ELCA cruises to Class A private school title with 33-0 win

Jeff Hurndon Photography
Eagle’s Landing Christian offensive lineman Tyler Petty hoist the Class A trophy up as teammates look on Friday following its 22-0 win over Prince Avenue Christian.

Jeff Hurndon Photography Eagle’s Landing Christian offensive lineman Tyler Petty hoist the Class A trophy up as teammates look on Friday following its 22-0 win over Prince Avenue Christian.

How they scored

First quarter

Keyante Green scored on a 23-yard run out of the “Wildcat” formation with 8:31 remaining. The score capped a four-play, 54-yard drive. ELCA 7-0

Third quarter

D.J. Curl scored on a 24-yard run with 11:44 remaining. He capped the one-play drive, which was set up by a 41-yard kickoff return by Jevius Terry. ELCA 14-0

Brad Moore scored on a 14-yard run. It capped a 9-play, 60-yard drive with 5:28 remaining. ELCA 21-0

Green scored his second touchdown of the game on a 12-yard run with 1:58 remaining. It capped a 3-play, 19-yard drive, which was set up when the Chargers stopped a fake punt. ELCA 27-0

Fourth quarter

Dalton Etheridge scored on a 1-yard run with 9:30 remaining. It capped a five-play, 29-yard drive. ELCA 33-0

ATLANTA — With 5:47 remaining in the Class A private school title game, Eagle’s Landing Christian defensive coordinator Derek Chastain hugged his starters as they walked around the sideline.

There were high-fives and hugs all around the ELCA sideline, even though there was still almost half a quarter to play. But at this point, the only thing missing was the final score.

Prince Avenue held close for the first half, but then the top-ranked Chargers did what they had done the entire season — dominate.

A three-touchdown third quarter was too much for the Wolverines to overcome as ELCA cruised to a 33-0 win Friday at the Georgia Dome to claim Henry County’s first Georgia High School Association football title.

“Finally after three years, we are champions,” ELCA senior defensive tackle Isaac Rochell said. “We came in looking to win the second half. We came out with the mindset to get a shutout. This feels great.”

ELCA took a 7-0 lead into halftime, and looked as if they would be in for a game. However, the Chargers were too big and strong for Prince Avenue.

The Chargers’ size, speed and determination showed in the third quarter.

Seniors D.J. Curl and Keyante Green along with junior Brad Moore scored third quarter touchdowns as ELCA built a 27-0 lead heading into the final quarter.

ELCA had 330 yards of offense, 223 on the ground. Green led the attack with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

The defense was even more dominating as they held the Wolverines to only 136 yards of offense. Prince had 106 yards rushing, but only 14 in the second half.

“This is just a special team,” ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said.

For Gess, the championship capped off what he called a “whirlwind week” because his wife, Dee, gave birth on Wednesday to the couple’s first child.

Although he missed some time away from the team, Gess said this group of seniors stayed focused and ready for their big moment.

Friday the focus was evident as the team was able to hoist the championship on a podium setup on the field. ELCA was the first of seven teams to be crowned champion this weekend.

“It has been an awesome week,” Gess said.

“This was our chosen moment,” said Green, a four-year varsity letterman.

During his freshman year, the Chargers lost at Lincoln County on the road. As a sophomore, ELCA lost to Clinch County on the road. Last season, the Chargers were upset in the semifinals by Landmark Christian at home.

But this season, it was no denying the Chargers, who won a Georgia Independent School Association title in 1996 under Vic Culley.

“This week has been electric at the school,” ELCA high school principal Richard Allen said. “From the little kids to the high schoolers, everybody has been excited. This has been a wonderful week. Words can’t describe this.”

Only two are needed — state champion.

“It feels good,” Rochell as he walked to the locker room.