Paladins Down Mount Paran to Advance in GHSA Class A Private Football Championships
A two-week break from games didn't seem to hurt the Fellowship Christian School varsity football team too much on Friday night.
The Paladins did not show any rust early as senior Murphy Reeves scored on the game's first play from scrimmage and the team scored on its first three possessions overall en route to a 49-7 victory over Mount Paran Christian School at Bob Lord Field in the opening round of the Class A Private School Football Championships on Nov. 27.
"Our offensive line is playing outstanding, and we have super talented backs," head coach Al Morrell said. "That's probably the fifth time Murphy has scored on the first play of the game. He's a terrific back, who is hard to catch in the open field. We did have a great start to the game. It had been three weeks since we played, so we did not execute perfectly. But we played well enough to win."
Fellowship, seeded No. 1 from Region 6, improved to 10-0 with the victory. FCS faces Athens Academy (seeded second from Region 8) at Bob Lord Field on Dec. 4. Athens (10-1 overall) defeated Mount Vernon Presbyterian School in overtime, 49-42, on Nov. 27. The Mustangs (5-7 overall and the third seed from Region 5) rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
"Athens is a great team," Morrell said. "I believe their only losses over the last three years are to Eagles' Landing Christian School and Prince Avenue. They have a huge offensive line with three Division I commits. They are very big and physical."
With Friday's victory, the Paladins have improved to 10-5 all-time in the state playoffs. In their previous game, the Paladins defeated Mount Pisgah Christian School, 63-10, on Senior Night on Nov. 6 to capture their second straight Region championship and the school's third Region football title since the 2016 season.
The Paladins offense didn't waste any time against the Eagles as Reeves took the pitch, went right and scored on a 79-yard TD run 23 seconds into the playoff contest. Senior Matt Rodgers booted the first of seven extra points to give FCS a 7-0 lead. It was the first of three touchdowns for Reeves, Fellowship's all-time rushing leader.
The Fellowship defense forced a Mount Paran punt three plays from scrimmage later. Sophomore Jayven Hall then capped a 57-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring run with 9:32 left in the first quarter.
Following another Eagles punt, Reeves scored on a 37-yard TD run at 8:23 of the first quarter. Senior Lawson Haigler ended the first quarter scoring on a run up the middle that went 42 yards and a score on the final play of the first quarter score.
The Paladins led 28-0 after the first and out gained the Eagles (seeded fourth from Region 7) in the first quarter, 248 yards to minus-15 unofficially.
FCS scored on five out of eight possessions in the first half, including senior quarterback Eli Hildebrandt's 1-yard TD run with 53.1 seconds left in the half. The 54-yard drive was set up by junior Wilson Long's interception.
It was another strong defensive effort for the Paladins, who held the Eagles to minus-26 yards in the first half that included a pair of sacks by senior Joey Archer and sophomore Calen Nichols, and another by senior Caleb McClung.
"The defense had another shutout, as they scored on our offense," Morrell said. "They are playing extremely well."
Following a Mount Paran punt to end its first possession of the second half, Reeves scored on a run that included a broken tackle and spin move up the middle with 6:00 left in the third quarter. The senior gained well over 200 yards again.
Junior Garrett Wagner added a TD run from 6 yards 31 seconds in the fourth quarter to give Fellowship a 49-0 lead.
The Eagles' lone score came on a fumble recovery that went for a 73-yard score with 5:44 to play. Mount Paran finished the season 1-9.
Fellowship improved to 5-3 all-time against Mount Paran in varsity football, including a 45-13 win over the Eagles in the Elite Eight of the 2016 playoffs on Nov. 25, 2016.
Unofficially, the Paladins out gained Mount Paran 393-55 on Friday night, including a 378 to minus advantage through three quarters.
(Photos by Chip Cookston)
Football Playoff Game Set: Paladins to Face Mount Paran in Opening Round of Class A Private School Football Championships
The match up is all set.
The Fellowship Christian School football team, seeded No. 1 from Region 6A, will host Mount Paran Christian School in the opening round of the Class A Private School Football Championships on Nov. 27 at Bob Lord Field. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles (1-8 overall) beat The Walker School 33-7 on Nov. 20 to qualify for the state playoffs as the No. 4 seed from Region 7A.
The Paladins (9-0) defeated Mount Pisgah Christian School, 63-10, on Senior Night on Nov. 6 to capture their second straight Region championship and the school's third Region football title since the 2016 season. Fellowship equaled its single-game points record set on Oct. 23, 2020 with a 63-0 win over 7A Dunwoody High School at Bob Lord Field.
Fellowship is 4-3 all-time against Mount Paran in varsity football, including a 45-13 win over the Eagles in the Elite Eight of the 2016 playoffs on Nov. 25, 2016. The Paladins are 9-5 all-time in state football playoffs.
"Don't let Mount Paran's record fool you," head coach Al Morrell said. "They are a good football team. They played a lot of teams tough this season. We will be ready on Friday night. The boys are excited for another state playoff game. We are focused on playing a good game. We need to execute on both sides of the ball, limit mistakes and turnovers, and play with confidence [after two off weeks]."
The Paladins have out gained its opponents 3,525-1,355 in eight games on the field this season. That includes 2,715 yards on the ground to just 507 for its foes. As a team the Paladins have collected 39 rushing touchdowns.
Senior Murphy Reeves tops Fellowship runners with 90 carries, 1,346 yards and 19 touchdowns. Junior Josh Cole is next with 49 rushes, 506 yards and eight scores. Senior Lawson Haigler has picked up 295 yards on 30 carries with five TDs.
Senior quarterback Eli Hildbrandt had gone 33-for-52 for 643 yards and nine TDs. Haigler and sophomore Clay Shepler share the team lead with 10 catches each. Shepler's 220 reception yards tops the squad, while Haigler has gained 186 reception yards and has grabbed two TDs. Both Cole and senior Jordan Brewer have seven catches and two TD receptions.
On defense, senior Caleb McClung leads the Paladins with 27 assisted tackles and 39 total stops. Sophomore Jayven Hall's 17 solo tackles lead the team. He's second overall with 37 total stops. Senior Nathan Nardone ranks third on the team with 35 total tackles and is second with 25 assists.
Lady Paladins Fall at Trion
It was the second game in as many nights for the Fellowship Christian School varsity girls basketball team to kick of the 2020 season, and the Lady Paladins came up just a little bit short.
Fellowship (1-1 overall) held a six-point lead with four minutes left, but Trion High School rallied to notch a 52-45 home non-Region win over the Lady Paladins on Nov. 21.
“We played well, but ran out of gas in the fourth,” head coach Troy Schulz said. “In the last four minutes we lost our wind and made some major mental errors. Kudos to Trion – they had a good starting five and five solid subs."
Despite the loss, Schulz is encouraged.
"If we play the way we did tonight all year it is going to be exciting,” Schulz said.
in Trion, junior Kaya Beard had 15 points to lead the Lady Paladins.
Junior Cate Hardin netted 13 points, freshman Alden Hays chipped in with eight and junior Savannah Schulz added seven.
Opening Night Win: Lady Paladins Win Opener at AIS
The Fellowship Christian School varsity girls basketball team started the 2020 season off on the right foot.
The Lady Paladins posted a 42-10 victory over non-Region Atlanta International School in Buckhead on Nov. 21.
"We played really well for a first game," head coach Troy Schulz said. "Avery Paulson played extremely well in her first varsity game. Kaya Beard was strong in the post."
Beard led the Lady Paladins with 16 points. Junior Cate Hardin and freshman Alden Hays chipped in with eight points apiece, while junior Savannah Schulz and Paulson added two points each.
FCS Opens League Season with Loss at KR
The Fellowship Christian School eighth grade boys basketball team came up a little bit short in its first Metro 10 League game of the 2020-21 season.
The Paladins (1-1 overall) dropped a 48-28 decision in Alpharetta to King’s Ridge Christian School.
“The King’s Ridge team was very good,” assistant coach Jason Hudson said. “They played a good full court pressure game that caused us to make too many turnovers. They were also a good 3-point shooting team.”
Fellowship Girls Post Victory to Open Metro 10 League Season
In its Metro 10 League opener, the sixth and seventh grade girls basketball squad from Fellowship Christian School posted a 41-2 victory at King’s Ridge Christian School on Nov. 19.
“All the girls contributed to the win,” head coach Kimberly Nelson said. “It makes me so happy to see them work hard together. Their defense was on point and our girls made many steals.”
The team is now 1-1 overall.
Fellowship Falls at King’s Ridge
The Fellowship Christian School seventh grade boys basketball team fought hard but dropped its league opener.
The Paladins dropped a Metro 10 League game at King’s Ridge Christian School, 49-43, on Nov. 19.
The team is now 0-2 overall.