ELCA restocked for title run

Rob Saye

Eagles Landing Christian solidified itself among Georgia’s top football programs last season when it claimed its first state championship. The wealth of talent that we have become accustomed to seeing is present with this flock and they are returning as the favorite to repeat in Class A-Private.

The 2012 offense averaged 44 points per game and the starting defense gave up just three. The Chargers overpowered defenses at times while running track meets by them at other times. Their near 40-point scoring differential per game from a year ago, gives them the luxury of dropping off slightly and still holding an incredible advantage this season.

The roster graduated a lot of key players, but a possible drop off does not look to threaten this team’s championship aspirations. Valuable replacements are everywhere and head coach Jonathan Gess is aiming to once again optimize his talent-laden roster.

Purdue signee Keyante Green trucked his way through defenses in 2012, but the power run game will still drive these Chargers without him.

“The power run game is who we are and what we do,” said Gess.

“We have a great offensive line and running backs along with an outstanding fullback in Josh Shockley. Our offensive linemen are big and powerful guys and that’s where the power run originates.”

Notre Dame signee Isaac Rochell starred as two-way weapon at defensive end and tight end in 2012, but will have one of the most talented prospects in the state replacing him. Andrew Williams stands 6-foot-4, 231 pounds and is listed by 247sports as a top 20 recruit in the state. The four star athlete has received 44 total scholarships offers and governs the line of scrimmage with his combination of speed and power.

“It’s hard to replace an Isaac Rochell,” said Gess “But when you have a guy like Andrew Williams filling in for the role, you can make up for a lot of it.”

Brad Moore will be one of the featured playmakers in the backfield this season and demonstrated his ability to make big plays last year. In the 33-0 route over Prince Avenue in the state championship, he took a reverse and broke three tackles before falling into the end zone.

Dalton Etheridge remains the quarterback after operating one of the state’s most prolific offenses a year ago. Etheridge has 6-foot-3, 200-pound Jamal Tookes headlining his exterior targets.

Jevious Terry was an explosive playmaker for the Chargers on offense, defense and special teams that will need to be replaced. Bryson Durden who will see action at running back and defensive back this season brings the dynamics needed to replace Terry as the Chargers’ return man.

With spring ball in the books, Gess will test drive his squad in a scrimmage with Class AAAA Dutchtown on Aug. 15. Their season opener matches them up with Class AAA power Washington County, who handed them their only loss of the season last year (24-19).

“You have to be excited for the season and playing each of those 10 games,” said Gess. “There are always surprise teams and we are obviously looking forward to playing Washington County week one.”

The Chargers open up region play at home against Holy Innocents’ Sept. 27.







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