By Doug Gorman
The Eagle's Landing Christian Academy football team has become a regular visitor to the playoffs.
Friday night the squad will play in the first-round of the Class A playoffs for the sixth year in a row when it entertains Athens Academy in the playoff opener.
The Chargers enter Friday night's tussle riding an eight-game winning streak. ELCA has played winning football ever since dropping a 24-16 game to Henry County and a 35-13 decision to Holy Innocents to start the season with an 0-2 record.
Athens Academy brings a 7-3 record into the contest, including two straight victories.
For third-year ELCA coach Jonathan Gess, nothing changes as the Chargers get set for another playoff game.
"It's not really different," Gess said. "Since I have been here, we are going into the playoffs with a little more high-octane offense. We are able to run the ball, which I think will help us, but the bottom line is we have to go out there and play everybody hard. Athens Academy is a three seed, which means we are playing one of the top 24 teams in the state. So you have to come to play."
During its winning streak, ELCA's offense has exploded, averaging 48 points per game.
Where the offense has accounted to close to seven touchdowns a game, the defense has been stingy, holding opponents to just over 12 points per contest.
Athens Academy is averaging 24 points per game through the regular season. It's defense is giving up just 14 points per game.
Gess compares Athens Academy to Region 5-A rival Landmark Christian, a team ELCA beat earlier this year.
"I keep telling our kids, we want to get to the point where we can consistently beat teams like Landmark and Athens Academy. We have a chance this week."
The winner of the ELCA-Athens Academy game will play the winner of the Lincoln County-Trion contest.
Kickoff for Friday's first-game is set for 7:30 p.m.