By Fletcher Proctor
One year ago, the War Eagles of Landmark Christian broke through and reached the GHSA Class A championship game. Despite falling to Savannah Christian, the 2011 team finished a school-best 12-3. Over the offseason, head coach Kenny Dallas left the program and Wayne Brantley took over the War Eagles team that was hungry to get back and play for another title.
After starting out the season 1-2, Landmark Christian won six straight games with a final showdown against ELCA before the postseason began. The Chargers raced by the War Eagles 43-0, but the loss seemed to wake up Brantley’s team, which responded with an upset of of the No. 5 seed Calvary Day on the road. Landmark Christian was then able to return home and defeat First Presbyterian 38-24 in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Landmark Christian was within two points of Prince Avenue late into the fourth quarter.
The War Eagles went to the sky in an effort to return to the Georgia Dome for a second straight season. Will Walters and Sam Dobbs each had big games, but it was senior Joshua Nobles who had the biggest game in his final high school contest. Nobles reeled in six receptions for 125 yards and caught one touchdown apiece from Stockton McGuire and Ben Baggett. Nobles was outstanding all year long, leading by example, as did running back Jeremiah Kirkland. The junior back finished with more than 2,000 yards rushing after a 72-yard, one score game in the semifinals. Kirkland became the first tailback to break the 2,000-yard mark in Landmark history.
The War Eagles stood toe to toe with the Wolverines but could not prevent the big play which ultimately led to Prince Avenue’s 32-22 victory. Jacob Cobb and Reed McGuire were outstanding on the defensive line while junior linebacker William Higbie led the team in tackles. Prince Avenue used a running game to eventually wear down the War Eagles and escape with the victory.
“Prince Avenue (was a) squad that would not be denied,” assistant coach Durand Rice said after the game.
Now the team must regroup as 13 seniors, including Nobles, Cobb, Reed McGuire and defensive back Cole Higbie are set to graduate. This was just the second team in school history to reach the semifinals and Brantley was able to go 9-4 in his first year at the helm. Year 2 could be just as special as six offensive starters and five defensive starters return. Brantley should have both quarterbacks back and Kirkland will be one to watch his senior season. Defensively, William Higbie will also return for his senior season as the team’s leading tackler.