Walker, North Cobb Christian face sudden dilemma
by Adam Carrington
August 07, 2013 12:20 AM | 3365 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The decision Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy made Monday to suspend its football program didn’t come as a complete surprise to many, including Walker coach John East.

But deciding to call it quits just weeks before the regular season threw a wrinkle into two local teams’ scheduling.

Walker and North Cobb Christian now have holes to fill for the quickly approaching season, particularly the Eagles, who were set to open with the Warriors on Aug. 30 in a Region 6A crossover game.

Last season, Southwest Atlanta Christian forfeited its first two games — including its 2012 opener with North Cobb Christian — because of a lack of proper equipment. After playing its first game of the season Sept. 14 at Walker and suffering a 56-6 rout, the Warriors played out the season with just 13 players on the roster.

Despite going 0-10 and losing by an average of 45 points, Southwest Atlanta Christian drew nationwide attention for its resilience.

And while the team raised its numbers to 18 players for the 2013 season, the school’s board of directors still voted to pull the plug on football for the fall.

It was a decision the Warriors’ coach did not support.

“I’m hurt and saddened along with kind of confused,” Adrian Chism said Monday to Georgia High School Football Daily. “I’m still waiting on the official letter to explain the reason why. I got a call this weekend stating that the board had voted to suspend the season.”

First-year North Cobb Christian coach Scott Ryle felt sorry for Southwest Atlanta Christian.

“I really feel sorry for them and their kids,” Ryle said. “When he called me, there was a tear in his voice. I was hurt for him and hurt for his kids. I talked to him a couple of times and it sounded like he was headed in the right direction.”

East, in his second year at Walker’s helm, was aware of Southwest Atlanta Christian’s situation last season and had a backup plan in place.

Walker will instead host Trion, another team from Region 6A’s other subregion, on Sept. 13. Trion, meanwhile, moved its bye week to Oct. 18, the week it was scheduled to play Southwest Atlanta Christian.

“Last year, when they forfeited the first couple of games, if it was going to happen again, we wanted to be prepared,” East said. “Trion had a bye week the same time we played SACA. We did talk about it last year, and if they weren’t able to field a team, we should play.”

When Walker and Southwest Atlanta Christian played last season, the game was originally set to be played on the Warriors’ field in Forest Park, but was shifted to the Wolverines’ Robertson Field less than a week before the game.

Ryle, who was coaching in Texas last year when Southwest Atlanta Christian forfeited its first couple of games, was caught off-guard when the Warriors put a kibosh on their season.

The Eagles, who won’t get the benefit of receiving a win by forfeit like they did last year, will have to find a new opponent for their Aug. 30 season opener, and on very short notice.

Since learning of the Warriors’ predicament, Ryle said he’s called other schools from all over the Southeast, but he hasn’t had any luck in filling his schedule.

When asked about the possibility of changing bye weeks — North Cobb Christian’s is Sept. 20 — Ryle said it would be difficult due to school commitments on that week.

The worst-case scenario is that North Cobb Christian would settle for a nine-game season, since the Eagles aren’t playing a region schedule and are ineligible for the state playoffs.

“I’ve been looking at schools in Florida and South Carolina and it’s been difficult,” Ryle said. “Most of the schedules have already been set. That’s the card we’ve been dealt. We will have to keep moving forward and focus on Walker (on Sept. 6) and just play nine games.”

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