Pinecrest Academy at Mt. Paran Christian
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at Mt. Paran Stadium in Kennesaw.
Records, rankings: Pinecrest is 3-0 overall, 0-0 in Region 6-A, Div. B and unranked; Mt. Paran is 4-0, 0-0 in Region 6-A, Div. A and No. 4 in Class A.
Series history: First meeting.
Last meeting: None.
What to know: Is Pinecrest a real threat in the Class A Private division? Friday’s game should be a good barometer for the Paladins. Mt. Paran is 4-0 with wins over traditional Class A power Eagle’s Landing Christian and Class AAA North Clayton. Dorian Walker (6-0, 175) leads Mt. Paran with 626 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns through four games as the Eagles have outscored opponents by an average of 45-14. Mt. Paran runs a single-wing offense—a precursor of the modern shotgun spread, a style not seen often today—and the Eagles are balanced on offense, throwing on early downs as often as they run. “The biggest key for us will be to not give up big gains, because they have the potential to do that on any play,” Pinecrest coach Todd Winter said.
Before the season, Winter picked the Paladins’ two region crossover opponents out of a hat and drew Trion and Mt. Paran—the two best teams in Region 6-A, Div. A. The Paladins won the turnover battle (1-0 on a tipped interception), started in better field position and scored touchdowns on three of six drives to beat Trion on the road last Friday; they’ll have to do the same at Mt. Paran. “The consensus among coaches I’ve talked to is that Mt. Paran is the team to beat in Class A-Private, and the kids can feel a buzz this week,” Winter said. “Is it a big game? Yes. We can find out where we’re at. But I’m not going to make it out as the end-all, be-all game of the season. What matters is that we’re in the top 16 to qualify for the state playoffs after the regular season.”