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Football: With enrollment up, Pinecrest Academy ready to tackle 11-man
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Pinecrest Academy seniors Nick Bohn, left, and Ryan Bartling each played a key part in the Paladins’ GAPPS 8-man state championship in 2020. - photo by Jacob Smith

2021 Football Schedule

Aug. 20 – Pinecrest Academy at Towns County

Aug. 27 – Lake Oconee Academy at Pinecrest Academy

Sept. 3 – BYE

Sept. 10 – Pinecrest Academy at Cherokee Christian

Sept. 17 – Lafayette Christian at Pinecrest Academy

Sept. 23 – BYE

Oct. 1 – Rock Springs Academy at Pinecrest Academy

Oct. 8 – Pinecrest Academy at Harvester Christian

Oct. 16 – Pinecrest Academy at Notre Dame Academy

Oct. 22 – North Georgia Falcons at Pinecrest Academy

Oct. 29 – Pinecrest Academy at The King’s Academy

Nov. 5 – Calvary Christian at Pinecrest Academy

Breckin Barbee spent much of last offseason expecting to be a wide receiver.

Thrust into the quarterback position in the middle of summer, all Barbee did was account for more than 1,400 total yards, score 26 touchdowns and help Pinecrest Academy to the GAPPS Division II 8-man state championship.

This year, with a full season as the Paladins’ signal-caller under his belt and the team jumping back up to 11-man football, Barbee is focused on perfecting all of the characteristics that made Pinecrest’s offense so dynamic last season.

“This year coming in, I really focused on being a quarterback because last year I really didn’t know what position I was going into,” Barbee said. “I thought I was going to be a wide receiver, but then switched to quarterback midway through the summer. This year it’s really been focusing on the plays and connections with the wide receivers and all of that. Really just timing and getting perfect at what we do.”

2020 Results

9-1 Overall, 2-0 GAPPS Division II

Harvester Christian 40, Pinecrest Academy 32

Pinecrest Academy 60, Hearts Academy 6

Pinecrest Academy 46, Johnson Ferry Christian 8

Pinecrest Academy 26, Peachtree Academy 15

Pinecrest Academy 32, Southern Christian 7

Pinecrest Academy 42, Lanier Christian 0

Pinecrest Academy 60, Dominion Christian 20

Pinecrest Academy 52, Horizon Christian 48

Pinecrest Academy 66, Hearts Academy 6

Pinecrest Academy 44, Lanier Christian 18

For Pinecrest head coach Shawn Coury, having a returning starter at quarterback makes all the difference in the world.

“It’s huge. We’re so far ahead of where we would be if we started over,” Coury said. “Breckin’s really smart and makes good reads down the field. He’s a very electric runner, so he gives us that option and capability in the backfield. He’s so comfortable with what we’re doing, in terms of making the runs reads at the line of scrimmage, the option reads at the line of scrimmage, then also making those pass reads down the field. It puts us way ahead. He’s a good leader on the team, and he does a good job of rallying the guys and getting them to do that. So, his leadership capabilities are equally important to us as his skill on the field.”

Barbee and the Paladins won’t have the electricity of Bryce Balthaser at their disposal, but Coury said he expects Colin Brown to provide a similar brand of versatility.

Brown played receiver last year and also impressed at safety, where he had three interceptions.

“With his speed and his athletic ability, he’s going to be able to basically pick up right where Bryce left off,” Coury said. “Colin brings a lot of great skill to the game and a lot of great skill to our backfield. He’s very versatile too, in the sense that he can run sweep, he can catch, we can put him in the backfield as a tailback, just like we did with Bryce.”

Trophy Case 

First varsity season: 2004 

Playoff appearances: 9 (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020) 

Region titles: 1 (1997) 

State titles: 1 (2020) 

*GISA from 2004-09; GAPPS from 2020-21

On defense, Ryan Bartling looks to build on a massive junior campaign that saw him collect 77 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and four sacks from the defensive end position.

Bartling will shift to linebacker, where he’ll play alongside Brock Barbee and Nick Bohn.

Brock Barbee is the younger brother of Breckin Barbee, while Nick Bohn’s younger brother, Jake Bohn, is on the team as a freshman.

“For our guys, our guys have a lot of younger brothers who are on the team, so they already had connections and knew each other,” Coury said. “So, it’s been great to have all of those guys working together. We’re going to keep trying to grow. We want to get more kids out in the hallways to come play and join what we’re doing, but at the same time I’m very excited to be where we are and to make that growth year to year.”

In fact, Brock Barbee is penciled in as the Paladins’ starting running back.

“He offers a lot of the same things that Alex did,” Coury said. “He’s a hard runner, he’s a gritty kid, and he’s gotten really good at seeing cut-back lanes and making cuts. I’m really excited about what he’s going to be able to do this year.”

Pinecrest lists 27 players on its roster, which is a jump from 18 last season. More than half of those players are underclassmen, which bodes well for Pinecrest’s longevity among the 11-man ranks.

That’s one of the reasons Coury designed last year’s offense to work in 8-man football and 11-man football.

“This was our goal, right? We were in a position to play 8-man because of the number of guys that we had, but we built an offense that was easily transferrable," Coury said. "So, we haven't changed anything. We've been running the same stuff all summer that we ran all last year. We just have two tackles and a fullback now. So, everything is still the same — the route combinations, the numbering system. It was a very smooth transition offensively.”