Back in 2011, the Eagles had one of their best teams and was putting together one of their best seasons, sporting a 5-2 record through seven games and a 3-1 mark in the region with three games remaining.
Mount Paran won its next two contests, setting up a defacto region championship game at home against Bowdon in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Eagles had all of the tiebreakers in their favor with co-leaders Darlington and Bremen.
Unfortunately, Mount Paran lost.
Now, the Eagles get a chance at redemption.
“There was a lot of excitement then,” Mount Paran Christian coach Mitch Jordan said. “But, this game is probably even bigger for a lot of reasons.”
While it’s not a season-ending, winner-take-all contest like it was two years ago, Friday’s Region 6A (B) game between he Eagles (6-1, 3-0) and Mount Pisgah Christian (7-0, 3-0) has stakes at least as big.
For the first time in its history, Mount Paran is ranked among the top 10 teams in the state in Class A, coming in at No. 8 in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association poll. The Eagles have been in the top 10 since the first week of October.
Mount Pisgah is also ranked, with the Patriots holding down the No. 10 position in the poll. The matchup makes the first game at Eagles Stadium that will be played by two ranked teams
“That game in 2011 was for the region championship,” Jordan said. “This game doesn’t have those stakes, but it feels like it because the winner has the inside track to playing for the region championship at the end of the year.
“Some of the guys on this team were young players when we played Bowdon. They’re still around, so they know what it feels like to be involved in a game with as much significance as this one. These opportunities don’t come around often, so you have to enjoy the moment.”
Mount Paran starting quarterback Jake Allen is enjoying it. He was a member of the Eagles’ 2011, and like it was two years ago, Allen can feel the excitement throughout the school and the community.
“I remember it was really loud, and it was the most-packed and most anticipated game we had all season,” Allen said. “There’s definitely a similar excitement to this week’s game. It’s probably the biggest game in the history of the school and we’re ready to play it.”
As a freshman, Allen didn’t see a lot of action against Bowdon, so nervousness wasn’t an issue. This time, as one of the team’s leaders, he’ll be counted on to contribute in a major way.
“I’m pretty calm all week going into a game,” he said. “Right at kickoff, that’s when I get some butterflies. But, that always happens and then I go play. Going into this, we’re treating it as a normal game. We can’t get overhyped. We’re humble, but we’re confident. We know what we have to do.”
Mount Paran has done a good job over the years taking care of what needs to be, and even exceeding everyone’s expectations of them.
“The sense of community is strong and the staff and the parents are generating a lot of pregame excitement,” Jordan said. “What we’re doing is really uniting the community.
“We made the postseason the first two years we were eligible. Then, the drop-off last year, so the goal was always to get back to a position where we want to compete for the region championship and go as far as we can. We’ve been healthy, and we have some talented kids who have put us in a better position than we were in last year.”