Lady Paladin JV Volleyball Team Splits Pair; Improves to 10-9

The Fellowship Christian School JV volleyball club split a pair of matches on Sept. 28.

The Lady Paladins faced both 6A Cambridge High School and 5A Northview High School at Cambridge.

FCS defeated Northview in two sets, but fell to Cambridge in three sets, 1-2.

Overall, Fellowship has posted a 10-9 record. The team has three matches remaining on its schedule.

FCS QBs Throw 4 TD Passes in Shutout Victory; School is Now 3-0 in Varsity Football in 2020

The varsity football team from Fellowship Christian School stepped up its passing game a notch in its road opener.

Through the first two games, the Paladins gained 84 yards through the air, but in a 42-0 victory over The B.E.S.T. Academy of Atlanta at Grady Stadium on Sept. 25 FCS quarterbacks threw for a season-high 245 yards and four touchdowns.

With the victory, the Paladins improved to 3-0 this season and 97-83 all-time in varsity football.

"We knew we had the opportunity to throw the ball more tonight," Al Morrell said following his 59th win as Paladins' head coach. "We thought we'd open it up. Eli [Hildebrandt] threw the ball great in the first half, and Caleb [McMickle] did a great job in the second half."

Hildebrandt, a senior, completed 11-of-14 pass attempts for 148 yards and threw three touchdown passes to seniors Jordan Brewer, Josh McLaughlin and Murphy Reeves as the Paladins built up a 35-0 halftime lead.

The Paladins finished with a season-high 507 yards, including 245 on the ground. Reeves led Fellowship rushing with 104 yards on eight carries. He had a pair of TD runs as well, both in the first half.

"Murphy had another explosive night," Morrell said. "He had big night running and catching the ball. He's always had tremendous speed and acceleration, but he's also gotten a lot bigger with his work in the weight room. He has size and speed to go with some great talent."

McLaughlin caught a TD pass from McMickle, a sophomore, in the third quarter to close out the game's scoring. McMickle completed 4-of-5 pass attempts for 114 yards and one score. Sophomore Clay Shepler caught a team-high six passes for 114 reception yards that also topped the squad.

FCS has now 15 out of its last 16 contests dating back to the start of the 2019 season.

On Friday at Grady, Murphy scored from 39 yards out on the first play scrimmage for his first rushing TD of the game. Senior Matt Rodgers booted the first of seven straight extra-point kicks for the Paladins.

Following the Eagles' third punt of the first quarter, Hildebrandt and Brewer connected on a 15-yard TD pass at 4:11.

After another punt, Reeves showed his speed as he bounced outside to score from 27 yards out to give FCS a 21-0 lead later in the first quarter.

Just 56 seconds into the second quarter, Hildebrandt completed a 25-yard TD pass to Reeves.

Fellowship's fifth touchdown came on a 10-yard completion from Hildebrandt to McLaughlin with 2:57 to go in the first half.

It was the first shutout of the season for the Paladin defense, which allowed a season-low 56 yards and forced nine punts. FCS held the Eagles to minus-30 rushing yards and just 86 in the air.

"Our defensive line played better than their offensive line," Morrell said. "We dominated up front. Their quarterback was very good, but we pushed him a bit. We really had a lot of good pressure. It was a great team effort on defense."

Seniors Caleb McClung (three tackles, three assists) and Nathan Nardone (two tackles, four assists) shared the team lead with six total tackles apiece.

While the Paladins played very well, the performance wasn't perfect as Reeves lost a fumble, Rodgers missed a 22-yard field goal attempt and senior Lawson Haigler's 92-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the third quarter was called back due to a penalty.

"Overall, we had a very good game," Morrell said. "It always feels good [to go 3-0]. We are taking them one game as a time. The big one is next week [at North Cobb Christian School]. They are a great team we beat in the state playoffs last year. It was 0-0 at halftime and we won 14-0. Once again this year they're a very good football team."

Kickoff in Acworth is 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

(Photos by Chip Cookston and David Lowery)

Headed to Atlanta: Varsity Football Paladin Team Back in Action After Week Off

The varsity football team from Fellowship Christian School returns to action this week after cancelling last week's home game.

FCS, who did not face Trinity Christian School at Bob Lord Field on Sept. 18, enters this week's game against The B.E.S.T. Academy of Atlanta with wins in 14 out of its last 15 contests dating back to the start of the 2019 season. Kick off for Friday's game at Grady Stadium in Atlanta at 5:30 p.m.

The Paladins improved to 2-0 with a record-breaking 54-28 victory over First Baptist Academy of Naples at Bob Lord Field on Sept. 11 to win its second straight contest to begin the 2020 campaign. It was the most points a Fellowship varsity football team has scored in a home game.

"The kids are excited about getting back on the field," said Al Morrell, who's posted a 58-25 all-time record as FCS' head coach. "We look forward to it. We've had a full squad at practice all week. The kids are excited to play at Grady Stadium."

In the consensus of five polls – Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Georgia High School Football Daily, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Score Atlanta, Maxwell Ratings and MaxPreps – Fellowship is ranked fifth among Class A Private schools around Georgia.

B.E.S.T. Academy, a Class A public school in Atlanta, enters the game with a 1-0 record.

"They are very big," Morrell said. "They have several 300-plus pound linemen. They also have speed with multiple offensive sets."

The Paladins will have to match the Eagles physical play up front, execute on offense and defense, run the ball well and mix in the pass, according to Morrell.

Through two games, Fellowship has outgained its opponents 716-630. Overall, FCS has gained 632 yards on the ground and has allowed just 145 rushing yards. But the Paladin defense has given up 485 yards through the air.

Senior Murphy Reeves leads the way for the Paladins on the ground with 400 yards and four touchdowns on just 30 carries, including 203 yards on seven rushes against First Baptist. Junior Josh Cole has gained 94 rushing yards (11 carries) and has caught a team-high three passes for 20 yards. Cole has two rushing touchdowns and two TD catches this season.

Senior Lawson Haigler is next on the FCS squad with 93 yards on the ground on seven carries, and has two scores.

"We saw big improvement in our offensive line [from game one to game two]," Morrell said. "We have talented backs. When the line blocks well, we have the chance to run well and gain a lot of yards."

Senior Josh McLaughlin leads the Paladins with 35 reception yards (all on one TD catch). Senior Eli Hildebrandt has completed 6-of-10 pass attempts for 67 yards.

"Our passing game is making progress," Morrell said. "We'll have to have more balance to beat teams as the season moves on."

In the 43-21 victory over Christian Heritage at home on Sept. 4, the Paladins rallied from a 14-2 halftime deficit. Against the Lions, the Paladins exploded to a 41-7 halftime lead against First Baptist.

Cole tops the Paladins with 13 total tackles and shares first on the team with five solo stops and eight assists.

Junior Garrett Wagner and senior Joey Archer share second on the squad with 10 tackles apiece.

Sophomore Kyle Elphick has returned two interceptions for scores. Cole has added an 80-yard INT return, and senior Jordan Brewer has also collected an interception.

(Photos by Milo Falcon)

FCS Varsity Volleyball Team takes Pair of Matches at King's Ridge

The Fellowship Christian School varsity volleyball team won two matches at King's Ridge Christian School.

On Sept. 22 in Alpharetta, FCS posted two Region victories.

In the second match of the evening, Fellowship posted a 25-8, 25-5 victory over King's Ridge.

With both wins, the Lady Paladins improved to 4-2 in Region matches. The team improved to 9-9 overall.

The Lady Paladins defeated Whitefield Academy to begin the night.

FCS defeated Whitefield in the first set, 25-17. The Lady Paladins captured the second set, 25-18.

"We struggled a bit with Whitefield, but we were able to pull out a W," head coach Samantha Thom said. "Against King's Ridge we played great and did not back down."

FCS Varsity and JV Volleyball Teams Compete in Play Date Events

The Fellowship Christian School varsity volleyball team placed second at the Lithia Springs play date tournament on Sept. 12.

FCS (4-9 overall) traveled to Douglas County for the tourney. Overall, the team went 2-2 at the play date.

The Fellowship Christian School JV volleyball club participated in the Providence Christian Academy Play Date on Sept. 12.

The Lady Paladins finished 2-2 at the play date event. Overall, Fellowship has notched an 8-8 record, including a 7-5 mark in play dates this season.

Week 2 Victory: Paladins Offense Shines in 54-28 Varsity Football Win over First Baptist Academy of Florida

The first half of the Fellowship Christian School varsity football game on Friday night was nothing like week one.

The Paladins opened up 41-7 halftime lead en route to a 54-28 victory over First Baptist Academy of Naples, Fla., at Bob Lord Field on Sept. 11. It was the fourth-highest single-game point total in FCS varsity football history and the most ever points in a home game. The Paladins posted a 57-20 win at The Walker School on Sept. 7, 2018, notched a 56-6 win at Southwest Atlanta Christian on Nov. 9, 2012 and earned a 55-14 win at Mount Pisgah Christian on Oct. 25, 2019.

In a week one victory over Christian Heritage, 43-14, Fellowship rallied from a 14-2 halftime deficit to out score the Lions, 41-7, in the second half. This time the team held a huge halftime lead.

"We started off very strong," head coach Al Morrell said. "The line blocked well. Murphy scored on the first play from scrimmage. We ran the ball well, and were also able to pass the ball effectively as well. It was a great win for our program. We showed offensive balance."

The Paladins' game plan was to slow down a talented First Baptist quarterback, pick up their defensive blitzes and play with confidence.

"We played very well on both sides of the ball," Morrell said. "To their credit, they never gave up and fought us to the end of the game. I thought our defense played well overall. It was nice as we were able to play a lot of guys tonight and give some of the younger kids solid game experience."

Reeves, who led the Paladin offense with 203 yards on the ground, took the pitch on the first play from scrimmage as Paladin offensive shifted and turned on the speed on the way to a 59-yard TD run. Senior Matt Rodgers kicked the first of six extra-point kicks to give the Paladins a 7-0 lead.

Fellowship went on to open up a 27-0 first quarter lead.

Senior Lawson Haigler scored on a 13-yard run at 9:43, senior Josh McLaughlin hauled in a 35-yard TD pass from senior Eli Hildebrandt at 4:56 and junior Josh Cole popped outside to find the end zone from 5 yards out at 1:04.

For the second straight game, sophomore Kyle Elphick scored on a Pick Six. This time it came from 60 yards out just 34 seconds into the second quarter.

Following a Lion TD pass, Reeves scored again on a spectacular 71-yard scoring sprint that featured several stellar blocks. The Paladins led 41-7 with 2:49 to go in the first half.

In the second half, Cole scored twice. After First Baptist scored at 9:11 of the third on a 4-yard run, Cole grabbed a pass from Hildebrandt and scored from 5 yards out.

He capped the Paladin scoring on an 80-yard interception return with 1:36 left in the third quarter. The quarter ended with Fellowship holding a 54-14 lead.

The Lions scored twice in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run at 10:32 and a 63-yard TD pass at 5:38.

Overall, Cole led Fellowship with three touchdowns, while Reeves had two.

Reeves gained 197 yards on the ground in the victory over Christian Heritage, while Haigler picked up 61 and Cole added 55 in week one. Unofficially, Reeves topped his week one rushing total against First Baptist.

Hildebrandt has picked up three touchdown passes in two games for Fellowship, which hosts Trinity Christian School on Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. FCS entered Friday's games ranked fifth and Trinity ninth among Class A private schools in the High School Football Daily rankings.

On Friday night, the Paladins were out gained by 407-385. FCS did out gain the Lions on the ground, 310-97. First Baptist threw for 310 yards, while Hildebrandt and sophomore Caleb McMickle combined for 75 yards in the air.

Reeves ran seven times for 203 yards. Cole gained 39 yards on four attempts and Haigler had 32 on three.

(Photos by Chip Cookston)

Season-Opener: FCS Battles Hard in Loss to Mount Vernon

The first game for the JV football club from Fellowship Christian School went right down to the wire.

The Paladins battled back from a 16-0 deficit before falling 16-12 to Mount Vernon Presbyterian School at Bob Lord Field on Sept. 10.

"We had a great second half on both offense and defense," coach Jimmy Stainback said. "We had a last-second [apparent] game-winning touchdown catch called back due to a player's step out of bounds. We had a great effort from Zak Thomas on both sides of the ball. He caught and ran the ball well, and made some key tackles."

Sophomore Jonathan Long scored on a 19-yard run at 3:18 of the third quarter for Fellowship.

Freshman Noah Falcon scored on a 4th-and-goal play from the 1-yard-line with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter to pull the Paladins within four points. The Paladins were stopped on the 2-point conversion play after both touchdowns.

Following a Mustang punt, Fellowship got the ball back for a finale time but couldn't pull ahead.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Mount Vernon scored twice in the second quarter on a 59- and 50-yard TD passes.

(Photo by Milo Falcon)

Week 2 Preview: Paladins Host First Baptist Academy of Naples, Fla.

The Fellowship Christian School varsity football team plays its second game of the 2020 season on Friday night (Sept. 11) against a team from Florida.

The Paladins, coming off a 43-21 comeback victory over Christian Heritage on Sept. 4, faces First Baptist Academy of Naples, Fla., at Bob Lord Field on Sept. 11. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. The Paladins enter the contest the fifth-ranked Class A private school team in Georgia High School Football Daily rankings.

"We have exchanged videos," head coach Al Morrell said. "Each of us has played a game. The video was enough to get started [on a game plan]. They have a great tradition there. They are coming off a 10-1 season. And they won their first game like we did."

The keys to the match up are pretty simple for Morrell's team.

"Once again, like last week, the guy we have to stop is the quarterback," he said. "He throws about half the time, but runs even better than he throws. He's a dual threat like the quarterback from Christian Heritage. His top two targets are 82 and 11."

Morrell said the FCS offense is preparing for a lot of blitzes. "We'll need to pick up the blitzes and block well," he said.

Battling back from 14-2 deficit to defeat the Lions on Friday for the first time in Fellowship Christian School was a confidence boost for a team coming off a 12-1 season and a trip to the GHSA Class A Private School Championships.

"Our kids love to play football," Morrell said. "They love the game and play with a lot of confidence. We had a really slow start on Friday, but it was a big comeback."

Fellowship showed the importance of pre-season conditioning against Christian Heritage. On a hot and humid night, the Paladins stayed strong as their opponent showed signs of getting tired in the second half on Friday.

"Conditioning is always important," Morrell said. "But with heat and humidity, it's even more important. Our team expended a lot of energy on Friday, but we showed our endurance."

The Paladins scored 41 second-half points on the way to a 43-21 victory over the Lions in a Region crossover contest. FCS out scored the Lions – who led 14-2 at halftime – 41-7 in the second half.

Senior running back Murphy Reeves scored two rushing touchdowns, junior running back Josh Cole caught a touchdown and ran for another score, while senior Lawson Haigler scored a rushing TD in that contest.

Sophomore Kyle Elphick returned an interception 90 yards for a score, and sophomore Jayven Hall made a tackle for a safety.

(Photos by Chip Cookston and Milo Falcon)

Second-Half Surge Leads Paladins to First-Ever Varsity Football Victory over Christian Heritage

The speech was pretty simple, but it led to outstanding results.

"We could see they were gassed at the end of the first half," head coach Al Morrell said following Fellowship Christian School's first-ever varsity football win over Christian Heritage. "So we told the boys to come out, relax and play our game. The coordinators made some great adjustments at halftime, and we got rolling in the second half."

And how.

The Paladins scored 41 second-half points on the way to a 43-21 victory over the Lions in a Region crossover contest to kick off the 2020 season on Sept. 4 at Bob Lord Field. FCS out scored the Lions – who led 14-2 at halftime – 41-7 in the second half.

Morrell said it was gratifying to post the school's first-ever varsity football win over Christian Heritage in the seventh all-time meeting between the schools.

"They are a talented football team," Morrell said. "We were able to spread the ball around [running] in the second half. We have depth at running back. They made amazing blocks for each other and had some great runs. Our line also played better in the second half as well. Our defense was strong too."

Fellowship trailed 14-2 at halftime. One of the team's first-half highlights in a tough first half was sophomore Jayven Hall's safety with 3:20 left in the half to cut the Lions' lead to 12 points (FCS downed a punt inside the 1-yard-line right before the safety). A blocked Christian Heritage field-goal attempt at 9:08 was another bright spot for Fellowship.

But the Paladins came out very strong in the second half, scoring on all three of its possessions and outgaining Christian Heritage, 163-35 unofficially, in the quarter.

Senior quarterback Eli Hildebrandt hit junior Josh Cole in the corner of the end zone for a 6-yard TD catch to open the second-half scoring. It capped a 14-play, 68-yard drive that took up nearly six minutes and featured several strong runs by senior Murphy Reeves and Cole. Senior Matt Rodgers kicked the first of his five extra points to make it 14-9.

The FCS defense forced a Lion punt three plays later, and Reeves dazzled the fans in the stands with an impressive 52-yard touchdown run seconds later that included several broken tackles downfield and a cutback into the end zone. That gave FCS its first lead of the contest, 16-14, at 3:12 of the third quarter.

Senior Cole Chapman forced a quarterback fumble and recovered the ball on Christian Heritage's third play from scrimmage after receiving the kickoff following Reeves' score.

On the next play from scrimmage, senior Lawson Haigler followed some timely blocks and bounced outside to the right to score on another highlight-reel TD run. That gave Fellowship a 23-14 lead.

Christian Heritage scored on its next possession. The Lions had a 31-yard TD pass play and extra-point kick to pull within 23-21 just 38 seconds into the fourth quarter.

But the Paladins were up to the task as Reeves scored on another run – this one from 57 yards out – four plays from scrimmage later. It capped a 69-yard drive. Rodgers' extra-point kick came from 5-yard yards further out after a Paladin motion penalty. The home team led 30-21.

Following that score the team's traded turnovers. Senior Jordan Brewer picked off a Lion pass at 9:17, but the Paladins fumbled the ball on the next play.

Fellowship's defense forced another punt following a sack by seniors Joey Archer and Nathan Nardone on a third-and 14 play from the Lion 24-yard-line with 7:09 to play.

It was Cole's turn for a strong touchdown run next. On the next drive's fifth play, Cole reached the outside quickly and found the left side of the end zone from 12 yards out with 5:39 to play. The score was 37-21.

Sophomore Kyle Elphick stepped in front on a Lion receiver picked off the ball and scored on a stellar 90-yard sprint to the end zone with 3:20 to play. That impressive play helped the Paladins pick up 193 total yards in the fourth quarter.

Christian Heritage's first half scores came in the first quarter on a pair of 1-yard runs to cap long drives at 7:58 and 3:42. Unofficially, the Paladins were out gained 156-59 in the first half.

In its next game, Fellowship faces First Baptist Academy of Naples, Fla., on Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Another game has been added to the schedule as 5A Clarkston High School cancelled football this season and the game between the schools on Oct. 23. The Paladins will face 7A Dunwoody High School at home on Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

(Photos by Chip Cookston and Milo Falcon)

FCS Seeks First Varsity Football Win over Christian Heritage

The varsity football team from Fellowship Christian School has grown a lot during the tutelage of head coach Al Morrell.

Morrell, who has won more than 100 football games as a varsity head coach, seeks his first career victory over Christian Heritage. The Lions visit Bob Lord Field on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Paladins' 2020 season.

Over the past 10 years, FCS is rank among the Class A football programs with the most victories, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

In fact, Fellowship is coming off a 12-1 season and a trip to the semifinals of the GHSA Class A Private School Championships. The Paladins lost to Wesleyan School in the state semifinals last fall, one game after the Wolves' ended Christian Heritage's season in the quarterfinals.

"We have a very talented football team," Morrell said. "We have a very special senior class this year for sure. They love football, they work hard and they do the right things. In fact, this class is comparable to 2016 when we graduate Jack Hardin and Andrew Johnson. That year we made it to the state finals. We hope to match that classes' intensity."

Fellowship's group of 17 seniors includes Jackson Albee (defensive end/offensive line), Joey Archer (defensive end/quarterback), Jordan Brewer (defensive back/wide receiver), Cole Chapman (defensive end/offensive line), Lawson Haigler (outside linebacker and running back), Eli Hildebrandt (defensive back/quarterback), Cade Kammerer (defensive tackle/offensive line), Caleb McClung (linebacker/offensive lineman), Josh McLaughlin (defensive back/wide receiver), Nathan Nardone (linebacker/offensive line), Brady Niblock (defensive end/tight end), Charlie Patterson (defensive tackle/offensive line), Murphy Reeves (defensive end/running back), Reid Robinson (defensive tackle/offensive line), Brad Rodgers (defensive end/running back), Matt Rodgers (kicker) and Michael Washburne (defensive back and wide receiver).

Morrell has high expectations again this year, but the veteran coach never strays too far from his "take it one game at a time" approach.

However, the first game is very important for the Paladins, who are 0-6 against Christian Heritage in varsity football. FCS seeks its first-ever win over the Lions, who have beaten Morrell's teams a couple of times in his early days as the Paladin head coach.

"We're focused on this team," Morrell said. "They are a very good football team that has everyone but three kids back from last year's team that made it to the state quarterfinals, where Wesleyan beat them. They continue to be a good program. They struggled for a couple of years, but they are very good again."

The keys to Friday's game for Fellowship will be to contain three players – the Lions quarterback, top wide receiver and No. 1 running back.

"No. 10 is a free safety and wide receiver for them," Morrell said. "They snap the ball directly to him in the Wildcat offense. He's a big kid and an all-state player. Their quarterback, No. 2, is a dual threat. He can throw and run. No. 6, their running back, who also plays linebacker, is a great runner too."

In addition to "slowing down" that trio on defense, the Paladin offense will have to execute well, sustain drives and protect the football.

"We have to play both ways well up front," Morrell said. "Their offensive and defensive lines are basically the same kids. They are all big and strong, and play well on both sides of the ball."

In addition to a great group of seniors, the Fellowship roster of 61 includes six juniors, 20 sophomores and 18 freshmen.

(File photos by Chip Cookston)

Football Attendance Protocol and FCS Athletic Update

Paladin Nation:

Wow! The first two weeks of school are in the books, and now we prepare to turn the page to September. With the exception of football, fall sports are in full swing, and our football teams begin competition this week. It has been a true blessing seeing athletics back in action at FCS!

As has been the case since summer workouts began on June 8th, our athletes, coaches, and families have done everything we have asked, implementing our safety protocols and procedures. With the exception of a few isolated cases, our teams have managed to be at full participation since the beginning of summer. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement. It is much appreciated.

In light of stadium capacity considerations, we have made the difficult decision to begin the season not allowing students or general admission at home games.

We are limiting our attendees for the first and possibly the second football game to only families of the athletes involved - players, trainers, cheerleaders, and film crew members. Admission will be limited to only their parents, siblings, and grandparents. We are also allowing the coaches' families to attend as well - spouse, children, and parents. Lastly, school administration and their families will be allowed to attend. All Paladin fans can watch on our Livestream.

Several schools are implementing capacities of 25-30%. Based on our roster sizes and what I expect in attendance from our athlete and coaching staff families, these attendees alone could account for 30% capacity of our stadium. When I add in the average size of the teams we play and the families of their players, cheerleaders, and trainers, we will most likely be pushing 50% capacity in our stadium. That, combined with the fact that the stadium only has bleachers on one side, 50% capacity will most likely have people sitting closer to one another than we would prefer.

We will be screening attendees with temperature checks, and practicing physical distancing when possible. We will require face coverings as you enter the stadium and make your way to your seats. Once in your seats, I hope to allow face coverings to be down, and only require them to be up when moving around the stadium if physical distancing is not possible. If we push 50% capacity given our opponent and how many people they have in attendance, we may have to reconsider this and require face coverings at all times.

As this is our first football game, we are trying to be as safe and cautious as possible. These are the same capacities and protocols we have implemented for volleyball and softball so far this season. For the most part, things have gone well. Additionally, the region is trying to create some consistency among the venues so that we are pretty much following the same logic. However, two schools have announced that they are not allowing any fans. We plan to meet the week after our first football games to discuss how things went and determine if any adjustments need to be made for football or any other sports since they have been playing since mid-August.

For away games, the opposing host team sets policies and protocols. Based on that, we will update our families each week on the attendance protocol.

These are interesting times, and we are trying to accommodate the families who are most connected to the competing athletes and coaches. We are monitoring trends and following the advice and recommendations of GHSA (High School Athletic Association for Georgia) for how best to host our athletic competitions. My prayer is that we will be able to expand our capacity at games as the season progresses. However, ultimately, the games are for the students, and my main goal is to do everything we can to allow them to participate by attending. So with that being our focus, I would welcome your prayers for safety and protection as move forward in September when all our teams will be competing, often with multiple games per day.

Thank you for your continued support of our athletic program. You can view a full Athletic Update, by clicking here.

Have a great week, Go FCS Paladins!

David Lowery

Director of Athletics

Solid Results: Lady Paladins Take Home Third at Cherokee Christian Tournament

The Fellowship Christian School JV volleyball club brought home the third-place trophy on Aug. 29.

The Lady Paladins won five matches and placed third at the Cherokee Christian School Volleyball Tournament.

"Anna Tweedy was player of the tournament for us," head coach Allison Storey said. "It was a good tournament for us. We won five matches."

(Photo submitted by Allison Storey)

FCS Volleyball Squad Downs Cherokee Christian in 3 Sets

The Fellowship Christian School varsity volleyball team came up victorious in its third match of the season.

At Paladin Gym on Aug. 18, the Lady Paladins defeated Cherokee Christian School in the best-of-five match.

Fellowship opened the evening with a 25-17 win in the first set. FCS cruised to a 25-13 win in the second.

The Lady Paladins also took the third set, 25-21.

Fellowship improved to 1-2 overall with the victory.

New Look Lady Paladins Open Season on Aug. 18 Against Christian Heritage

The Fellowship Christian School varsity softball team will have an influx of newcomers this season.

"Our team will be freshman and sophomore heavy," head coach Shawn Oliver said. "That's good for our future. This team will have 10 or 11 girls, and six are brand-new. They will learn from me, I'll learn from them and they'll learn the game. But our future is bright."

Due to so many new faces, Oliver changed the schedule a bit this season.

The team will have games on Tuesdays and Thursdays to allow for more practices. That will give the veteran baseball and softball coach more time for instruction and provide an opportunity for these new players to learn on the field.

"We are trying to replicate game situations in practice," Oliver said during an interview on Aug. 14. "So far we've had seven days of practice, and are making strides. I was careful with our schedule. We need more practices between our games."

How do you coach the newcomers differently than veteran players?

"They don't know what they don't know," Oliver said. "You assume they don't know it, so you have to start from square one. It helps that I do teach many of these girls as well. So they know me as a teacher and a coach."

The Lady Paladins won four games in 2018 and twice last season, and returns three senior leaders from those teams: Caroline Gryder, Olivia Paxton and Norah Wallace. The team's other senior is newcomer Avery Scherer.

"Caroline has been with the program for three years, and both Norah and Olivia have been here two years each," Oliver said. "We will be young, but we are athletic. They are all good athletes. They may not be experienced softball players but they have athletic ability."

The Regional alignments for 469 schools around the GHSA changed during the offseason.

Fellowship is now part of Class 6-A Private. All the team's games this season are against opponents from the 5-A Private and 7-A Private groups.

The Lady Paladins begin the season against Christian Heritage of Dalton at Paladin Park on Aug. 18 at 5 p.m.

This season, FCS faces The Galloway School, Holy Innocents' Episcopal, Mount Vernon Presbyterian from 5-A, and Christian Heritage, Mount Paran Christian School, North Cobb Christian School and The Walker School from 7-A.

Paladin Runners Prepare for 2020 Season, Girls Team Looks for Fourth Straight Trip to State Meet

The Fellowship Christian School boys and girls high school cross-country program has grown quite a bit this offseason and the expectations are high as the season begins this month.

"Right now we have 36 on the roster," head coach Tom Harrison said. "We could have up to 38 runners. Typically we have 28 or 30. We have a very talented freshman class coming up from middle school, and many sophomore, junior and senior returning runners. It's a good mix and a great group. We have high hopes for the season."

Despite several schedule challenges and changes this summer, Harrison expects the Paladin varsity and JV squads to run in about eight races this season. FCS is slated to open the season on Aug. 22 at the Bob Blastow Meet being held at the McIntosh State Preserve in Whitesburg, Ga.

"Our practices have been going pretty well," Harrison said. "We're dealing with an unsure schedule right now, but we start out with a good outlook. Our girls' team is strong again. We've had some great girls teams over the last few years. We also expect the boys' team to do well. Our goals are like every year, we want to finish in the top four in the Region and qualify for the state meet."

The Fellowship girls have qualified for the state meet the past three years. There's another impressive ongoing streak as FCS runners have qualified for every state meet since 2013 either as an entire team or with an individual runner or two.

Harrison, who was pleased with the team's time trials on Aug. 13, hopes that the postseason streak will continue this year.

"As expected we have a good pool of runners," he said. "We will have plenty of depth for both the varsity and JV teams. We really hope to reach the state meet again. We ran our 5k Time trial yesterday morning [Aug. 13]. This time trial sets the 'baseline' for our meets, and gives us an indication of where the athletes are positioned, early in the season. Because the course they run for the 5K time trial is a challenging course, it gives them a realistic sense of what they will be able to accomplish as they improve and move towards their personal goals, working to achieve peak conditioning later in the season, in time for the postseason races."

Freshmen Tyler Greenwell, and James Smith, sophomore Aubrey Moraitakis and juniors Jacob Cartrett and Garrett Lengefeld, emerged as the team's top five male runners to earn a position on the varsity squad as the season begins.

For the girls, freshman Avery Gilleland, juniors Cate Hardin and Elsa Loechl, and seniors Sami Rickheim and Sophia Mahlke finished in the top five among the girls to land on the varsity squad.

"The positions for the varsity squad are fluid however, and are never guaranteed," Harrison added. "All runners have a chance to work towards a time which would qualify them for a top seven position."

On Aug. 13, 11 of the FCS runners finished their 5K faster this year than the same 5K time trial last year.

"This is a good indicator that we are starting the season in a stronger position then we were last year as we began the season," Harrison said.

The FCS girls cross-country team took home 11th place at the GHSA Class A Private Cross Country Championships held Nov. 2, 2019 at Carrollton High School in Carrollton.

In that race, freshman Elizabeth Bishop, sophomore Elsa Loechl, juniors Sami Rickheim and Sophia Mahlke, and seniors Abby Beard, Charlotte Berg and Priscilla Lorenzo competed against a field of 110 runners from 18 private schools. The leaders for FCS were Rickheim and Beard, who finished 35th and 37th respectively.

The Fellowship girls won the Region title in 2019 as well. In 2018, the girl's team placed ninth at state and second in the Region.