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New era of sports opens at ELCA

By Anthony Rhoads

The 2004-05 is the beginning of a new era for Eagle's Landing Christian Academy.

Starting this school year, ELCA will be competing in the Georgia High School Association after several years of competing in the Georgia Independent School Association.

"I can't wait," ELCA athletic director Scott Queen said. "It's going to be a humongous challenge. Our coaching staff is so excited because it is going to be challenging."

In most sports, ELCA will be competing in Region 5-A, which includes Atlanta International, Ben Franklin, Cathedral Academy, DeKalb Arts, Galloway, Greenforest, Landmark Christian, Our Lady of Mercy, Mt. Paran, Mt. Zion-Carroll, Southwest Atlanta Christian, St. Francis, W.D. Mohammed, Whitefield Academy and Yeshiva. Out of those schools, the football-playing schools include ELCA, Landmark, Our Lady of Mercy, Mt. Zion and Whitefield.

In volleyball, ELCA will be playing in Area 4-AA/A, which also includes Cross Keys, Decatur, Galloway, Greenforest and Paideia.

"(Travel is) a huge, huge advantage," Queen said. "That was one of the bad things about being in the GISA was that we were going to Augusta, Albany, Macon, everywhere. We couldn't have asked for a better region. Travel was a big reason we wanted to move to the GHSA."

Another advantage to competing in the GHSA is that ELCA will now be able to play against the Henry County public schools. In football, Eagle's Landing Christian will play Dutchtown and in volleyball, ELCA will play all the other county schools

In cross country and track, ELCA also plans to compete in the annual county meets.

Queen expects ELCA to be most competitive in the individual sports. The Chargers should hold their own in softball, baseball and volleyball but the road should be pretty rough in football and basketball.

The basketball region contains some of the best small schools in the state, including 2003 Class A state champion Whitefield and 2004 state champion Southwest Atlanta Christian.

Head football coach Tim Luke is looking forward to his team playing in the GHSA. The Chargers' first game in the GHSA is Aug. 20 at home against Athens Christian School.

"We're thrilled to be a part of what I think is the best high school association in America," Luke said. "When you think of high school football you think of Georgia, Florida, Texas and California in the same breath and everyone else is afterward. To be part of it is exciting."

In the past three years, Eagle's Landing Christian was fairly competitive in the GISA, going 7-5 in 2001, 6-6 in 2002 and 3-8 last year.

"The GISA, especially in triple-A, is better than we people think but we are entering in waters that are very deep and we don't know what it's like and will do the best with what we've got," Luke said.