Semifinals preview: Class A-Private

Sonny Kennedy

Calvary Day at ELCA

All of the top four seeds advanced to the Class A-Private semifinals, and one of the two showdowns pits No. 1 ELCA against No. 4 Calvary Day. Whereas ELCA is defending a state championship and has reached the semis three straight years, Calvary Day is through to its first state semifinal appearance in history.

Jordan Long is the quarterback for ELCA (11-0), which has won 24 consecutive games dating back to its second contest of the 2012 campaign. Former starter Dalton Etheridge suffered a broken leg during first-round action. Long, a sophomore who made his first varsity start against Darlington in the quarterfinals, threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Jamal Tookes. The Chargers also boast an outstanding running game that has and should continue to help make up for Etheridge’s absence. Lane Timpson leads a ground attack that racked up more than 400 yards in the win over Darlington. A positively dominant ELCA squad is averaging 39.8 points per outing and only twice has it allowed more than seven points. He may not care about any talk of a dynasty, but seventh-year head coach Jonathan Gess appears to be building one.

Calvary Day (10-2) has won 10 in a row since losing its first two games of the season. None of its eight regular-season victories came by fewer than 26 points. The Cavaliers are led by quarterback Michael Peterson, tight end Milan Richard and running back Robert Heyward. Richard, nephew of former University of Georgia legend Herschel Walker, has committed to Clemson. Peterson had eight touchdown passes in his first two playoff games, four to Derek Kirkland. In his third season as head coach, Mark Stroud also has a solid defense on his hands. Calvary Day has limited nine of its last 10 opponents to 14 points or fewer.


Aquinas at Mount Pisgah Christian

The winner of this game will play in its first-ever state football final after these two undefeated teams collide. Now in its fifth year as a member of the GHSA, Mount Pisgah Christian (12-0) had never won a playoff game in its history prior to this season. Steady improvement saw the Patriots improve from 4-6 in 2011 to 6-5 in 2012, a year in which they reached the postseason for the first time (lost to Athens Academy 17-13). They have soared to even greater heights in Mike Forester’s first season as head coach. Forester, previously the team’s defensive coordinator, has led the Patriots to an unblemished record that includes two playoff victories-over St. Anne-Pacelli and Holy Innocents’.

Junior quarterback Aaron Winchester has passed for more than 2,200 yards in 2013 to go along with 31 touchdowns compared to a mere four interceptions. Winchester accounted for six total touchdowns against St. Anne-Pacelli and Ben Miller caught four of his quarterback’s five scoring strikes. Mount Pisgah Christian has scored at least 39 points in six games this season and it has limited opponents to seven points or fewer six times.

Aquinas (12-0) is coming off a 35-32 win over Mount Paran Christian in which it led 35-14 at halftime. The Fightin’ Irish had two 100-yard rushers in their quarterfinal victory, even though star junior running back Ruben Garnett went down early with a strained Achilles’ tendon. Daniel Lindsey rushed for 105 yards before succumbing to cramps and John Morris gained 103 while scoring once on the ground and once via a reception. Quarterback Liam Welch (two passing touchdowns, one touchdown run) also played a huge part in leading Aquinas to its first state semifinal berth in school history. Head c

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