By Doug Gorman
Moving from the GISA to the GHSA hasn't presented too much of a problem for the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Chargers football team.
In just their second year as a member of the GHSA, the Chargers have posted a 15-6 overall record and a 6-2 mark in Region 5-A play.
It's been good enough for two straight trips to the playoffs, including Friday night's Class A playoff opener at home against Gordon Lee.
“We feel very good about that,” said head coach Nick Westbrook. “The boys have done a great job this season getting us back to the playoffs. We might be a private school, but there is a lot of competitiveness in this team.”
The Chargers earned their second straight trip to the playoffs with a 7-3 overall record, and a 3-1 mark in the region. The Chargers' region record helped secure the No. 2-seed out of Region 5-A.
Eagle's Landing Christian Academy's season took a turn for the better after a heartbreaking 27-20 loss to North Oconee.
After that loss, the Chargers won four straight games, including three region contests all by shutouts.
Anchored by a group of talented linebackers including, Cameron Panther, Jason Stott, Russ Cooper and Jarrett Osborne the Chargers' defense shutdown its opponents. Senior Tyler Black has brought senior leadership to the defensive line. Cole Bostick has also anchored the line.
But it hasn't been all about defense for ELCA. The Chargers have scored points on opponents with a offensive mix of passing and running the football.
Cooper is one of the team's top running backs, along with Brian Moss.
Quarterback Wes Cater, who also plays on the defensive side of the football has led the offense. Carter has found a favorite target in Panther, who plays tight end.
A week ago, the Chargers had a chance to secure their first ever GHSA region title, but lost to Landmark for the second year in a row in the region championship.
Until that loss, ELCA had won four games in a row, all by shutouts, They also had a fifth shutout earlier this year, a 16-0 decision against Athens Christian in the season opener.
Gordon Lee comes into the game with a 5-5 overall record. The Trojans finished 2-2 in Region 6-A to earn the No.-3 seed.
A week ago, the Trojans lost 28-7 to No.-1 ranked Bowdon in the final regular-season game of the year.
“They are a good football team,” said Westbrook. “They are in a tough region, if they were in our region, they would be competing for the region title. It's going to be a tough, physical football game.”
During the regular season, the Trojans beat Buchannon, a high school from Tennessee and Trion in overtime to help improve their overall record.
The Chargers' lost their first-round game to Hancock Central last year and want to change those fortunes this time around.
“We have talked all week about what happened last year,” said Westbrook. “We don't care what people thing about us, we belong here, but we need to go out there and win a playoff game.”