Valley Preps

What to expect from Columbus-area private schools during high school football season

Brian Osborne talks Calvary football

Calvary Christian head coach Brian Osborne discusses his team's outlook for the 2019 season, which begins with four consecutive road games. Osborne and his players are optimistic about their chances of making it back to the state championship.
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Calvary Christian head coach Brian Osborne discusses his team's outlook for the 2019 season, which begins with four consecutive road games. Osborne and his players are optimistic about their chances of making it back to the state championship.

Preseason scrimmages in the coming weeks mark the start of high school football season in the Chattahoochee.

The Ledger-Enquirer is previewing each school in our coverage area. The previews will be by classification, unless warranted (for example, private schools and Alabama schools get a separate preview).

First up are private schools: Brookstone, Pacelli, Calvary and Glenwood.

Brookstone

Brookstone finished behind Marion County in the region standings in what served as a solid season for the Cougars that included a four-game winning streak and a 51-14 win over rival Pacelli. The Cougars beat Manchester (a 31-22 road win) and made it to the second round of state playoffs. That win was the school’s first playoff win in a decade.

Now, the Cougars are aiming for more, despite not having the 70-plus man roster many schools in the area boast.

Overcoming the lack of depth will be the Cougars’ main challenge if they want to make a deep run into the GHSA 1-A playoffs. But Harrison is confident his team will overcome that challenge, as they do each year.

The Cougars’ schedule, while tough, is certainly doable.

Montgomery Academy beat them in last season’s road opener. Back-to-back games against Marion County and Manchester will provide a tough challenge, as well as the annual Broocelli Jug contest against Pacelli, one week beforehand.

Given the beat down the Cougars handed the Vikings a season ago, that may not be much of a challenge

Key players:

Branche Sheffield, linebacker/defensive end

Clark Smith, running back/safety

Wes Pahl, kicker

Key games:

At Pacelli, Oct. 4

Vs. Marion County, Oct. 11

At Manchester, Oct. 18

St. Anne-Pacelli

Coach Dwight Jones enters his first year at Pacelli with a lot on his plate.

Jones left Russell County for the Vikings in January after former coach Mark LeGree resigned following last season’s 4-6 season. The Vikings were ranked 32nd out of 37 teams in the Georgia High School Association Class A Power Ratings for private schools. The top 24 teams qualified for the state playoffs.

That 4-6 record was an improvement on the Vikings’ winless season in LeGree’s first year. Now, Jones takes the reins as the Vikings look to take that next step. But to do that, they’ll need to start beating the teams above them: Brookstone, Manchester and Marion County.

Brookstone and Manchester put up 51 and 70 points on the Vikings last year, respectively. Marion County beat them 41-12. Still, Pacelli finished 2-3 in the region, so there’s reason enough to think that, should the Vikings pull off a win or two against the three teams that finished above them, a playoff appearance is not out of the equation.

The Vikings travel to Marion County, but host Brookstone and Manchester in back-to-back weeks.

Key players:

Brayden Wood, kicker

Caleb Perry, linebacker, quarterback

Travis Harper II, defensive back, receiver

Key games:

At Marion, Sept. 13

Vs. Brookstone, Oct. 4

Vs. Manchester, Oct. 11

Calvary

It’s not been long since Calvary Christian last competed for a state championship, ultimately falling to Sherwood Christian Academy.

Head coach Brian Osborne has been there for all of it — the first-season struggles, the many staff changes and the challenges of working with a 40-person roster, many of whom play offense, defense and special teams. Now, Osborne thinks he might have his best team since his young program’s early years.

Osborne said this season’s Knights come up short compared to that state-runner-up team and the teams he coached in the years between. However, he said that this year’s team has more of a bond the Knights have lacked these past few seasons.

That, Osborne said, might be the key to finally making that long-awaited jump back into GICCA state-championship contention.

Calvary’s schedule is brutal. Four consecutive road games to start 2019, one of which comes against Community Christian (who ended the Knights’ season last year), won’t be easy. Neither will the home-opener against Sherwood, all without a bye week.

Key players:

Luke Davis, fullback/linebacker

Tyler Williams, running back

Demetri Singleton, defensive lineman

Key games:

At Community Christian, Aug. 23

Vs. Sherwood, Sept. 13

Vs. Lafayette Christian, Sept. 27

Glenwood

Glenwood’s 2018 season ended in heartbreak with a 36-29 overtime loss to Bessemer Academy in the AlSA 3A semifinals. The Gators finished third in Region 1 behind Bessemer and Morgan Academy. Still, that should not put much of a damper on the Gators’ season. They lost to Deerfield-Windsor by three points, beat rival Lee-Scott by 29 points and still made the state playoff semi-finals.

Glenwood’s 2019 schedule features more of the same. The Gators travel to Deerfield-Windsor in early September, but it really ramps up after that. Road games against Bessemer and Tuscaloosa Academy both come before a road trip to Lee-Scott.

Key players:

B.J. Snellgrove, linebacker/defensive end

Allandis Boyd, linebacker/defensive end

Key games:

At Bessemer Academy, Sept. 13

At Tuscaloosa Academy, Oct. 18

At Lee-Scott, Oct. 25

Joshua Mixon is a reporter for the Ledger-Enquirer. He covers sports (Auburn and preps) and local news, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. He previously covered Georgia athletics for the Macon Telegraph. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshDMixon.
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