Last year: Our Lady of Mercy 38, Mount Paran Christian 7
All-time series: Our Lady of Mercy leads 1-0
Prediction: Our Lady of Mercy 28, Mount Paran Christian 14
Mount Paran Christian hopes last season was an anomaly.
The Eagles hope to return to their winning ways, after going
3-7 a year ago, when the Eagles host Our Lady of Mercy.
The Bobcats have a history of solid football under fourth-year coach Mike Earwood, who has a record of 19-12 at the school and has recorded three straight winning seasons, including a playoff appearance last year.
“Our Lady of Mercy does an outstanding job,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “Mercy is one of the better teams in the state. They’re well-coached and they have great numbers for a Class A program. They have a lot of talent and they’ll be ready.
“They want to run the ball, but they’re also effective throwing it. They have speed on the outside and some size up front, so offensively, they’ll be as talented as anyone we’ll play in our regular season schedule. Defensively, they mix up a 3-5 and 3-4 front, so they’ll be sound there as well. They have some guys that can run around.”
The matchup will be a test for the Eagles, who will be looking to have a better performance than last season.
Jordan has enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm from his players as Mount Christian moves into more of a spread offense.
“We’ll run a little option, but (the snap) will be mostly from the shotgun,” he said. “The kids are excited about it. One of the things you struggle with running the triple option is it not being as exciting football as most kids are use to seeing on television. The kids are excited about spreading the ball out a little more.”
— By Carlton D. White
Game: Whitefield Academy at Pace Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Whitefield 24, Pace Academy 8
All-time series: Whitefield leads 3-2
Prediction: Pace Academy 24, Whitefield 17
Whitefield Academy missed the state playoffs last season, despite finishing with a 6-4 record.
Its last two losses of the season to Walker and Trion were by nine points or less.
Eighteen seniors are gone from that team but many of the skill players are back, including quarterback Everett Pollard. He is looking to pick up where he left off last year when he started the season as a backup quarterback and had to learn the playbook as he developed. Still, he finished with 432 passing yards and four touchdowns and added 409 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
“This time last year he was unproven commodity at quarterback,” Whitefield coach Jimmy Fields said. “He’s returning now with a year under his belt. He matured a lot last year. He’s benefitted greatly from his playing experience and has worked hard during the offseason on his skills and techniques to have a really good senior year.”
Pollard, who is more in tune with Whitefield’s system, has Lawrence Waters joining him in the backfield, and Braelen Phillips, who has started off and on since his freshman year, is working as one of his go-to receivers.
Sky Dupree, who had 94 tackles at linebacker last season, is another returning skill player expecting to get carries at running back.
Pace should be a test for Whitefield on the road. Like the Wolfpack, the Knights have potential at quarterback behind Kevin Johnson and experienced seniors around him in Wilson Alexander and Hunter Cesinger.
“They are extremely fast and they are also very big,” Fields said. “I know they didn’t win as many games as they wanted to last year, but it’s evident from watching making tremendous strides. They have some very quality personnel at the skill positions.”
— By Adam Carrington
Game: North Cobb Christian School at Duval Charter at Arlington, 7:30 p.m.
Last year: First meeting
All-time series: 0-0
Prediction: North Cobb Christian 20, Duval Charter 14
First year North Cobb Christian coach Scott Ryle will make his regular season debut out-of-state when the Eagles trek to Jacksonville, Fla., to face Duval Charter.
This wasn’t the original plan.
The Eagles had intended on opening the season against Southwest Christian, but the Warriors cancelled its season late in the proceedings, prompting North Cobb Christian to find replacement with hardly any notice. After many phone calls, Ryle found a program in the same situation as his.
“I used some of my coaching networks in Florida and they pointed me in the direction of the game” Ryle said. “A school in Orlando told me that (Duval Charter) was looking for a game and found out that his first game was cancelled for whatever reason.”
Ryle said Duval runs a no-huddle, spread offense with fast skill players. This will be a gauge for the Eagles as they get ready for their county rival Walker next week.
Quarterback Zach Bollinger, who has been away from the game for four years, has shined in the preseason.
When they do get on the field against Duval, the Eagles will focus most on limiting the turnovers and performing well on special teams.
“In the first game, it’s all about turnovers,” Ryle said. “We have to limit turnovers and win on special teams. That’s where mistakes happen. If we can do a good job in those phases, I think we can come out with a win.”
— By Adam Carrington