Every week during football season, the FCN's Michael Foster will break down the week that was and offer outlook as teams prepare for their next opponents. Send comments, questions and input to the above email or contact Mike on Twitter @michaelsfoster
It’s been a week of adrenaline and anxiety for Pinecrest Academy, and this weekend could be the biggest night in the school’s short-lived football history.
Scratch that. It is.
After a dramatic overtime victory against an undefeated Trion team, where the Paladins had to erase a 21-7 deficit halfway through the fourth quarter, Pinecrest will host the defending state champion, Mount Paran Christian, “between the pines” Friday night.
It will mark the first time since Pinecrest began playing football in 2004 that the Class A private school will face a defending state champion, and the Paladins will have the opportunity to play the game at home.
Adding to the intrigue of the game is the perception of the two teams, based on which ranking system you look at. Unlike classes AA-AAAAAA, where records against region opponents are the only factor in deciding playoff seeding, Class A keeps an official rating system under the Georgia High School Association to seed teams, 1-16, for the playoffs.
It’s only Week 6, but the Paladins (3-0) are actually ranked higher in the official GHSA rankings than Mount Paran. That’s right—Pinecrest sits at No. 1, while the state champs (4-0) are in third place behind Landmark Christian from Region 5.
Why is this?
Even though North Springs is widely considered one of the worst programs in Class AAAAA, Pinecrest was awarded huge brownie points for facing and defeating a team from a much higher classification (the Paladins won their season opener at North Springs 42-15).
Pinecrest also has faced tougher competition in state. Mount Paran’s in-state opponents are just a combined 1-10, while the Paladins’ wins over Walker (2-2) and Trion (3-1) have beefed up their resume.
The eye test doesn’t produce quite the same results, but it’s still clear the Paladins are rising—rapidly.
In this week’s Georgia Sports Writers Association poll, Mount Paran sits where they have all season—No. 1. However, for the first time Pinecrest has received more than one vote for top-10 status. Pinecrest is fourth down the bench with Athens Academy (12 votes), Greenville (9), and Turner County (7) closest to an official ranking slot.
Maybe it is up in the air just how good this Pinecrest team is. On paper, it looks like quite a test. The Eagles are scoring 44.3 points per game and allowing 9.3 points per game in state. Their season opener was a 42-35 win on the road against Erwin from Asheville, N.C.
Last year, Pinecrest and Mount Paran faced off in the same week—both unscathed, just like this time around—but in Kennesaw. The final score was 45-14.
Mount Paran lost two key pieces from its state title team last year in Jake Allen (quarterback, Mercer University) and Dorian Walker (tailback, Georgia Tech), but still boasts the leading rusher in Cobb County in Taylor Trammell (74 carries, 595 yards, 10 touchdowns). Trammell is also a solid defender with two interceptions, and Carter Smith is a force with five sacks.
However, if Pinecrest can control the ball with its triple-option attack, there won’t be many interceptions, sacks or rushing yards to be had for Mount Paran. Hypothetically, anyways.
Nevertheless, it’s going to be a long rest of the work week for the Pinecrest community.
Lambert and West settling back into top of Region 6
The way West Forsyth has to look at it is simple: They’re one miracle play at Alpharetta, against the defending region champions, from being 3-1 overall, 3-0 in Region 6-AAAAAA, and in a tie for first place with Lambert and South Forsyth.
Just like we all expected, right?
Alpharetta is actually now 1-2 in region after losing to Johns Creek (by almost the exact same score that they defeated West—42-39, rather than 43-39—which is strange, really). Johns Creek is actually in the fourth and final playoff spot (yes, it’s early) with a 2-1 record despite being outscored 80-92 in region play so far.
Nothing like a little bit of early chaos.
Alpharetta’s other loss, which came this past weekend against Lambert, was a big get for the Longhorns. Lambert has really come alive thanks to a three-headed rushing attack and a powerful defense, which was on display again this weekend by only allowing 14 points on the road.
Now South Forsyth (4-0, 3-0) and Lambert (3-1, 3-0) are sitting pretty together at the top of the standings, and with Chattahoochee (0-4) and North Forsyth (1-3, 1-2) up, respectively, the two teams off Exit 13 have a good chance to gain some padding for what will surely be an intense playoff race down the stretch.
For Lambert, handling a tough North Forsyth squad that South blew out 35-3 last week would be, redundant to last week’s blog, a litmus test of sorts for where they stack up. For West, a win at Northview, who North Forsyth head coach Jason Galt thinks could be the best team in the county, will give the Wolverines more clout.