By Stephen Black
The No. 12 has been a ceiling for ELCA the past two years. For the third season in a row, the Chargers have won 12 games. In 2010 and 2011, that meant the end of the road for Jonathan Gess’ squad. This season, however, looks to be different. ELCA boasts a star-studded squad with Purdue commitment Keyante Green at TB/RB, Dalton Etheridge at QB and DB Jevius Terry, who returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a score and a blocked field goal 80 yards for another touchdown. Prince Avenue Christian will try to get in the way of the Chargers’ bid for their first GHSA state title.
Also searching for its first state title is Norcross, one of the more under-appreciated undefeated teams in recent Class AAAAAA memory. Coach Keith Maloof’s squad seems to have been under the radar, relatively speaking, all season coming out of Gwinnett County, which is home to defending champ Grayson and other premier programs like North Gwinnett, Brookwood and Parkview. Now, the state has no choice but to respect what Norcross has done. Knocking off high-profile Colquitt County and its celebrity coach Rush Propst gives Norcross what the kids call “street cred.” Now, Maloof’s team faces another under-the-radar bunch in Lovejoy, a school that moved up two classes during reclassification after playing for the AAAA title one year ago.
Paul Standard, who played with Maloof on George Maloof’s St. Pius X team in the late 70′s, now finds himself in the finals, heading this year’s edition of the Golden Lions. Pius is a bit of a surprise to have advanced this far. The Lions have won one state title, in 1968, but have not made another final since.