ELCA football ranked No. 2 in AP preseason poll

Eagle’s Landing Christian will start the regular season as the only team from the Southern Crescent ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll, which was released on Tuesday.

The Chargers, which won its first Georgia High School Association region championship last season, finished with a 12-1 record last season before losing into the Class A quarterfinals to Clinch County. ELCA enters the season at the No. 2 spot in Class A behind defending state champion Clinch County.

Clinch County defeated ELCA 34-27 at home in the quarterfinals in a matchup between the No. 1 and 2 teams in the state. The Chargers had 87 points to finish seven points behind Clinch in the Tuesday’s AP voting.

However, ELCA had five first place votes to Clinch’s four. The Chargers return several starters including quarterback Aaron Spratlin and four players that have received scholarship offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

They are lineman Isaac Rochell (15 offers), running back/linebacker Keyante Green (nine offers), running back John Tatum (seven offers) and defensive end Justin Thomason (17 offers). Rochell and Green are juniors while Tatum and Thomason are seniors.

Wesleyan, the team the Chargers defeated for the Region 5-A championship, enters the season ranked No. 4. Charlton County was the only other team in the classification to receive a first-place vote among the nine pollsters.

Dutchtown, which reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals, received some votes, but not enough to crack the Top 10 poll. The Bulldogs had four points. Last season, the Bulldogs lost to eventual champion Chattahoochee in the playoffs.

Starr’s Mill was the only team from Region 3-AAAA, which Dutchtown is a member, to get into the preseason poll. The Panthers are ranked No. 9. Powerhouse Tucker is the top-ranked team in Class AAAA coming into the season.

Two of Drew’s first four opponents are ranked in the Class AAA preseason poll. The Titans, playing their second full varsity season, open on the road at No. 3 Cairo, which received one first place vote. In Week 4 of the season, Drew will play two-time defending champion Sandy Creek at the Georgia Dome.

Sandy Creek enters the season as the top-ranked team in Class AAA. In Week 3, the Titans will host Spalding, which received some poll votes.