sir ….. I was on here Friday Night at midnight giving credit where credit is due. Yesterday I was away from the house and didn’t get a chance to reply. I think I gave EVERYONE a reply that was deseving.

Swamp Lizard

December 8th, 2013
11:41 am

@ Sam Roney …. Not only did I miss the Aquinas & ELCA games ( my predictions for Friday’s games ) but I missed EVERYONE of them ( Irwin & Hawkinsville too ) …. with that said, I’m sure NO ONE in Georgia predicted all four of those games the way they ended up though. I still stand behind my picks …. right or wrong.
I will not make excuses for the ELCA loss, nor will I take anything away from a Calvary Day team that played with more “heart” than any team I’ve ever seen. I am big enough man to say congrats.
I have NEVER had anything against Aquinas … yes I have doubted their “soft” schedule and if they were for REAL …. I believe they are now and I congradulate the Aquinas players, coaches, and fans. I will promise you that “if” Aquinas would happen to lose, I have more class than to get on here and bash that team …. YOU though, to be an older ( wiser ) man are a total JACKASS and it shows with every word you type.
As far as Region 7 …. OTHER than Aquinas, it was a weak region this year …. FACT … 1-3 in round 1. As far as Region 3 …. my hats off to Calvary Day for beating the best team in Class A ( ELCA ). Just because these are the two teams in the Championship game, does not make them the best regions. I have forgot more football than you will ever know Sam Roney …. you have to be the biggest “DA” to ever come across these blogs.

Swamp Lizard

December 8th, 2013
11:49 am

@ LUVIT …. I hope you got to see my reply to you on the other “blog”. It didn’t turn out anything like I thought, but as I’ve said, I will not take away anything from your fine men that left everything they had on that field …. as much as it hurt to watch ELCA lose, I was in awe with all the heart and fight those young men at Calvary Day had. Savor every moment this week and enjoy every snap next Friday …. this week will feel like a dream !!

Calvary85

December 8th, 2013
12:29 pm

Swamp you seem like a great guy with a lot of respect for all of the teams. I hate that either team had to lose. Both teams gave it all they had, both made mistakes, and it just came down to one play. I have watched the game twice since Friday night. So many big plays by both teams. Momentum swings were huge for both teams. Good luck next year. A lot of respect for your program.

Augusta68

December 8th, 2013
3:02 pm

It was an amazing site at Mt. Pisgah last Friday night. To see both teams battling their hearts out and to see a packed house remain in the stands during a driving rainstorm for the whole second half was incredible. The Mount Pisgah players should hold their heads high and use the experience to help them in the future. The Aquinas upperclassmen went though a similar experience two years ago when Landmark drove the length of the field in the final minute to beat Aquinas in the state quarterfinals and I think it somewhat prepared them for this. I must say my thrill and joy was somewhat dampened as when I went on the swamp-like field to congratulate my son I saw the sadness agony of defeat on the Pisgah players. My heart goes out to the players who gave it their all on the field. One play here or there and it could have easily been our kids. The game was truly an experience that none of the players or fans will ever forget.

Calvary Cavs fan

December 8th, 2013
6:23 pm

Looking forward to a great game Friday. Aquinas had to overcome a monsoon. Calvary had wind all game and some drizzle at the end of their game. Will be good to have a nice, calm 70 degrees where everyone can give it 110%. Anyone know price for tickets yet? It has gone from $8, to 12 to 15 so far for Calvary’s games.

Sideliner

December 8th, 2013
6:33 pm

Swamp, I have a saying…you can’t fix stupid and every time those Augusta “fans” write something they just prove my point…they aren’t worth it.
On another note…
I will miss your son playing next year…wow what a year he had. 46-5 is his record and trust me….no one, especially on this blog, can come close to that!
Take care…see you around!

Sam Roney

December 8th, 2013
7:26 pm

Well that’s great Swamp man…I thought you might show a bit more class after all your predictions
went sour on you. We understood it was an off year for Reg. 7, but contrary to your drivel, it did NOT
mean we didn’t have any teams capable, a point you still seem unable to comprehend. And, I’m not
any dumbass as you stated. If you’d like to come over to our game this week, I’d be glad to debate that with you in person, while presenting you your crow sandwich. I think the results now show how much real knowledge you have. I will refrain from calling you any names, as anyone who has to resort to doing that to make a point on here, is only showing how unsure they are of what they are
saying, or letting their emotions get the best of them when they make posts that go wrong, as yours
surely did. That goes for your great comment too Sideliner. When you can’t beat them on the field,
just attack them personally as you and the Swamp Lizzie do.

GABDOGGY

December 8th, 2013
7:38 pm

I didn’t realize ELCA had so many seniors. I know they have the back up QB coming back. What other players do they have to step in and keep ELCA competitive?

Aquinas Parent

December 8th, 2013
8:20 pm

Calvary Cavs Fan. I am told the tickets are $18 before Friday and $20 at the game. I agree with you it will be nice to be in a controlled environment and 70 degrees! It is great that both teams are playing for their first State Championship! Hopefully it will be as exciting as the Semifinals! Congrats on the great season! See you in the dome!

MDH

December 8th, 2013
8:49 pm

so the new classifications next year put teams like OLM, Whitefield, Landmark, ELCA, and Strong Rock in a bad place. That is all the teams that will be playing football in region 5. that leaves only 4 region games to play and 6 out of region, plus as far as traveling goes, these teams are not really that close to each other with the exception of ELCA and landmark. Whitefield has alot of traveling to do. the GHSA really screwed up in making Region 5 a 5 team region.

Calvary Cavs fan

December 8th, 2013
9:31 pm

@ MDH. Its not just that region, its many more. I think this is the 4th set of region changes in the past 7 or 8 years. Savannah schools are all over the place. I think BC went from 4A, to 5A back down to A and now they’re in 2A. 3 Savannah schools dropped from 5A to 3A. Cant develop rivalries when you have new opponents every other year.

MDH

December 8th, 2013
10:29 pm

@CalvaryCavsfan exactly what I mean. what is the point of re-classing every two years anyway?

Ye Ole Ball Coach

December 8th, 2013
11:45 pm

The Marion County Eagles will see you at the Dome! The foundation was poured several years ago by hard-working, dedicated, never-quit Marion County Eagles. You will find them playing on Saturdays, on our sideline on Friday nights and encouraging our current players each week. This program is 5-6 years strong and no let-up in sight. Administrative and community support is off the chain and the future is bright! Our athletes play 48 minutes a game and however many games are in the football season. It goes like this… football, basketball, baseball and tennis. When one ends, the other begins. All the while working passionately to become a stronger better conditioned athlete. GO BIG RED!

CSRA706

December 9th, 2013
12:03 am

@sideline, us aquinas fans talk the talk and our boys walk the walk, and I agree it’s not worth the time going in on us especially when you’re gonna be wrong, we still playing, one of two still standing, so from now on I think I’ll refrain from all posts that their team ain’t in it!!!!!

football fan

December 9th, 2013
5:37 am

I have heard the 2 teams in class a private school championship did a good job recruiting going into this year. Congrats on recruiting a strong class.

luvit

December 9th, 2013
8:47 am

@football fan…sour grapes?

luvit

December 9th, 2013
10:13 am

Maxwell’s computer projections from last week…Final Eagle’s Landing Christian – Mount Pisgah Christian, 437,290 times…Hope they update them soon…My quicky Aquinas Film review Big OL/DL #1 being the stud on offense but playing both ways (evens the field Cav fans know)…watch #24 cause that is where #1 is going..QB # 7 smart and big but thinks too much while running..#4 is the only real legit receiver at least on film..LB #47 great tackler and hits hard…weather won’t play a factor but the great field goal kicking might in a tight game..Aquinas needs it close and Cavs need a wide open game….Gonna be fun either way….

Swamp Lizard

December 9th, 2013
10:28 am

@ Calvary 85 ….. I have nothing but the highest praise for those young men at Calvary Day ….. WHAT A GAME !! BOTH teams played like Champions, it’s just unfortunate that one had to lose ….. wish y’all well this weekend.

Sam Roney

December 9th, 2013
10:59 am

Luvit..Not a bad post, but other receivers for Aquinas would be #47, #1, #24, and at least two others at times. You should find that the QB #7 is very effective when he does run it. #24 is an effective rusher,
and has several 100 yrd. games including last yr & this (usually in shadow of #1, but can step up. #1
is the soul of our defensive secondary.

luvit

December 9th, 2013
11:32 am

@Sam Roney..can’t find any other film outside the last game which was played in bad conditions so I’m sure lots I’ve missed..looking at the yearly stat sheets..Aquinas 4425 yards, 40 points for and 16 against a game – Cavs 5343 yards, 42 points for and 17 against a game….Only Common opponent Savannah Christian both played at home – 10/11 Cavs won 37-0 (37point), 11/22 Aquinas won 42-14 (28Points)… Both schools playing for their first ever state championship, both under rated all year, both coming off big last second wins, both have several key players playing 2 sides, both having to travel some distance to the Dome….No disrespect to ANY of the A teams but…YOU COULDN’T WRITE A BETTER SCRIPT….

football fan

December 9th, 2013
12:02 pm

@luvit no sour grapes. Just see elca getting called out for it. So all State Champs must do it.

luvit

December 9th, 2013
12:25 pm

@football fan ..Please visit the GHSA past champs for all sports…see any patterns with repeat winners- year in and out? Ya think all good players in any one sport or another just happen to live within 20 miles of each other, being in the same school district…come on man..Moving kids to winning schools has happened since I wrestled @Sprayberry (cobb) in the 80’s we won state and all of a sudden three kids from north of the Mason Dixon were enrolled…By the way we came is 6th the next year and only one of those kids made the team…If your kid was good at a sport and you lived in Henry County you should explore how to get him into ELCA…For school and sports…Not saying its right but it is what it is…

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 9th, 2013
3:39 pm

Congrats to Marion for avenging their loss to Hawkinsville. Must point out that Hawkinsville’s starting QB and 4 other starters were injured in their win against Clinch and played very little if at all. Most teams in class A have very little experienced depth. That’s the breaks but congrats to Hawkinsville also for what was probably the biggest upset of the year in class A – whipping #1 ranked and undefeated Marion County.

Steven

December 9th, 2013
3:59 pm

Where was lincoln co. This year. They must not have recruited from sc well!!

luvit

December 9th, 2013
4:03 pm

@Flo-Ri-Duh no disrespect but the biggest upset in Class A was Calvary over ELCA two reasons – 1. ELCA was projected to win Private and Combo league by EVERYONE, 2. It came in the playoffs..
Oh, must also correct my analysis as Aquinas and Cavs have another common opponent Presbyterian (both played at home)- Aquinas 11/8 33-32 (+1) Cavs 11/22 42-35 (+7)….

will smith

December 9th, 2013
4:23 pm

Swamp Lizard you know I said from the start of the playoffs everyone was ” sleeping” on Calvary. At the Dome they will be tough with all the speed. You could tell ELCA hasn’t played anyone to that point or a 4-quarter game. Great game and Coach Stroud deserves a Dome trip. He is a good coach but more importantly a good Christian man and does not sacrifice anything for winning a football game. Should be a good one. Cheers, rest of these guys just got on here.

Sam Roney

December 9th, 2013
6:42 pm

Football Fan…There was NO recruiting at all with Aquinas, and I do not know anything on that with
Calvary…Maybe you should put your facts before you make a statement like that as it has no foundation or truth…If you disagree, lets hear your facts..

TomDawg

December 9th, 2013
6:50 pm

Couldn’t agree more @will smith. Mark Stroud is a fine christian man. I’ve known him and his family since we were little kids. Back then he was called “Markie”. Sorry Mark.

GABDOGGY

December 9th, 2013
8:56 pm

That dag-on Calvary Coach had his boys wired for this game. Quite a few players on this team went both ways and were spent but their heart and faith to win is what I will remember for a long time. They came to play even in the 4th quarter when they recovered the fumble at the five with about 3 mins left in the game with the score tied they still attempted to go 95 yards down the field when ELCA could have used their timeouts to get the ball back when Calvary was facing a third down and about 15. I still haven’t figured out what ELCA was thinking it was clear all night they were on their heels. I will be going to the Dome to support Calvary. Those kids have heart.

BadBill

December 9th, 2013
9:32 pm

It seems the swamp man and others think Region 7 was down, yes Lincoln Co. was not there usual, but FPD lost there last two games at Aquinas by 1 pt after missing 3 PATs and at Calvry Day by 7 pts with 1:44 left in game. I do not think there is another team that played both teams this close. Not bad for the 3 rd place team in Region 7!!!