High school football season almost over

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

The 2016 high school football season is coming to a close with one local team vying for a second straight state championship and another having just extended an unprecedented playoff run.

The Chargers of Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy won their semifinal 42-21 over Tattnall Square in the A Private classification, setting up a showdown this Friday in the Georgia Dome against Fellowship Christian.

The Stockbridge Tigers fell 28-21 to Rome in one of the AAAAA semifinal games. It was the fifth straight year the team has reached the quarterfinals and its second semifinal appearance in three years.

The ELCA-Fellowship game is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. in the Georgia Dome. It is the first of eight state championship games the Atlanta facility will host over two days this weekend.

For local fans who can’t make it in person to see the action, the game will be televised live by Georgia Public Broadcasting, according to the Georgia High School Association’s website. Live radio coverage will be provided by GNN and 680 The Fan, the GHSA stated.

The last five years for Stockbridge have easily been the most successful run by any public school team in Henry County. In eight years under head coach Kevin Whitley, the Tigers have made seven consecutive playoff appearances: first round in 2010; second round in 2011; quarterfinals in 2012 and 2013; semifinals in 2014; quarterfinals in 2015; and semifinals this year.

Stockbridge finished the 2016 season with a 13-1 record, the second straight year the team finished the regular season undefeated. Their regular-season record over the past five years is 46-4. The Tigers spent nearly all of the 2016 campaign ranked first in the state in AAAAA.

The Chargers have reached the state playoffs 13 consecutive years - every season the school has competed in the GHSA. Jonathan Gess has been their head coach for a decade. They were quarterfinalists in 2010 after an undefeated regular season and reached the semifinals in 2011, both years in the A classification.

Those schools were split into A Public and A Private in 2012, and ELCA won the state championship that year with a 13-1 record. The Chargers finished the 2013 regular season undefeated before losing in the semifinals. After a state runner-up finish in 2014, the Chargers won another state crown last year.