Posted: 3:36 am Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Power Rating is back; Three teams join GHSA; Check in with defending champs 

By S. Thomas Coleman

Finally, it’s that time again! The Class A football blog is back again for another season!

As was the case last year, we’ll post blogs here on ajc.com every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning during the football season.  Tuesday’s blogs will be online only, while portions of the Thursday and Saturday posts will be published in The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Friday and Sunday.

On Tuesday’s we’ll take an expanded look back at the events of the previous Friday night, with a few other features here and there such as quick conversations with coaches from around the state (“Coach Speak”), along with other news and notes.  After Week 3 of the season, we’ll post our wildly popular “Divided Top 5” poll along with the MaxPreps/Georgia High School Association Power Ratings (more on that shortly) for public and private schools.

Thursday’s blog will feature mini profiles of the top games in Class A for that weekend, while Saturday’s post will be a look at what went on in the previous night’s games.

As always, please join the conversation and let’s continue our track record of maintaining a certain level of civility and decorum during our debates. Also, feel free to lambaste your humble blogger at every turn, here on the blog or at s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com.

OK, let’s get to it!

 

Power Rating is back

This season starts Year 3 of the public-private split in Class A, and the subsequent power rating system to determine the 16 playoff teams on both sides.  GHSA associate director Tommy Whittle said no tweaks or changes to the power rating formula were made and MaxPreps will once again coordinate the ratings.

Once again, teams will get 10 points for a win.  If the victory is over a team from a higher classification, a point is added for every classification higher — one point for a win over a team from Class AA, 2 extra points for a win over a team from Class AAA, and so on.  No points are awarded for a loss to another team from Class A, however, if the loss was at the hands of a team from a higher classification, a half point is added for every classification higher.  When the number for the win or loss has been determined, add that number to the total amount of the opponents’ wins divided by the number of games the opponent has played, multiplied by 10.

“We usually begin the power [rating] about the third week,” said Whittle, who joined the GHSA in April after 16 years as a vice president with the Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA). “That means we are shooting for the Monday or Tuesday the week after Labor Day – Sept. 8 or 9.”

 

Three from GISA join the GHSA

Speaking of the GISA, three of its most storied programs jumped ship and are now competing in the GHSA – Mount de Sales, Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square.  All three are in the Macon area and competed against each other last season in Region 2 of the GISA’s highest classification, AAA.  This season, all three will be in Region 7 with defending state champ Aquinas.

Tattnall Square finished 8-3, and lost in the first round of the state playoffs (29-26 to Southfield Academy of Americus), but the Trojans were the only team to defeat eventual champion Westfield School of Perry (21-0 in the season opener for Westfield). Mount de Sales struggled to a 3-8 finish, which included a loss in the first round of the state playoffs (42-7 to Deerfield-Windsor of Albany).

Stratford had the best season of the three with a 10-3 finish and a trip to the state finals, a 34-31 loss to the Westfield School.  In fact, the Eagles are ranked No. 9 in the AJC pre-season top 10.  But head coach Mark Farriba, who led Prince Avenue Christian to the 2012 GHSA state finals, begs to differ.

“We appreciate the attention, but that’s way too high,” Farriba said of his team, which lost 15 seniors to graduation. “We’ve got a lot of young guys. We’ve got some potential, but we’re just not ready yet.”

Farriba said his club was rudely “introduced” to the GHSA last weekend during a scrimmage with Chattahoochee County, a Class AA team which finished 2-8 last season.

“They introduced us to the woodshed,” Farriba said. “They had some good athletes on the perimeter who hurt us, but it was good for us because it exposed some things we needed to see.”

Farriba said seniors Connor Collins (OL, 6-5, 285), Alex Coplin (C, 6-0, 295), Sean Grossnickle (S/WB/WR, 6-0, 180) and Austin Devenney (WB/LB, 6-0, 175) will lead a unit that wants to make a big impression in its first season in the GHSA.  While he obviously wants to do well, Farriba said he does not want to put too much emphasis on Stratford’s first season in the GHSA.

“We’ve talked about it in camp,” Farriba said. “But you can’t just pull out a certain year for any team and say ‘That’s what that program is about.’ It’s a process.”

Stratford will open their inaugural season in the GHSA on Aug. 29, at home against Savannah Country Day.  Tattnall Square will host Georgia Military on Aug. 29 to open the season, while Mount de Sales will travel to Columbus to face St. Anne-Pacelli.

 

Defending champs

Both of last season’s champions, Marion County on the public side and Aquinas on the private, were first time title winners. Both look like solid favorites to repeat and are ranked No. 1 (Aquinas) and No. 2 (Marion County) in the preseason poll.

Marion County returns nine starters from an offense that averaged more than 30 points per game last season.  The unit is led by all-region athlete DB/RB/KR Lorenzo Smothers, who averaged 14 yards every time he touched the ball last season, along with senior RB Johnny Royals (1,400 yards last season) and sophomore RB Mykile Kelly.

But Eagle head coach Mike Swaney said his team’s young defense and special teams will tell the tale of this season.  Marion lost five starters on that side of the ball, along with all-state kicker A.J. Wells, who is now at Appalachian State.  If first-year starters at linebacker Hayden Gray, a junior, and Bryson Murray, a senior, and safety Derrick Lawrence can all step up, Marion County may find itself back in the Georgia Dome the second week of December.

“We won’t get any points for what we did last year,” Swaney said. “We want to try to win our region, which is going to be tough. But if we can stay healthy and keep working hard, we have the potential to be really good again.”

Aquinas is in a similar situation.  The Fighting Irish return one of the state’s most explosive offensive units with RB Ruben Garnett, WR Daniel Lindsey and QB Liam Welch.  But defensively, Aquinas may start two freshmen linebackers.  Still, he sees a team that is poised to make another championship run.

“We’ve been very pleased with how they’ve handled everything,” Leonard said. “They’ve put their [championship] rings away and no one hardly looks at them. It’s like they’re even more focused this year because they know how hard it’s going to be to repeat.”

19 comments
ClassALuvit
ClassALuvit

From the SOUTH- Savannah Christian (3-A) beats Jenkins (1-B AAA) 23-7.....Hope the Cavs keep pace tonight against New Hampstead (1 -AAA)....

fbfan86
fbfan86

Finally its here! Looking forward to Saturday MPC and ELCA is going to be great game lots of talent and great coaches..

ZippyMPC
ZippyMPC

@Tiger Patpaw 

We looked for you up in Rome Friday night.  I asked a few of your players on the field after the scrimmage if anyone could point you out but could not connect.  I appreciated how you and Swamp enjoyed the blog AND met at the end of the season.  We will miss the Tigers in the Region this year.  Everything is a mix this year.  We had about 20 coaches and dads sitting on our visitor side from Bremen checking your guys out that night.  Neither team showed much.  We get to start it out at full throttle Saturday morning in Columbus vs. ELCA.  We will get to see what we are made of early!  Have a great season and hope to cross paths again some day.


Tiger Patpaw
Tiger Patpaw

The Georgia Sportswriters Association may have a more agreeable view in their Class A Preseason Poll:

1. Aquinas (11) 110

2. Marion County 88

3. Calvary Day 81

4. Eagle’s Landing Christian 78

5. Mount Pisgah 54

6. Mount Paran Christian 44

7. Irwin County 42

8. Charlton County 37

9. Prince Avenue Christian 27

10. Clinch County 14

Others receiving votes: Stratford 9, Hawkinsville 6, ECI 3, Johnson County 3, Mitchell County 3, Landmark Christian 1, Savannah Christian 1.

ClassALuvit
ClassALuvit

Prince and Aquinas should be great..I think this ranking stuff is BS but fun, too dependent on last year which for high school makes little sense unless there actually is true recruiting of replacement players..along this line...Demetirs Robertson transferred to Savannah Christian 28th ESPN jr 300...I know it's region 3 which no one cares about..

MPCEAGLE
MPCEAGLE

Prince looks to be good, that should be a good early game!

thebucket
thebucket

You're back STC!!!! And football is almost back! Can't wait to get a look at the defending state champs next Friday when Prince takes on Aquinas!

thebucket
thebucket

@Tiger Patpaw @thebucket  Hello sir! On my account page under my name I did the "choose new photo" then hit "upload" and picked a picture I had saved on my computer and then hit the "save" button at the bottom of the page. Hope that helps!

Tiger Patpaw
Tiger Patpaw

@ZippyMPC

If I had only known.

I am not superstitious but you can typically find me straddling the north 40, 4th row (grandson #4), can’t explain the north 40 yard line, It’s just what I’ve done. I’d be the old ugly sod. The players don’t really know me, especially as Tiger Patpaw. I try to maintain a low profile. It’s not about us.

That face to face w/ Swamp was sweet.

Amen to the early test. I don’t trust the prognostications I’ve seen. I perceive historical evidence can be misleading. I feel a changing of the guard coming.

thebucket
thebucket

@Tiger Patpaw  All polls at this point are pure speculation because no one has scouted every single team in the state to see what they have this year. Having said that, I think this poll is more accurate than the one AJC published a couple days ago. Thankfully we will have real games next weekend and we can see on the field what we all have!

thebucket
thebucket

@ClassALuvit  One player can make a huge difference at this level with so many guys having to play both ways. Especially if that player is as good as Robertson.

Tiger Patpaw
Tiger Patpaw

@MPCEAGLE

From what little we saw at that controlled scrimmage in Rome, MPC looked like a team that will be in the Class A mix.Good luck this year.

thebucket
thebucket

@MPCEAGLE  We will see. Prince lost some seniors and we lost a couple to transfer to North Oconee. We still have some good skill guys and some players with a lot of heart.  As Coach Bell always says, "We don't have a lot of great players, but we have good players who have bought in." They competed well in the scrimmage against ELCA last Friday, but it was just a scrimmage. Aquinas should be really good and I am excited about seeing Garnett live.

ZippyMPC
ZippyMPC

@thebucket @Tiger Patpaw I noticed unlike facebook when I saved a pic for my profile it did not go back and update any of my older post with my new picture unless it will do it now when I am posting something new...?  I had to log in and out a couple of times to get my picture to show up.  It is the newspaper and not really the Mark Zuckerburg media built site you know.. :-)

MPCEAGLE
MPCEAGLE

@Tiger Patpaw

We could have a strong team this year. We only lost 1 starter from lasts year's squad and several boys that didn't play last year are playing.

Tiger Patpaw
Tiger Patpaw

@MPCEAGLE

Liked Eagles' roster head count.Good to see.

Could be Tigers are better off in 7-AA.

Gonna miss A football, A Blog, the fans and the venues, but I’ll be peaking in.

thebucket
thebucket

@Tiger Patpaw @MPCEAGLE  You will be missed as will Swamp Lizard. Don't forget about us and since you guys are in AA you can help moderate the disagreements!