Photo by Derrick Mahone
ELCA running back Keyante Green and offensive assistant coach Joe Bryan observe a drill during Tuesday’s practice. Green, the team’s leading rusher, might have to play quarterback some if starter Dalton Etheridge is unable to play against Our Lady of Mercy.
McDONOUGH — After quarterback Dalton Etheridge went down with a first-quarter ankle sprain, coach Jonathan Gess inserted backup Jordan Long into the lineup as the Chargers cruised to a 55-0 win over Pace.
The next week in the Region 5-A championship game, Gess used the two-quarterback system of Marquis Griffin and Keyante Green as the top-ranked Chargers won 43-0 to claim their third region title.
If Etheridge is unable to play in Friday’s Class A playoffs’ opening round game against Our Lady of Mercy, Gess will go with the Griffin and Green combination. Gess said that Etheridge is listed as “questionable” for the game.
Although the team would miss Etheridge, Gess is confident in the ability of Griffin and Green, the team’s leading rusher.
“The biggest thing with them (Griffin and Green) is that it eliminates our third down efficiency,” Gess said. “Dalton is a much better passer when we get into third and long situations.”
In the win over Landmark Christian, the Chargers didn’t get in much of those situations.
With Etheridge on the sidelines in street clothes, Green and Marquis Griffin split the quarterbacking duties. Green finished with 185 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries while Griffin had 103 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries.
Playing quarterback is nothing new for Green, who is used to it in the Chargers’ “Wildcat” package. His forte is running the ball, while Griffin is the better passer.
“They both stepped up and did a great job,” Gess said after the team’s win over Landmark.
But no matter who is in at quarterback this Friday, Gess is looking for his team to play with the same intensity it has all season. He said the team shouldn’t take playing OLM for a second time this season too lightly.
In an earlier season game in Fairburn, the Chargers dominated en route to a 49-0 victory on Oct. 19. The Bearcats are the No. 15 seed in the playoffs while ELCA is the No. 2 overall seed.
“We all understand that we have to play our best,” Gess said. “What happened in the regular season has no bearing on the playoffs. Our kids understand that this is playoff time, and every team is good.”