During the regular season, Eagle’s Landing Christian looked like one of the state’s most dominant teams, beating up opponents by an average score of 52-7.
Then the playoffs began. And the Chargers got even better.
The top-seeded team in the Class A private school playoffs continued its historic run to toward a third consecutive state title with a 55-0 shellacking of No. 5 Prince Avenue Christian. In three playoff games the Chargers have pitched three shutouts and outscored their opponents 164-0.
ELCA (13-0) got all of its scores on the ground, with senior Josh Mays leading the charge with three rushing touchdowns. Sophomore Keaton Mitchell had two touchdown runs while junior quarterback Brayden Rush, junior Jelan Pearson and sophomore quarterback Nate McCollum each had one.
Defensively, the Chargers were equally as dominant as seniors George Shockley, Josh Holt and Tre Douglas all had interceptions. Prince Avenue (11-2) did manage to advance the ball inside the ELCA 10-yard line on three occasions. But ELCA turned the Wolverines away each time, twice in the last five minutes of the first half.
Trailing 35-0, Prince Avenue put together a drive, aided by a personal foul penalty, which set the Wolverines up first-and-goal from the ELCA 9-yard line. They gained just four yards in three plays and on fourth-and-goal, senior quarterback Grant Roland’s pass fell incomplete. Two plays into the Chargers’ ensuing possession, junior running back Justin Menard set sail on an 80-yard run to the Wolverine 10-yard line. McCollum darted in from there to make the score 41-0 after the extra point kick failed.
On Prince Avenue’s next possession, freshman Brock Vandagriff, one of the few bright spots for the Wolverines on the evening, completed a 30-yard pass to sophomore Trey Stiles on a fake punt near midfield. Then Roland hit Vandagriff on a slant on third-and-eight, to move the ball to the Charger 1-yard line with just under a minute left in the half.
But Shockley tackled freshman running back J.J. Hudson for a 3-yard loss on first down, a short run moved the ball ahead to the 2-yard line on second down, and two incompletions on third and fourth downs – the last resulting from pressure by senior defensive end Harrison Taylor – spelled the end of the scoring threat and sent the Chargers into the locker room with a 41-0 halftime lead.
The dominant performance was par for the course for the Chargers, who have toyed with their foes this season. To put matters into perspective:
-- Aside from a 21-14 win over Class AAAA Eagle’s Landing in Week 1, ELCA’s next closest margin of victory was a 35-7 win over Class AAAAAA Jonesboro in Week 2.
-- The Chargers scored a total of 523 points in 10 regular season games, good enough for 10th best all-time, sixth-best among schools competing in the Georgia High Schools Association, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website.
-- Their 52.3 points per game average during the regular season is No. 1 all time.
-- With a total of 678 points, ELCA is just 50 points shy of the state record of 737 points, set by Washington County in 2014.
But a word of caution for the Chargers: that record-setting Washington County squad went 14-1, with the one defeat coming at the hands of Calhoun in the Class AAA state finals, 27-20.
Prince Avenue 21 20 14 0 55
ELCA 0 0 0 0 0