Spartans remain the at the top, six Region 8-A teams would make the State Playoffs if it began today, according to the GHSA Power Ratings.
Click HERE to view Week 5 of the 2018 Football Power Ratings for Class A (Public & Private)
Region 8A Teams Ranked (Public & Private are Seperate): 1. Athens Academy (Private) 3. Prince Avenue (Private) 5. Commerce (Public) 11. George Walton Academy (Private) 20. Hebron Christian (Private) 23. Riverside Military Academy (Private) ----------------------------------------------------- 26. Towns County (Public) 27. Providence Christian (Private) 28. Athens Christian School (Private) 34. Lakeview Academy (Private)
*** Top 24 teams make the playoff at the end of the season ***
Not much else can really be said about the beating put on by unbeaten Athens Academy on cross-town rival Athens Christian. The Spartans (7-0, 4-0) led 50-0 at halftime, held the Eagles (2-5, 0-4) to less than 100 yards of offense and won their homecoming game 50-7.
“We were proud of everybody,” Spartans coach Josh Alexander said. “From our young guys to our starters, everybody did a good job.”
That’s win No. 4 in a row for the Spartans over Athens Christian.
The Spartans’ first two drives were just three and two plays, respectively. both ended in touchdowns. All of their drives in the first half started inside Eagle territory and all of them resulted in touchdowns.
Athens Academy crowned a homecoming queen, too. So that added some tension, too, as the crowd waited to see who would be crowned this year’s queen. The homecoming court received the loudest ovation of the night.
You read that right.
Louder than on Len’Neth Whitehead’s four-yard score on his third carry of the game. Louder than on Palmer Bush’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Barrett McClanahan on the second play of the Spartans’ second drive. And on Payton Bowles’ 24-yard touchdown run.
And on Whitehead’s second touchdown run. And on Bush’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Deion Colzie.
That first-half onslaught shell-shocked the rebuilding Eagles.
“You try to (regroup) at halftime,” Eagles coach Chris Williams said. “We know they’ve got a great football team. But you try to find a spot where you can hit the pause button and go ‘stop, slow down, and let’s play football.’”
Athens Academy played predominantly second-and-third-stringers in the second half, and the game featured a running clock after halftime. Whitehead didn’t play the second half, and registered just four touches in the first half. Two of those went for scores, so the junior couldn’t be too upset.
For a player who serves as the focal point of the Spartan offense, the rest was surely a welcome one.
“We were most excited about our young kids,” Alexander said. “It was just fun watching those guys play. We were wanting them to get that goal-line stand at the end.”
The Spartans failed to score out of the half, the first drive all night the Spartans’ offense hadn’t found the end zone to conclude a drive.
But the majority of offensive issues came from Athens Christian. The Spartans managed two red zone trips, but managed only seven points from them, including a missed field goal. But it’s all part of the process for Williams’ team, and the coach knows his team remains a work in progress.
It’s most evident on offense, though. The Eagles have been outscored 180-25 in their last four outings.
“There’s always a change, a transition,” Williams said. “We’re trying to get those young guys to slide into those roles. So, it’s tough. It’s tough to fight through some of that, and the inconsistencies.”
They get another chance to turn their offensive woes around, though, next week, against George Walton.
Athens Academy, meanwhile, travels to Providence Christian looking to notch yet another convincing region win. At this point, the region crown is surely the Spartans to lose with three regular season games remaining, including a region crossover.
ATHENS ACADEMY 50, ATHENS CHRISTIAN 7: At Slaughter Field, the Spartans – ranked No. 1 in Class A Private and rated No. 1 in the Class A Private Power Ratings – scored 50 first-half points and cruised to a homecoming victory over the Eagles.
Athens Academy scored four times in the first quarter, taking a 29-0 lead. Len’Neth Whitehead put the Spartans on the board with 9:12 left in the quarter on a 2-yard run. Palmer Bush tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Barrett McLanahan with 6:14 left and Payton Bowles made it 22-0 with 2:48 left on a 24-yard run. Whitehead completed the scoring on a 2-yard run with 42 seconds before halftime.
In the second quarter, Bush connected with Deion Colzie on a 21-yard pass with 7:45 to go, Bowles scored on a 56-yard punt return at the 5:57 mark and Bush reached the end zone with 2:22 before the half on a 5-yard run.
Athens Christian’s Caleb Williams scored on a 4-yard run with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
The Spartans (7-0, 4-0) will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Providence Christian. Athens Christian (2-5, 0-4) will play at 7:30 p.m. at George Walton.
An all Athens affair: Athens Christian focused on slowing down Athens Academy attack - ABH
For Athens Christian, the game plan for Friday night is simple: Stop, or at least slow down, Athens Academy running back Len’Neth Whitehead.
If only it was that simple.
Whitehead scored five touchdowns for the unbeaten Spartans (6-0, 3-0) last week, two weeks after scoring three against then-unbeaten Prince Avenue. But the main challenge for the Eagles (2-4, 0-3) will be stopping the rest of the Athens Academy offense, which can score in a variety of ways.
Whitehead’s talent just adds more to the tough task the Eagles defense faces Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve got to rally to him,” said Eagles coach Chris Williams. “One man typically doesn’t bring him down. He’s a powerful young man, and there’s definitely some offensive linemen up front getting some work done too. ... But, they do a good job, they’re not one-dimensional by any means.”
Athens Academy coach Josh Alexander, meanwhile, knows he has a talented running back, and knows that while Whitehead may touch the ball on 90 percent of his team’s plays, he can be used to set up the rest of the Spartans offense.
“We like to run the ball and throw play-action passes,” Alexander said. “We like to throw screens and similar things. Not to discredit (Whitehead), but it’s a total team thing. The kids around him can make plays happen.”
The Spartans enter Friday coming off two close victories over Prince Avenue and George Walton Academy. The Spartans led the Bulldogs 28-13 after three quarters, but settled for a seven-point victory.
Athens Christian enters under much different circumstances.
A winless region slate and three straight losses make Friday’s game all the more important for the Eagles, who have been outscored 130-16 in their last three outings.
While stopping Whitehead and the Athens Academy offense remains an upfront concern for Williams and his staff, the Eagles offense has failed to produce since a 29-point outing against Landmark Christian. No offense against Athens Academy means little chance of victory, and Williams knows that.
“We’ve challenged our guys to be more consistent,” Williams said. “We’ve turned the ball over way too many times lately. We’ve completely shot ourselves in the foot offensively; moving the football, then turning around and turning it back over.”
The Spartans have won each of the last three meetings between the two programs, with last season’s 47-0 blowout victory the outlier in a rivalry series that traditionally produces tight contests.
The two contests before last season’s blowout finished 19-12 and 13-6.
So, it’s no real surprise that both coaches expect another close game this time around. Add in the fact that this year’s matchup serves as Athens Academy’s homecoming game, and there’s a bit more motivation for Williams’ team.
“I knew (it was Athens Academy’s homecoming). In our region, there’s a lot of games that you really don’t have to say a whole lot, just simply because it’s a rivalry game,” Williams said. “It’s a cross-town rival game. And we get that.”
Added Alexander: “Coach Williams does such a good job and always gets them to play hard. This game has always been really close for a long time, so it won’t be easy, no matter what people say.”
Spartans remain the number one team in the state, former opponent slides to number two, according to the GHSA Power Ratings.
Click HERE to view Week 4 of the 2018 Football Power Ratings for Class A (Public & Private)
Region 8A Teams Ranked (Public & Private are Seperate): 1. Athens Academy (Private) 3. Prince Avenue (Private) 4. Commerce (Public) 12. George Walton Academy (Private) 19. Hebron Christian (Private) 22.Riverside Military Academy (Private) 25. Athens Christian School (Private) 26. Providence Christian (Private) 26. Towns County (Public) 34. Lakeview Academy (Private)
*** Top 24 teams make the playoff at the end of the season ***
Athens Academy annually fields a competitive football team which typically advances to the state playoffs. The program focuses on individual skill development within a team environment. An emphasis is placed on team building through cooperation, discipline, and personal growth. A knowledgeable coaching staff provides athletes with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental and schematic components of football.