ELCA vs. Prince Avenue: Who will proceed closer to the state title?

One of the most anticipated games in the Georgia High School Football Playoffs this year has finally arrived and will kickoff this Friday night. The Eagles Landing Christian Chargers will take on the Prince Avenue Wolverines in this quarterfinal round of the postseason to determine who will survive and advance. These two teams have met five times before and each game has been in the playoffs with the Chargers walking away 5-0 against the Wolverines. The Chargers are the cream of the crop in the Class A-Private winning the region 12 times and winning the state seven times. The Chargers within those seven state championships have won it a state-record five-times consecutively. Because of their recent dominance this team seems to be the team to beat every year if you have hopes of making it to the state championship game.

Both teams finished the season with nine plus wins and also ranked as the top two teams in their respective class. With the amount of success that the Chargers have displayed the been there done that mentality has to be something they’re used to by now. Chargers Head Coach Jonathan Gess spoke about how experience plays a role in how great this team has played year in and year out.

“I think experience does matter, but for us it’s how we do the little things you know can we do the little things right to make sure we are successful and give our team the best chance to win,” said Gess. “They are a very good team to that also has experience but it’s about us and how well we execute.”

Coach Gess emphasized how experience isn’t really the teams focus in these type of moments, but wants to highlight how well the team plays could quickly determine the outcome of the game.

“How well can you block, tackle and do the fundamentals to better your chance of winning,” said Gess. “The parents and fans are always going to make the game seem bigger than what it really is, but for us it’s a football game.”

As for their opponent, Coach Gess understands how much of an issue Wolverines Quarterback Brock Vandagriff is. Vandagriff being a 5-star commit to the University of Georgia is a high profile athlete that is rated as one of the best players in the country and the state. To end the regular season Vandagriff had 40 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. He’s also rushed for over 300 yards this years and have scored 13 touchdowns on the ground. Any quarterback that has this type of ability is a major problem for any defensive coordinator to try to prepare against. Coach Gess understands the situation and gave his opinions on how to best defend a player like this.

“Yeah it will be challenging Brock is one of the best quarterbacks to ever come out of the state of Georgia ever,” said Gess. “I think he’s going to be as successful as Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson. He’s big and athletic and has a very strong arm. …The thing is you’re not going to stop Brock Vandagriff the key is can you live to get to the next down and limit the explosive plays. Thats what were going to have to do in order for us to have a chance.”

In order to beat the Wolverines, the Chargers might have to rely on the ground game to better their odds of advaning to the semifinal round of the playoffs. Coach Gess spoke about how the game last year turned into a straight shootout and doesn’t want to see this years game repeat last years in any type of way. According to Gess offensively the Chargers should run the ball to take better control the game. Keeping Vandagriff and the explosive Wolverines offense on the sidelines seems to be the strategy that will lead the Chargers to victory.

“We’re going to have to run the ball,” said Gess. “I feel that it’s going to have to be key for us to manage the game and control the pace. Last year we had two Division one receivers and a tailback who now plays for North Carolina and we don’t have that this year. …So I believe running the ball is going to be the best opportunity we have to win this game because last year we had a scoring war with them and we can’t allow this game to play out the same way if we’re going to win.”

Despite having the best quarterback in the state and a No. 1 ranking, Prince Avenue is still considered a sort of the underdog in this matchup having never beating the Chargers. On Friday’s PeachtreeTV showdown, the Wolverines have the opportunity to finally get a win against another powerhouse to move closer to making the state title game. Although some people may see the Wolverines as the favorite because of Vandagriff this team is the one that has something to prove by revealing if the caliber team to defeat the Chargers. The run game could also be useful for the Wolverines with both Vandagriff and Senior Running Back Landon Owens combining to give the team the proper amount of rush yards needed to better their chance of victory. Head Coach Greg Vandagriff talked about Owens and how his skillset is a perfect match for the offense.

“Landon is a perfect complement to Brock,” said Vandagriff. “He’s a great runner and pass catcher out of the backfield definitely fits perfectly in the system that we run on offense.”

It will be interesting to see how Coach Vandagriff decides to use Owens in ways he might not have used him in the regular season before. If he has any tricks up his sleeve Owens could be included in those specific plays to catch the Chargers defense off guard.

Coach Vandagriff knows the importance of facing this team and is well aware of what beating them would mean not only to him, but for the players. The Chargers have been ruling this Class for the past five to six years and currently the Wolverines seem like the only team to knock them off the throne. In order for the Wolverines to win their first ever state championship they must beat the Chargers.

“It would be great, you know in this class those guys over the past 5 years have been 51-1 and been at the top of the class for quite a while so if you want to win a state championship you’re going to have to beat those guys to make that happen. So for us it will be great to beat those guys to try to win a state championship.” Vandagriff said.

This looks to be one of the best games this year in Georgia High School Football with two powerhouses battling to reach the championship. This type of game is not only great for the state of Georgia, but great for High School Football in general with two elite programs showcasing their talent to all who spectate. Games like this also provide top Division one programs which high schools to scout for their future teams. It’s without a doubt we will see top players from both teams play on Saturday’s. For now, the winner of this game will more than likely win the state and either the Wolverines will win their first or the Chargers will clinch their eighth.


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