Boys Varsity Football
Game Summaries & Headlines.
ATLANTA — Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy was in pursuit of their fifth state championship and fourth straight but unlike last year where the Chargers dominated Athens, the Chargers had to rely on a big second half for the 44-17 victory.
The victory etched the ELCA Chargers into a history book as the program took their fourth straight championship. For head coach Jonathan Gess — this championship was a little bit sweeter than the rest.
“Last year we were supposed to win and of course everyone thought we were supposed to win this year,” Gess said. “But, we replaced 13 starters off that team last year and not only those 13 we only have 13 seniors so this one is sweet for what they’re able to do. They buckled down and worked hard this year to win so this one’s sweet.”
The Chargers routed Athens Academy for their third straight title in 2017 as the Spartans were held to just 22 total yards and no first downs. Coming into this game, the Spartans kept ELCA close to the vest for the first half.
Athens gained 107 yards in their 23 plays during the first. However, in the stat sheet, ELCA led everywhere. First downs (7), total offense (134) and time of possession (12:07) but that was offset by errors.
A pass to Justin Robinson on the Chargers’ first drive resulted in a fumble that the Spartans recovered. Athens’ drive started on ELCA’s 27-yard line and only moved forward four yards in three plays but the Spartans’ James Williams booted the ball through the upright for the 40-yard score.
The Chargers started its second drive with four straight rushes but an incomplete pass suddenly derailed the team and forced them to punt just three plays later. After a Spartans rush for nine yards, the Chargers were soon caught off guard on a Len’Neth Whitehead 54-yard rush that handed the 10 point lead to the Spartans.
ELCA would struggle to get to the end zone in the rest of the first half with a 10-0 deficit looking the program dead in the eye. Athens limited ELCA in the run game and Rush was struggling to hit receivers. However, Gess says his team has faced adversity before.
“We were down in game nine and we lost one game this year so they know how to fight,” Gess said. “That’s what we talked about this year. You gotta keep working and big-time players make big-time plays. They were playing Cover-0 and I told Devon (Dorsey) and Justin (Menard) that they have to make plays. Brayden (Rush) had to get them the ball and they did.”
During the second half, things did a complete 180 for the Chargers who scored three times in the five minutes during the third quarter.
The Chargers completed some big plays during its first drive of the half. Justin Robinson accounted for a 32-yard reception before Justin Menard finished the drive off with a 12-yard reception from Rush.
As if the Chargers were done scoring, Athens Academy quarterback Palmer Bush was intercepted by Jack Buckley who returned the ball 27-yards for the offense. Rush completed a highly contested pass to Robinson for the touchdown two plays later.
The Spartans were down 13-10 and facing a wave of momentum from ELCA. What the Spartans didn’t need, occurred. The Chargers forced a three-and-out to maintain their rapid pace.
With Rush in a rhythm of his own offensively, the senior quarterback chucked the ball 50 yards to Menard for the third passing touchdown of the game.
Athens Academy found a response in the third quarter but that did little to ELCA as the Chargers offense left Athens flat-footed.
The fourth quarter was silent from Athens as ELCA scored three touchdowns, two from Mitchell’s running ability and the other from Josh Rogers, and a field goal from Reed for the 44-17 victory.
“They’re going to play Cover-0 and stuff the run by putting everybody in the box — we gotta throw the football and our quarterbacks and receivers have to make it work,” Gess said. “I think all year Keaton got all the glory and the receivers sat over there and nobody gave them the glory so this was their day.”