File Photo - Greater Atlanta Christian seniors Kyle Scales (17) center, celebrates his second quarter touchdown with teammates Peter Whiteneck (3) and Daniel Yoon (72) during a game against Stone Mountain.
This isn't the Greater Atlanta Christian football program's biggest or most talented senior class, but the group of veterans has played a major part in one of the Spartans' best football seasons.
GAC hosts Early County in Friday's Class AA quarterfinals with a shot at reaching the state semifinals for just the third time in school history (joining the 1998 and 2002 teams). Another victory would keep an outstanding final season going for the program's 11 seniors.
Those boys have their third head coach in four seasons in Tim Hardy.
"They're small in numbers," Hardy said of his seniors. "It's a group of guys who have persevered. They've had ups and downs in their high school career, but they've remained true to the program and to the school."
The seniors' high school journey started with a 1-9 season in 2009, followed by a 9-3 playoff season. An 8-1 record wasn't good enough for the state playoffs last season after GAC lost its region play-in game.
But everything has gone well in their final high school season. The Spartans bring a 9-3 record into this week's game after dismantling previously unbeaten Heard County 52-21 on the road last Friday.
"We wouldn't be in Round 3 if those (seniors) didn't buy into (the new coaches) and what we're doing," said Hardy, who came to GAC after starting up the Mountain View program. "We all want to be a part of a team. You want to be a part of something bigger than yourself and they've all bought into it."
The seniors also have produced results on the field, not just leadership.
Running back Kyle Scales has rushed for 1,196 yards and 20 touchdowns despite missing some time with injury. He had 24 carries for 133 yards and four scores vs. Heard.
Senior wide receiver Peter Whiteneck also has enjoyed a breakout season that included an 11-catch, 197-yard, three-TD game vs. Heard. He now has 50 catches for 874 yards and 12 TDs this season.
"Peter Whiteneck just keeps getting better and better every week," Hardy said. "That's a result of his hard work."
Tight end/defensive end Andrew Lewis broke his leg early in the season opener, but he's returned to be a key player late in the season. He caught four passes for 61 yards last week.
That trio's offensive success was made possible by an offensive line with three seniors --Andrew Bartolomei, Connor Crumrine and Daniel Yoon.
The Spartans' senior class also includes Kenny Griffin, Corey Stevenson, Corris Crockett, Ben Lorick and Chris Bartolomei. They're part of a group that has contributed greatly to the team's big season.
"It's amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit," Hardy said. "This is just a group of guys that believes in each other and invests in each other."