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Rebounding GAC looks to continue forward

Any change in the win-loss record for Greater Atlanta Christian this season would have been a huge boost for a program hurting after going 1-9 last year.

To turn that around to a 4-1 record at this point is phenomenal, though it doesn’t mean much yet. The Spartans still haven’t played a Region 6-AA, Division A game, so tonight’s subregion opener begins a run of games that will determine GAC’s postseason fate. The hopes are for a state playoff berth, which became routine for 14 straight years until the struggles of 2009.

GAC AT DECATUR

GAC Spartans (6-AA, Div. A)

Coach: Tim Cokely

Record: 4-1, 0-0 subregion

Last week: Had a bye

Decatur Bulldogs (6-AA, Div. A)

Coach: Price Jones

Record: 4-2, 0-1 subregion

Last week: Lost to Buford 42-7

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Last meeting: Decatur won 42-14 last year

Directions to Decatur High School: I-85 south to I-285 east, exit at 39A/U.S. Hwy. 78 west. Take the left fork and merge into Lawrenceville Highway. Take a left on Hwy. 29 Business, which becomes Church Street. Take a right on Trinity and take a left a block later at the Chick-fil-A.

With that in mind, going 1-0 in the subregion is vital, particularly against fellow contender Decatur, which is 4-2 overall after losing its subregion opener last week to powerful Buford.

“It’s a big game,” first-year GAC head coach Tim Cokely said. “Coach (Price) Jones has done a good job over there at Decatur. ... On our side of the (subregion), this is the biggest game of the week and we’ll have to play well to beat them.”

The Spartans have played well at times this season, not so great at others. They won three lopsided games to start the season, were manhandled for most of a loss to Westminster and then won a back-and-forth game at Blessed Trinity on Sept. 24.

They had a bye last Friday, allowing players to heal and Cokely to reflect on what they’ve done well and not so well.

“Defensively, we’re pretty sound, we’re a pretty good tackling team and we’re taking care of the football,” Cokely said. “Those are the things we’re doing well. Offensively, we’re protecting the football, which is what we have to do to win games. We’re not good enough to turn it over and win.”

Quarterback Jared Chapple and running back Lavondre Nelson (11 rushes, 58 yards, two touchdowns) were both solid in the win over Blessed Trinity two weeks ago. Jarrod Rickman led the defense with nine tackles and a caused fumble.

That victory was the epitome of GAC’s up-and-down stretch over the past three games.

“It was kind of a topsy-turvy game, but it ended up in our favor,” Cokely said. “It was big because it’s in the region.”

Starting tonight, the games get even more important as subregion play begins for the Spartans. They play three more subregion games after Decatur, with games left against Clarkston, Buford and Avondale.

“It’s going to be real interesting, the next three or four weeks should be a lot of fun,” Cokely said.