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ELCA takes on returning state champs

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Eagle’s Landing Christian defensive coordinator Derek Chastain is preparing his unit to face Savannah Christian’s triple-option offense in Friday’s Class A playoffs.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Eagle’s Landing Christian defensive coordinator Derek Chastain is preparing his unit to face Savannah Christian’s triple-option offense in Friday’s Class A playoffs.

MCDONOUGH — During their postgame talk, Eagle’s Landing Christian coaches let their players know that Savannah Christian has been where the top-ranked Chargers are trying to go.

The Raiders have played for the Class A title the last three seasons, winning last season’s crown with a win over Landmark Christian.

“They are the state champions,” ELCA defensive coordinator Derek Chastain shouted to the gathering of players and fans near the end zone.

Over the last four seasons, Savannah Christian has compiled a 50-6 record, including a 15-0 finish last season. This season the Raiders entered the Class A private school tournament as the No. 7 seed while ELCA is the No. 2 seed.

Savannah Christian was ranked No. 6 in the last regular season Associated Press poll.

But the players realize that their higher seed and region championship will not matter on Friday at Commitment Field. Both teams are playing for a bigger prize.

“We haven’t been there (to state finals),” ELCA senior D.J. Curl said. “We do have heart and we are bonding as a team. We have to believe in ourselves.”

ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said his team is looking forward to Friday’s showdown.

“It is going to be a war and battle,” Gess said. “We will have to play with a lot of emotion.”

That is something the team lacked in last week’s win over Our Lady of Mercy in the first round. Gess said that the two week layoff and Thanksgiving holiday might have accounted for some of that lack of emotion.

Also, the Chargers defeated Mercy 49-0 earlier in the season.

“I’m not looking for any excuses,” Gess said. “Our Lady of Mercy was a good football team. They played us real tight.”

Savannah Christian rebounded from its Region 3-A title game loss to Emanuel County Institute (48-14) on Nov. 9 for an opening round win over Holy Innocents’ last week. The Raiders won the game 35-17 at home.

Savannah Christian jumped to a 28-0 lead to cruise to the victory.

“We knew we had to get off to a fast start,” Savannah Christian coach Donald Chumley told the Savannah Morning News. “I think that’s the key in the playoffs. You can’t start out slow. The game’s over before you know it. We got off to a fast start.”

Savannah Christian started the season with consecutive losses, but rebounded to play for the region title. The Raiders have a young team this season because of graduation and injuries. Their triple-option offense is lead by senior fullback Ivan Reese while Jalen Myrick is also an offensive threat.

Much of the offense is triggered by freshman quarterback Chase Marini.

“We know that they are going to bring a good team up here,” ELCA senior running back/linebacker Keyante Green said. “We are looking forward to a hard-fought game.”