081419_MNS_Private_Schools_Nick_Joiner Nick Joiner

St. Pius X football player Nick Joiner (12) carries the ball during a game in 2018.

The local private schools in Class 4A are back for another run for a state championship in the Georgia High School Association for 2019.

Marist had a strong run last year with an 11-win campaign and an appearance in the state semifinals. The War Eagles have made the state playoffs every year since 1982.

Marist’s offense returns senior quarterback Connor Cigelske, who led the team in rushing yards (961), passing yards (1,344) and total touchdowns (25) in 2018. Junior fullback Lincoln Parker had 11 rushing TDs last season and has returned for a Marist rushing attack that averaged more than 197 yards a contest. The War Eagles’ defense will be led by junior defensive back Josh Moore, who had a team-high seven interceptions and 45 total tackles.

“We have several key factors facing us this year,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “First and foremost is replacing our entire front four on defense, a group that I would have to say is the best we have ever had at Marist. That is a huge piece of our puzzle this year. Also, I would say that staying healthy is a key for us as we have very little depth, especially on our lines of scrimmage. And it goes without saying that replacing the athleticism and big-play capabilities of Kyle Hamilton (who signed with Notre Dame) will be difficult.”

St. Pius X earned 10 wins last season, which included a Region 8AAAA title and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs. The Golden Lions have been in the postseason every year since 2006.

St. Pius X averaged more than 272 rushing yards per contest last season and will look to continue that trend with increased production from senior Nick Joiner. Senior tackle Joseph Miller will lead the lines on both sides of the ball.

Woodward was also a postseason squad in 2018, extending its state playoff appearance streak that started in 2008. The War Eagles made the second round of the postseason, led by senior quarterback Michael Wright, who had 2,054 total yards and 27 total touchdowns.

Senior running back Ambe Caldwell returns for Woodward after scoring seven touchdowns last year. Defensively, the two leading tacklers from last season in junior linebacker Errington Truesdell and senior Aaron Washington are back.

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