Here’s what to look for Friday …
No. 1 Aquinas (1-0) at Prince Avenue Christian (0-0). The top-ranked Irish, last year’s private school champs, thumped Class AAA Glen Hills last week, 41-6. Led by junior QB Liam Welch and senior RB/DB Ruben Garnett, who reportedly holds more than a dozen FCS offers, Aquinas will get a stern early season test from the Wolverines in Bogart, just outside of Athens. Prince Avenue was the 2012 private school runner up and finished 10-2 last season after falling in the state semifinals to eventual runner up Calvary Day. This is the second season at the helm for head coach Jeff Herron, who built the program at Camden County into one of the state’s best.
Stockbridge (0-1) at No. 10 Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (0-1). After having its 38-game regular season winning streak against Class A teams snapped in last week’s season-opening loss to No. 4 Mount Paran Christian (31-14), ELCA will have to find some answers quickly. The Chargers, the 2012 private school champions, will face a much larger school Friday as Stockbridge competes in Class AAAA. The Tigers finished 11-2 last season and advanced to the state quarterfinals, but dropped their season debut last week, 28-14, to Central of Phenix City, AL.
No. 5 Clinch County (1-0) at Brooks County (0-1). After an uncharacteristically bad season in 2012 (4-6), Clinch County bounced back to finish 8-4 last year and claim the program’s 16th region championship. This season the Panthers hope to return to their state championship form of 2010. Clinch will look to snap a three-game losing streak to Class AA Brooks County, which finished 11-2 last season, but was thumped 31-6 last week by Ware County, ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAA.
Other games of note include…
No. 4 Mount Paran Christian (1-0) at Whitefield Academy (0-0)
No. 6 Charlton County (0-0) at Manchester (0-0), in Macon
Wilcox County (0-0) at No. 9 Dooly County
Our Lady of Mercy (0-0) at Pace Academy (0-1)
Welcome to the GHSA
Three of the Georgia Independent Schools Association’s biggest programs – Mount de Sales, Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square – will take the field Friday night in their first games as members of the Georgia High School Association. Mount de Sales will travel to Columbus to face St. Anne-Pacelli (0-0), Stratford will host Savannah Country Day (0-1), and Tattnall will host Georgia Military.
All three schools 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 the GHSA’s Region 7 with the likes of defending Aquinas, Lincoln County, Wilkinson County and Wilcox County.
Stratford had the best season of the three with a 10-3 finish and a trip to the state finals. 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).