For Walker, the wait was worth it.
For Whitefield Academy, it’s hard to tell.
Walker finished third in the MaxPreps’ final private-school power rankings with 13.81 points, trailing only Athens Academy (14.69) and Eagle’s Landing Christian (14.28).
The results weren’t as positive for Whitefield, which was ranked 17th. The Wolfpack (10.52) missed the final spot of the 16-team tournament, given to Region 6A rival Mount Pisgah Christian, by the slimmest of margins — one-hundredth of a point.
Both teams finished the season with identical 6-4 records, though Whitefield beat Mount Pisgah 28-6 on Oct. 19. The one caveat for the Wolfpack is that they played one team — St. Francis — that did not play a region schedule this year, and those games are not counted as part of the power rankings.
Walker is in the same position as Whitefield — its win against North Cobb Christian was not counted — but the Wolverines’ 9-0 record otherwise kept them from dropping very far.
Cobb County’s only other playoff-eligible Class A team, Mount Paran Christian (3-7), was ranked 21st of 29 teams.
The power rankings are new its first year, after the Georgia High School Association’s separation of public and private schools for the state playoffs in football.
When the final brackets are produced today — after the GHSA hears appeals from any school dissatisfied with its ranking — Walker will be the No. 3 seed and will likely host Athens Christian on Nov. 23 in the first round of the 16-team tournament.
“Getting the region championship was huge,” said John East, the Wolverines’ first-year coach. “We knew, if we won the region, we would likely get to play the first two rounds at home.”
Walker could also host a third round — the semifinals — should it advance that far and Eagle’s Landing Christian gets upset along the way.
Because there are only 16 teams in each bracket, East will get an extra week to prepare his players, and he’ll be provided with one of his favorite things to do as a head coach — have practice on Thanksgiving.
“When you’ve never experienced it, it’s something special,” he said.
While it might be nice to know the team will be playing on the holiday weekend, there is the chance that Walker could lose some of the momentum it had after completing its first 10-0 regular season. However, East said he welcomes the bye and is not too concerned about its effect.
“The byes have worked well for us,” said East, whose team will be having their third bye week of the season. “We played that first weekend against Temple and then had the following week off. Then, we played three weeks and had another bye. Our bye weeks have been good.
“We’ll tell the kids to go pick a game and go watch it since no other Class A teams are playing.”
As for Whitefield, coach Jimmy Fields and school administrators have the opportunity to appeal to the GHSA — if they choose to — by noon today if they believe their power-ranking points are incorrect.
Field couldn’t be reached for comment, but his former boss — East, the one-time Whitefield athletic director — was sympathetic.
“All they can do is crunch the numbers,” East said. “I feel for them.”