Last year: Mount Paran Christian 28, Whitefield Academy 17
All-time series: Tied 1-1
Prediction: Mount Paran Christian 24, Whitefield Academy 17
Mount Paran Christian will try to maintain the momentum from last week’s season-opening victory over then-No. 4 Eagle’s Landing Christian as the Eagles go on the road to play Whitefield Academy in a Region 6A cross-over game.
It was a memorable season opener last week for Mount Paran (1-0), which scored a 31-14 upset over a perennial state powerhouse.
As a result, the Eagles moved up to fourth from sixth in the latest Georgia Sports Writers Association Class A poll.
While Mount Paran celebrated its big win over the weekend, coach Mitch Jordan said it was back to business Monday as the Eagles began their preparations for Whitefield.
“We got back to work (Monday), and it brought them back down to earth,” Jordan said. “They were major focused by the end of practice. So I think they’re back on track. I let them enjoy the win during the weekend. But beginning with Monday’s practice, we were focused. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We had a pretty good start to the week.”
Whitefield coach Jimmy Fields and his Wolfpack now face the challenging task of opening their season against a team that has elevated itself to the top tier of teams in Class A.
“They’re a great football team, very deserving of their ranking after knocking off Eagle’s Landing (Christian) — one of the top single-A football teams in the state of Georgia,” Fields said. “There’s a lot of motivation there when you’re playing one of the top teams in the state. And even more, it’s your opening ballgame. No matter who you’re playing, a football team like ours is very excited about that opportunity.”
While Jordan said the win over ELCA has certainly given Mount Paran a big boost of momentum, he added that it also makes last year’s Class A private state quarterfinalists an even bigger target coming into the game with Whitefield.
“It created some momentum and created some excitement among the fanbase,” Jordan said. “But we knew we’re not going to sneak up on anybody like we did last year. We’ll definitely have a target on us and the kids need to understand that this week.”
— By Greg Oshust
MDJ Sports Writer
Game: Cross Keys (0-0) at North Cobb Christian (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Cross Keys 47, North Cobb Christian 29
All-time series: Cross Keys leads 3-1
Prediction: Cross Keys 24, NCCS 18
North Cobb Christian seems to have progressed since coach Scott Ryle took over the program.
Last year’s 1-9 overall record in his debut season was a combination of having a small roster and injuries.
After averaging 25 players last season, the number grew to 40 during winter offseason workouts. Now, the roster is up to 50 players.
And the Eagles also have a better understanding of Ryle’s system. He said they will be using the pistol out of the I-formation.
David Brittingham going down to a season-ending MCL tear in late October was a blow to the Eagles, but he is back at 100 percent and has looked good in the preseason.
This season, Brittingham is expected to exceed last season’s total of 784 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’re a downhill running offense,” Ryle said. “His MCL didn’t require surgery, and he is now a lot faster and stronger than last year. We have high expectations for him this year.”
The Eagles are also expected to have more speed on defense with quarterback Jalen Dampier moonlighting in the secondary.
“One thing we lacked overall was defensive speed,” Ryle said. “After a year of maturity, we got a lot more size and speed than we did last year.”
The Eagles are expecting Cross Keys to have some speed as well and the Eagles will have to contain that speed, especially against the running game. Ryle said they run a Wing-T with a lot of misdirection.
“They’re a lot better than last year,” Ryle aid. “They’re still thin on players but are coached really well. Their running backs have tremendous speed. We have to keep them contained.”
— By Adam Carrington