ELCA coach Jonathan Gess wants to pick up a win tonight against a big-class foe tonight. (File)

PREP FOOTBALL ROUNDUP | ELCA, Stockbridge win openers ahead of next week’s head-to-head matchup

ELCA coach Jonathan Gess picked up a big win against a Florida private school powerhouse. (File)

ELCA coach Jonathan Gess picked up a big win against a Florida private school powerhouse. (File)

Zerrick Cooper connected on four touchdown passes en route to leading Jonesboro to a 31-6 win over cross-town rival Mount Zion. (File)

Zerrick Cooper connected on four touchdown passes en route to leading Jonesboro to a 31-6 win over cross-town rival Mount Zion. (File)

Stockbridge quarterback Malachi Brown's two touchdown bombs were the difference Friday night against Central Phenix (Ala.) (File)

Stockbridge quarterback Malachi Brown’s two touchdown bombs were the difference Friday night against Central Phenix (Ala.) (File)

STOCKBRIDGE STUFFS CENTRAL (Ala.) AT BUZZER

STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. — Stockbridge coach Kevin Whitley overcame a nasty case of deja vu before pushing toward a 13-6 win over Central Phenix (Ala.) Friday night.

Just as last year when Stockbridge traveled to Central, the Alabama state title contender struck first on the scoreboard. This time it came in the form of Central taking the opening kickoff to the house to go up 6-0.

Stockbridge, typically known for its Wing-T rushing attack, scored both of its touchdowns in the air with senior quarterback Malachi Brown connected with Marquez Ezzard and Demitrius Sullivan for a pair of 50-yard scores.

“(Central) was loading the box and gave us deep one-on-one coverage,” Whitley said. “And when they do that, you’ve gotta be able to complete passes, and we did it when it counted. It’s not like we don’t practice the pass, but we are able to make those plays when we need to.”

Even after that, Stockbridge faced tense moments in the waning moments of the game when Central drove inside the Stockbridge 5-yard line positioning themselves for a potential game tying score. But on the last play of the game, defensive end Charles Wiley — an Old Miss commitment — along with two other Tiger defenders converged on Central’s quarterback for a sack that ended the game.

Stockbridge will host Class A No. 1 ELCA next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

CARDINALS WIN BATTLE OF JONESBORO

JONESBORO, Ga. — Jonesboro senior quarterback Zerrick Cooper “rounded back into form,” in the words of Cardinals offensive coordinator Nate Wardlaw, as the Clemson commitment notched four touchdown tosses in Jonesboro’s 31-6 season opening win over Mount Zion Friday night.

The Cardinals overcame a sloppy first quarter where they left the red zone empty handed, but after a turnover, Zerrick Cooper threw a long touchdown pass on a post route to Kentucky commit Kordan Griffin to go up 7-0 around the 10 minute mark in the 2nd quarter.

Cooper would hit receiver Williams Wise for two more scoring tosses and then full back Desmond Harris on a little dump off pass after a scramble. The Jonesboro defense held Mount Zion scoreless, as the Bulldogs’ only points came from a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Next week is huge for Jonesboro as it travels to Class AAAA powerhouse Sandy Creek. It’s a game Wardlaw said the team is already salivating to play.

“We told those guys to enjoy this tonight, but starting tomorrow, we already need to know what we need to get ready for with Sandy Creek,” Wardlaw said. “We’re already talking about it.”

ELCA CHARGERS START OFF 2015 WITH WIN

McDONOUGH, Ga. — Eagle’s Landing Christian Chargers got its 2015 state championship quest off on the right foot Friday night with a 35-0 win against North Florida Christian from Tallahassee.

Traditionally one of Florida’s best private school programs, North Florida boasts six Division I prospects on its roster, but the Chargers — Georgia Class A runners up in 2014 — started fast and never let up. Four different ball carriers scored touchdowns for ELCA who took its 35-0 lead before the first half was over, giving way to a running second half clock.

Junior tailback Trevor Gear led all rushers with 75 yards on 15 carries and a score, and his sophomore backfield made Josh Mays had 65 yards on five carries and a touchdown. ELCA coach Jonathan Gess said it felt good to start off gauntlet schedule tour part two with a win.

“It’s huge getting the win and being 1-0 instead of starting out 0-6,” Gess said.

The Class A No. 1 Chargers will travel to Class AAAAA Stockbridge next Friday at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s 33-3 game won by the Tigers.

“That game, it’s really not about confidence for our kids,” Gess said. “They feel pretty good about themselves. Us going to play Stockbridge is kind of like Jacksonville State going to play Auburn. But our kids are excited about the challenge, and you never know what will happen.”

LUELLA STUMBLES IN COLUMBUS AGAINST SHAW

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Shaw sprinted out to a 19-0 lead against Luella in the first half of Friday night’s game and never looked back, cruising to a 39-14 win in what was the season opener for both teams. The Lions tried to make it a game before the first half horn sounded, when quarterback Will Thomas punched in a score right before halftime to cut it to 19-6.

Wide receiver Terry Thomas snagged a long touchdown pass from Will Thomas toward the end of the fourth quarter, but by then, Shaw had taken a 32-6 lead before the score. It was the third time in the last four seasons Luella lost a season opener. Coach Nic Vasilchek will be looking for a bounce back next week as the Lions play host to McIntosh next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

McIntosh won its season opener against Fayette County 16-7 in come-from-behind fashion.

OTHER SOUTHERN CRESCENT  WEEK 1 SCORES:

McIntosh 16, Fayette County 7

Dutchtown 35, Osborne 19

Tift County 56, Henry County 7

Athens Christian 31, Strong Rock 21

Woodland 36, North Springs 7

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