Dutchtown, ELCA put together year to remember


The season: The Bulldogs finished 11-2 with a third-place finish in Region 3-AAAA to make the playoffs for the first time in school history. Dutchtown lost 37-14 to No. 5 Chattahoochee in the Class AAAA quarterfinals.

What went right: Dutchtown was as balanced a team in the state during the regular season.

The offense wore down opponents, the defense had five shutouts and allowed just 6.2 points per game and the special teams play was solid behind kicker Ryan Kay.

It added up to 11 wins, a record for public schools in Henry County, and the best season in school history.

What needs to improve: When it came to playoff time, Dutchtown's offense -- which averaged 20.6 points per game during the regular season -- turned up missing.

Bulldogs scored one offensive touchdown in three playoff games and survived with a stout defense and Kay's kicking. But against elite teams with potent offenses, that wasn't enough.

Chances for next season: Graduation will hit Dutchtown hard.

The Bulldogs will lose 30 seniors and have to replace nine starters on defense, their top four rushers and quarterback.

The good news is Dutchtown's most talented players return in sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Harris (6-5, 300), junior defensive lineman Darian Smalls (6-3, 275) and sophomore defensive back Donovahn Jones (6-1, 180).

Coach Jason Galt's take: "We've been talking about building a football program, and I think we have a program established. It was just a great run. Anytime you go 11-2, you've had a pretty good year."

Eagle's Landing Christian

The season: The Chargers finished the season with a 12-1 record, the most wins in school history.

ELCA, the Region 5-A champions, lost 34-27 at Clinch County in the Class A quarterfinals to end its season.

The Chargers region championship was the first for the school since joining the Georgia High School Association in 2004. ELCA's 12-game winning streak was also a school record.

What went right: Just about everything for the Chargers this season. ELCA had one of the most balanced offensive attacks in its classification as the Chargers averaged 41 points and over 300 yards of offense.

Defensively, ELCA only give up an average of 10 points a game with four shutout wins. Running backs Keyante Green, a sophomore, and junior John Tatum each had over 1,000 yards.

What needs to improve: Replacing three Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Div. I-A) prospects in wide receiver Christian Reeves, defensive back Avery Walls and lineman Matt Rochelle.

The Chargers must now find another go-to receiver with Reeves graduating.

Chances for next season: Although there are some holes to fill, the Chargers should be one of the top teams in Class A next season with the return of Green and Tatum running the ball.

Quarterback Aaron Spratlin, who passed for over 1,000 yards will again be counting on to lead the team.

Green, who plays linebacker on defense, will also be a leader on that side of the ball.

Coach Jonathan Gess' take: "This group left a big legacy for the upcoming classes to follow. I'm not disappointed in our kids. I love them, and they played hard all year long."

--Compiled by Brian Paglia and Derrick Mahone